July 31, 2022

NICHELLE NICHOLS DEAD AT 89

 


You can read the full story here.


Best known for her trailblazing role as Lt. Nyota Uhura from the original Star Trek, a role she reprised for Star Trek: The Animated Series with the additional roles of Dara, Davison, Anne Nored, a female miner, Devna, Kali, an alien entity, Dr. Sarah April and Karla Five. She also played the SS Stella in the “Commander Toad in Space” episode of ABC Weekend Specials; Diane Maza in episodes of Gargoyles; Miriam Brooks, aka The Vampire Queen, in two episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series; and Chief in an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.












July 30, 2022

60TH ANNIVERSARIES

 We're entering the home stretch as we look at the shows celebrating 


Exploring.



Marx's Magic Midway


THE READING ROOM*
*NO IMAGES/VIDEO AVAILABLE

55TH ANNIVERSARIES

 Sammy Hagar may not be able to drive it, but these shows are definitely turning


























July 29, 2022

PAUL COKER, JR. DEAD AT 93

 



You can read the full story here.


He worked as a character designer on The Reluctant Dragon & Mr. Toad Show and the Rankin/Bass episodes of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie.

July 25, 2022

DAVID WARNER DEAD AT 80

 


You can read the full story here.


He played Ra's al Ghul throughout the DC Animated Universe; Ice Breaker in an episode of Biker Mice from Mars (1993); the Archmage in episodes of Gargoyles; The Glyph in an episode of Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys; The Lobe in Freakazoid!, which he reprised for a guest-appearance in Teen Titans Go!; Herbert Landon and the first voice of Red Skull in Spider-Man: The Animated Series;  Alpha in Men in Black: The Series; Doctor Vic Frankenstein in Toonsylvania; Lord Angstrom in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command; and an old man in What's New, Scooby-Doo?












July 23, 2022

50TH ANNIVERSARIES

 Our anniversary celebration takes us to a big one as these shows all turn















*No intro available.


45TH ANNIVERSARIES

 We've passed the halfway point in our anniversary celebration as we acknowledge the shows going on









*No intro available.









*Wacko, no intro available.



ROD BROWN OF THE ROCKET RANGERS

 

ROD BROWN OF THE ROCKET RANGERS
(CBS, April 18, 1953-May 29, 1954)
 
CBS Television Network

 

MAIN CAST:
Cliff Robertson – Rod Brown
Bruce Hall – Frank Boyd
Jack Weston – Wilbur “Wormsey” Wormser
John Boruff – Commander Swift

  

In the entertainment world, imitation is part of the game. Whenever something proves immensely popular, imitators are sure to follow; keeping it similar enough to be recognizable while also changing enough to avoid being straight plagiarism. Sometimes by the competition, sometimes by the same people who made that popular thing in order to corner the market and steal an audience away from the competition. Unfortunately, for Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers, it stuck a little too close to its inspiration for its own good.

CBS camera check.


CBS wanted to get back into the science fiction game—particularly the space-faring kind that was at the peak of its popularity in 1953. Having been the original home of the still-thriving Tom Corbett, Space Cadet currently airing on the DuMont Network, CBS decided they should create a similar program of their own. They hired one of the original Corbett directors, George Gould, to direct the series. With him came several of Corbett’s writers and the technical know-how for the effects used on that program.

Rod Brown.


Like Corbett, it would focus on a crew of three traveling on adventures through space on their atomic-powered space ship Beta in the mid-22nd century. Rod Brown (Cliff Robertson) was the captain, with his prickly partner Frank Boyd (Bruce Hall) and the chubby glasses-wearing Wilbur “Wormsey” Wormser (Jack Weston), who served as the comic relief (something Corbett didn’t have). They reported to Omega Base back on Earth; specifically, to Commander Swift (John Boruff), who would deliver their weekly missions via radio transmission. Unlike Corbett, which tried to adhere to the science of the day and keep its episodes grounded in reality, Rod Brown opted for a more fantastical approach with the customary ray guns and alien encounters, along with common space criminals.

Brown, Boyd, "Wormsey" and Swift at Omega Base.


Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers debuted on CBS on April 18, 1953. Each episode opened up with the introduction: “CBS Television presents Rod Brown and the Rocket Rangers. Surging with the power of the atom, gleaming like great silver bullets, the mighty Rocket Rangers space ships, stand by for blast-off. Up, up, rockets blazing with white-hot fury, the man-made meteors ride through the atmosphere, breaking the gravity barrier, pushing up and out, faster and faster and then outer space and high adventure for the Rocket Rangers.” The series was broadcast live from New York City at 11:30 in the morning. Robertson was offered the role by William Dozier, an executive at CBS at the time, and Robertson took it thinking it’d be a quick, easy payday (sources vary on his salary being $150 or $175 a week, almost $2000 when adjusted for inflation) while he was also doing a Broadway show. He never counted on it becoming successful, running for over a year and producing 58 episodes (some sources say 59). The series’ theme was composed by Robert Allen.

Operating some futuristic technology.


While there were some differences, there were far more similarities to Tom Corbett for its producers’ liking. They filed a lawsuit against CBS, which didn’t immediately affect the production or the show’s release schedule. After four months of deliberations, the known consequence of the suit was that the kinescope recordings of Rod Brown had to be destroyed. As far as anyone knows, they were and the series was never rebroadcast after its conclusion. Some of the audio recordings from a few episodes do exist, however.

Rod Brown getting his space helmet prop.


While Rod Brown had a sponsor in Jell-O Instant Pudding, very little premiums or merchandise were released for the show compared to the other space programs at the time. One item was a flannel shirt for young boys featuring the show’s logo, and a record of “The Rocket Ranger March” from Columbia Records. Kids could apply to be a member of the Junior Rocket Rangers and receive a membership kit that included a Rocket Ranger squadron charter and a membership card singed by Commander Swift emblazoned with the “Rocket Ranger Code”:

            On my Honor as a Rocket Ranger, I pledge that:

1.      I shall always chart my course according to the Constitution of the United States of America.

2.      I shall never cross orbits with the Rights and Beliefs of others.

3.      I shall blast at full space-speed to protect the Weak and Innocent.

4.      I shall stay out of collision orbit with the laws of my State and Community

5.      I shall cruise in parallel orbit with my Parents and Teachers.

6.      I shall not roar my rockets unwisely, and shall be Courteous at all times.

7.      I shall keep my gyros steady and reactors burning by being Industrious and Thrifty.

8.      I shall keep my scanner tuned to Learning and remain coupled to my Studies.

9.      I shall keep my mind out of free-fall by being mentally alert.

10.  I shall blast the meteors from the paths of other people by being Kind and Considerate.

 

 

EPISODE GUIDE (incomplete):
“Operation Decoy” (4/18/53) – The Beta crew investigates pirate attacks on shipping lanes.
 
“The Case of the Invisible Saboteurs” (4/25/53) – The Beta crew looks into the disappearance of highly-classified files.
 
“The Planet of Ice” (5/2/53) – The Beta crew must rescue a mail ship forced to land on frigid Jupiter.
 
“Whispers in the Mind” (5/9/53) – A mind-control device gives false information to two Rangers on a navigation project.
 
“The Crater of Peril” (5/16/53) – The Beta crew looks for radioactive material on the dark side of the moon.
 
“The Globe Men of Oma” (5/23/53) – While searching for a missing spaceship, Rod and Frank are captured by the Omans.
 
“The Adventures of the Venusian Sea” (5/30/53) – A giant octopus-like creature terrorizes the sea.
 
“The Little Men of Mercury” (6/6/53) – The Beta crew visits a planet populated by tiny humanoids.
 
“World of the Doomed” (6/13/53) – The Beta crew investigates a smuggling operation on a prison asteroid.
 
“The Strangler Trees of Triton” (6/20/53) – The Beta crew rescues a fellow Ranger from a dangerous forest.
 
“Stranger from Outer Space” (6/27/53) – An alien robot kidnaps Rod.
 
“The Phantom Birds of Beloro” (7/4/53) – Rod and Frank rescue some old prospectors from bird-like preadators.
 
“The Black Cloud of Calistro” (7/11/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Suits of Peril” (7/18/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Apples of Eden” (7/25/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Space Bugs” (8/1/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Martian Queen” (8/8/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Fire Deamons of Delmos” (8/15/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Big Hammer” (8/22/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Volcanoes of Venus” (8/29/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Death Ball” (9/5/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Unseen Planet” (9/12/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Madness from Space” (9/19/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Looters of Leeron” (9/26/53) – Rod is captured by a group of smugglers to work in their illegal radioactive mineral mine.
 
“The Octopus of Venus” (10/3/53) – A routine assignment to salvage a wrecked spaceship leads to trouble under the sea.
 
“Colossus of Centauri” (10/10/53) – Rod breaches the end of the solar system and discovers a planet of giants.
 
“The Lights from Luna” (10/17/53) – Rod must protect Earth from the destructor of Solar City.
 
“The Twin Planet” (10/24/53) – Investigating an old theory leads the Beta crew to discover a primitive land that resembles Manhattan Island before Columbus.
 
“The Treasure of Tesoro” (10/31/53) – Rod and Frank are on guard duty for the treasury vaults of Space Fortress Tesoro.
 
“The Robot Robber of Delmos” (11/7/53) – The Beta crew investigates a bank robbery by a humanoid robot.
 
“The Magic Man of Mars” (11/14/53) – A carnival performer leads a secret life as a space pirate.
 
“The Stickman of Neptune” (11/21/53) – A stowaway steals the Beta to head for Neptune to search for a treasure.
 
“Money-Makers of Juno” (11/28/53) – Swift is kidnapped by a ring of interplanetary counterfeiters.
 
“The Deep Sleep” (12/5/53) – Interplanetary bank robbers use oxygen boosters to put everyone to sleep on Ganymede.
 
“The Cyclops of Themis” (12/12/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Electric Men” (12/19/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Copernicus Diamond” (12/26/53) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Stone Men of Venus” (1/2/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Energy Eaters from Luna” (1/9/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Operation Dinosaur” (1/23/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Escape by Magic” (1/30/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Invisible Force” (2/6/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Return of the Stickmen” (2/13/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Fishman of the Venusian Sea” (2/20/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Strong Man of Mayron” (2/27/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Eel of Iapetus” (3/6/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Strange Men of Leefri” (3/13/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Monkey that Couldn’t Stop Growing” (3/20/54) – The planet Clavo enters the solar system due to its erratic orbit.
 
“The Plan of Planet H” (3/27/54) – The Beta crew discovers Planet H plan to flood and take over the Earth.
 
“Invasion from Dimension X” (4/3/54) – The Beta crew encounters shadowy figures from another dimension.
 
“The Matter-Transfer Machine” (4/10/54) – A gang uses a transporter to smuggle isotopes off of Earth.
 
“Terror in the Space Lighthouse” (4/17/54) – Two inmates plan an escape from an asteroid prison.
 
“Assignment Danger” (4/24/54) – Wormsey encounters trouble on a routine passenger liner trip to Venus and is rescued by what seems to be a kindly elderly woman.
 
“Bird Girl of Venus” (5/1/54) – An archaeological expedition leads to the discovery of a winged humanoid.
 
“The Exploding Man” (5/8/54) – The Beta crew takes on attempts to loot a uranium discovery on Ganymede.
 
“The Metal Eaters” (5/15/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Man who was Radioactive” (5/22/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“The Cobalt Bomb” (5/29/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

July 21, 2022

ALAN GRANT DEAD AT 73

 


You can read the full story here.


The comic book writer was the co-creator of the Batman characters Ventriloquist and Scarface, who appeared in both Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, and Anarky, who was the main antagonist in Beware the Batman. He also wrote the issue of Batman Adventures that featured Anarky.

July 16, 2022

40TH ANNIVERSARIES

 What? Say it ain't so! It's our anniversary, but these shows can't be going on
















35TH ANNIVERSARIES

 Our fourth week of our anniversary celebration goes on with the shows reaching















BLASTER'S UNIVERSE

BLASTER’S UNIVERSE
(CBS, September 4-November 27, 1999)
 
Nelvana, Hong Guang Animation, CBS Productions, Knowledge Adventure

 

 

MAIN CAST:
Jonathan Wilson – Max Blaster
Maryke Hendrikse – GC
Juan Chioran – MEL
 
 
            Educator Jan Davidson always sought to get her students more involved in the learning process. When the personal computer came around in the 1970s, she decided it would be a useful tool for that methodology since it required people to actively use one. However, by that time, there were no software offerings to fit her needs. So, she decided to create her own. With the help of a contracted programmer, her first game was Speed Reader designed to help kids learn how to read quicker. Then came Math Blaster and the vocabulary game Word Attack. Shortly after, she and her husband, Bob, created their own publishing company, Davidson & Associates, Inc., to continue to develop computer games and turn PCs into a valuable educational tool.

The original Math Blaster.


            Their most popular software line was the Blaster series, known as the Blaster Learning System, developed out of the original Math Blaster game. The game initially featured a stick figure man in a circus-like setting having to be maneuvered over the cannon under the correct answer to the problem, in which he would then fall into and be shot out of. A seal bouncing a ball served as a timer, with the added challenge of the man having to keep a balloon from landing on a nail on the other side of the screen. A revision was made in 1987 called Math Blaster Plus!, which replaced the non-descript player character with a little alien in a green space suit (although it was purple in the actual game) called the Blasternaut and the cannons with rocket ships, space stations they could blast off to, and a countdown timer. The second revision in 1990, New Math Blaster Plus!, changed things up entirely with better graphics, animations and four separate mini-games. In Plus!, the player needed to solve problems correctly to build his ship, power a tractor beam to pull in space trash that would then be recycled into fuel, and then using an anti-gravity pad to zip up to one of the waiting space stations to stop the alien invasion that now represents the timer. A bonus level was included that allowed the player to control Blasternaut on his jetpack to collect some items for points. This formula would become the standard for the Blaster series of games featuring the Blasterpals. Two spin-offs, Alge-Blaster Plus! and Math Blaster Mystery, were released in 1989.

Victory screen from the home console version of Episode I, featuring Blasternaut, Spot, G.C. and the trash alien.


            In 1993, the original game was revised again as Math Blaster Episode I: In Search of Spot, this time introducing Blasternaut’s (Mark Sawyer) companion, an alien robot named Spot (also Sawyer using a Brooklyn accent), and boss/best friend, Galactic Commander aka G.C. (voiced by Laura Boedeker, the three known collectively as the Blasterpals), the leader of the Galactic Patrol to which Blasternaut belonged. The major difference in the game was the addition of the narrative to rescue spot from an evil trash alien (also Sawyer), as well as a platforming segment that required Blasternaut to have a particular number to continue onward (changed by positive or negative numbers that appeared as water droplets). 1994’s Episode II: Secret of the Lost City was geared towards an older age group and featured the characters in 3-D models during cutscenes for the first time. Math Blaster Jr. in 1996, made for pre-schoolers, returned to a purely sprite-based design and depicted Blasternaut, G.C. and Spot as kids. The Blasterpals would expand beyond basic math into Reading Blaster, Spelling Blaster and Science Blaster, sometimes facing off against appropriately-themed foes. Davidson also dabbled with other characters in other Blaster entries, including little green monster Rave, round alien Cosmic MC, and human girl Andi, but the Blasterpals were the most prominent throughout the line.

Spot, Blasternaut and G.C. learning they're about to be replaced.


            The Blaster Learning System was a major success, pulling in millions of dollars for Davidson & Associates. Naturally, the company used that to grow itself by purchasing software firms and studios (at one point they owned what would become Blizzard Entertainment), becoming publicly traded on the stock market, and creating their own distributor in partnership with Mattel. In 1996, CUC International bought Davidson & Associates and eventually combined it with another acquisition, former competitor Knowledge Adventure (now JumpStart Games, Inc.), under which all future Blaster games would be released. Along with that change came another: the decision to revise the Blaster characters.

G.C. and Blaster admiring their new creation, MEL.


            Taking a cue from the various Junior games in the series, the Blasterpals were reduced to childhood age. C.G. (Jennifer Hale) kept the purple hair she eventually wound up with through design revisions, but her skin was changed from green to lavender and her suit to orange. Blasternaut became a human boy named Max Blaster (Dee Bradley Baker) from a futuristic planet Earth. While he retained his green space suit (which now gave him enhanced strength and the ability to fly), he was given a clear bubble helmet. Spot was replaced by a robotic dog the pair built named MEL (Mechanically Enhanced Lapdog, voiced by Michael Gough). From 1999-2006, the new Blasterpals would adorn all of the future Blaster packaging and star in several games of their own; however, the original Blasterpals would remain included in future re-releases of previous games.

Blaster and G.C. doing some futuristic skateboarding on Earth.


            To promote the new Blaster era, Nelvana was commissioned to produce an animated series starring the characters developed by Jamie Tatham and Dale Schott. Set in the year 2222, Blaster (Jonathan Wilson) was best friends with G.C. (Maryke Hendrikse), a princess from the planet Omega who teleported to Earth via the ring she wore daily to attend Earth school as she loved learning—in stark contrast to the more free-spirited Blaster. When she held her ring towards Blaster’s watch, it allowed Blaster to go to teleport with her and gain his green spacesuit. While other aliens were aware of Earthlings, it seemed as if Earth was unaware of aliens as G.C. tried to pass herself as an ordinary Earth girl. Together, they built MEL (Juan Chioran) who often aided them in their studies and adventures when not maintaining his cover as a common dog. And those adventures often saw them going up against villains (some directly from the games) who threaten the universe with their educational-themed crimes: the history-loving (and altering) Major History; the word-stealing Illitera; the mathematical fiend Number Cruncher; and mad scientist Dr. Dabble. Because the series was produced in Canada, a Canadian voice cast had to be used instead of the games’ already established cast. To combat these foes, the Blasterpals had to rely on their brains and various things they had learned, cementing the educational message of the show.

Illitera up to no good.


            Blaster’s Universe debuted on CBS on September 4, 1999, as part of the programming block CBS Kidshow that was programmed by Nelvana. It was written by Schott along with Hugh Duffy, Ben Joseph, Dave Dias, Kim Thompson and Ken Ross, with Duffy serving as story editor. Miki Baumgarten, PhD was retained as the educational consultant to ensure it met the educational requirements expected of children’s television at the time. Ray Parker and Tom Szczesniak composed the series’ music, while Grayson Matthews for Tantrum Productions did the theme. Hong Guang Animation (now Brilliant Pictures) handled the animation duties.

MEL, Blaster and G.C. learning they're about to be replaced.


            Blaster’s Universe only ran for a single season, airing on Teletoon in early 2000 shortly after its CBS run concluded. Reruns were sparse and home media non-existent. In 2013, Russian-dubbed episodes found their way to YouTube followed by several of the English versions. For a time, Bell Media offered the entire series for viewing in Canada with a paid subscription on their website.

The current Math Blaster, Blaster Prime.


            In 2006, the Blaster series got another revamp with yet another new Blasternaut. This time it was Blaster Prime (Scott Allen Katz), the newest member of the long-forgotten Blaster Corps and the only living being who remembers math in the universe. With the aid of an AI program named AIMEE (Karen Strassman), Prime was on a mission to restore math and free the galaxy from the powerful Cyclotron X (Kevin Delaney), a math-teaching program that became sentient. The new 2.5-D platforming series began with Master the Basics before jumping over to Nintendo DS with 2008’s In the Prime Adventure. Since 2013, the Blaster series has been relegated to mobile devices and a via a subscription on the official Math Blaster website. As for the Davidsons, after they left their company in the late 90s, they started up the Davidson Institute for Talent Development; a nonprofit that ensures the nation’s most gifted and talented kids are supported and nurtured so that they can develop their talents and make a positive difference.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
“You’re History” (9/4/99) – Major History intends to rewrite history with himself as a central figure, forcing Blaster and G.C. to use history against him.
 
“A Bridge Too Weak” (9/11/99) – Nothing is as it seems as the Number Cruncher plans to spoil G.C.’s father’s ceremony to open a new bridge.
 
“Misplaced Weekend” (9/18/99) – Only Blaster seems to realize the weekend completely disappeared, and he intends to find out why.
 
“A Spot of Trouble” (9/25/99) – MEL’s dog act suddenly becomes real, bringing him to the attention of Omegan Dog Catcher Von Shtoopenscooper.
 
“Uncool Copycat” (10/2/99) – Artist Deja Vu decides to make life-sized copies of everything, but when he copies the Blasterpals and the Commander it almost leads to an intergalactic war.
 
“Mind Over Manners” (10/9/99) – Illitera eliminates politeness across the universe, which could end up leading to war unless the Blasterpals can get her to return it.
 
“Body Electric” (10/16/99) – Illitera decides to get revenge on a childhood of losing spelling bees to the Commander by shrinking down and manipulating him from the inside.
 
“Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow” (10/23/99) – When it comes to a choice between cleaning his room and chasing a pirate ship, Blaster chooses the ship.
 
“Sound Advice” (10/30/99) – G.C. can’t wait to see her favorite musician in concert, but The Maestro may have other plans.
 
“Math Schmath” (11/6/99) – Blaster and G.C. are tasked with tutoring their bully in math just as the Number Cruncher issues a challenge for the fate of the galaxy.
 
“Nowhere to Hide” (11/13/99) – When Blaster accidentally breaks a statue in the Omegan library, he decides to hide it and avoid trouble only to find that it’s been stolen.
 
“Gym Nausium” (11/20/99) – Blaster and G.C. get conscripted into a high stakes boat race, but their recent bout of laziness leaves them in little shape to compete.
 
“Buggin’ Out” (11/27/99) – Blaster’s fear of bugs is challenged when the Exterminator appears and threatens to re-release the dreaded Y2K bug.