Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cool Stuff!

queenofos_poster First item this time around is this poster for Queen of Outer Space!

Geek TV: The New Adventures of Flash Gordon!

flash1Concept: Possibly the most faithful adaptation of the classic newspaper comic strip (at least for the first season), brought to animated form.
 
Total Episodes: 32

Original Air Dates: September 22, 1979 – November 6, 1982

Original Network: NBC

Geek Factor: 9

Characters:

Flash Gordon (Voice of Robert Ridgely): Hero of the series, courageous and daring!

Dale Arden (Voice of Diane Pershing): Heroine and general damsel-in-distress, lusted after by Ming the Merciless!
Dr. Hans Zarkov (Voices of Alan Oppenheimer and Bob Holt): Brilliant Earth scientist, inventor of the rocket ship that brought himself, Flash and Dale to Mongo.

flash2Ming the Merciless (Voice of Alan Oppenheimer): Evil emperor of Mongo, but not satisfied with his conquests!

King Vultan (Voice of Allan Melvin): Leader of the Hawkmen, and a staunch ally of Flash's.

Princess Aura (Voice of Melendy Britt): Daughter of Ming, in love with Prince Barin.

Prince Barin (Voice of Robert Ridgely): Leader of the forest-kingdom of Arboria.

Geek Guest-Stars: N/A

Geek Pedigree:

Of course, given that this was a Filmation production, you've got Lou Scheimer providing the narration, and the (as I write this article) upcoming autobiography of Lou's is going to be the be-all and end-all of his career! Don Christensen and Norm Prescott, as well as Hal Sutherland, all have connections to the Filmation legacy, too.

flash3Episodes of the series were written by Ted Pedersen, whose credits include episodes of Space Academy, The Bionic Woman, Jason of Star Command, Godzilla, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, and later Thundarr the Barbarian, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man (1995), X-Men (1993-1996), Iron Man (1994-1996) and many others; Samuel A. Peeples, whose credits include a crapload of westerns, the Star Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” episodes of The Girl from UNCLE, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Space Academy, Jason of Star Command, and the story for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Paul Dini, whose career I've discussed here several times (and will no doubt do so again in the future); Michael Reaves (another whose career has been covered here before, and will be again); and Tom Ruegger, who if I haven't covered his career before when I did Batman: The Animated Series, I know I'll touch on it again!
flash4Bob Holt, one of the men who voiced Dr. Zarkov, was just covered when I wrote about Dungeons & Dragons, so you can refer back to that for his career (I'll be coming back to him in the future). Allan Melvin, who did the voice of King Vultan and Thun, may be best known for playing Cpl. Steve Henshaw; for the Beetle Bailey animated series of 1963, he voiced Sgt. Snorkle and others. He later did voices on The Flintstones, appeared in episodes of Lost and Space, voiced Drooper on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, voiced H.R. Pufnstuf on that show, was the voice of Magilla Gorilla in the 1970s and 1980s, and did a lot of other voice work through the 1970s, including Bluto on The All-New Popeye Hour. After Flash Gordon, he did the voice of Electro on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and many other shows. He may be better remembered by some of you as Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, or perhaps his role as Barney Hefner on All in the Family and Archie Bunker's Place. He passed away in 2008.
Melendy Britt, the voice of Princes Aura, was previously the voice of Batgirl and Catwoman on The New Adventures of Batman, as well as on Tarzan and the Super 7, Penny and The Chief on The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, and later guested on-screen in an episode of The Incredible Hulk, and was the voice of the title character on She-Ra, Princess of Power. She later played Marcia Donnelly on Weird Science, the TV series, and voiced Gran Gran on Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Alan Oppenheimer, the voice of Ming and one of the Zarkov voice actors, has been a major voice talent for Filmation, best known for voicing Skeletor on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and I plan on covering his career more extensively when I get to that series. Dale Arden voice actress Diane Pershing was another who I covered in Dungeons & Dragons, so you can consult that on her career (which I'll delve into more in later entries).

Robert Ridgely, the voice of Flash Gordon and Prince Barin, had previously played Dracula in an episode of Get Smart, played Boris in Blazing Saddles, guest-starred in two episodes of Kung Fu, voiced a bunch of characters on Uncle Croc's Block, played Don Quixote in an episode of Ark II, and voiced Tarzan for Filmation's excellent animated series. He later went on to voice the title character in Thundarr the Barbarian, Kraven the Hunter in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Ka-Zar in Spider-Man (1981), General Ross in The Incredible Hulk (1982-1983), and many, many other roles, onscreen and off! You might have last seen him onscreen as the Hollywood Showcase Announcer on That Thing You Do!

DVD Release: Complete series on DVD (out of print)

Website: http://weirdscifi.ratiosemper.com/flash/cartoon.html is a decent page, but not much is there. The official site (Which makes it look like a new release is coming) is at http://www.hearstent.com/flashgordon.html

Notes: I was very excited to work on the special features for this one, as I loved the show in its first season! If you get the box set, don't even bother watching the second season, which had a change of format – it's kind of like the second season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, in that character names are the same, but it doesn't feel like the same show any more!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dog of the Geek: Ein!

Ein2Breed: Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Original Appearances: Cowboy Bebop

Other Appearances: Possibly some manga of the series

Biography: Ein was at an illegal research facility where his intelligence was greatly enhanced, but was stolen one day by Abdul Hakim. Later, Spike Spiegel, one of the bounty hunters of the spaceship Cowboy Bebop ended up with Ein after failing to capture Hakim. Ein is not capable of speaking, so his intelligence seems to be unnoticed by most of the crew save for Ed, the 13-year-old female hacker of the crew. There are several times through the course of the show where Ein demonstrates his intelligence, such as understanding what others say around him, answering incoming calls on computers, and saving members of the crew from things like poisonous mushrooms. When last seen, Ein was living with Ed on Earth.

Powers: Enhanced intelligence

Group Affiliation: Cowboy Bebop crew

Miscellaneous: Cowboy Bebop is a very entertaining bit of Japanese animation, sort of a jazzy science fiction show about bounty hunters in space. It also has what is probably the coolest theme song of any anime I've ever heard! It's often shown on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, and if you get a chance to start watching this 24-episode series from the beginning, I highly recommend it.

CBT: The Flintstones' Dino the Dinosaur Coloring Book!

dino_01

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Monkees, Season 1, Episode 6: "The Success Story"!

"The Success Story" is a Davy-focused episode, written by Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso and Bernie Orenstein. It was directed by James Frawley. The songs featured in this episode are "I Want to Be Free" by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and "Sweet Young Thing," by Michael Nesmith, Gerry Coffin and Carole King. Both songs appear on the Monkees self-titled album. Guesting in this episode are Ben Wright as Davy's grandfather, Ray Ballard as a messenger, Ceil Cabot as an old woman, Donald Foster as a Rolls-Royce owner, and Charlie Callas as an ice cream man!

The Indexible Hulk #34!

Tales to Astonish 078Issue: Tales to Astonish #78


Title: “The Hulk Must Die!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, breakdowns by Jack Kirby, finishes and inks by Bill Everett, letters by Sam Rosen.

Supporting Cast: Major Talbot, Betty Ross, Rick Jones

Villain: Dr. Konrad Zaxon

Hulk Intelligence: We're pretty much at classic Hulk lack of intelligence here, although still a bit on the aggressive side.

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: In the abandoned cave lab, the Hulk appears in the midst of a whirlwind, the effect of the T-Gun wearing off! The Hulk can't seem to remember how he got there, but he isn't worried, because he's the strongest there is! Leaving the cave, he's soon spotted by soldiers who contact Major Talbot at the base. At the base, Dr. Konrad Zaxon, a scientist hired to replace Bruce Banner, is being welcomed by Talbot. While Banner focused on Gamma Rays, Zaxon's focus is on organic energy, which he promises will be of more use than Banner's inventions were. Just then, Talbot's told that the Hulk's been spotted, and he orders Plan H put into effect! Meanwhile, the Hulk starts leaping toward the base, and he's immediately fired upon! The Hulk lands in a camoflauged pit that's filled with gas (a gas Banner invented), but before it can completely knock the Hulk out, he jumps out, only to find the area he's in is criss-crossed by more such pits, and the gas starts to get to him! Meanwhile, Rick Jones is talking to Betty Ross, and tells her that the Hulk and Bruce were one and the same, but Betty doesn't want to believe him. Suddenly, Talbot bursts in with the announcement that he's trapped the Hulk, and Rick realizes that he's betrayed the Hulk! Back at the pit, the Hulk tries to climb out, but there are electrical trip wires that activate anti-matter elements when he touches them! The Hulk tries to leap out, but there are criss-crossing anti-matter beams that knock him back! Then, Zaxon arrives at the scene, and uses a gadget of his to measure the organic energy of the Hulk, and all his needles go way to the maximum! Talbot, Betty and Rick arrive, and Rick has to verify that the Hulk is, indeed, alive. Betty looks herself, and at first, the Hulk's face starts to soften at the sight of Betty, but then that is erased by the rage of the Hulk! This causes Betty to continue to refuse to believe that the Hulk is really Bruce Banner, and Rick says it doesn't matter anyway, because they can't bring Banner back. Zaxon asks Talbot for permission to study the Hulk, to learn whether or not he has a double identity. Talbot says he'll call Ross, but also puts the Hulk in Zaxon's charge! In the privacy of his lab, Zaxon plans to use the Hulk's organic energy to power a machine he'll control to make himself the most powerful man on Earth! He envisions several scenarios as to how he'll use this power to cause disasters, and pictures himself as ruler of the world! He dons a protective suit of his invention, orders the soldiers away from the Hulk, and brings a hand-held Organic Energy Attractor that he plans to fire at the Hulk! He gets to the pit, shuts off the Anti-Matter Rays, and waits for the Hulk to emerge before firing the gun point-blank!

Invention Exchange: Bruce Banner's gas (how is a gas related to gamma research?), possibly the anti-matter charges and rays are Bruce's inventions as well; Zaxon's aromored suit and Organic Energy Attractor weapon.

Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #33, Essential Hulk #1.

Notes: It's a good thing that when the T-Gun wore off of the Hulk he didn't return to his point of origin, i.e. Washington, DC! I wonder if his physical location when he arrived in the future corresponded to DC, and he just coincidentally happened to be on the site of his old lab when it wore off? And once again, we see that security for the base is absolutely terrible – who cleared Dr. Zaxon for this, anyway? The guy couldn't have passed a psych eval on his best day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cover Redux!

Time to take another look at original and reprint covers and play "Spot the Differences"! 296 First up, we have Amazing Spider-Man #116, and the reprint from Marvel Tales #95! The first thing that got my attention was Spidey's mask -- look at the original, and you can see his eyes -- his real, actual eyes! Whereas on the reprint, they're the standard opaque white. If I recall correctly, the eyes on the original were on purpose, because Spidey had lost his original costume somehow, and had to use a store-bought one. The other major change seems to be just the thought bubbles for Spidey... the last one is completely different! Anyone spot any other differences?

Give-A-Show Video Feature!

This time around, it's Yabba-Doo followed by Scrappy-Doo... so I won't blame ya if you skip watching these!

Yabba Doo was another of Scooby's relatives, with a more country flavor to him than most of the other family tree (his Dog of the Geek article's run, right?)... I don't recall ever seeing Yabba Doo in any cartoons, though! Scrappy Doo makes an appearance here, too!



Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Fleischer Popeyes: Popeye the Sailor!

It should come as no surprise to longtime readers of Random Acts of Geekery that I loves me some Popeye, and that my favorite Popeye cartoons are the Fleischer Brothers Popeyes! So it should also come as no surprise that, sooner or later, I'd start doing my little review thing on the Fleischer Popeyes, like I've been doing with the Beatles cartoon, the Monkees TV show, or MST3K!

So, I'm going to try to keep things more or less free-flowing with these reviews, but I will usually make note of certain specific things, although I won't necessarily be calling them out (like, say, I do with the formatting for Indexible Hulk, Geek TV, or Dog of the Geek):

Popeye's Job: Yeah, you'd think that in every one of these, that would be "Sailor," but he wasn't always employed (or self-employed) as a sailor!

Who or What He Fights: Most of the time, this will, naturally, be Bluto.

Why Is He Still With Her?: Things Olive Oyl does that make her unworthy of Popeye, yet he still is madly in love with her.

Spinach Activity Song: Yes, when he eats his spinach, the Popeye fanfare starts, but most of the time, right after that, "Stars and Stripes Forever" plays -- if that's not the case, I'll try to remember to note it.

Transformation Punch: A common thing in these is Popeye will hit something, it will go flying into the air, and come down transformed. For example, a huge bull will be hit by the sailor man, and when it comes down, it's neatly broken up into various cuts of meat -- and also placed in a neat little butcher shop setting, too!

Final Words: Most of the time, Popeye finishes the cartoon with, "I'm strong to the finach, 'cause I eats me spinach, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!" then toots his pipe twice. If it's any different, I should be telling you!

I'll also note any particularly funny bits, as well as any extra special effects used! And finally, I'll give it my personal rating, from one to five cans of spinach!

001_01Anyway, the very first of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons wasn't a Popeye cartoon, it was a Betty Boop cartoon, because the Fleischers were looking for a new cartoon star, and they were using Betty's cartoon series as a way of introducing various features. Popeye was, naturally, introduced in the one titled "Popeye the Sailor," and there's a very different Popeye song used in the opening titles... well, actually, the song was "Strike up the Band (Here Comes a Sailor)," but with "Popeye the Sailor" inserted as appropriate!


001_02This song is sung by someone with a voice very much like Bluto's, sort of a bit of a basso profundo, and then the next verse is sung by Betty Boop herself! Then we see some live-action footage of newspapers coming off the press, and then a closeup of a newspaper page, with the headline "Popeye a Movie Star -- Sailor with the "Sock" accepts Movie Contract", and a photo of Popeye walking on the deck of a ship. We cut to a close-up of that picture, and then Popeye starts moving, walking in his distinctive style and singing, for the very first time, "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man." Popeye's voice wasn't quite the way we think of it these days (it almost sounds like a bad impression of him). At one point in his song, he picks up an anchor, gives it a sock, and it falls to the deck as a pile of fish hooks. A number of paces later, he pulls a large clock off the wall, punches it, and it turns into an assortment of smaller clocks, pocket watches, and wrist watches. Also, at one point, Popeye pulls his shirt up, and we see he's wearing a girdle underneath!


His next transformation punch is when he pulls the mast off the boat, hits it, and it turns into a bunch of wooden clothespins. Finally, he pulls a stuffed fish mounted on a block from the wall, and punches it into a bunch of canned sardines. We cut to dockside, where a sailor resembling a humanoid dog pulls a lever to lower the gangplank of the ship to the dock, but it doesn't stretch far enough, so he pulls up a slide and lets enough water into the ship until it's at the right level. He calls out "Shore leave!" and a bunch of sailors come off the ship as Olive Oyl comes near the gangplank and calls for Popeye (again, Olive's voice isn't right, but it's more "off" than Popeye's). One of the dog sailors approaches her and asks, "Who ya waitin' for, baby?" but that only inspires Olive's ire, and she clobbers him off-screen. Then, a peg-leg pig sailor tries to hit on her, but she hits him as well.

001_03Next, it's Bluto's turn (entering to "Barnacle Bill the Sailor"), with his evil laugh. Olive tries fending him off to no avail as Bluto keeps laughing, and then Popeye just saunters between them, puts his arm in Olive's, and walks away, shouting, "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!" Bluto gets mad at this, pulls his shirt open, and beats his chest (the tattoo of a battleship on his chest then sinks).


001_04Later, at a carnival that's manned by animals, Popeye and Olive arrive, followed by Bluto. Bluto shows off at the "ring the bell" and gets up to the bell, winning a cigar and laughing. Popeye then takes the hammer, whittles it down with his hands to toothpicks, and punches the lever, sending the bell all the way up to the sun! Later, Olive is trying her luck at a booth where she tries to hit someone in the head with a ball, but is being unsuccessful. Bluto saunters up, grabs a ball, and hits the poor guy square in the head, the ball bouncing back and landing in Bluto's mouth. Then, it's Popeye's turn, and he grabs an armload of balls, rolls them from his forearm to his hand, flips them to his bicep, which he flexes to send the balls down where they all hit the target.


001_05Next, the three arrive at a performance stage, where the hula dancer, Betty Boop, is about to perform! Now, remember when I said the carnival was manned by animals? The only humans here are Popeye, Olive, Bluto, and Betty -- it's possible the target at the previous booth was supposed to be a stereotyped black man, but it could easily supposed to be a monkey or a cat (hard to tell at the size shown). Betty's introduced by a monkey, and the crowd includes a cat, a goat, and a dog, all of them dressed in clothes! There are apparently other humans employed, as the background shows pictures of "Rajah Guzlem" and "Madame Hari the Bearded Lady", both of whom are human.

Betty performs her hula dance, and as you can see from the screen shot, her costume is rather revealing -- this was one reason that the Hays Office tromped down on the Fleischers, and Betty got toned down to the point where she was practically a different character entirely! Popeye jumps on stage to dance alongside Betty, and when Madame Hari opens the curtains of her booth to see what's going on, Popeye grabs her beard and wears it as a hula skirt!  When they dance close to the snake charmers' snake, it tries to give Popeye a bite, but Popeye uses his pipe's smoke to knock it out.

001_06Bluto decides to take advantage of Popeye's absence to grab Olive and demand she marry him, but Olive fights back, kicking him with her size 25 shoes, but Bluto still carries her off. On stage, Betty points out what's happening to Popeye, and Popeye starts chasing after them! Bluto quickly runs across a rope bridge, and before Popeye can get there, he grabs a handy flying bird and uses it as living scissors to cut the ropes! As the bridge falls neatly from one end to the other, Popeye starts to cross it, and when he gets to where it's dropping, he turns around and runs back! He then grabs a handy length of rope that just happened to be laying around, lassos a tree trunk on the other side of the chasm, and then pulls it over to him!


The chase continues, but Bluto's taken Olive to a nearby train track, where he's pulled up two lengths of rail and bound Olive in them! Popeye approaches, but Bluto hits him, sending Popeye flying back to a rock (which crumbles into pebbles as Popeye's head hits it again and again). Popeye kicks Bluto in the jaw when Bluto gets too close, sending Bluto's head upwards, neck stretching, his Adam's apple acting like the weight on the "hit the bell" booth from before.

001_07Bluto then grabs Popeye by the ankles and starts spinning him around, but meanwhile, a train is approaching! Popeye manages to break free of Bluto's grip, and, spinning in the air, sends a barrage of punches! The approaching train, meanwhile, hits a section of track that splits off into a bunch of other tracks and then goes back again -- the train cars follow different sections before rejoining. Back at the fight, Popeye and Bluto get into a whirlwind of blows, oblivious to the train (which grows a face and blows a whistle using its "fingers" to get their attention)! Next, Bluto's jumping up and down on Popeye, who doesn't appear to be bothered by it. Finally, Popeye casually reaches into his shirt, and pulls out a can of spinach!


001_08Swallowing a good-sized handful of the stuff, Popeye gets up punches the tree Bluto's about to hit him with, followed by Bluto, sending both into the air! The tree comes down in pieces forming a coffin, with Bluto landing inside it! It even comes complete with nails, but I have no idea where they were supposed to have come from! What's odd about this is, there's no fanfare, no special effect on his muscles indicating strength, none of the usual stuff!


Anyway, Popeye then goes to Olive, tries to pull her out of the rails but doesn't succeed, and then simply punches the train when it gets there, turning it into a long line of broken pieces. Singing, "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man," and blowing his pipe, we iris out to the end!

So, as you can see, aside from Betty Boop's brief appearance, it is still very much a Popeye cartoon, just without all the usual stuff we've come to expect from these early black and white Popeye's. It's almost anticlimatic when Popeye finally eats his spinach, just because there's no real buildup... it's just like Popeye's thinking, "The pitcher's almosk over, I better eats me spinach and end it!" Even the transformation punch is almost wasted, because we had so many examples of this earlier in the cartoon. So, what's my rating for this first Popeye? Well, they're still feeling their way, and it is the first... but I'll give it... three cans of spinach! 0001spinach0001spinach0001spinach

Comic Book Ads!

reptilicus02_26 The first ad this time around comes from Charlton's Reptilicus #2, and obviously other books from the same release period. Charlton ran a LOT of contests back in the early 60s or so, many of them tieing-in with movies and the like, but this one is a bit different... apparently the E*Z*Do Swimming Pool company needed to get themselves better known or something? It's a pretty cool prize for a company known for operating on a tight budget, eh? And no, I don't know what the winning name of the monster was. reptilicus02_27