Friday, July 13, 2012

Dog of the Geek: Brain!

brainBreed: Unknown

Original Appearances: Inspector Gadget, 1983-1986

Other Appearances: Inspector Gadget live-action movie, 1999, cameo in an episode of Robot Chicken, and Inspector Gadget comic book starting in 2011. There was probably Gadget merchandise featuring Brain.

Biography: Brain is the faithful dog of Inspector Gadget and his niece, Penny. Brain is bipedal, and assists Penny in keeping Gadget out of trouble and solving the crime. He's a master of disguise (Gadget never sees through them, anyway, often mistaking him for a M.A.D. Agent). He's able to communicate with humans just fine, and wears a collar that includes a retractable video communications system linked to Penny's watch. Doctor Claw is apparently entirely unaware of the role Brain and Penny play in helping Gadget succeed – then again, neither does Chief Quimby, apparently!

Powers: Walking bipedal and having human intelligence.

Group Affiliation: Gadget family.

Miscellaneous: It was surprising to me to find that there were only two seasons made, given the show continued to be in syndication for so long! Then again, there were 86 episodes in those two years. Inspector Gadget, of course, was voiced by Don Adams... and the Brain was voiced by Frank Welker, because, hey, who else do you hire to do a dog's voice?

Cliffhanger! King of the Rocket Men, Chapter 9!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

MST3K: Season One, Episode Four!

The experiment this time around is "Women of the Prehistoric Planet," and as usual, after the opening theme song, we start Joel, Tom and Crow relaxing on a couch in the Satellite of Love, where Joel introduces himself and the bots. The entire area is redecorated as if it's a talk show area. Crow's made some brownies (replacing the milk with Tang!), and then we go to the first commercial.

After the commercial, Joel's finishing off the brownies, and asks Crow where the brownie fixings came from. Crow quickly changes the subject, and then the Mads call from Deep 13. The Mads have developed a new chain of restaurants with low overhead because they don't cook the food -- and then Larry sings the restaurant's theme song. The place is called "Clay and Lar's Flesh Barn," and Dr. Forrester even shows a mock-up of the restaurant (adapted from an old KFC model that you used to be able to get for your model train sets).

On the Satellite, Joel shows them a toilet paper dispenser he made out of an empty 2-liter soda bottle, which the Mads aren't impressed with. When Joel complains they could've made tiddlywinks evil, they thank him! Dr. Forrester tells him what the movie is this time, and then we have movie sign!

The closest there is to a woman of the prehistoric planet, and she's not from there!
As the movie begins, Joel's still going on about his invention, but when the movie title comes up, he jokes that his sister saw this in junior high school, when all the boys had to go to the gym! From there, joke references include the usual mocking of the credits and the names therein, "You are here" (Joel says this as he stands and points at a star in a spacescape), a variety of astronomy references, Lady Remington electric razors, Gallagher, Star Wars (with a variation on, "That's no moon, that's a space station!"), Erector Sets, Pop-A-Matic, popcorn poppers, Elvis, incubators, guitars, Nancy Reagan, Jerry Lewis, Archie Bunker, Ray Stevens, John F. Kennedy, "My dad can beat up your dad," Annette Funicello, Pigs in Space, Universal Pictures, Lucky Charms cereal, Star Trek, Snoopy, Gilligan's Island (told you last time they like to use this -- mostly when people are walking through a jungle or someplace, they'll call out, "Skipper!" "Gilligan!" "Mary Ann!" "Ginger!" and so on), PEZ, and Charlie Brown. There's also a LOT of Joel interacting with the video, pressing switches, grabbing zippers and so forth. There's also one bit where a spaceship is preparing to crash on a planet, and as it cuts between the "special effects" and stock footage taken from a plane flying over the forest, Joel and the bots all chorus, "Fakey" and "Real," depending on what's what.

During the first break from the film, we get a parody of "This is Your Life," with Joel as the subject! When Crow comes in, he goes on about a big satellite that they're going to collide with, and this puts an end to the parody! We look outside the Satellite of Love and there is a satellite out there! Joel puts on what looks like a set of football shoulder pads with handles stuck on them to reach out and pull in the satellite. The satellite is determined to be a doomsday device, which Joel manages to activate. He guesses it'll go off in an hour, but the satellite tells him they have an hour and 30 minutes! And then, it's commercial sign!

WARNING: This scene appears nowhere in this movie! The chimp does, though!
After the commercial, we're back to the movie. This time, after Joel insisting they need to disarm the satellite, they start the usual jokes, with references to the Green Hornet, the Pink Panther movies, Batman, James Bond, Don Ho and "Tiny Bubbles," the Smothers Brothers (in an obscure way), Dean Martin, an old Danny Kaye movie whose name escapes me at the moment, BMW, Ernest Hemingway, Spin and Marty, Anne of Green Gables, and Kung Fu before the leave the theater to get back to that doomsday device.

So, Joel starts working on the doomsday satellite, and Crow's found an instruction manual -- but it's about a thousand pages long! Apparently, this was made by Isaac Asimov. There's a lot of jokes about the manual being translated into English (badly) from Korean as Joel goes to work! At one point, just before movie sign, the satellite spits whipped cream into Joel's face.

Back in the theater, joke references are made to Quincy M.E., Alive, the Flintstones, Tang, Clarence Birdseye, Denny's, Eddie Money, the DeFranco Family, Funny Face soft drinks, Ovaltine, the Archies' song "Bang-Shang-A-Lang", Gilligan's Island (yes, again), Cap'n Crunch, Shazam!, Annette Funicello again, Archie and the gang, and Peter Pan.

Back to the disarming of the doomsday satellite, Tom and Joel are arguing about what to do next, or rather, which color wire to cut. They get into philosophical discussions (rather, the bots do), but finally Joel just decides to pick a wire at random -- and then realizes he's only gotten through the first layer of the disarming! An access code is needed, and the bots offer up a few ideas, but they take too long, there's a flash of light, and then Joel and the Bots turn into Isaac Asimovs, complete with black hornrimmed glasses and sideburns! They all start arguing, but then suddenly stop and realize what happened. A few more Asimov jokes are made, but then it's commercial sign!

This scene does appear in the movie.
After the commercial, we're back at the movie! References include Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Little Debbie snack cakes, evolution, Zamfir, Peter and the Wolf, Lancelot Link Secret Chimp, National Enquirer, the Monkees, Bruce Lee, It's About Time, Sonny Bono, The Three Little Pigs, Cliff Robertson, Billy Idol, stock footage, Jumble puzzles, Dairy Queen, E.T., Tarzan, and Love Connection. There's also the first use of the gag, "I can see my house from here!" by Joel (twice), who also points out that the title of the movie makes pretty much no sense!

Then, the movie over, it's time to finish disarming the satellite of doom! Joel realizes that the Asimov sideburns are phony and come right off. They decide that the satellite really isn't a threat, and decide to read some letters. Letters are from James S. Colstrom, John M. Crittenden, and Kenneth and Sara Plotkin. These letters seem to be referring to episodes that were either aired in Minneapolis only, or perhaps I don't have a complete first season to go through! The Mads, by the way, don't do a whole heck of a lot in conclusion, although Larry does try to play a song before he's interrupted.

This is the first time since doing these review/indexes of MST3K that I realized that I had actually seen the movie before, although it's been a long, long time ago -- and I must've blocked the memory of it out of my brain, because this is a slow, boring, terrible movie! The only good thing about it is some of the music -- lifted from the soundtrack of "Creature From the Black Lagoon."

This episode definitely has more of the feel of MST3K than the previous ones, although I have to admit that a little over halfway, Joel and the bots seem to start running out of steam, and there are fewer jokes the closer we get to the end of the film. But we're getting very, very close to the show I started watching kind of late in the run!

Cool Stuff!

More Hanna-Barbera collectibles, at least to start!
Here's a set of Flintstones figures that are obviously bootleg items -- look at the size of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm compared to the others, as well as the really bad card art!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cover Redux!

Yes, it's time for another installment of "Cover Redux," where I show the original Marvel comic book cover side-by-side with a later comic book that reprinted it, and point out all the changes that were made to it!
And this first one is a challenge! We have Amazing Spier-Man #129, and Marvel Tales #106. Here's what I can spot: Aside from coloring variations (which we've come to expect), the original cover art has been reduced slightly to accommodate the larger logo on the reprint, cropped on the right side and perhaps a bit of art added to the left side (it may have been on the original, but it's impossible to tell from this). And the text between the Punisher's legs has been removed to make room for the UPC code!

Fandom Library: The Comic Reader #91!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let Me Tell You A Story...

So, when I did my This 'n That post a week or three or so back, I didn't quite tell you about all the major stuff happening with me. I left something out, and it's not a good thing.

You see, on June 5th, I was driving home from a doctor's appointment I'd taken my son, Tristan to. It was early evening, and we were headed south on Interstate 5 in Olympia, maybe a third of the way between the Capitol Way exit and the Highway 101 exchange. Now, I've lived in Olympia for a while now, and like most intelligent people, I've noticed that in the area I live in, there are certain traffic patterns that occur on a regular basis. In this case, this part of I-5 has a tendency to slow down greatly, and often stop, during the evening commute.

Such was the case this time. We were in the inside lane, as Hwy 101 is our exit, and traffic slowed down ahead of us (and I followed suit), and the stopped, as did I. Tristan, sitting in the back seat, asked why we had stopped, and I said because of traffic.

Next thing I knew, I heard a screeching of tires, and before I could even look to see where the sound came from, there was a crash as we were struck from behind.

Puzzle Time!

But before the puzzles, a quick art lesson:
Answer after the jump!

Goverment Comics!

This time, the Government Comic features Blondie and her family!

Monday, July 09, 2012

It Ougtta Be... a "Should've Been" this time around!

So, let's go back in time, after the Monkees second season aired on NBC-TV. They decided not to make any more TV shows (the Monkees reportedly wanted to go to a variety format, but the network didn't like that idea -- which seems appropriate, considering how god-awful the later special "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee" ended up being), and so they decided to make the theatrical movie "Head" instead (which, frankly, alienated the audience they'd spent two years building up by deconstructing the whole Monkees mystique -- not that it's a bad movie, it's just not what anyone expected of a Monkees movie. If I ever get the time, I plan to go through "Head" and create a few "lost third season episodes" from it).

Anyway, reruns of the show ended up being aired on Saturday mornings, with some of the original songs replaced with new songs (for the romps where they didn't intercut to the Monkees performing said songs, anyway -- said songs being taken from the last two albums released under the Monkees name -- "The Monkees Present" {done without Peter, who'd quit at the time} and "Changes" {which was just Micky and Davy, Mike having quit}), and the opening credits on the first season being replaced with the opening credits for the second season. These aired starting in the fall of 1969 on CBS, and ran continuously until the fall of 1972, when they aired for one season on ABC. CBS aired it at noon, while ABC aired it at 1 pm. These reruns, airing for so long, were probably where a lot of Monkees fans ended up watching the show for the first time!

But... what if, instead of airing repeats on Saturday mornings, CBS decided to go a different route? What if they'd asked for a Monkees animated series, instead, that could have all-new episodes? Who knows how long the show could've lasted then; consider how long the Archies lasted on Saturday mornings!

Certainly, the show could've been done by Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, or even Rankin-Bass (they would do the Osmonds and Jackson Five shows). Even if the Monkees themselves didn't want to actively participate in the show, the voices could've been done by impersonators (not that this would've been my preference). I'd imagine that Micky and Davy would've been fine lending their voices to animated counterparts, given that Davy would do that very thing for an episode of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies," while Micky went on to do some voice work for Hanna-Barbera.

This would've left Peter and Mike to consider. Given that Peter had quit the group because of exhaustion, I'm not sure if he would've wanted to stay with it in this format, although it would've been a lot easier on him (I've heard that for the animated "Star Trek," some of the cast members would simply read their lines into a tape recorder and mail them to Filmation). Mike might've been the only real hold-out, and honestly, I think they could've found someone to imitate his voice.

The show could've been called "Hey, Hey We're the Monkees" to differentiate it from the live-action show, although the original theme song could still be used, obviously. Like the original program, most of the opening credits could've been compiled from clips of the episodes being made.

I envision this show as pretty much sticking to the format of the regular show, with an overall plotline, a romp somewhere along the way to get one song in, and then at the end of the show, there could be a "performance" song, with the Monkees performing on some kind of stage.

I think that the satire and parody sometimes seen on the show could have been amped up a bit more, and some self-awareness could be plugged in. As an example of how this could work, consider the following, which I'd imagined the opening sequence of the first episode (which I'd call "The Monkees Get Animated") could go:


PETER (VO): (Yelling) Mike! Micky! Davy!

CUT TO: INTERIOR OF THE MONKEES' HOUSE. MIKE is eating a bowl of cereal, while MICKY and DAVY are playing checkers or some other game. PETER rushes down the stairs, dressed in his nightshirt and cap.

PETER: (Still Yelling) Mike! Micky! Davy!

MIKE: Peter, calm down! What's the matter?

PETER: Mike, something's terribly wrong! When I woke up, I looked at my hands, and they were all like this! (Holds his hands up -- of course, we don't see anything's unusual, because this is a cartoon, and this is the way they're supposed to look) See? All the little details are gone, like wrinkles and stuff!

(Quick shot of Micky and Davy playing checkers -- Micky moves a piece, Davy moves the same piece back again, neither of them paying attention to what's happening)

MIKE: It's okay, Peter. Don't you remember? We're cartoon characters now, so everything we have to do is drawn by someone!

PETER (looking confused): But it feels so weird, Mike!

MIKE: But there's a lot of advantages to being cartoons, Pete! Dig this!

MIKE reaches one hand up above Peter's head -- he's holding a rolled up window curtain. He pulls the string with his other hand to cover up Peter, and then lets it go, revealing Peter no longer in his nightclothes, but instead in his regular Monkees outfit of pants with the red eight-button shirt.

MIKE: See? We can only do this as cartoons!

PETER: Groovy.

I also imagine that some of the episodes could be based on some of the Monkees songs themselves -- "Your Auntie Grizelda" could practically write itself, and some of the later songs, "Ladies Aid Society" could work well as the basis for an episode, too. Another great aspect of the show could be using some of the songs that were recorded but never used on the show or released on an album until Rhino did their three volumes of "Missing Links." The first volume of that had a song, "Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears" that is classic Monkees all the way, and would definitely work in an episode of an animated series!

Here's another episode idea: The Monkees are traveling the country, heading to their next gig, when they stop for gas and a bite to eat in River City (not necessarily named per se, but could be hinted at, i.e., "Our city by the river."), where they discover that there is no music there at all. Oh, once there was a lot of music there long ago, but nobody can play the instruments any more, so all the instruments they had are being loaded into a truck to be gotten rid of. The guys, of course, find this a shame, and Micky climbs into the truck to see what's there. Of course, there's a few trombones ("We used to have 76 of them," one of the townies would helpfully inform him) as well as a bunch of other stuff. Unfortunately, while Micky's in the truck, someone pulls the wrong lever, and the truck dumps out all the instruments plus Micky into the river, sending all downstream. Naturally, the fish in the river find the instruments and start playing them so that Micky can sing "Goin' Down" while Mike, Davy and Peter jump into the Monkeemobile and drive downriver in an attempt to get far enough ahead of him to rescue their bandmate.

There could even be episodes that are basically designed to parody other Saturday morning cartoons -- and of course, there would be more of the Monkeemen!

The look of the Monkees in the show would be kind of a mix of early and later TV series. As you might imagine from earlier, I picture them wearing their blue pants, red eight-button shirts, and boots. Mike would still have on his wool hat, but Micky would have his afro. When there's performance segments, I'd hope that there'd be enough common sense that we could've had Peter playing the appropriate instrument for the song, whether it be guitar, banjo, bass, or keyboards.

Getting back to the band's participation outside of the music, since their look was used in the merchandising, I don't imagine there'd be a problem using their looks for the cartoon, although to help keep things looser, it would probably work best if only their first names were used. I'd play Micky as the goofy mimicker and wacky inventor, Mike as the sardonic smart one, Davy of course as the boy who always finds someone to fall in love with (or vice versa), and Peter would be -- no, not the dumb one! I never thought of Peter's character as being "the dummy" (as he referred to himself in "Head")... rather, I think of him as being innocent. He is willing to believe the best of anyone, and while that doesn't always work out in his favor, it would've been nice to have a few episodes in which this did work out well!

Anyway, I think this would be great fun to watch, and it's a shame it never happened, and is never likely to happen. I've actually been thinking about this for a long time, and was just about ready to mock up some stuff to share as if this had been a real possibility (probably making it a Filmation show, and providing "scans" of memos and the like), but I haven't been able to come up with the animated appearance so I could've included model sheets (although I might've been able to find someone, I suppose). Hey, are any of you readers out there interested in working on some mock-ups here, not to use as some kind of scam (like Marvel did with their superhero that was supposedly a Stan Lee creation in the Silver Age, but never published, I forget his name) but more as a look at what possibly could have been?

Toy Spotlight: AHI Batman Paratroopers!

One of the mainstays of AHI's rack toys were their parachutist figures, and they had a pretty good set of Batman characters represented! Of course, first was the Caped Crusader (above) and the Boy Wonder (below):

Also included in the line were the Batman villains Joker and Penguin:

Of course, AHI wasn't the first to do a Batman parachute figure... here's one from the 1960s!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Comic Reading Library: Dark Mysteries #16!

Taking a break from 10 of a Kind for July, so you get a couple of more Comic Reading Library installments!

The Indexible Hulk #28!

Tales to Astonish 072Issue: Tales to Astonish #72

Title: “Within the Monster Dwells a Man!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Mickey Demeo (Mike Esposito), letters by Sam Rosen.

Supporting Cast: General Ross, Major Talbot, Rick Jones

Villain: The Leader

Hulk Intelligence: Not staying at Banner levels!

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: As Ross' soldiers continue to attack the Hulk's cave, within it the Leader's transmitted image continues to try to talk the Hulk into joining him. Outside, Rick is trying to talk Ross into stopping the attack, but it's no use. Finally, the missiles and bombs start damaging the lab equipment in the cave, making the Hulk angry! He realizes that without his equipment, he can't avoid changing back to Banner again, so he agrees to the Leader's offer! The Leader then uses his matter-portation ray to transport the Hulk to Italy, where the Leader's current base is. When the Hulk arrives, the Leader asks him about the lab equipment in the cave (since he'd known the Hulk as a strong but dumb brute, not intelligent), but the Hulk blows him off. The Leader shows the Hulk around, demonstrating how he grows his Humanoids. The Leader's arrogance starts to tick the Hulk off, and he's about to attack, but then he starts to fall down, unconscious. The Leader's been exposing him to a sleep gas (that doesn't affect the Leader) that's put him to sleep. Meanwhile, the soldiers investigate the base, and when the find the damage lab equipment, Talbot and Ross figure this is proof that Banner and the Hulk were working together. Talbot tries to get Rick to tell them everything, but Rick's not talking. Ross decides to have Rick taken into custody for questioning. In Italy, the Leader checks on the Hulk, who's still asleep but then wakes up after the Leader walks away (the Hulk being more powerful than he suspected). The Hulk starts to break out, trashing a bunch of lab equipment and setting off an alarm. The Hulk blunders into a room of statues of the Humanoids, but then they start to move and attack him! The Hulk begins fighting them, but the he starts to feel his body preparing to change to Banner!

Invention Exchange: The Leader's matter-portation ray (previously referred to as a “projecto-ray”).

Reprinted In: The Incredible Hulk Special #3, The Incredible Hulk (Simon & Schuster, 1978), Essential Hulk #1.

Notes: Adapted as episode 19 of the 1966 Hulk animated series. When the Hulk arrives at the Leader's Italy headquarters, he steps out of a “screen” similar to the teleportation system used by the Enclave, who created Him/Adam Warlock in Fantastic Four.