February 29, 2016
February 27, 2016
|Fishing with Urkel.|
Spinning off from Hanna-Barbera’s earlier Harlem Globetrotters, The Super Globetrotters saw The Harlem Globetrotters serving as the cover for their true identities: The Super Globetrotters. To protect the world from evil, the Globetrotters would challenge the villains and their henchmen to basketball games for whatever goal or object they have in mind for their nefarious plans.
|Character model sheet.|
Like the earlier series, while the show featured the names and likenesses of members of the actual Globetrotters team, they were instead voiced by professional voice actors. Reprising their earlier roles were Stu Gilliam as Freddy “Curly” Neal and Johnny Williams as Hubert “Geese” Ausbie. Scatman Crothers also returned, but as his original character of Meadowlark Lemon was no longer a Globetrotter by the time the series entered production, he was instead cast as Nate Branch. Replacing the other departed Globetrotters were James “Twiggy” Sanders (Buster Jones) and Louis “Sweet Lou” Dunbar (Adam Wade).
|Multi-Man, Super Sphere, Gizmo, Spaghetti Man and Liquid Man.|
Each Globetrotter possessed incredible powers granted to them whenever they stepped into magical portable lockers. Hanna-Barbera recycled the powers, identities and moves of three of the Globetrotters from the Impossibles segment of Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles: Branch was Liquid Man (sometimes referred to his Impossibles counterpart’s name of “Fluid Man” or “Aquaman”, and still bore the former’s “F” logo on his suit) and could turn himself into water; Sanders was Spaghetti Man (based on Coil Man), who could stretch and manipulate his body; and Ausbie was Multi Man, who could create duplicates of himself. New for the series was Neal as Super Sphere, who could retract his limbs into his basketball head in order to bounce, smash and grow; and Dunbar as Gizmo, who could pull an unlimited supply of gadgets for any situation out of his afro (including their lockers). They were alerted to problems and aided by a basketball-shaped satellite called Crime Globe (Frank Welker).
|Attila and his Huns.|
Facing off against the Globetrotters was an eclectic blend of colorful one-off foes voiced by an assortment of frequent Hanna-Barbera players. Amongst them was Museum Man (Herb Vigran), a disgruntled janitor who had a remote control that could bring fossils and statues to life; Facelift (John Stephenson, who also portrayed several other villains), a nuclear-powered alien that could steal anyone’s face for use on his Demon Droids; Whaleman (Michal Rye), a pirate who used a mechanical whale in his crimes; Bad Blue Bart (Paul Winchell), a western outlaw who used a remote-controlled Phantom Cowboy (also Winchell) to take over a ranch; The Time Lord (Don Messick), who could alter time using a crystal and summoned villains of history to aid him; and Count Bragula (Lennie Weinrib), a vampire with ambitions to dominate Transylvania. A real person also crossed paths with the Globetrotters in the form of Attila the Hun (Welker), who was shunted forward in time following a scientist through his time machine. Although the Super Globetrotters would often attempt to stop the villains through comical heroics, things were always ultimately settled with a basketball game like the original cartoon.
|Teamwork makes the dream work!|
The Super Globetrotters followed executive Fred Silverman from CBS, home of the original, to NBC where it debuted on September 22, 1979. The series was written by Tom Dagenais, Rowby Goren, Andy Heyward, Robby London and Larry Parr. It ran until December 1st when it was combined with Hanna-Barbera’s Godzilla to create The Godzilla/Globetrotters Adventure Hour. Both shows played out their respective seasons as part of this block and continued on as reruns until September 20, 1980. Instead of using the team’s theme song “Sweet Georgia Brown” by Brother Bones, the series employed a sound-alike whistle theme composed by Hoyt Curtin.
|Ad for the DVD release.|
Because the series was solely produced and owned by Hanna-Barbera, it was the first of the two shows to be released to DVD through Warner Archive’s Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection. The original Globetrotters series was co-owned by CBS Productions who maintain its rights. This was also the final series starring the Globetrotters, although they were the stars of the 1981 television movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. The team and their various members continued to appear or be referenced on television programs, films and documentaries over the years while also continuing to perform on the court almost 500 times a year shared between three different rosters.
Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2020.
February 20, 2016
Coleman began his career in 1974 by appearing in a commercial for Harris Bank. After several guest spots on established television shows, he found his claim to fame when he was cast as Arnold Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes; one of two orphaned brothers taken in by their mother’s former employer. With that role came other opportunities, including the chance to star in several television movies.
In 1982, Coleman starred in The Kid with the Broken Halo, written by George Kirgo and directed by Leslie H. Martinson. He was Andy LeBeau, a wise-cracking angel-in-training who kept messing up and causing trouble in training. As a bit of a last chance, he was sent to Earth in order to perform good deeds for three families to win his wings. While the movie itself wasn’t a runaway hit, Coleman was still a name to bank on and NBC decided to translate the film into an animated series.
|Character model sheet.|
Produced by Hanna-Barbera and Zephyr Productions, one of the studios behind the film, The Gary Coleman Show focused on the continuing adventures of apprentice guardian angel Andy (Coleman) as his supervisor, Angelica (Jennifer Darling), sent him down to perform assigned good deeds in the town of Oakville. Hampering his efforts most of the time was a being known as Hornswoggle (Sidney Miller), who would trick Andy into making the wrong choices and having to clean up the resulting mess afterwards (although, Andy was quite capable of fouling things up himself). To make matters worse Hornswoggle was invisible to Angelica, leading her to doubt his existence in Andy’s explanations.
|Angelica is unable to see Hornswoggle.|
The subjects of Andy’s help (and trouble) were his Earth-bound friends. Amongst them was klutzy Batholomew (Jerry Houser) who had a crush on spoiled rich girl, Lydia (Julie McWhirter Dees); genius Spence (Calvin Mason) with a verbose vocabulary; Spence’s little sister, Tina (LaShana Dendy), who had a crush on Andy; Haggle (Geoffrey Gordon), who often spoke in rhyme; and athletic Chris (Lauren Anders). Occasionally they were at odds with the local bully and braggart, Mack (Steve Schatzberg). While on Earth, Andy would remove his halo to become visible to his friends and appear human. Donning it again allowed him to access his angelic powers.
|Spence finds Andy's halo.|
The Gary Coleman Show debuted on September 18, 1982 on NBC. The opening narration describing the premise was provided by Casey Kasem over music by Hoyt Curtin. It was written by Cliff Roberts, Dianne Dixon, Martin Werner, Robert Jayson (who also wrote for Diff’rent Strokes), Paul Dini, Peter Dixon, John Bates, Janis Diamond, Mark Shiney, David Villaire, Bob Langhans, Larry Parr, Sandy Fries, Allan Heldfond, John T. Graham and Tom Ruegger. It was animated by a Mexican animation studio that Hanna-Barbera had set up expressly for work on this series due to the tight timeframe they had to deliver it. However, complications arose when animation came back incorrect; such as Andy’s skin being rendered as Caucasian as they had never heard of Coleman in Mexico, apparently. Geoffrey Gordon was an NBC page when he was cast in the role of Haggle, which became the first cartoon character ever to rap.
|Batholomew tries to get in shape to impress Lydia.|
The series only lasted a single season of 13 episodes, each broken up into two 11-minute segments. It re-aired in syndicated reruns on Cartoon Network in the 1990s and again in 2006 as part of their Adult Swim programming block. Kasem’s narration from the intro were omitted from the reruns. Antioch Publishing Editors produced several books based on the series both adapting the episodes and featuring original stories. While it hasn’t seen a full home media release yet, various episodes have been made available on various video hosting sites through fan recordings.
Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2020.
|Pryor sharing an anecdote.|
|Living bread and anthropomorphic rats populate Pryor's Place.|
|CBS' 1984 Saturday morning ad with Pryor front and center.|
|Little Richie with Pryor as a Rastafarian.|
|The kids of Pryor's Place.|
Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2020.
February 16, 2016
February 13, 2016
For the 1977 season, Filmation paired up the second season of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle with reruns of The New Adventures of Batman in a block called The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour. With the show block being successful, Filmation decided to use the two established shows as a hook to bring audiences in for some new content.
In 1978, they renamed the block Tarzan and the Super 7 (the Super 7 referencing the seven different shows that would be featured with Tarzan) and expanded it to an hour and a half. Along with Tarzan and a truncated version of Batman, Filmation included the additional segments of The Freedom Force, Manta and Moray, Superstretch and Microwoman, Web Woman and Jason of Star Command (the only live-action show in the block). Another segment, Sunlight and Starbright, was planned but abandoned at the network’s behest (technically making it the Super SIX).
|Microwoman and Trouble.|
Superstretch and Microwoman focused on the first pair of married African-American crime fighting partners on Saturday morning. Scientist Chris Cross (Ty Henderson) discovered a formula that would allow him to stretch his body into any shape and gave his wife, Christy (Kim Hamilton), the ability to shrink to microscopic size. Together they fought crime as Superstretch and Microwoman, with the help of their dog, Trouble, whom Christy rode when she shrank. Unlike other superheroes, the pair never wore costumes; although they did wear matching slacks and sweaters that were capable of changing shape with their bodies.
|Promo for the segment.|
The block debuted on September 9, 1978 on CBS, but only five of the included segments aired each week. Superstretch and Microwoman would alternate its place with Web Woman every Saturday beginning on the 16th. Seven episodes ran at 11-minutes each, with four clocking in at 17. Writers for the segment included Buzz Dixon, Len Janson and Chuck Menville, with Janson and Menville serving as story editors. The music was composed by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and producer Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael). Imperial Toys would include the characters in their Super 7 puffy sticker collection, and Superstretch disguised as a robot on a watch.
|Battling a deadly double on the screen and in the courts!|
After the block’s debut, DC Comics sued Filmation for copyright infringement, claiming Superstretch and Manta and Moray were blatant rip-offs of their characters Plastic Man and Aquaman, respectively. Filmation had previously produced an Aquaman cartoon in association with DC, and was in talks to produce a Plastic Man series (made instead by Ruby-Spears Productions). The courts found in favor DC in both a 1980 decision and a 1986 appeal. As a result, no new segments were produced for Superstretch and had never seen release to home media. The segment remained on the air in reruns when the block moved to NBC, shedding Tarzan and being renamed Batman and the Super 7, but was never again once the block went off the air. To date, only a few sparse episode recordings are available to see on video hosting sites like YouTube.
“Bad Things Come in Small Packages” (9/16/78) -
Jamal Wingo (Arthur Reggie III) was a young boy living in South Central Los Angeles with his father (George L. Wallace) and grandparents (Dawnn Lewis & Darryl Sirvad). One day, Jamal was encouraged to start growing up and give up some of his childish things, including his teddy bear, the sunglasses and baggy pants wearing C-Bear (rapper Tone Loc). But, C-Bear magically came to life and ended up becoming Jamal’s best friend. C-Bear was able to help Jamal deal with important life lessons by taking him on magical fantasy adventures as well as show him he didn’t need to lose his youthful outlook in order to grow up. Of course, the sarcastic bear was far from perfect and sometimes landed Jamal in just as much trouble as he would himself before helping to turn it all around.
|C-Bear and Jamal having a pillow fight.|
The series was created by Earl Richey Jones and Todd R. Jones with Franklyn Ajaye and Barry Douglas, taking inspiration from Loc’s childhood and his own fantasy adventures he would have with a teddy bear. Loc also served as an executive producer, along with Phil Roman of Film Roman and Fox Kids’ Margaret Loesch, and provided the vocals and lyrics for the show’s theme. Kurt Farquhar composed the rest of the series’ music, each episode featuring one musical number in relation to the plot and lesson. Film Roman and Loc brought the series to the attention of FOX Children’s Television executive Roland Poindexter who was not only attracted to the series because of Loc, but also because it allowed them to tell good stories from the little-seen perspective of an African American youth.
|The kid cast: C-Bear, Jamal, Maya, Kim, Chipster, Big Chill, Kwame and Sooner.|
Care was taken to preserve the authenticity of the series. Rather than keeping the cast limited to one particular race or culture, the producers chose to adequately represent the Los Angeles population with the mix of people that actually resided there. This was best represented in the form of Jamal’s human friends. Amongst them were Maya (Kim Fields Freeman), who was a very loud and opinionated, although extremely smart, African American girl; Big Chill, a large chubby kid who was always hungry and introduced himself with the phrase “the b-i-g c-h-i-double l is in the hizouse”; Kwame (both Aries Spears), an Afrocentric kid who wore African clothing and often found conspiracies by “the Man” whenever he was displeased with circumstances; Chipster (Jeannie Elias), their odd white friend who enjoys making others laugh; Kim (Margaret Cho), Jamal’s Korean friend and Maya’s best friend; and Javier (Paul Rodriguez), Jamal’s Hispanic friend.
C-Bear and Jamal debuted on February 3, 1996 as part of the Fox Kids block for an abbreviated first season before returning that September. The series was a hit with parents and teachers for the topics it dealt with and the lessons it provided. Although there was a healthy dose of slapstick comedy featured in C-Bear’s ongoing battle with family dog Sooner (Danny Mann) and grandma having access to some unusual items from out of nowhere, the producers made sure that the adults, while quirky, were presented as good role models and equally important to helping Jamal’s development as C-Bear. Likewise, scenes at school were done in a respectful manner to emphasize the importance of education and ensured the teacher was invested in the development of the students. Along with the Joneses, the series was written by Al Sonja L. Rice and Sib Ventress.
The series was a likely candidate for a renewal, but internal politics ultimately led to its demise. Saban Entertainment had acquired Fox Kids and wanted to put a greater focus on programs produced in-house; meaning all outside programming had to go in order to make room for Saban-produced shows (a similar occurrence happened after Disney purchased ABC). That included C-Bear and Jamal, amongst other family-favorite programs. Xenon Entertainment Group released three VHS collections with three episodes each in the early 2000s. They later combined them into a single DVD release. Starz Media currently has the rights to the show, however Urban Movie Channel offers it for streaming view through Amazon with a subscription to their channel.