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.
Best known for playing Shirley in Laverne & Shirley, which
she reprised for the first season of the animated spin-off, Laverne & Shirley
in the Army, she also played Gerri Poveri in an episode of The Magic
Meet the band: Stephanie, Merilee, Butch, Wally and Elvis.
Cassidy and the Sundance Kids were a teenaged rock band that worked as secret
government agents for the World-Wide Talent Agency; solving crimes as they toured
around the world with the help of local agents (although you’d think being
famous musicians would make keeping a low profile for investigating difficult).
The band was comprised of lead singer and guitarist Butch Cassidy (Lloyd “Chip”
Hand II), tambourine player Merilee (Judy Strangis), bass guitarist Stephanie
(Kristina Holland), and drummer Wally (Micky Dolenz), as well as Wally’s trusty
anthropomorphic (though non-speaking) dog, Elvis (named after The King, voiced by Frank Welker). They
were given assignments and advised by a giant supercomputer named Mr. Socrates
(named for the Greek
philosopher, voiced by John Stephenson using a stereotypical robotic voice),
who was housed inside the WWTA and could communicate with Butch, codenamed “Sundance
1”, through the device in the ring he wore. Despite being an artificial
intelligence, somehow Mr. Socrates had a strong allergy to dogs which meant
Elvis had to be kept out of the lair. A running gag featured Elvis managing to
find his own way in or Wally forgetting about Socrates’ allergy and bringing Elvis
in with them. The characters were designed by Takashi Masunaga.
The Hex Girls poster in Scoob! baring the Sundance Kids' name (among others).
The characters would go on to make
appearances in several episodes of Sealab 2021: playing
as a band in “All That Jazz”; as residents of SeaLab Pod Six in “Let ‘Em Eart
Corn!” (with Butch and Wally sporting mustaches); “Butchslap”, where the
character of Marco (Erik Estrada)
was revealed to have been a Sundance Kid; and the character models for Butch
and Wally were recycled for the appearances of writer John Miller and creator/writer Adam Reed, respectively, in the
episodes “Swimming in Oblivion” and “Return to Oblivion”. The band was also
listed as a featured act for the Hex Girls—the fictional goth female group within the Scooby
universe—on a poster in the 2020 film, Scoob!
“The Scientist” (9/8/73) – The band must smuggle a scientist
out of a foreign country without being discovered.
“The Counterfeiters” (9/15/73) – The band investigates a
Latvanian baron for his connection to a counterfeiting ring.
“One of Our Ships is Missing” (9/22/73) – The band ride on a
cruise ship that’s targeted by a group of boat thieves.
“Double Trouble” (9/29/73) – The band must expose an
imposter prince put in place to hide his kidnapping.
“The Pearl Caper” (10/6/73) – The band heads to Honolulu to
search for pearl thieves and their stolen loot.
“The Gold Caper” (10/13/73) – The band goes to London to
uncover a gold smuggling ring.
“Road Racers” (10/20/73) – A diamond theft coincides with
The Grand Prix Cross-European race that begins in Venice.
“Hong Kong Story” (10/27/73) – The band deals with both
their fan club and the theft of a priceless jade statute.
“Operation G-Minus” (11/3/73) – An anti-gravity device is
stolen from a Munich toy expo.
“Orient Express” (11/10/73) – Mr. Socrates is taken over by
an enemy agent while the band is off delivering an important document.
“The Parrot Caper” (11/17/73) – The band escorts a parrot
that memorized an important formula to Switzerland.
“The Super Sub” (11/24/73) – The band sets out to retrieve a
stole experimental submarine.
“The Haunted Castle” (12/1/73) – Wally inherits a castle
that appears to be haunted.
When Laurie Meadoff visited the
Albany Empire (now Albany Theatre)
in London, she found a thriving and impactful social services and arts program
for the youth there. Inspired, when she returned to New York City in 1985 she
began the CityKids Foundation.
Originally meeting in the basement of a local church, the Foundation invited kids
from different backgrounds to come together and engage with each other through the performing arts. The Foundation
has grown in the years following into an internationally recognized one
dedicated to positive youth development and social emotional learning while
allowing the voices of youth to rise up and be heard.
The Kids (from top): Tito, David, Angelica, Nikki, Susan, Snoopy and John.
first decade in operation, CityKids partnered with Jim Henson Productions to bring their
message to the airwaves. The series followed an interracial group of urban kids
in New York City—Angelica (Cyndi Cartagena), Snoopy (Hassan Elgendi), John (Dulé
Hill), Susan (Anne Ho), Tito (Renoly Santiago), and siblings Nikki (Diana
Smith) and David (Brad Stoll), and Frida (Audrey Ince)—as they dealt with
school and life issues, such as bad grades, damaging rumors, sexism, racism,
financial responsibility, and more. It was the first series targeted for a
teenaged audience by Henson and ABC, who
ultimately picked it up for broadcast.
Dread and Bird.
the series stand out from other similar pro-social shows at the time was the
inclusion of Henson’s Muppets. All-new characters were created that would serve
as kind of a Greek chorus. They were never seen by or interacted with the human
characters, but they would offer commentary on the goings on in the story and
helping to drive home the lessons being conveyed. These Muppets included Dread
(David Rudman), a Rastafarian philosopher that ran a radio show with his
sidekick, a pigeon named Bird (Joey Mazzarino); Captain (Mazzarino), Libido
(John Henson) and Lieutenant (Rudman), who inhabited the head of a particular
character; Dirt Sisters Trish (Mazzarino & Elizabeth Regen) and Toya
(Rudman & Cenophia Mitchell), two girls who always gossiped with each other
over the phone; the Hot Dogs, anthropomorphic hot dogs that would sing songs
from the container they were being served from until a pair of tongs took one
out; Frankie Frank (Rudman), a hot dog rapper and leader of Frankie Frank and
the Footers; and the Koozebanians (Noel MacNeil & Rudman), three aliens
from the planet Kozzebane. David Gumpel served as the Muppet segment supervisor
while Rudman was the puppeteer captain.
Inside the head with Captain, Lieutenant and Libido.
the series never seemed to reach its target demographic and ABC cancelled it
after 13 episodes. The Foundation’s website currently hosts all but the pilot
episode on their website, as
well as separate clips of their kids performing from the episodes. The pilot
itself was preserved on the Internet Archive. While only Hill, Santiago and Stoll would go on to have active careers
in showbusiness, the Muppet characters would also go on to have careers recycled
as new characters in various Henson productions.
EPISODE GUIDE: “Pilot” (1/30/93) – While David tries to approach a girl he
likes, Susan deals with racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
“Becoming a Man” (9/25/93) – David has ulterior motives for
wanting to have a bar mitzvah.
“Get a Job” (10/2/93) – Angelica and John bet to see who can
get and keep a job first.
“The Curse of Ali Baba” (10/9/83) – Nikki takes her new
credit card as a license to spend.
“Bye, Bye Reputation” (10/16/93) – Rumors spread around school
about Angelica being under the control of the guy she has a crush on.
“The Mural” (10/23/93) – A boy asks Tito to paint a mural of
his father, but Tito’s friends are against it as the man was a drug dealer.
“Alterations with Attitude” (10/30/93) – David volunteers
for the Big Buddy program and gets saddled with a troublemaker.
“Quality Time” (11/13/93) – Snoopy’s friends are suspicious
of his estranged father’s reasons for visiting.
“Rooftop Thanksgiving” (11/20/93) – The kids band together
to help a hard-off family have a good holiday.
“Pack of Lies” (12/4/93) – Snoopy lies about a family death
to get out of taking a test while Angelica buys something she hopes will help
her attract a guy.
“Love Letters on the Hudson” (12/11/93) – Susan plans to
meet her secret admirer on the Hudson River with her friends.
“All My Trials” (12/18/93) – Anjelica receives a fine and
summons for improperly disposing of trash.
“I Am Woman” (1/29/94) – The boys make fun of Nikki when she
wants to play basketball with them.
Laurence Tureaud, Mr. T was the youngest son in a family of twelve children in Chicago, Illinois. Having grown
up facing constant lack of
respect because of the color of his skin--hearing his father, uncle and
veteran brother constantly called “boy”--he legally changed his name in 1970 to
“Mr. T” so that “the first word out of everybody’s mouth is ‘Mr.’” He played
football, wrestled and studied martial arts at Dunbar
Vocational High School and became the citywide wrestling champion two years
in a row. He won a football scholarship to Prairie
View A&M University where he majored in mathematics, but was expelled
after a year.
Fools, consider yourself pitied.
Mr. T join the Army’s Military
Police Corps for several years before trying out of the Green Bay Packers football team, but a knee
injury kept him out. Instead, he became a bouncer for the club Dingbats
Discotheque where the Mr. T persona began to take shape. He started wearing
gold chains adorned with various pieces of jewelry that essentially served as a
“lost and found” box; the items typically left behind by patrons after a fight
broke out who could then reclaim them from him without going back into the
club. They were also meant to represent the chains that were used to bring his
ancestors to the country and held them down. While reading National Geographic, Mr.
T noticed the hairstyle on a Mandinka warrior
and decided to adopt it as his own as a simpler, more permanent visual
signature and a powerful statement about his African origins. His tenure as a
bouncer led to his also becoming a bodyguard whose reputation garnered him
clients such as Steve McQueen,
Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali,
Diana Ross, Joe Frazier and
B.A. Baracus and his signature van.
Mr. T took part in NBC’s Games People Playin
the “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition,which he won by knocking
out Honolulu bouncer Tutefano Tufi in a
boxing match. This caught the attention of Sylvester Stallone, who had Mr. T
cast as the antagonist Clubber Lang in Rocky III. It was
this film that introduced his catchphrase: “I pity the fool!” He appeared again
as a boxer in the film Penitentiary
2and then in a
bit on the sketch comedy series Bizarrewith Super
Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein) before
landing a starring role as Sergeant Bosco “B.A.” Baracus on the series The A-Team. The
series was a massive hit in its first three years, and Mr. T became the most
popular character on it—especially with children.
Animated Mr. T helping out one of his charges, Kim.
way to capitalize on that than with a cartoon centered around Mr. T? Then-network
president Brandon Tartikoff
ordered one from Ruby-Spears
Gerber and Martin Pasko
were given the assignment and came up with three different proposals for the
network. None of them, however, were selected. Instead, the show became yet
another in a long line of Scooby-Dooclones (almost fitting, as Joe
Ruby and Ken
Spears were the original co-creators of that successful franchise during
their tenure at Hanna-Barbera).
However, instead of a talking dog, Mr. T would be joined by the youth
gymnastics team that he coached. This emulated real life as, before joining the
Army, Mr. T had worked as a gym instructor for a government program where he
discovered a gift for helping children and continued to do so throughout his life
and career. Not only did Mr. T voice himself, but he appeared in live-action
segments at the beginning to introduce the story and at the end to deliver a moral lesson
to the audience.
Mr. T and his crew (clockwise from top left): Ms. Bisby, Kim, Jeff, Woody, Vince, Robin, Spike, Dozer and Garcia.
Mr. T and
the team would travel around the world to compete. Along the way, they would
end up encountering some kind of crime or mystery that they couldn’t help but
attempt to solve; such as the wreckage of a ship that doesn’t exist, spies
seeking to sabotage the space shuttle program, and even a relative of one of
the characters being framed. The team consisted of Robin O’Neill (Amy Linker),
the second-in-command eager to jump into situations; Spike O’Neill (Teddy Field
III), Robin’s little brother who worshiped Mr. T to the point he dressed and
talked like him; Jeff Harris (Shawn Lieber), a wise guy with a big ego; Woody
Daniels (Phil LaMarr in his first voice acting role), Jeff’s friendly rival
with aspirations of becoming a lawyer; Kim Nakamura (Siu Ming Carson), who
possessed a photographic memory; Sky Redfern (Cathy Cavadini in her first voice
acting role), a Native American; Garcia Lopez, an aspiring photographer; Vince
D’Amato, who wanted to be a movie star; Courtney Howard, who had an ex-con
uncle that turned into a magician; and Grant Kline, an ex-gang member Jeff
helped reform. Additionally, there was Ms. Priscilla Bisby (Takayo Fischer), their
mystery book-loving bus driver, and Bulldozer aka Dozer, Mr. T’s bulldog that
shared his taste in hairstyles.
A spin-off of The
Brady Kidsand a precursor in concept to The
Magic School Bus, Mission: Magic! was the fulfilment of producer Lou Scheimer’s desire to show
how important a teacher could be to children. The series would center around a
teacher with magical powers named Miss Tickle (a play on “mystical”, voiced by
Lola Fisher) that had a special rapport with her small yet diverse class of kids—The
Adventurers Club comprised of the quirky Socks, word-confusing Vinnie (both
Howard Morris), their leader Kim, lovestruck Carol (both Erika Scheimer), nerdy
Harvey and athletic Franklin (both Lane Scheimer)—and her cat, Tut-Tut, who
could turn to and from a statue via a magical incantation. Her lessons would
become enhanced adventures as she was able to open a portal through her
blackboard, with Tut-Tut’s help and transport them all to magical worlds beyond
such as a world ruled by magic, one where everyone did things in reverse, or
even an underwater city. Filmation
sold the idea to ABC’s Michael Eisner, however there was
a catch: they wanted the series to feature Australian musician Rick
Miss Tickle and The Adventurers Club: Harvey, Carol, Kim, Franklin, Vinnie and Socks.
After learning to play the guitar at age 13,
Springfield joined various bands in England and Australia before winding up
with pop rock band Zoot
as a backing vocalist; eventually becoming the lead guitarist and vocalist in
1969. Zoot’s gimmick, wearing head-to-toe pink satin, earned them significant
attention and numerous teenaged female fans, but cost them being taken
seriously as musicians. After the band broke up in 1971, Springfield signed with
Sparmac Records and his debut
single, “Speak to the Sky”,
peaked at number 5 on the Go-Setsingles chart and at number 14 on the BillboardHot 100. His debut album, Beginnings,
became the first of seven of his top 40 albums on the Billboard 200. Springfield moved to the United
States in 1972 and signed with Capitol
Records until a scandal broke out that Capitol was paying people to buy his
albums, resulting in a radio station boycott. Springfield moved to Columbia Records in 1973 where he
recorded his second album, Comic
Book Heroes. His looks and style had earned him the status as the next
teen pop idol.
The psychedelic sounds of Rick.
entered into an arrangement to help promote Springfield and felt that the
cartoon would be a good showcase for his music. It was decided that while Miss
Tickle would be the children’s steward, Springfield would be their guide once
they went through the portal with his owl Ptolemy (named for the Greek mathematician and astronomer
and playing with Tut-Tut on the nonsensical poem “The
Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward
Lear); either filling them in on the goings on or actively calling for
their help through a magic gramophone in dealing with situations like thieves,
despots and disasters. Springfield would go on to write and perform a song in
each episode related in some way to the story, albeit in truncated form to accommodate
episode runtimes, and the series’ theme. Fisher, an accomplished singer herself,
was able to perform a song of her own in an episode—not written by Springfield—as
well as some melodic spell casting. According to Scheimer in the book Creating
the Filmation Generation, she likely would have had more opportunities had
Springfield not been involved. Carol was depicted as having a crush on Rick,
not unlike the legion of his young female fans.
Drawing the magic door.
Magic! debuted on ABC on September 8, 1973, airing alongside The Brady
Kids. This was one of the few Filmation series to not rely heavily on stock
footage, making it one of the more expensive they produced. Outside of the main
characters, each new world they visited necessitated new designs for both them
and their related characters. It was a way to give the series a different look,
compared by Scheimer to a Peter Max
painting or the designs for Yellow Submarine,
and to make sure each place fit the story being told. Additionally, the musical
numbers would be accompanied by their own kind of psychedelic visuals. In typical
Filmation fashion, each story contained a pro-social message. Marc Richards
wrote the entirety of the series as he did with The Brady Kids, and the
rest of the series’ music was composed by Ray Ellis and Norm Prescott as Yvette Blais
and Jeff Michael, respectively.
The magical Land of Prestidigitation.
ultimately did no one any favors. It didn’t hit with audiences and only lasted a
single season. It did nothing for Springfield’s career that he wouldn’t do for
himself with the release of the album Working
Class Dogand its hit single “Jessie’s Girl”, as well
as his prominent role as Dr. Noah Drake in the soap opera General Hospital. He has
since continued to perform on stage and screen, as well as dabbled in writing
with his autobiography and a novel. While this and Miss Tickle ended up being
Fisher’s only credit for Filmation, she was the wife and manager of Jackson Bostwick who would become the
titular hero of their live-action effort Shazzam!in 1974.