Saturday, November 22, 2014

Animation Writer Len Uhley Honored

Here's an item I stumbled upon purely by chance, but might be of interest to the readers of this Blog.

Len Uhley, perhaps the best writer for the collection of animated TV shows we've come to know as THE DISNEY AFTERNOON, is being honored by the Writer's Guild of America.  The details can be found HERE - and my profound apologies for the annoyance of having to watch an ad in order to read the piece. 

I was introduced to the work of Len Uhley in this wonderful episode of the Disney TV series DUCKTALES.  Chris Barat writes far more about the episode at THIS LINK.  

Do continue into the Comments Section of Chris' Blog post, to find yours truly heaping much additional praise on the episode.  It saves me from having to write more here.  Efficient, eh?   

From that point on, I noticed that anything under the DISNEY AFTERNOON umbrella with Uhley's name attached to it was generally a cut about the rest.  

Uhley was also a contributor to the classic-era DISNEY AFTERNOON series GUMMI BEARS, DARKWING DUCK, and TALE SPIN - the later of which we'll be posting more about very soon.  

The full list of Len Uhley's TV writing credits can be found HERE.  

Congratulations to Len Uhley on his much deserved honor!  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Biff! Bam! Boffo! – on Blu-ray!

Batman’s 75th Anniversary has also been a great year for the BATMAN (1966) TV series. 

There is the wonderful BATMAN ’66 comic book from DC Comics… and now there is “BATMAN THE COMPLETE TV SERIES LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY”! 

I just got, and spent much of the day with, this amazing Blu-ray set! 

"It is TRULY AMAZING, Old Chum!"
By all accounts, it’s been a long and difficult battle to get the BATMAN (1966) TV series to DVD – but was this remarkable deluxe set ever worth the wait! 

All three complete seasons on Blu-ray discs – with many Extra Features. 

A softcover Episode Guide book.

The Adam West Scrapbook, hardcover and filled with great photos from the Batman '66 era. Including one each of West with William Shatner... and John Wayne!

A reproduction set of the original Batman Cards (the first set with drawings, and not actor’s photos) that I had way back in 1966! 

A Hot Wheels Replica of the Batmobile!  (…Atomic Batteries to Power!  Turbines to Speed!

The episodes TRULY never looked better!  The picture quality is bright, sharp… and Bat-tastic!  And, for a series that used color in such a then-unique way, Blu-ray is the perfect format for BATMAN! 

I must note that the illustrations used here are culled from around the Internet, and my own scans, and are NOT indicative of the magnificent picture quality seen in the Blu-ray set!  

"HOLY HIGH-DEF! We look MUCH better than this, on Blu-ray!"

On the first day, I skipped around the vast BATMAN ’66 video-verse with gleeful abandon!  It went something like this: 

"Buckle-up! You're in for quite the ride!

The first two-part episode, featuring Frank Gorshin as The Riddler: “Hi Diddle Riddle” / “Smack in the Middle” – an amazingly new and colorful approach to television (…even though *I* first saw it in Black and White), with an equally amazing Jill St. John disguised as Robin.  Hmmm… Methinks Adam West’s Batman might not have been “The World’s Greatest Detective”, after all! 

Oh, and the episode was based on this comic.

Skipped to the first appearance of my favorite TV-Bat-Villain, the great Victor Buono as King Tut.  “The Curse of Tut” / “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut”. 

Jumped to the many Extra Features and watched the Batgirl Pilot – with Adam West, Burt Ward and the (need I say…) amazing Yvonne Craig as the Terrific Trio vs. Killer Moth, a comics villain who never appeared on the series.  Alas, the actors who play Killer Moth and his Mothmen remain uncredited in the piece.  It runs just shy of 8 minutes and really does feel like a “lost” episode of the series.  

Then, “Batmania Born! Building the World of Batman”, a superb documentary on the “life and times” of the show as a pop-cultural phenomenon, with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, persons from DC Comics like Paul Levitz, Mike Carlin, Dan Di Dio, Jim Lee, and Len Wein, key creative figures in Warner Bros. different Batman animated series Bruce Timm, James Tucker, and Alan Burnett, and file footage of Caesar Romero, Producer William Dozier and Writer Stanley Ralph Ross.  This feature should actually be released on its own!  It’s THAT GOOD!  

On to Season Two and the first appearance of Vincent Price as Egghead “An Egg Grows in Gotham” / “The Yegg Foes in Gotham”.  After all, it recently WAS “Vincent Price Week”! 

Next, near the end of Season Three, the final appearance of Victor Buono as King Tut.  “I’ll be a Mummy’s Uncle”. By Season Three, most Bat-episodes were one-part and self-contained.  A wonderfully funny affair with great dialogue.  …And, you KNOW how I love great dialogue!  By this time, Buono was REALLY hamming it up! 

 And, “The Joker’s Flying Saucer”, the last appearance of Caesar Romero’s Joker! 

"Is it really THE END for me? Unthinkable!" 

Finally, back to Season One, for its second adventure “Fine Feathered Finks” / “The Penguin’s a Jinx”, and the first go-round for Burgess Meredith as The Penguin. 

That is SOME BAT-DAY!!! 

I hate to "RIP" anything about this set, but...

If there’s one CON about the set, it’s something that may unfortunately be typical of Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray product – specifically such product that contains “episodes or installments” that should play individually off of a menu.   It’s certainly true of the three Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Blu-ray sets. 

Once you select an episode for play from the episode menu, at episode’s end we are not taken back to the menu to make another selection – but, instead, the NEXT SELECTION (from whatever point you are at on that menu) plays automatically, and then the next, in non-stop fashion.

It’s an involuntary version of “PLAY ALL”, only starting at which ever point you choose.  It’s rather annoying to not be able to make “your next viewing choice” yourself, without explicitly pressing the “MENU” button of your remote.  …But, in the grand Bat-scheme of things, this is a minor quibble. 

SECOND DAY UPDATE: Another minor quibble”, but particularly noticeable to someone like me, is that, in the first two seasons at the end of “Part Two” of every episode, there was a Next Week's Villain” intro.  It would just be a STILL of the villain that would hold on the screen for as long as it took William Dozier to say: Next Week: Batman vs. The Penguin!”  These bits have always been cut from syndication prints.  

Alas, they are also missing from these otherwise perfect episodes. However the Next Week's Villain” intro for Zelda the Great, at the end of the first Mister Freeze appearance, Instant Freeze” / Rats Like Cheese” seems to have been accidentally left on, to the great pleasure of authenticity enthusiasts everywhere!   

What are you waiting for?  Get down those batpoles, already! 

“BATMAN THE COMPLETE TV SERIES LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY” is pricy, but SOOOO worth it, especially with online deals – and Black Friday coming up.  So, slide down the Batpoles, and get yours on the “Same Bat-Day!”  

"I'm getting MY COPY right now!" 

Monday, November 10, 2014

‘Stone-Gold Scooby!

Much has been written at this Blog on my comic book mini-renaissance that began in MARCH, 2014, primarily centered on two titles: BATMAN '66 and SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, both from DC Comics. 

Indeed, I’m probably enjoying these TWO comic titles far more than when I used to bring home more than a dozen titles each New Comics Wednesday. 

As undeniably great as BATMAN ’66 has been, SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 7 – guest starring The Flintstones (released on November 05, 2014, and previewed HERE), just might be the single best comic book of 2014 – at least per my particular sensibilities. 

A hallmark of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, and its gifted writer Sholly Fisch, is that it doesn’t sidestep or ignore character version disparities or quirks, but REVELS in them!

This book says exactly what we obsessive fans are thinking.  One of my favorite examples (…and you’ve seen it LOTS of times already) is again illustrated below. 

But now, try a few of these magnificent Flintstones gags on for size – and let’s also offer BIG PROPS to artist Scott Jeralds for his right-on renditions of all of the characters and general ambiance of Bedrock!  Click on all comic images to enlarge!

Oh, YES!  BIG PROPS to Scott Jeralds!

Say, didn't *I* do that bit in a Donald Duck comic once?  

Yep, I sure did!  

Of course, we're ALL just tributing this classic scene! 

Back to Our Story: The scientists' Stone Age time machine plucks Scoob and the gang out of the 21st Century.

"Scooby-Doo WHEN are you?"  Gotta love that! 

Velma’s observation was a laugh-out-loud line for me.  And doesn’t the scientist really look like an incidental Hanna-Barbera character? 

And, of course, Shaggy is “scared of cavemen”! 

Judging by the upper-floor view that looks down upon the Flintstone and Rubble domiciles, are the scientists housed in the huge spooky old house next to Fred’s (never seen before The Flintstones Season Five) that was once occupied by The Gruesomes?  What else could offer such a view? 

What’s a good Flintstones story without a few “modern convenience” gags?

...Or, the old standard "talking animal device" gag?  Even the best of the older Flintstones comics rarely, if ever, did those! 

And, here’s an utterly amazing reference (in Fred Flintstone's aside comment to Fred Jones), and the type of thing that has put Scholly Fisch in my personal “Writer’s Hall of Fame”!
Everyone who has read one of my Disney comic book scripts knows how much I love to gag-up a story – but, I am truly in awe of this bit!  (Click to Enlarge!) 

See!  Barney's AT IT again!   

In my previous post on the upcoming SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 8 with The Jetsons, I anticipated a conversation encounter between Scooby and Astro.  Here, we get one between Scooby and DINO…and it appears to be the converse of what I predicted for Scooby and Astro.  Magnificent!

As I had hoped, The Gruesomes turn up (…where are THEY living, if the scientists are working in their huge spooky old house?), and we get a reference to THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES encounters with THE ADDAMS FAMILY!   

Finally, even the continuity of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP itself is referenced by Fred (Jones, not Flintstone) recalling the gang’s encounter with Bat-Mite in the now-legendary (at least at this Blog) SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 3, when they meet The Great Gazoo!

"MITE" he be remembering SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 3? 
That’s the absolute maximum I can show without spoiling, or otherwise compromising, the plot – so I’ll stop here.  But, I think I’ve made my point!   

Now, all I can say is “Yabba-Dabba… er, Doo!”  

If there is only one "nit to pick" it would be that, in a story that goes so far as to include both The Great Gazoo and The Gruesomes, Hoppy the Hopperoo is nowhere to be found -- not even pictured as a background character in a group shot! 

This is in keeping with his general invisibility in comic books, going back to when he had ONE appearance in the entire Gold Key run as as (all together now) "background character" in this Gold Key Comics Film adaptation.

Perhaps, by the time of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 7, he'd hopped back to "Australia-rock", or something!  ...Or, maybe some Sabre-Tooth Tiger, with incessantly-blabbing kitten in tow, though he was a giant mouse-a-saurus.  

Naaaah!  That's just plain SILLY!  

Despite that singular demerit, this might (not "Mite") very well be the best comic book appearance of The Flintstones since the Dell and Gold Key days – and better than quite a few of THOSE too.  …Yes, I’m THAT impressed!  

If you get only one issue of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, let it be this one.  Then, you’ll wanna collect ‘em all!