[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

By 1984, ABC had realized that these new-fangled VEE-dee-oh Games were all the rage with kids and brought yet another popular game character to Saturday Mornings at 10:00, DRAGON'S LAIR.

One of only *three* video games stored for posterity at the Smithsonian Institute, Dragon's Lair was a revolutionary video game with rich, delightful animation courtesy of Ex-Disney Animator Don Bluth. Just compare the above opening credits of the TV show (produced by Ruby-Spears on the cheap) to the "Trailer" that played on the old Dragon's Lair Video Game and you'll begin to see why the show may not have performed so well...

The Video Game had been cinematic quality animation, and the Saturday Morning cartoon was... well, TV Animation. And then to further doom the show, it was scheduled at the dreaded TEN O'CLOCK TIME SLOT, the time in the morning when every other network was showing the second or third half-hour of some extremely popular show such as The Smurfs.

Despite all this, the show was *extremely* popular! One gimmick they used that really helped connect the show to the video game was to end on a cliffhanger at each commercial break, having the narrator ask viewers "What would YOU do?" to insure that the kids would stay tuned to find out what happened. Coming back from commercial break would have the narrator show one or two possible "Bad Choices", followed by the heroic option that saved the day :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

1984 ABC Saturday Morning brought us a cartoon that really deserves more love (imho), TURBO TEEN. A teenager (Brett Mathews) swerves his car off a cliff in the middle of a rainstorm and crashes in to a Secret Government Laboratory at the *exact moment* that they're testing their "Turn-Stuff-In-To-Other-Stuff-When-It-Gets-Hot-Inator" ray gun, so now whenever Matt gets too hot he turns in to his car. He's chased by a villain that seems to be Doctor Claw (from Inspector Gadget fame) driving a Monster Truck, going by the name "Dark Rider" (both characters voiced in an identical way by Frank Welker).

Don't you HATE IT when that happens???

As a collector with many connections, I can confidently say that there is NO SUCH THING as a complete, high-quality collection of all 13 Turbo Teen episodes. It was produced by Ruby-Spears, but they don't own the rights to it. Every time I try to find out who owns the rights to make a DVD release of this show, people start disappearing. I'm pretty sure Doctor Claw is behind it...

"Next time, Gadget..."
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Where do you begin with this? In 1983 at 11:00, the folks at NBC brought us the adventures of Mister T as animated by the Ruby-Spears studio.

If you don't know who Mister T was/is, I have nothing but pity for you and think you somewhat akin to a Foole.

The premise of this show was the Mister T was the trainer/coach of a teenage gymnastics troupe who for some reason drove around the country solving mysteries. They also had a dog with a mohawk and a red-headed white boy who wanted to be Mister T.

Unlike other celebrities who got their own cartoon series (Chuck Norris, Hulk Hogan, Muhammad Ali, etc) Mister T was pretty heavily involved with the creative end of this cartoon series. Each episode opened with Mister T explaining the set-up of the episode, and ended with him explaining the moral of the story in a live-action segment. There was a big struggle between the story writers and T, where the story writers wanted Mister T to perform some super-human feat of strength each episode (the entire reason behind making a cartoon about a muscle-bound hero, after all), but T insisted that his role be more of a mentor and not doing things that kids would try to imitate at home. This is why many episodes end with The Bad Guy just SEEING Mister T and deciding to give up rather than fight.

The show ran for 30 episodes over the course of three seasons, but because of contractual negotiations that fell through at the last minute Season 3 ended up being 100% re-runs of episodes from the first two seasons; they never even made it to the plotting stage of Season 3 because at that time, Mister T was trying to develop his standing in the WWF Professional Wrestling Federation - distancing himself from his established "Good Guy" persona.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

I'd have to do too much googling to confirm or deny this so I'll just let all y'all correct me if I'm wrong; 1983, 10:30 on NBC brought us the first ever Saturday Morning "Reboot" of a cartoon*, Alvin & The Chipmunks.

Back in 1961, Alvin & The Chipmunks looked like this (please feel free to ignore the Nickelodeon branding):

Produced for prime-time television, this version of The Chipmunks was a fast-paced half-hour "Gag" show, with 2 musical segments, a "Clyde Crashcup" cartoon and a single, quick joke featuring The Chipmunks.

But here in 1983, the show was refined. The musical segments were gone, replaced by actual storylines and character development. The character of Dave Seville was finally established as an adoptive father rather than an ambiguously disassociated record producer with anger management issues. The artistic style of the 1983 show was smoothed out and standardized to fit in with all the other cartoons of 1980's Saturday Morning thanks to the involvement of Ruby-Spears, as opposed to the highly stylized 1961 version that had been crafted solely by Bagdasarian Productions.

This was a completely different cartoon.

From the very first episode of the 1983 version, they distanced themselves by having a guest appearance by Mister T and also by introducing "The Chippettes". Even the theme song (one of the best ever on Saturday Mornings) implied that this was an all-new, all different approach to the Chipmunks and it REALLY WORKED!

*(You may point out various Hanna-Barbera shows of the 70's such as "Yogi's Space-Race", "The New Scooby-Doo Movies", "Yogi's Ark" and/or "Laugh-A-Lympics" as previous reboots of cartoons, but those weren't reboots so much as sequels that just used the same characters in new situations. It's like the difference between "Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" and the more recent JJ Abrahms "Star Trek" movies)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

At 10:00 on ABC in 1983, you'd find "Rubik The Amazing Cube" courtesy of the fine folks at Ruby-Spears. As is the case occasionally here at the SMHRS, once I started Googling to confirm or deny the information I knew about this show, I learned that I was WRONG. This is the second or third time I've had wrong information on something!

So first, let's start at the basics. The Early 80's were all about 3 things - Pac Man, MTV and The Rubik's Cube. The Rubik's Cube, for those who may not know for some weird reason, was a very popular cube-shaped puzzle with 36 squares of 6 different colors that could be rotated to create headaches and confusion.

So naturally, they made a cartoon about some Puerto Rican kids finding a magic one that could talk and help them with their daily conflicts while they helped the cube avoid being captured by the evil Gypsy Magician who would use the power of the cube to rule the world.

My INCORRECT INFORMATION on this cartoon was that the entire voice cast had been members of the popular Puerto Rican Boy Band "Menudo", along with Emanuel "Webster" Lewis as the voice of Rubik.


Ends up that Menudo only sang the theme song to the show, and the voice of Rubik was done by former Sweathog Ron "Horshack" Palillo from "Welcome Back Kotter" (a show that surprisingly holds up rather well after the passage of so much time).


One story about this show that I've always heard that made me feel warm-n-fuzzy on the inside is that the Puerto Rican kids on this show wasn't some affirmative action, racial equality, diversification mandate from higher up; the show was pitched as specifically Puerto Rican in order to capitalize on the momentum of the popular "Menudo On ABC" segments. Instead of being forced to rework a character or characters in to ethnic roles for diversification sakes (which is why cartoons are so full of multi-racial casts that all act as white as a bag of mayonnaise & marshmallows), this show was *natural*.

I love that :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In the wake of 1982's very profitable Pac-Man Cartoon advertising shenanigans, the folks at Ruby-Spears started snapping up the rights to pretty much every and any video game they could get. They didn't have a network, they didn't have a promise... they just realized that this was how it's going to work and so they did it knowing that the advertisers and the networks would come.

And so at 8:30 on saturday morning in 1983, CBS premiered "Saturday Supercade", a conglomeration of 11-minute videogame-based cartoon segments that weren't strong enough to carry their own half-hour series yet somehow, when lumped together, proved to be quite a ratings powerhouse!

The first season included segments on Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Pitfall Harry, Frogger and Qbert. Summaries:

DONKEY KONG escaped from the zoo and is chased around by Mario and Pauline (seems legit).
DONKEY KONG JR is looking for his dad and teams up with a teenager on a motorcycle to find him (Aww sweet).
PITFALL HARRY, his niece Rhonda, and a cowardly Mountain Lion(!?!) search for treasure
FROGGER is an investigative reporter(?!?)
QBERT is a 1950's teenager(???)

The second season dropped Pitfall Harry, Donkey Kong Jr and Frogger so they could ad "Kangaroo" and "Space Ace", which were both SO MUCH more like what they sound like than any of the previous season's cartoons had been.

Also aired at 9:30 and 11:30 in the 1984/1985 season
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In 1982 at 11am on ABC was a little slice of cult legend, misdirected ambition and same-old same-old in the form of the hour-long Scooby & Scrappy Puppy Hour. This show was the first (and I think only?) collaboration between the Saturday Morning Juggernauts, Ruby-Spears and Hanna-Barbera. The first half-hour of the show consisted of three 7-minute shorts, a mix of "Scooby and Scrappy-Doo" (the version where Scooby, Scrappy and Shaggy travel across the country as the "Fearless Detective Agency" and get involved in typical spy or criminal cases) and "Scrappy and Yabba-Doo" (Scrappy-Doo's adventures with his uncle Yabba-Doo and Deputy Dusty in the wild west), followed by a full 30-minute episode of "The Puppy's New Adventures" in the second half-hour. The Scooby/Scrappy-related shorts were written and voiced at Hanna-Barbera Productions, but animated and edited by Ruby-Spears Enterprises.

(Also aired at 10:00 starting in the Spring of 1983)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

This cartoon, which debuted at 10:00 Saturday morning in 1982 on ABC, is an example of evolution gone horribly wrong.

"The Mork & Mindy / Laverne & Shirley / Fonz Hour" has it's origins back in 1980 with one of my all-time favorite time travel epics, The Fonz & The Happy Day Gang", which was then joined in 1982 by the swine-tinted Laverne & Shirley In The Army. Having had a fairly successful run at adapting sit-coms for Saturday mornings, the unholy trinity of Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears AND Paramount Entertainment combined their forces to create... this.

First, they mashed Laverne & Shirley together with The Fonz, taking away the whole time-travel aspect and instead making it the story of an Army Base (with a pig for a drill sergeant) where a leather-jacket hoodlum on a motorcycle and his talking dog are allowed to com and hang out. This is where I refused to continue suspending my disbelief. Talking military pige, time-traveling greasers, yeah, I can get behind that. But civilian hoodlums allowed on base for no particular reason? NO.

And then there's the Mork cartoon. It's the same basic premise of the Mork & Mindy sit-com (alien sent to Earth in order to learn their customs and report back to his superiors), only Mork is a teen-ager. ANd he has a wacky alien dog because this *is* 1982 Hanna-Barbera and EVERYBODY GETS DOGS!!!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In 1981 at 11:30 in the morning on ABC, you would see Heathcliff ANd Marmaduke (along with a very catchy theme song). Officially considered to be the second season of the 1980 Heathcliff and Dingbat Show only with Marmaduke instead of Dingbat (obviously), they made 25 episodes of this version ( as opposed to just 13 "Dingbat" episode) which is why you probably remember the Marmaduke titles better than the Dingbat ones, if you remember them at all. Also note that this is a Ruby-Spears joint, NOT the DiC "Heathcliff and The Catilac Cats" version that was syndicated a few years later.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Goldie Gold and Action Jack was a Ruby-Spears cartoon from 1981 that aired for 13 episodes at 10:00 Saturday mornings on ABC. It also aired at 9:00 starting in the Spring of 1982 (the second half of the season), and that's kind of important... remember what was so weird about the 1980 Saturday Morning line-up? NO CARTOONS STARTED AT 10:00! This is the first time I've ever had to use the 10:00 tag in this community, and it feels WEIRD!

This show woulda/coulda/shoulda been a prime-time action/comedy along the lines of "Moonlighting" (the TV show that introduced the world to that old guy from the new GI Joe movie - kids, ask your parents).

Goldie Gold was a super-rich and super-beautiful (teenage?) owner of a newspaper, Action Jack was her ace reporter friend (boy friend?). Each episode had them being pulled in to some random action-adventure that lead them to uncovering some great front-page news story.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Plastic Man & Baby Plas Super Comedy Show was a continuation of the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show that had debuted in 1979 in the time slot directly after The Super Friends. I am very sad to say that this version, with the baby version of Plastic Man (a very stereotypical Scrappy-Doo if ever there was one), was a BIG let-down from the 1979 version and yes I'm gonna gripe about it here.

Y'know what? NO. Looking back at the multitude of shows that made up the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show, I've decided on YET ANOTHER WEEK-LONG EXPLORATION of the individual elements that made that show great, even if it was 1979. EVERY PART OF THAT SHOW WAS A FAVORITE OF MINE. So brace yourselves.

The Plastic Man & Baby Plas Comedy Show was a half-hour show comprised two parts, usually both of them being the Scrappy-esque adventures of Baby Plas. It mercifully died off in 1981.

However, the one *good* part of this show is that they made NEW episodes in 1984 that got first-run syndication along with a LIVE-ACTION PLASTIC MAN:

As you can see, this syndicated version of the show was kind of asweome not only because of the live-action, but because they packaged it with all the shows I used to love from 1979 and in to the early 80s! This is probably how most of us in this community became familliar with any of these shows...
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Heathcliff And Dingbat Show (1980 Saturday morning at 11am on ABC) was a Ruby-Spears show that mainly featured Heathcliff (or as he was known in our house, "Not Garfield") This season ran for 13 episodes and included backup segments with Dingbat and the Creeps, who were created for the show. "Dingbat and the Creeps" revolved around the adventures of three monstrous characters who were self-employed as "Odd Jobs, Inc." which consisted of Dingbat, a vampire dog who used a bat-shaped novelty straw to eat most foods, Sparerib, a strangely rotund skeleton with the ability to change himself into useful items (such as a floor lamp, which he did in the opening credits), and Nobody, a gravelly-voiced jack-o-lantern who led the team and often found them various work.

This show had no chance in my household. My Brother was a die-hard Garfield fan, and Batman was on another channel. Sure it had Thundarr as a lead-in, but it was easy to change the channel :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Tune in to your local ABC affiliate at 10:30 on Saturday morning in 1980 and you'll see the HOLY GRAIL OF COMIC GEEKDOM, "Thundarr The Barbarian". That video embedded above is en espanol because all the US versions I could find have had embedding disabled... but the voice-over is perfect at setting the tone for the show:
The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man's civilization is cast in ruin!
Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn...

A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil.

He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!

This cartoon has a pretty impressive comic book background! Created by Steve Gerber (the guy who created "Howard The Duck" which is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie would have you believe) with character design and story concepts from Alex Toth (Space Ghost, Super Friends) and Jack "King" Kirby (Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, Nearly Every Marvel Comics Character)!

Ruby-Spears Productions would go on to make two full seasons of Thundarr before it went off the air in 1981, and if you've never watched it you really owe yourself a favor. Swords-n-sorcery-n-apocalyptic-dystopia has never looked better!

(Also aired at 10:30 in 1981)


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