Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
Taking the war on drugs to Saturday mornings, McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities financed
the production of an animated special that united several cartoon characters
from various popular programs at the time. It was the biggest, most ambitious
entry in the national anti-drug campaign.
Michael and Smoke are confronted by the cartoon characters.
Written by Duane Poole and Tom Swale, with a musical
number by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue centered on teenaged Michael (Jason
Marsden) who had taken to using marijuana and stealing his father’s (Townsend
Coleman) beer. Michael’s younger sister, Corey (Lindsay Parker), grows worried
about Michael as he begins acting differently. When Michael steals Corey’s
piggy bank for money to buy more drugs, the various cartoon character items in
her room came to life to help her track it down and then to convince Michael to
abandon his drug habits. But they have their work cut out for them when Michael
is constantly influenced by the living smoke creature aptly-named Smoke (named
on the VHS but never in the actual special, voiced by George C. Scott making
his voice-acting debut).
Smoke and Pooh battle for Corey's soul.
included Papa Smurf (Don Messick), Brainy Smurf (Danny Goldman) and Hefty Smurf
(Frank Welker) from The Smurfs who
emerges from a comic book (Smurfette appeared in promotional artwork but not in
the special); ALF (Paul Fusco) from ALF: The Animated Serieswho emerges from a picture; Alvin,
Simon (both Ross Bagdasarian) and Theodore (Janice Karman) from Alvin and the Chipmunkswho came off of a record sleeve;
Garfield (Lorenzo Music) from Garfield and Friendsas a lamp; Winnie the Pooh (a stuffed
animal) and Tigger (both Jim Cummings) from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh;
Babies Kermit (as an alarm clock, voiced by Welker), Piggy (Laurie O’Brien) and
Gonzo (Russi Taylor) from Muppet Babies; Michelangelo
(Coleman) from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(who was left off of promotional
material); Huey, Dewey and Louie (all Taylor) from DuckTales(replacing the proposed use of Mickey
Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy); Slimer (also Welker) from The Real Ghostbusters; and Looney
Tunes Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (both Jeff Bergman, marking the first time
either character wasn’t voiced by the recently-deceased Mel Blanc). Because of the
public service nature of the project, the characters’ various license-holders
granted royalty-free access to them.
You know you're high when the smoke starts to smile at you.
Vista Home Video handled the home releases of the special, which featured
an introduction by then-American President George
H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara
Bush. These tapes were made available both at McDonald’s restaurants and
for free rentals at libraries. To promote the film, pamphlets were distributed
in McDonald’s restaurants and Barbara Bush recorded several television
commercials. However, advertisements for it were careful to underplay the anti-drug
angle and instead play-up the crossing over of so many favorite characters.
Retailer promo for the VHS release.
Over the next year, the special was translated and played in various
international markets. In most countries, that nation’s leader introduced the
special in place of the President: Prime Minister Bob
Hawke for Australia, Prime Minister Jim Bolger for New Zealand,
Prime Minister Brian
Mulroney for Canada, and President Carlos Salinas
de Gortari for Mexico.
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