[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

I finally have confirmation (via Jerry Beck of the Cartoon Research website) through Hal's daughter, Lisa, that he has indeed passed away. Not wanting to pry or seem insensitive, I haven't yet asked for the actual date or cause of death.

To those of us who worship 80's cartoons, Hal Sutherland will forever be remembered for three things:

Having his name turn in to The Sorceress...

Making Space-Cowboy He-Man...

... And being the animating force behind all the re-run filler that ran on your local stations while the NEW cartoons played on the Big Three (ABC, NBC, CBS). Stuff like Star Trek, The Archies, The Batman/Superman/Aquaman cartoons that didn't seem to fit in with the versions you saw on the Super Friends, and those weird Popeye cartoons that weren't like the REALLY old ones they played along with vintage Tom & Jerry, Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckyl cartoons but weren't as mind-numbingly awful as the "All New Popeye Adventures" over on CBS.

As the story goes (and I may be misremembering this and/or mixing up multiple versions of the same story), Filmation became a company kind of by accident. Hal Sutherland and Lou Scheimer were both animators working for various production studios when one of those companies just had too much work and not enough budget. Hal and Lou said "Well heck let's make a little limited partnership that can take over some of these jobs for a few weeks". They finished up the work and were prepared to be unemployed again when Norm Prescott called and said "Hey you guys wanna take a crack at making a Superman cartoon?" and they said "Meh, sure, why not, got nuthin' better to do right now".
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

As I'm sure you've all heard by now (mainly because of all your personal messages to me asking if I would post about it here in the 1980's Saturday Morning Historical Reenactment Society community), Filmation cartoon producer Lou Scheimer died earlier this week at the age of 84.

SHORT LIST OF WHAT YOU KNOW HIM FROM: Fat Albert, Star Trek The Animated Series, He-Man, Archie, The New Adventures of Batman, Gilligan's Planet... so many more.

Meeting Mr. Scheimer was one of the low points in my early days of animation fandom, one that I've tried to just block out and put behind me but I'll recount it here for all y'all as best as I remember.

It was the early 90's and i was living (temporarily) in Anaheim California with my Brother and his wife. I had just graduated high school so OF COURSE i knew EVERYTHING and my opinions were MUCH more valid and important than those of anyone else (I was SUCH an ASS). My Brother and his wife were very heavy in to the (then recent) hobby of "Animation Artwork Investment" - they bought a lot of animation cells and, as a result, were invited to all sorts of Gallery Events that I had no interest in because they were usually 1960's Warner Brothers stuff (Bugs Bunny and the likes), which I had NO interest in because I was much more sophisticated than that and only collected Super Hero things. One day they were invited to a Filmation Animation Sale preview gallery showing and I tagged along because I hoped to see some of those early DC Comics cels they had made back in the 60's.

We got there and I complained the whole time I was there. "Filmation cartoons are the WORST!" and "Ugh who would make stuff like this ON PURPOSE?" and other vitally important opinions of mine were expressed loudly and to anyone who would pause near me long enough for me to speak. One of the people I forced my opinions on to just shrugged at me and said "Hey, we did the best we could with the money we had" and then a large man in a very nice suit asked me to please leave. I tried to ignore him, the large man then put his hand on my shoulder and said "C'mon, buddy, let's go" and I was escorted out of the building.

The large man informed me that THAT was mister Scheimer and how he was a saint of a man and they didn't need this kind of grief at their Gallery Showing and a bunch of other stuff that I ignored and argued against because I was 18 and stupid and vain and ignorant and AAAAAARGH!!!! I HATE THIS STORY SO MUCH!!!

So over the years my appreciation for Animation History grew, and through all my research that ever crossed over in to Filmation History the facts remained the same - Filmation could - and WOULD - make cartoons cheaper than anybody else, and would keep the jobs (or at least the majority of them) here in the USA using all the master animators that had become unemployed thanks to the other animation studios shipping all their jobs overseas. He was a master of "Making it up on the back-end" - making the cartoon at a loss so he could get a piece of the merchandising action and then using those profits to pay all those animators who needed work.

So there's my story. Please feel free to leave your own remembrances, thoughts and whatnot in the comments below :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

You may notice that the title of this video is "The New Adventures of Flash Gordon 1979" and wonder why the heck it's being listed in 1982, ESPECIALLY since you probably don't remember seeing this cartoon on Saturday Morning in the 80's! Trust me, it belong here and it has one of my favorite Saturday Morning Behind-The-Scenes tales attached to it :)

Although the character and story of Flash Gordon has been around since 1934, our story begins in 1977 with the release of the movie STAR WARS. As soon as Star Wars made it's first million dollars, Filmation was on it making an animated movie for NBC. NBC *liked* it, but thought it would do better as a Saturday Morning cartoon so the movie was put on a shelf and work on the first season of The Adventures Of Flash Gordon cartoon were begun. Again, NBC *liked* it and even put it on Saturday mornings in 1979, but they hated the serialized "Episode 1, episode 2, etc" nature of the show because it didn't fit with their "Infinite Re-Runs" mode of Saturday Morning Programming (13 episodes, 52 Saturdays, you do the math) and so for the second season they asked for a few changes... changes that took 2 years.

During those two years, the big-screen "Flash Gordon" movie came to theaters, and the original Flash Gordon animated film (no called "Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure Of All" aired in prime-time on NBC the Friday before the new cartoons debuted in September 1982, along with a great "Be sure to watch the FURTHER adventures of Flash Gordon starting tomorrow morning and EVERY Saturday morning right here on NBC".

Unfortunately, NBC's requested changes had been put in to effect and made the previous series and the animated movie kind of a moot point. The serial format be dropped and the stories were more episodic. They also added a Scrappy-Doo pet dragon named Gremlin who made art with his mouth-smoke. The second season was not so well received (and was not seen in some areas, due to being scheduled in the 12:30 time slot and thus often being pre-empted for sportsball coverage) and the program was cancelled shortly after its completion.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Gilligan's Planet was on your local CBS affiliate at 10:30 in 1982 (and at Noon in the Spring of 1983) that featured nearly the entire cast of the original 1964 sit-com "Gilligan's Island", the only exception being Tina "Ginger" Louise, who even after nearly 20 year was still upset at having been "tricked" in to taking the roll on the original show (luckily, Dawn "Mary-Ann" Wells was able to fill in and provide the voices for both roles).

Much like the original Gilligan' Island theme song had done, the intro to this cartoon summed up the entire back-story and plot in one compact snippet. They're castaways on an island, they build a rocket, they're now stranded in space.

Produced by Filmation (in conjunction with MGM/United Artists), Gilligan's Planet was the last cartoon series that Filmation produced for Saturday mornings. After this point, it's all syndicated stuff. It was also the first Filmation series to feature the Lou Scheimer "signature" credit (as opposed to the rotating Lou Scheimer/Norm Prescott "wheel" credit which had been used since 1969).

And of course, it was directed by my close personal friend, Hal Sutherland (and by "Close Personal Friend", I mean "I bought an animation cell of Orco from him at a comic book convention and had him sign it for me")
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

At 11 in the morning on CBS in 1981, you could find an... *interesting* little show that I can only assume was created by a committee of Time Traveling Marketing Executives at Filmation, BLACKSTAR.

Buck Rogers crash-lands on He-Man's planet (Eternia) and teams-up with characters from Thundarr and a small platoon of Smurfs so he can fight The Thundercats foe (Mum-Ra) for the other half of a magic sword, because there should always be a sword.

Or, in the words of the narration:
"John Blackstar, astronaut, is swept through a black hole, into an ancient alien universe. Trapped on the planet Sagar, Blackstar is rescued by the tiny Trobbit people. In turn, he joins their fight for freedom against the cruel Overlord, who rules by the might of the Powerstar. The Powerstar is split into the Powersword and the Starsword. And so with Starsword in hand, Blackstar, together with his allies, sets out to save the planet Sagar. This is his destiny".

In later years when I was watching this on VHS, every time the end of the narration came and he says "I am John Blackstar", I liked to follow it up with "...And I'm an alcoholic." HI, JOHN. "It's been one week since my last drink, the last time I saw a Trobbit, but I feel like I might lapse and..." and then the episode would start and it was all just hi drunken nightmare/fantasy, week after week.

Never had much use for this cartoon... sorry I don't know much more about it. It was on opposite two other shows that I liked a heck of a lot better, and it was on a channel that we didn't receive very well with our antenna :/

Although there were only 13 episodes produced (a single season), the reruns continued to air at 1:00 in 1982 and 1983.

Please leave your memories/opinions/thoughts in the comment below :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

First, the straight data. The Kid Super Power Hour With Shazam was a live-action/animated comedy/action/cartoon show that aired at 9:30 on NBC starting in 1981, and was produced by Filmation. The live-action segments were your standard vaudeville jokes and skits performed by attractive people in spandex super hero suits. The animated segments were of either "Hero High" (animated versions of the live-action spandex vaudeville folk) or "SHAZAM!" (animated adventures of the famous Superman knock-off of the 1930's). How many episodes were there? Good question...

See, this show is one of my favorites AND one of my most frustrating.

One of the first bootlegs I tracked down when I got in to "Tape Trading" (VHS tapes) back in the late 80's was Hero High. I paid $30 for 3 video tapes full of The Kid Super Power Hour With Shazam, which the seller swore were the only 9 episodes that were ever made.

When The Internet happened, I discovered that the order from NBC was for at least 13 episodes - four more than what I had paid for.

Since then, in my attempts to find the entire series, I have heard people claim that there are as many as THIRTY-EIGHT EPISODES of this show - and INSANE amount of episodes for a weekly Saturday morning cartoon!

I know for a fact that there were only 12 8-minute SHAZAM! cartoons produced, and the rights to them are owned by Warner Brothers who has no plans to ever make an official release.

I know for a fact that there were 26 8-minute Hero High cartoon segments produced, and they are available on DVD.

Combining those two might get us to the fabled 38 episodes, but since this was an hour long "block" of cartoons that regularly showed 4 or 5 cartoon segments along with the live-action vaudeville, I'm assuming that my 9 episodes are closer to the true number of episodes than 38 ever could be.

Wish I still had those tapes, even if they WERE on Betamax tapes :(
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour from Filmation has been mentioned here before, but for continuity sake let's bring it up again.

Filmation had a ton of 15-minute adventure cartoons featuring Tarzan that they kept running and re-running with various new cartoons all through the 1970's and well into the early 1980's. This show was officially called an "Adventure Hour", although it rarely went hast 30 minutes per scheduled episode. For 1980 and 1981, the Tarzan cartoons were packaged with brand new Lone Ranger and Zorro cartoons as part of a bait-n-switch scam that I've never ever forgiven them for; I'd tune in hoping to see a new Lone Ranger cartoon and ALWAYS get an episode of either Tarzan and Zorro, or just a double-dose of Tarzan re-runs :(

They are why I have trust issues.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was a Filmation animated series created, produced, and hosted (in live action bookends) by comedian Bill Cosby, who also did a huge chunk of the voices for the show (including Fat Albert himself). The show premiered in 1972 and *kind of* ran until 1985... See, up till 1983 they had been doing short-order seasons of the show - 6 to 8 new episodes per season - but then between 1984 and 1985 the cranked out some FIFTY NEW EPISODES of the cheaper, lower-quality "The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids".

It should also be noted that this was the year that they replaced the "Junkyard Rock Band" segments of the show with Fat Albert and the gang rushing to their clubhouse to watch the latest episode of "The Brown Hornet" (Also voiced by Cosby).

What do you think? Have any good memories or thoughts to share about Fat Albert and the gang? Come at me with comments and fun, and if you're not careful you might just learn something before we're done. So let's get ready, okay? Hey, hey, HEY!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Continuing our exploration in to the highly forgettable collective of cartoons known as The Super 7, this morning we start with one that even *I* don't remember - MANTA AND MORAY.

This Filmation cartoon ran for all of 7 episodes that got re-ran over and over again over the course of the early 80's and featured Manta (Monarch of the Deep) who was the last survivor of the ancient civilization of Mu. Mu was destroyed by a terrible explosion, but Manta was engulfed by a wave of unknown radiation, and placed into a form of suspended animation deep beneath the waves. He was discovered and awoken by Moray, a human woman, whom he subsequently married. He is amphibious, but cannot be away from water for too long or he will weaken and die. He is able to communicate with the creatures of sea and land.

Moray (voiced by Joan Van Arc) was raised by dolphins after the plane her parents had been flying in crashed into the sea, she learned to live in the ocean. She discovered Manta, whom she managed to revive. They got married and pledged themselves to protecting the seaworld from any who would threaten it. She is an excellent swimmer, able to hold her breath for incredibly long periods.

They also had their own "Scrappy-Doo", a sea lion named "Whiskers". But as with most of the Filmation Scrappy's that were created in the late 1970's, Whiskers was mercifully unable to speak.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Jason of Star Command (the only Filmation Live Action show of the "Super 7" line-up) was actually a spin-off of an earlier show called "Space Academy". If you love cheesy 1980's sci-fi that is themed firmly somewhere between Gil Gerard's "Buck Rogers" and Martin Landau's "Space: 1999", do yourself the favor of watching these two shows!!!

The original series, "Space Academy", featured Johnathan Harris ("Doctor Smith" of the 1960's sci-fi show "Lost In Space". The first season of Jason Of Star Command featured James Doohan ("Scotty" from "Star Trek").

But the season we're talking about here, the season that was a part of Batman And The Super 7, featured none of those. Just the outer-space adventures of a guy named Jason, his super-fast Space Ship, and his HAND-HELD COMPUTER NAMED WIKI That's right... this show was the origin of WIKIPEDIA!!!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Okay, this one is difficult... bear with me as we travel all the way back to 1977 (again).

"The Young Sentinels" was a Filmation cartoon that debuted on Saturday mornings in 1977 and was quickly renamed "Space Sentinals" in the middle of their very short 13-episode first-and-only season. In this series, a racially-diverse assortment of Roman mythological figures Hercules (white as white could be) and Mercury (Asian) and Astrea (Black), a character created specifically for the series, to form a superhero team to protect mankind from their base on... the moon? I want to say the moon. Maybe it was a spaceship. Their main bad-guy was the "sinister" villain Morpheus, who is also an Earthling given powers in the same manner as Hercules, Mercury, and Astrea, but far earlier. However, those who had given Morpheus his powers had erred by giving him a variety of powers rather than one specific power; he had rebelled and turned to evil.

In 1978, they made 5 more episodes (so it could fit in to the "Super 7" line-up) and changed things up a bit. Same basic story, only they ditched Mercury and Astrea, and the team was now assembled by an animated version of the live-action super-heroine "Isis". Added to the team now were Merlin the Magician, Sinbad the Sailor and... SUPER SAMURAI!!!

I love the Super Samurai character :)

Super Samurai was a small Japanese boy who could become a giant steel (robotic?) suit of glowing, flying Samurai armor! HOW COOL IS THAT???

So when the "Freedom Force" segment and opening credits came up in the Super 7 line-up, you never knew if it was going to be Freedom Force or Space Sentinels...
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In The New Adventures of Batman & Robin, the "Dynamic Duo" fights crime in Gotham City, encountering the classic Batman rogues gallery as well as some original villains. Complicating matters is Bat-Mite, a well-meaning imp from another dimension called Ergo, who considers himself Batman's biggest fan. As a result, he wears a variant of Batman’s costume and attempts to help him, only to often create more problems (although he is occasionally an asset). Missing is Alfred, the faithful butler of Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne; also notable in this series are the inverted colors of the "R" on Robin's costume.

This was an excellent Filmation cartoon from 1977 featuring the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward (the live-action Batman & Robin from the 1960's Batman TV show). This cartoon stayed closer to the more serious Batman comics that were being published by DC Comics at the time, with the glaring exception of BAT-MITE (who is an honorary member of the Scrappy-Doo Club).

Only one season of this show was ever made, and it was then re-packaged over and over again till some undetermined year of the early 80's.

Once they figured that they could shuffle the episodes in to the Super 7, they kind of abused it and over-ran the show. Still awesome, though!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Kicking off our week of in-depth investigation of the Frankenstein Monster of Saturday Mornings known as "The Super 7",we have the earliest of the cartoons featured: TARZAN LORD OF THE JUNGLE.

Starting in 1976, this half-hour adventure offering from Filmation was by far the most faithful adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan, and featured a number of "lost cities" from the novels. The rotoscoped animation is based upon the work of Burrough's favorite Tarzan artist, Burne Hogarth. Tarzan is intelligent and well spoken, rather than the "Me Tarzan, You Jane" of many films. His sidekick is N’kima the monkey (since the chimpanzee "Cheeta" was an invention of the movies but kids were expecting to see a monkey dag-nabbit).

There were 6 seasons of this cartoon stretching from '76 to '82. First season was 16 episodes. Next year they added 6 more. Then 6 more. Then they said "Y'know what? Kids don't know the difference" and just kept shuffling the existing episodes in to shows like "Batman & The Super 7", "The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour", "Tarzan & The Super 7", "The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour" and for the final season, "The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour".

And so it begins...
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Batman & The Super 7, Saturday mornings at 11am on NBC in 1980. Sorry that the quality is so lame, but this is a kind of rare opening to find...

This show was like a Lego Set of re-runs that they just kept reconstructing over and over again.

It all started in 1976 with the Filmation animated series "Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle" and 1977 with "The New Adventures of Batman & Robin".

In the short season between 1977 and 1978, they slapped reruns of those two shows together and called it "The Tarzan/Batman Adventure Hour". No new content, and they only ran for a fistful of episodes before becoming "Tarzan & The Super 7" in 1978. And then in 1980, by changing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT THE OPENING CREDITS by the SLIGHTEST BIT, the show became "Batman & The Super 7".

"The Super 7" where just seemingly random episodes of Tarzan and Batman, mixed in with some new cartoons that nobody had every heard of before or ever would hear from again except for in the future Lego Set incarnations of this show over the next few years (each of these other cartoons will be getting it's own entry in our archives this week).

This is going to be really fun to follow the genealogy of... it's all very exciting :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

(Cross Posted from Tumblr)

THE TOM & JERRY COMEDY SHOW - If you tuned in to your local CBS affiliate at 8:30 in the morning on Saturday in 1980, you would have witnessed this cartoon. Mercifully, there was only one season of this particular Tom & Jerry cartoon. Much like the Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jekyl cartoons of this age, this was a modern attempt to make new cartoons with classic characters while following the guidelines presented by Concerned Parent Groups. Gone were the wacky slapstick violent antics and instead we had a series of situational comedies. Just dreadful :( This show technically had two seasons, but the second season was nothing but reruns.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

(Cross-Posted from Tumblr)
Going to start chronologically here, for posterity sake! If you were to go ahead and wake up bright-n-early at 8am Saturday morning in 1980 and tune in to your local CBS affiliate, odds are you would have seen 'The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle' produced by Filmation, and aired from 1979 to 1981 on CBS with over 32 episodes produced. These cartoons were, quite frankly, terrible. They were part of a glut of revived classic cartoon characters that included the likes of Tom & Jerry with “Adventures” that were so over-censored that they were barely watchable.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Conversations I have had with various people about Blackstar lead me to believe that it was a cartoon suffering from TMIS (Too Many Ideas Syndrome), but it WORKED. At least for one season. And that's because everybody took something different away from it. It was a He-Man show. It was a Smurfs show. It was an outer-space show. It was a Conan-esque Fantasy show.

Whatever it was to you, feel free to leave your own thoughts about it in the comments below. And if it happened to be one of your favorites, be sure to go vote for it in our Best Cartoon of 1981 Poll!


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