Saturday, September 02, 2006

Challenge of the Super Friends (and other DVDs)

Speaking of animated series on DVD that I bought the boxed sets of... here's one I bought some time back that I actually have watched all the eps of (plus the extras):



Yes, it's Challenge of the Super Friends, when the membership expanded, and the Legion of Doom made its first appearance (although for all intents and purposes, they could've been called the Injustice League). Chances are, if you're in your late 30s to early 40s like me, you watched these eps when they first aired, and may even have fond memories of them! I know while watching them that they bear up better than I expected them to... and they're very true to the source material! There's one ep that features the origins of some of the Super Friends that's pretty much exactly as they were portrayed in the comics!

But I still haven't bought Volume 2 yet...



Which is also available as a package deal of Volume 1 and 2 together...



But honestly... you save a buck if you buy them separately (and still get free Super Saver shipping for spending over $25 -- why nobody at Amazon noticed this I'll never know).

What amazes me even more is that these are the only Super Friends DVDs on the market! Instead of starting with the original series (with Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog), they went right to this series... and sadly, no Super Friends: The Original Super Powers Team (or whatever they called it... was it Galactic Guardians at some point?) in which Cyborg joined the team, and they fought Darkseid every week...

You know, it just doesn't make any sense to me at all... especially since it's been some time since the initial releases!

While I'm on a griping kick here... why, oh, why haven't we seen a DVD boxed set of the Filmation DC cartoons of the 1960s? I'm guessing that Warners has the rights to them, since some of them were released on VHS about 20 years back or so, so what gives? They could easily do one box set of the Superman and Superboy cartoons, plus another one of Batman, and one of Aquaman (perhaps the solo cartoons with the Teen Titans, Justice League of America, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Atom could be sprinkled throughout those three sets)... there was also another Filmation Batman series much later that could also be released as a separate boxed set.

Come on... you know you'd buy them, wouldn't you?

While we're on the topic... no, there's no word reaching me at all about a release of either the live-action or animated SHAZAM! series, either... and more's the pity. Nor have I heard anything about Filmation's Tarzan series, or the original 1960s Lone Ranger animated series (which, from what I've heard, was sort of a cross between the Lone Ranger and Wild, Wild West -- I know I saw it as a kid, but I have few memories of it).

I'm also still waiting for DVD sets of Space Ghost, Herculoids, and Shazzan, too... and heck, I'd probably even buy a Banana Splits DVD set! (oh, and I should admit I haven't bought the Jonny Quest sets yet)

Of course, we were all teased a while back about a boxed DVD set of the Marvel Super-Heroes cartoons of the 1960s -- Amazon even had them listed at one point, too... but as you can see if you click on the link below, it's still listed as unavailable...



(although I see that Who Wants To Be a Super-Hero is coming out as a two-disc DVD set with extras)



And still no 1960s Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four DVD set, either... mutter mutter...

I do see, however, that there are boxed sets of the modern Justice League series... I gotta get these!







OK, that's probably enough of my posting all those Amazon links, eh?

Jon

Here He Comes, Here Comes Speed Racer...

You know, one of these days, I really need to catch up on my DVD watching... I've had this for some time now...



And yet, I haven't watched all the episodes on this set yet!

To make matters even worse, I've also already purchased this set, too...



I suppose it could be worse... I could also already have this set...



...and this set...



(which I really need to do anyway, since volume 4 does include a very cool die-cast Mach 5 car)

And then there's the most recent set...



...which becomes available on Halloween... so I'll be three volumes behind in purchasing, and four and a half volumes behind on watching! Sheesh...

Here's a YouTube video of the opening sequence...



And as cool as that video is, here's the original Japanese version of the opening sequence! As you'll see, it's quite a bit longer than the American version.



Speed Racer has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid, and I first saw it on Channel 11 in Tacoma, Washington (where I more or less grew up). Why was it such a favorite of mine?

Duh -- the Mach 5! The coolest car in animation, and defintely one of the coolest cars ever on television (the only car I'll call cooler than the Mach 5 on TV is the 1960s Batmobile -- and that only because that was an actual car that was built for the show -- and yes, I know a Mach 5 was built a few years back to tour the country, and no, I've never seen it).

As I think I've mentioned here before, there was an attempt to do new Speed Racer episodes quite a long time back, but they made one huge freakin' mistake... they changed the cool of everything -- including the Mach 5!

Rule #1 when bringing back a show that's been off the air and is full of iconic imagery, and is also a fond favorite of a rabid fan following... don't change the iconic imagery!

OK, Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica broke that rule big-time, but let's face it, that show is more successful than the original series was... and I'd bet that there's more hard-core Speed Racer fans out there than hard-core original Galactica fans (plus, the original Speed Racer series lasted much, much longer).

I wouldn't mind seeing a new Speed Racer series being made, so long as they don't mess with the characters -- heck, if they wanted to do the Mach 5 (as well as the other cars) in CGI, I could even deal with that, so long as it meant more cool camera angles and stuff as the Mach 5 does its thing!

But please, no modeled CGI on the characters. Pretty please?

Jon

Friday, September 01, 2006

Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy

So, last night I was researching Popeye DVD's, to see what's currently available... and I saw this entry for the following item:



Which was a new Popeye feature (well, released in 2004) that I'd never heard of at all! So, when I was reading up on it, I found that Billy West (probably best known for his work on Futurama) did the voice of Popeye, and also that it was done in all CGI. I thought about it, but decided not to order it to satisfy my curiosity.

But then this morning, I was at a Grocery Outlet store, and found a VHS tape of the special for $1.99 -- and that's a price I was willing to pay to check it out!

So, I'm watching it now... and so far, the only thing I really have to complain about is the CGI -- I don't think Popeye works all that well in CGI. Voice-wise, however... I really like it. Billy West does an excellent job as Popeye, and the other characters are right on.

Characterizations are all pretty good... although Bluto is more of a friendly rival to Popeye here (one review of the DVD said Popeye and Bluto are friends, but they've already had one fight). Popeye even does his muttering under his breath thing, and does the walk from the old Fleischers, too!

Wimpy's there, as well... and he's right in character... he even invites Popeye over to his place one night for a duck dinner ("You bring the duck"), which was a standard gag from the old Thimble Theater strips!

Really, the only thing I don't like is the CGI, which is of rather poor quality (it's not even up to some TV CGI shows, like Jimmy Neutron, for example).

And Popeye still retains his pipe in this -- although so far, no smoke has come out of it.

Oh, and I almost forgot! The opening credits feature a re-orchestrated version of the classic Fleischer theme!

If this same team did new Popeyes in traditional animation, I'd definitely be there -- I'd probably even check it out if it was CGI, to be honest.

Jon

Who Wants to be a Superhero - Finale

OK, SPOILER ALERT in case you haven't watched it yet (quick, choose another bookmark!)




















desktop_feedback_800

Yes, Feedback has won the grand prize of the contest, going on a vacation trip to Universal Studios Florida, plus having his character published as a Dark Horse Comic book (the image for which doesn't seem to be available at the Dark Horse website, even though it's been 24 hours since the finale first aired -- and no, I don't know when it'll be coming out, either) and being featured as a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie.

Other bloggers have kind of dissed Feedback a bit, wishing instead that Major Victory had been the winner... and during the first few episodes, I'll admit that the Major was my choice for the winner, as well. But the more I watched the series, the more I noticed how Feedback definitely stayed in character, and took the whole thing very seriously. The Major, unfortunately, did play things a bit too silly at times (although a certain amount of silliness was appropriate -- I think he just took it too far... perhaps if he'd toned down the stripper-like stuff, he would've been the winner).

But honestly, did anyone really think that between Feedback and Fat Momma that Fat Momma was going to take the big prize? If you were going to publish a (presumably) one-shot comic featuring a new character, and you wanted big, big sales, which of the two characters would you choose?

I know that as far as I'm concerned, if I'm going to buy a comic featuring a fat person as the lead character, it has to be starring Herbie. Fat Momma? I don't need to read about her, nor do I need to watch a movie featuring her.

Feedback? I'll definitely buy the comic and watch the movie (although I suspect that unless both are produced fairly quickly, there's no chance of the publicity from this series carrying over to the comic or movie very well -- unless they get a second series underway, and have Feedback make some guest appearances).

It was cool to see a reunion of most of the contestants there at the end... and it was very cool that Feedback actually got to meet Stan in-person and shake his hand (although the funny thing is, you never saw Stan all that clearly there... it could've been a double of him, and it looked like the top of his hair wasn't as dark as it was on the TV screens he usually appeared in). Still, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt that it was really Stan there.

I still think that the Iron Enforcer/Dark Enforcer must've been a plant from the beginning, though.

No word yet on whether or not there'll be a second series of Who Wants To Be A Superhero... but I'll tell you what, Jessi thinks if they do have a second go-round, that I should apply for it. Which character would I use? Probably not one of the characters that I've been developing on and off for the past 30-odd years... because I'm guessing that you don't get to retain the rights to your character outside of the show (if I'm wrong, then I'd imagine that one of the other comics companies will be trying to get out a Major Victory comic book sometime real soon, given his popularity).

Jon

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Real Ghostbusters (the animated series)

As I said in my previous post, there was an animated Ghostbusters series... which at least one reader of this blog has never seen before!

So, here's some links to order DVDs of the animated series:







These DVDs apparently have three episodes each... I can't really tell you much more about 'em that you can't find out by clicking on the links!

Oh, and here's a link to a two-fer of the movies:



While I'm talking about Ghostbusters... did you know the Ackroyd/Murray/Reitman movie wasn't the first Ghostbusters? Way back in 1975, Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch (and co-star Bob Burns as Tracy the gorilla) were the stars of a half-hour live-action show produced by Filmation that originally aired on CBS.

I believe that Larry Storch's character was Spencer, and Forrest Tucker's character was named Kong. Tracy the gorilla wore a beanie, and was probably the smartest of the trio. They'd receive their orders from a mysterious boss, and have to go out and defeat the ghosts of various monsters. It was played for laughs, and probably only lasted one season or so... and unfortunately, it's not available on DVD (although there were some video tape releases that you may be able to track down somehow).

Interestingly enough, it seems that Filmation may have been responsible for the Real Ghostbusters animated series even being produced! After the success of the Ghostbusters movie, someone reminded Lou Scheimer that Filmation had done a Ghost Busters TV series a long time ago, and so it was decided to create an animated series based on their live-action show... which was known as "Filmation's Ghost Busters"! This would be why the animated spin-off (which hit the air at the same time) was called "The Real Ghostbusters."

Both animated series played simultaneously, although the Filmation animated series (which featured the sons of the Spencer and Kong characters) was only syndicated.

While I'm talking about animated Ghostbusters, I should also point out that the syndicated and network versions of The Real Ghostbusters were slightly different, if I recall correctly! Well, at least one of the character's voices were different from the network and syndicated versions of the show (unfortunately, the Internet Movie Database doesn't confirm that for me -- nor do any web pages I can find, so maybe my memory is playing tricks on me -- or perhaps while new episodes were airing on ABC, reruns of previous episodes were running in syndication. I do see that there were cast changes in the third season).

Anyway... that's all for tonight!

Jon

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ghostbusters Syndrome

Ah, I thought that title would get you to scratch your head, wondering what the heck it means... so let me tell you, okay?

I coined the term "Ghostbusters Syndrome" to define when a successful movie comes out, spawns an animated series spin-off, and then, after that animated series has been out for a while, they finally make a sequel to the original movie that, well, pretty much blows chunks, and doesn't do anywhere near as well as the original did.

So far as I know, this syndrome is always true -- although I can only think of two instances off the top of my head (of animated series that spun off of movies, that is). Well, maybe three.

First of all, of course, there's Ghostbusters, or rather, The Real Ghostbusters, the animated series that originally aired on ABC-TV Saturday mornings, and also ran five days a week in syndication. This animated series was very good, expanded upon the original movie premises, did more with the characterization, and did an awful lot of episodes... taking the concept into areas that I'm sure that Bill Murray & Co. never ever considered (okay, maybe Murray didn't originate Ghostbusters... maybe it was Harold Ramis, or someone else entirely. Just go with me on this, okay?).

Finally, they made Ghostbusters II -- I think that the animated series had been on for several years by this point (hmmm... let's see, the first movie came out in 1984, the animated series came out in 1986 and ran until 1991, and Ghostbusters II came out in 1989), and there were a lot of stories told (and obviously, there were two more years of stories to tell, too)... and I think that there was no way by that point that Ghostbusters II could've met anyone's expecations whatsoever.

The animated series just raised the bar way too high.

The next most prominent instance of "Ghostbusters Syndrome" is "Men In Black."

The movie version came out in 1997, with the animated series following hard on its heels the same year. The sequel came out in 2002 (maybe the thing to bear in mind, too, is that you shouldn't wait five years to make a sequel). Where it differs is that the animated series apparently ran its course in 2001 (makes me wonder if the movie people got the show cancelled so it wouldn't compete with the movie sequel?).

Again... the animated series expanded on the movie concepts, added more to the characterizations... and it was also a lot of fun, and brilliant in many respects.

Of course, the sequel to Men in Black... well, it sucked.

The only other instance of this that I'm aware of would be The Mask... but that could be pushing it, because I don't think that The Mask animated series lasted that long at all, and of course, the Son of the Mask was a sequel pretty much in name only, lacking any of the original cast at all (so far as I'm aware).

Now, there are exceptions... there's always exceptions. I'm sure that someone reading this will mention that after the first Spider-Man movie, as well as after the first Batman movie (the Michael Keaton one), that there were animated series, and yet both franchises had successful sequels...

But honestly -- neither animated series was directly based on the movies, but were based more on the comic books, with some nods to the movies. (You could even make the same argument for X-Men: Evolution as an animated spin-off of the X-Men movies, but I wouldn't).

Now, isn't it funny that the only exceptions seem to be movies based on long-running comic book series? Yes, okay, Men in Black began as a comic book (although one could argue that the movie was only vaguely based on the comics, which not only dealt with aliens, but also supernatural stuff, i.e. monsters and their ilk).

If there are any other examples of this any of you can come up with, feel free to mention them -- even if there's a possible *real* exception to the rule!

(Oh, I just remembered... after Robocop there was a Robocop animated series that also didn't last long, and of course, we know the Robocop sequels weren't that great... I don't know if Swamp Thing II came out after the Swamp Thing animated series, either).

Jon

Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Jack Kirby!

Jack, we all still miss you dearly... I only met "The King" once, and very, very briefly, not even getting a chance to tell him what his work meant to me... but I'll always have a fond memory of that brief touch with comics greatness.

Here's some Kirby Kovers for your enjoyment!

captamerica_100

captamerica_106

captamerica_107

captamerica_109

(Yes, I chose those covers because I've been re-reading ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 2 lately)

Here's some favorite FF covers, but I tried to avoid using the ones that everybody chooses (so no "This Man, This Monster")...

ff_039

ff_048

ff_073

More substantial content tomorrow, I hope!

Jon

Sunday, August 27, 2006

This 'n That Time!

Let's see what I have to talk about tonight...

Civil War Delays...

...don't bother me a bit, as I'm not reading any Marvels these days except the occasional Franklin Richards one-shot. Maybe -- maybe -- once the whole Civil War thing is over with, I may try some Marvels again (probably starting with Fantastic Four).

Of course, I don't count Essentials as part of my semi-"boycot" of Marvel... because they are, after all, Essential.

Clean-Up of the Old House is Done!

Because I know you care... today, after we walked the dogs, Jessi and I headed to the house we just moved out of to clean it up. Well, I started it while Jessi returned the truck (which was, after all, my idea)... and our friend Amanda even showed up to help for a bit!

It was a lot of work -- about five hours of near-constant cleaning -- but hopefully it'll be worth it when we get our entire deposit refunded!

I know some of that money goes back to Jessi -- I hope I get some of it back myself! But we'll see what happens.

Upcoming Events Here

Next weekend, the long Labor Day weekend, will have at least two barbeques over here... our friends Paul and Briget will be coming over on Saturday, and my family comes over on Sunday. We may end up doing another one Friday or Monday, too, with some of our neighbors.

I think I already made mention of what's going on with work lately... it'll be busy there, and could mean a lot of late nights, but I think I should still be able to post something!

Speaking of Upcoming Posts...

I'll be trying once again to post more stuff here than just what's going on in my life -- like stuff about TV shows, comics, movies, and so forth! We'll see what I can actually manage, though.

In the meantime, if there's anything you guys would like me to talk about, let me know via a comment, okay?

And if you happen to be a person creating something that you'd like me to review, you can send me a link to the website (if it's a website, natch), or if you're producing something physical, like a comic book or something, you can mail me a sample at:

Jon B. Knutson
1313 Horne St. NE, #2
Lacey, WA 98513

I promise that anything I receive will be reviewed on this site as soon as I've checked it out, which would likely be within a day or two after receiving it!

eBay Stuff

No, this isn't a link for stuff I'm selling on eBay... I'm actually bidding on something instead -- namely, a multi-station wireless intercom system! You see, this new house is so big that it's sometimes impossible for Jessi or I to call out to the other and be comprehended, so I'm hoping that we can get an intercom system cheap and solve this communication crisis. I'm also hoping that we can get one with at least four stations, so I can put one in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one in my office.

We'll see what happens.

That's all for now!

Jon

Crossover Event!

Mag at The Comic Treadmill did a post recently about superhero costumes available commercially, and asked for pictures from "Treadmillers" (as he calls his readers) of their dogs dressed up as Krypto... so naturally, I had to send in a pic from last Halloween, which I've posted here before, but you can see the post at the Treadmill by clicking the link above!

And Mag, thanks for providing a link back to here!

Jon

Plastic Man Cartoon Network Pilot

In case you haven't seen this yet...



I liked it!

Jon