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Would also like to see all the other shorts again
I *totally* forgot about "Dodo" until I saw a few clips of it again on You Tube recently (the one I saw was about where Professor Fingers threw a first anniversary party for Dodo, and he and Dodo recall how they met each other; unfortunately, the soundtrack was *out of sync* on that You Tube video). One short I remember in particular was the one in which Professor Fingers takes How, Why, and a group of kids to the ice-skating rink; Dodo just sat on the side wall and dangled his feet while everyone else was skating, and the Professor fell flat on the ice!
When "Dodo" premiered in 1965, I was only 3, but I don't recall seeing these shorts until 1967, when I was 5. At that time, they were shown daily as part of the "Bozo the Clown" show on CKLW-TV (now CBET), Channel 9, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada/Detroit; I would watch that every weekday afternoon after coming home from kindergarten.
Although I couldn't find any info on the voice cast, I'll probably bet Dodo was voiced by Lucille Bliss ("Crusader Rabbit" and Smurfette in "The Smurfs"), How and Why by June Foray, and Professor Fingers by Don Messick. As I said, this is only a *speculation,* so once I get more facts about who voiced whom, I'll start a thread on the bulletin board for this show.
I also wondered what that drawing was in the lower right corner of the Halas/Batchelor title card during the opening credits; I thought it was a smiling worm or possibly a representation of an alien from Dodo's home planet. It turned out to be a drawing of an artist's palette with a smiling paintbrush! I also thought the singers sang "lone pixie-dixie" in the theme's lyrics, but it was actually "science fiction pixie" (which I didn't find out until recently).
I believe "Dodo" is now in the public domain, since I discovered somewhere on the web a DVD was put out by one of those small-time video companies that made the disc compatible for all regions; I'll bet they *didn't* remaster the shorts and used scratchy, deteriorating film elements. I can only hope Shout! Factory or some other "TV classics" DVD company might contract with Halas and Batchelor's estates themselves (John Halas and Joy Batchelor were husband and wife; Halas died in 1995 and Batchelor died four years earlier) - perhaps they have archival copies of "Dodo" - and give the series a *proper* treatment for a DVD box set!
("Dodo" was first syndicated by Embassy Television, when Joseph E. Levine was President of the company; the company became Avco Embassy Television in 1968, and held onto the TV syndication rights until the early 1980's, although most stations were no longer airing "Dodo" by then. In 1982, Norman Lear purchased Embassy from Avco and renamed the company Embassy Pictures, then around 1985 Embassy was bought out by Coca-Cola and finally - in 1989, three years before "Dodo"'s copyrights expired - by Sony Pictures Entertainment, who promptly absorbed Embassy Television into Columbia Pictures Television. It is a *real* shame Sony wasn't even aware they had this series in their vast library and didn't even bother renewing the copyrights on it - sad for us baby-boomers!)
In the meantime, *please* be sure to vote for "Dodo" at TV Shows on DVD.com; so far, it has amassed a puny *43* total votes. If the number of votes is 100 or more, then it just might get Shout! Factory's, or another DVD label's, attention. (You might also want to telephone or e-mail Shout! Factory about "Dodo;" their addresses and phone number are given at their website. That should also help influence them to get the DVD rights to "Dodo.")
Alias St. Nick (1935)
Surprised to see this again on You Tube
I remember first seeing "Alias St. Nick" in 1971 when I was in fourth grade at Lewton Elementary School (which I dubbed "Auschwitz I") in Lansing, Michigan. I remember our homeroom teachers (it was one of those "team-teaching" schools then) surprised us with a showing of this short on the Friday afternoon before Christmas break that year. I just ran across this short on You Tube, and was surprised to see it again after so long.
Although I am not really a fan of the MGM cartoons (I always liked the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies better), "Alias St. Nick" ranks as one of those rare exceptions. Especially amusing was the "train" sequence; I always remembered those tracks running across the far-back hallway of the mice's cave home.
(For some strange reason, the print of "Alias St. Nick" I saw in school was in black and white, or maybe the print began to deteriorate and the colors were fading; obviously, in 1971 there *wasn't* any such thing as "digital remastering." And, ironically, *Warner Bros.* now owns this short today; Time Warner, Inc. bought out Turner Entertainment Company in 1998, which in turn had bought out the pre-January 1986 MGM library of films and TV shows in September 1986, including this short subject.)
I give "Alias St. Nick" a 7, especially for the (few good) childhood memories (at that time) it evokes. (To be sure, later Christmases became *much* better.)
El gran circo de TVE (1973)
*Please* vote for this show at TV Shows on DVD.com
In June 1983, my family and I moved from the Chicago area to Saddle River, New Jersey, a New York City suburb (I was then 21, and about to begin my sophomore year at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck). One Saturday afternoon in July, after we had settled in, I was watching TV and perusing the channels when I came across "El Gran Circo" on WNJU-TV, Channel 47 in Linden/Newark.
Just for kicks, I checked this show out (I understand Spanish a little bit). It was rather funny to watch, and somehow it seemed to evoke fond memories of shows of this same genre my younger sister and I used to watch when we were youngsters living in Warren, Michigan in the 60's (e.g. "Bozo the Clown," "Oopsy"). And for some reason, I always thought the song heard over the opening credits was funny, especially while watching the kids in the audience rocking back and forth in their seats singing along!
One episode of "El Gran Circo" I remember watching on WNJU featured one of the clowns, Fofito, playing the song "People" (from the musical "Funny Girl") on his clavinet in one segment (a clavinet is an instrument that resembles a mini-keyboard; you blow into it, and it sounds a little like a harmonica). I don't remember the comedy sketches in that particular episode, however.
A few months ago, I checked You Tube to see if any episodes of "El Gran Circo" were posted. Sure enough, there *were* - but *not* the one I saw in New Jersey in the summer of 1983 (one of those You Tube videos of "El Gran Circo" featured a literal remake of a "Honeymooners" sketch, and another featured a medley of songs from "Mary Poppins," naturally sung in Spanish). Still, just seeing those few episodes again made me long for my college days.
I recently submitted this show to TV Shows on DVD.com; to date, it received only *2* (!) paltry votes, one from myself and another from somebody else who also remembers this show.
I appeal to anyone else who remembers "El Gran Circo" and would like to see it rereleased on DVD - *please* - go to TV Shows on DVD.com and vote for it. If it gets more than 100 votes, it might attract an American DVD label's attention, and maybe the original Spanish producers could arrange to have it issued here in the States. (And to said producers - do you think you could also include English subtitles? After all, it seems no less ridiculous when you consider many movies and TV shows on DVD are either dubbed into another language on a separate audio track or have subtitles in said language that can be selected from the DVD menu. Indeed, "El Gran Circo" can be enjoyed by *all* ages.)
So *don't* wait - vote for "El Gran Circo" at TV Shows on DVD.com *now!*
Dance Fever (1979)
Well, again, as I said in my review of "Puttin' on the Hits," if you can't say anything nice....
But, here are three observations that should easily exceed the 10-line minimum:
(1) The only good part of this show was after the closing credits rolled, the copyright notice was shown at the top of the screen with the "Ownership of this program is protected by copyright and other applicable laws...." warning at the bottom with the IATSE union bug and the AMPTP (Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, of which production company 20th Century Fox Television was - and *still is* - an active member) logo in between - superimposed over the crowd - then cutting to the pretty woman proclaiming "Dance Fever" was recorded live, then the animated Merv Griffin Enterprises "blinking eye griffin" logo and then - the *best* part of all - the "20th CTELEVISION FOX" (as it was sometimes humorously referred to) logo with the short version of the Alfred Newman fanfare. Fade to black;
(2) For those who wondered why this ultra-cutesy and insipid personality parade managed to survive six years after the disco craze ended in 1981 and despite poor ratings, former Chicago Tribune TV critic Gary Deeb - who rightly labeled "Dance Fever" as being "fatuous" - observed that Merv Griffin had "deep pockets, and as long as his bankroll holds out, the show will be around for a while." Mercifully, in the spring of 1987 Griffin and Fox finally saw the writing on the wall; and
(3) As with "Puttin' on the Hits," because of ultra-expensive music clearances - the majority of the music on this show was recorded - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, glad to say, has *no* plans to release "Dance Fever" on DVD anytime soon, nor will they lease the rights out to other companies like Shout! Factory, who also complained of the same problem. One might remember when Fox decided to release the first season of "WKRP in Cincinnati" on DVD in 2007, they could not afford to include the original recordings featured in the episodes because of said high royalties and instead used "generic" music, causing an uproar among many fans. With regard to "Dance Fever," however, it appears Fox is acting *very* wisely in their decision to withhold any DVD releases.
(April 22, 2014. Update:
According to an article at Wikipedia.org listing all shows syndicated by 20th Television - the current syndication arm of 20th Century Fox - "Dance Fever" is *no longer* owned and syndicated by 20th but - along with all other Merv Griffin Enterprises properties - is now owned and syndicated by Sony Pictures Television. Still, although they inherited the original "Dance Fever," Sony is *also* very smart in *not* doing anything about putting the show on DVD at this time.)
*Touche! Au revoir!*
The Barkleys (1972)
Would very much like to see this show again
I remember "The Barkleys" very well. It, along with "The Roman Holidays" and the live-action kids' game show "Runaround," was one of my favorite shows on NBC's Saturday morning schedule of 1972-73 (I was then 10 years old).
Two episodes I especially enjoyed were "The Great Disc Jockey," in which Arnie becomes a DJ at a local radio station playing old-timey music after he got fed up hearing the music the kids liked, and became spurned by said kids even more (son Roger was a DJ at the opening of that episode as well), and "Keeping Up With the Beagles," in which Arnie sets Roger up with a haughty, high-society girl named Elsie Schnauzer.
And if Arnie Barkley's voice sounded familiar, it was because Henry Corden - who voiced Arnie - went on to become the full-time voice of Fred Flintstone after Alan Reed, who originally voiced Flintstone, died in 1973. And Joan Gerber, who voiced wife Agnes, was also heard in a concurrent animated "All in the Family" derivative, "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home," as matron Irma Boyle (both Agnes and Irma sounded very much alike).
I understand Disney/ABC (!) now owns all the DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (aka DFE Films) shows (with the exception of "The Pink Panther," which is owned by MGM). Although select episodes of "The Barkleys" were on VHS tape in the late 80's and are now unavailable - long before Disney acquired DFE's backlog - the show has yet to make a DVD appearance. If Disney did renew the copyrights on "The Barkleys," then I can only hope someone like Shout! Factory or some other "video nostalgia" label will get the rights to all 13 episodes and put them on DVD; it would especially be nice to see the "Great Disc Jockey" episode again. It would be awful if "The Barkleys" was in the public domain because small-time video companies would snap it up, and they would very likely use poor-quality, unrestored film elements. (DFE Films, by the way, went out of business in 1981 and was ultimately absorbed into Marvel Comics Animation - which is now a division of Disney/ABC - thus explaining Disney's current ownership of "The Barkleys.")
As I've stated in other comments, all I can suggest is: (1) contact Disney, Shout! Factory, etc. and tell them you'd like to see all 13 episodes of "The Barkleys" on DVD; and (2) be sure to vote for it at TV Shows on DVD.com. If "The Barkleys" gets over 100 votes at that website, it might get Disney, etc.'s attention and they'll get it out of the vaults, renew the copyrights on the show if they haven't done so already, and get it on DVD (as of this posting, "The Barkleys" received only 38 paltry votes at TV Shows on DVD.com).
So for anybody else who remembers "The Barkleys" and would like to see the show again, don't delay - *take action now!*
Puttin' on the Hits (1984)
Read my lips: *This show sucked!*
If you can't say anything nice....
Well, okay, maybe two minor observations (and I hope it will be more than 10 lines this time):
(1) The only good part of this program was two title cards following the closing credits, the first one showing the copyright notice at the top of the screen along with that "This program is protected under copyright laws of the United States...." warning at the bottom and a miniature MCA logo sandwiched in between, cutting to a static MCA/Universal Television logo title card 4 seconds later while that classic Universal Television/Revue Productions music jingle - written by Electronic Pop music pioneer Esquivel along with Stanley Wilson - was heard during all that; the MCA/Universal title card "tumbled off" the screen once the music ended (this was the same Universal Television music jingle heard after the closing credits of "The Munsters," but a rare, longer version was used for this program); and
(2) Because of astronomical music royalties, this sorry time-waster should hopefully *never* see a DVD release.
1-2-3 Go! (1941)
dbborroughs is right
Yes, I agree with dbborroughs' comment 100%. This seems like the sort of thing that should have been shown at an elementary school assembly produced by AAA rather than in a cinema.
Especially when - according to Leonard Maltin and Richard Bann's 1992 "Little Rascals" book - you consider this was the 200th (!) film made in the "Our Gang" series, it *could have* been something funnier, such as the upcoming "Going to Press" or "Mighty Lak a Goat" (my all-time favorite "Our Gang" short).
About the only two scenes I thought were funny was when a girl was getting ready to cross the street and as she was looking both ways she seemed as if she was bouncing her head on her shoulders while she was counting aloud, and of course Froggy's closing speech he gave in a high voice so as not to ruin any more microphones.
For those reasons, I give "1-2-3 Go!" a 6.
Benjamin Franklin, Jr. (1943)
Not embarrassingly bad, just plain *boring*
No, this *isn't* the worst Our Gang short made ("The New Pupil" should take that honor) - it's the most *soporific.*
This film makes you think of the kind of junk that: (1) back in the day, you had to watch in high school during History class; or (2) if your own (personal) TV set was broken or your folks grounded you, this was the kind of boring pap they were watching on PBS and forced you to listen to, whether you were done with your homework or not (and then you wished either your own TV was working again and/or your grounding was rescinded so you could enjoy something *really* escapist *and* funny like "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," or "Welcome Back, Kotter" - I guess you could tell I was a teenager in the late 70's!).
Not even one scene that came close to producing a chuckle, in which Janet Burston told the "mugs" in the audience to keep quiet and then made a face, could save this sleep-inducing exercise.
Since Warner Bros. - via Turner Entertainment Co. - now owns this Our Gang film, and since their Turner Classic Movies channel occasionally runs some of these MGM-produced Our Gangs as short subjects between features, then perhaps TCM should air "Benjamin Franklin, Jr." late at night as a public service to hardcore insomniacs.
Not recommended except for history geeks only. Avoid at all costs.
The Smith Family (1971)
Add my name to the list of those who'd like to see this show again
I found a pristine 45 RPM copy of Jerry Wallace's 1959 Challenge Records hit "Primrose Lane" at a record meet recently (I am getting a 1976 Seeburg jukebox restored and hope to put this oldie in it when it's fully functional later this year).
I vaguely remembered "Primrose Lane" was the theme of some TV show produced by Don Fedderson Productions, and could never think of the title until now. I do remember my folks had seen a few episodes of "The Smith Family" and it would bring back many untapped childhood memories if I could see this series again (I was only 9 years old in 1971 when "The Smith Family" premiered; we were living in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan and were getting ready to move to Lansing, Michigan that summer. After we had settled into our new home in Lansing, I remember my folks had seen some of the last episodes in early 1972). It sounds as if "The Smith Family" was a show where the father was devoted to his duties as a police officer, yet also cared about his family - his character was treated with *respect,* not ridicule.
"The Smith Family" was also noteworthy in that it was one of the last original network television series produced by Don Fedderson Productions. After "The Smith Family" and "My Three Sons" were canceled in 1972, Fedderson's company didn't make any new series except for a few TV movies; by the mid-1970's until 1982 Don Fedderson Productions was reduced to syndicating (Gag! Choke!) "The Lawrence Welk Show." Then in the fall of 1982 when Welk's show ended Don Fedderson Productions became history.
Perhaps CBS DVD owns the DVD rights to this show? I do believe that, like "My Three Sons," the copyright notice in the closing credits credited the show's ownership to CBS (CBS Television Studios co-produced "The Smith Family" with Don Fedderson Productions; back then, it seemed rather unusual for one network's product to air on another network - in this case, ABC - whereas today it doesn't seem all that uncommon). Or, perhaps, as the other reader pointed out, Don Fedderson's estate might still own "The Smith Family?" Maybe Shout! Factory could get the DVD rights?
(At TV Shows on DVD.com, "The Smith Family" has amassed 67 total votes as of this writing, 96% of which - including myself - have voted for the series in a full season set. If you haven't already done so, you might want to visit TV Shows on DVD.com's website - it's free to become a member if you aren't one already - and vote for "The Smith Family" in a season set. If it gets 100 or more total votes, that might get the attention of CBS DVD, Shout! Factory, etc. - then perhaps they'll consider getting the DVD rights to "The Smith Family.")
In any event, I hope all ownership rights to "The Smith Family" get ironed out and that it may eventually find its way onto DVD. It sounds like a police drama done with much care and attention to *quality,* and as I said above, it'd also bring back some nice, forgotten childhood memories.
Mary's Incredible Dream (1976)
Glad I *didn't* see it in 1976
I remember my dad, mom, and younger sister were anticipating watching this special after seeing the promos for it, which I remember CBS aired practically non-stop. I, on the other hand, remember at the same time that evening I watched a syndicated rerun of a National Geographic special from 1967, "Holland Against the Sea" on the black-and-white TV set in my bedroom, which aired on another local station (I was watching that National Geographic as extra credit for a school assignment; I was 13 years old at that time).
Now, fast-forward to the present day, when I was able to see a few snippets of "Mary's Incredible Dream" on You Tube after reading some comments about the special here at IMDb and also at Shock Cinema Magazine.com.
I can *confidently* say I *agree* with the other reviewers' comments - especially 4-Eyes' and 15231's - and *didn't* miss much.
"Mary's Incredible Dream" *definitely was* nothing more than a vanity vehicle for Ms. Moore. A good portion of the numbers were overdone, particularly that "Come On, Get Happy" one a few minutes into the special (yes, I knew Ms. Moore herself was a dancer; anybody who remembers those production numbers she did with Dick Van Dyke on his sitcom should know that) and the whole concept itself seemed rather excessive for a one-hour special.
But I had to see that "****-kicking portable washboard number" Shock Cinema Magazine.com described in their critique of this special (that song was "Mama's Got the Know-How," which Ms. Moore sang with country singer Doug Kershaw and the chorus) - *that* was rather funny (Ms. Moore was dressed up like a late-60's - early 70's hippie, wearing a headband), and it seemed the only somewhat restrained but good number in the whole show. (The still photo Shock Cinema Magazine.com used of Ben Vereen as Lucifer in the green outfit whispering something to Ms. Moore as she holds her hand to her mouth in dismay was also funny; she somehow reminded me of that British cartoon character Crystal Tipps in that pose, especially her hairstyle.)
The whole program itself was somewhat reminiscent of those Dora Hall musical specials in its production values - particularly in the "Come On, Get Happy" number - except unlike Ms. Hall, who often used that dated John Seely stock music for cues in her specials *in between* other songs that were performed, Ms. Moore went *all out* in the music for her special, especially in using Arthur Fiedler, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the California Boys Choir. Ms. Moore spared no expense in the visual effects department, either, something Ms. Hall and her cohorts could probably never afford for her low-budget specials.
And also, what was the deal with the sound waves scrawling across the screen introducing each act? I felt as if I was about to read some technical info from the liner notes of one of those vinyl stereo percussion albums from the early 60's my folks had!
It was rather surprising to see "Mary's Incredible Dream" was nominated for three Emmys, mostly in the technical categories. Happily, this special *didn't* win any of them (but, just about *anything* MTM Enterprises churned out back then seemed to enamor the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).
All told, I *didn't* regret seeing that rerun of the National Geographic special that night while my folks and my younger sister saw "Mary's Incredible Dream" on the big color console TV in the living room. My folks soon shared everyone else's opinion - "Mary's Incredible Dream" *wasn't* all that hot.
20th Century Fox Television now owns "Mary's Incredible Dream," in addition to most of the other MTM Enterprises properties. I'm *very* certain Fox *doesn't* have any plans at this time to resurrect this special on DVD; music royalties for some of those songs could also pose a problem in the special seeing a DVD release. And, since this special was made before January 1, 1978, when the current copyright laws took effect, it's uncertain whether or not Fox renewed the copyrights on "Mary's Incredible Dream."
One funny thought, though: If "Mary's Incredible Dream" was in the public domain, wouldn't it be great if, say, it were spoofed on "Mystery Science Theater 3000?" I can only imagine the funny comments the two robots and that one human with them would be slinging at the screen while watching this show.