Friday, January 31, 2014

It’s STILL Time To Retire It: Roman Numerals!

On the eve of 2014’s Super Bowl XLVIII, let’s return to my post of February 07, 2012 – HERE! 
It’s just as true, two years later!    

Hey, It's MET LIFE STADIUM!  We've got a SUPER BOWL!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Animation with Less Domination!

…Or, has “Dad” had it? 

We’ve been a little tardy in reporting things of late, such as our post on THIS WONDERFUL ITEM, and here’s another bit of late and unfortunate news.

FOX has cancelled Seth MacFarlane’s AMERICAN DAD, during 2013 which, along with the previously reported cancellations of FUTURAMA and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, will leave 2013 as “The Year of the Prime Time Animation Massacre”! 

FOX Sunday "Animation Domination" in its Glory Days. 
I can’t honestly say I warmed up to AMERICAN DAD until relatively recently.  But, the saga of zealously over-the-top patriotic CIA operative Stan Smith, his spacey wife Francine, peace-nik teen daughter Haley, and nerdy son Steve finally worked its way into my personal “Animation Likes” place. 

Good morning, USA!

Admittedly, some of the characters were a tad hard to take, like the German-speaking mutant fish “Klaus” and flamboyant, multiple-personality disordered alien “Roger”.  FAMILY GUY, by contrast, merely asked that I accept a talking dog and a malevolent genius toddler.  EASY STUFF! 

But, the basic MacFarlane humor template, of an out-of-control “dad character” in a bizarre world of funny-weird co-stars and incessant non-sequiturs, that I so enjoy in FAMILY GUY and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, eventually shined through the more I auto-pilot-zombie-kinda-viewed AMERICAN DAD to end my Sunday evenings – and, consistent with my traditionally bad sense of timing, I decide to “like it” at pretty much the very time it gets cancelled.

He LIKES us!  ...A bit TOO LATE, but he LIKES US!

Unlike FUTURAMA and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, however, I can’t truly apply the word “cancelled”, because TBS (the network that salvaged Conan O’Brien) has picked up AMERICAN DAD for an order of 15 new episodes.  …And, perhaps there will be still more than that.  Let’s hope. 

Never give up on America, and never give up on Stan Smith!
Though, it’s not difficult to see why FOX’s Sunday night “Animation Domination” could fall on leaner times, given the popularity and quality of its competition:  Sunday Night Football, MAD MEN, THE WALKING DEAD, DOWNTON ABBEY, and more.  Indeed, it’s quite a tribute to FOX that its animation block has hung together for this long.  
Can Stan hold off the competition?  Guess not!

And, with the dual tent-poles of THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY, I expect it to be around for some time to come. 
"Hey, I was only wondering which one of us had the bigger tent-pole... that's all!"
Still, given the loss of both AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW in 2013, we can’t deny that the “Domination” of FOX animation has at least been dented. 
Time for Stan to do a little FOX hunting!  His future, though, is no longer "TBA", but "TBS"!

Whatever the future, I’ll be content to recall both departed Seth MacFarlane series at their combined height, as component parts of the “Hurricane Flozell” event!  

This was a Sunday night in Fall 2011 where FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW were subject to the ravages of fictional “Hurricane Flozell”, which blew through ALL THREE SHOWS. 
And, oddly enough both AMERICAN DAD and especially THE CLEVELAND SHOW (the two cancelled series, I must point out) outshone FAMILY GUY, and offered-up two of the best episodes of their respective series! 
"Life is like a hurr-i-caane, here in Duck-burg... er, Stoolbend, Langley Falls, and Quahog!
…And, should AMERICAN DAD ultimately go the way of FUTURAMA and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, there’s always DVD sets to keep the good times coming!  
Good things come in (Volume or Season) Threes!

Friday, January 24, 2014

R.I.P. Hal Sutherland.

It seems quite ironic that, after posting on the unknown whereabouts of the Filmation 1968 BATMAN animated series on authorized DVD, that I must report on the passing of the remaining founder of Filmation Studios, Hal Sutherland.

Mr. Sutherland passed away on January 16, 2014 at either age 84 or 85, depending on his actual date of birth. 

With Hal Sutherland’s passing, the three founders of Filmation have all left us – and “left us” they did, with a substantial legacy of animated programming that stretched from the 1960s thru the 1980s. 

Left: Lou Scheimer.  Right: Norm Prescott.  Middle: Hal Sutherland in the Glory Days of Filmation.

Of Filmation’s founders, Norm Prescott died in 2005, too early for this Blog to report on, though his death was duly noted in the Fanzine and APA “print version” of The Issue At Hand. 

Lou Scheimer passed a mere THREE MONTHS prior to Hal Sutherland’s death, and received TIAH tribute HERE. 
Lou Scheimer.

There’s not much more to add specific to Hal Sutherland that is not found in the Lou Scheimer post, except to say that he began his career as a Disney animator who worked on “Sleeping Beauty” – and, most important to the legacy of Filmation, directed episodes or individual segments of virtually every Filmation series. 

Another of the great sixties cartoon-makers is now gone.  Rest in peace, Hal Sutherland. 

Hal Sutherland's director's credit, from Flimation's STAR TREK THE ANIMATED SERIES.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There’s Still a Batman Missing!

The possible great news of the 1966 BATMAN TV series coming to DVD, as reported in THIS POST, leaves me with an additional thought. 

With even this long-disputed bat-property finally coming to authorized DVD, one is left to wonder where is the 1968 Filmation BATMAN animated series?  

UPDATE: February 06, 2014:  It IS coming!  Click HERE for more details!

Where?  Even the Dark Knight Detective doesn't know!
Considering there was a release (though incomplete) for Filmation's SUPERMAN


And the catch-all, remainder DC HEROES

Why has this series – which nicely reflected Silver Age Batman comics, because it was written by such Silver Age DC Comics writers as Bob Haney and George Kashdan – never been released to DVD?

Not even released through Warner Archives, like some of these…

So, when Adam West joins Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Kevin Conroy, Rino Romano, Diedrich Bader, Bruce Greenwood, and other actors who have performed (in body or voice) as Batman “sometime in 2014”, Filmation's voice of Batman, Olan Soule, will still be missing.  

...And so will be "Simon the Pieman"!  

You won't find ME anywhere else, folks!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

R.I.P. Russell Johnson (The Professor).

Russell Johnson, forever known as “The Professor” on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, passed away on January 16, 2014, at the age of 89. 

Johnson’s Professor Roy Hinkley, and the rest of the cast (-aways) of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND have achieved such iconic status that they need no further introduction. 

Oddly, Russell Johnson did not appear in the pilot for the very series he would become indelibly identified with.  The Professor there was played by an actor named John Gabriel – but Johnson's version of The Professor was added for the first broadcast episode of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, and there he would remain. 
Beyond his “tropic island nest”, Russell Johnson was known for westerns (Four appearances on GUNSMOKE and three on WAGON TRAIN) and numerous big and small screen products of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. 

Something of a regular presence in ‘50s Sci-Fi cinema, Johnson had a key supporting role in Jack Arnold and Universal’s ultra-classic 3D fifties-fear-fest “It Came from Outer Space” (1953). 

Jack Arnold's aliens teach The Professor a "lesson"!
He also appeared in “This Island Earth” (1955), and Jack Arnold’s “The Space Children” (1958). 

All in all, he'd probably prefer "Gilligan's Island" to "This Island (Earth)"!

March, 2014 Update:  For one additional ‘50s Sci-Fi Film role of significance, please go HERE!  

Of course, GILLIGAN’S ISLAND would reunite Russell Johnson with Jack Arnold, who directed many episodes of that series. 

Did The Professor just see a "Jack Arnold monster"? 
On TV, he was seen on such genre series as:





·         THE INVADERS

And a special mention for:

 where, in the excellent horror episode
he appears alongside William
Shatner -- with both actors on the
verge of the respective TV roles
that would eternally define
them and their careers! 
The things that lie ahead...
Rest in peace, Russell Johnson… and thank you for all the great moments -- on and off The Island!  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

About (Same-Bat) Time!

Is this finally the long-awaited OFFICIAL 1966 Adam West BATMAN TV SERIES on DVD? 

Check it out HERE! 

Let’s hope!  That rhymes with “Bat-Rope”! 
Won't it be great to see these guys on official, non-bootleg  DVD at last!
Why, even the ANIMATED King Tut is excited!