Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Duck Tales

I like Disney cartoons made for TV -- it's obvious that Disney has a lot of play in the writing department so the cartoons are usually well-written. Such is the case with Duck Tales, the Scrooge McDuck cartoon that had a 3-yr run in the late 80's. This is one of those cartoons that completely absorbed my attention when I wasn't napping or attempting to cram for a final exam in 2 hrs (yep, I was quite the slacker -- sigh, I miss those days...). Watching it again with DJ has been interesting -- he's about as obsessed with it as I was. The advent of personal recordable media has greatly enhanced this shared family trait. We got about 4 discs from the library and they have been on continual rotation for the last week or so (they're actually really late and our account is blocked). This is about on the same level of child obsession as Scooby-Doo was less than a year ago. Tale Spin is another Disney cartoon that started after Duck Tales -- it was not as successful but I thought it was a good show and featured characters from Disney's Jungle Book.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Star Blazers, Voltron, and Gatchaman fallout

I made my 5-yr old son a really cool Gatchaman t-shirt and he refuses to wear it because, as he says, "you won't let me watch Gatchaman, so why should I wear a Gatchaman t-shirt?" He is wise beyond his years. I was hoping it would be a consolation prize -- he can't watch the ADV dubbed-version of Gatchaman because of bad language, but here's a really cool shirt with a reproduction of a Gatchaman poster... No dice. I've been pondering the idea of whether or not to get some episodes of Battle of the Planets -- they won't have the questionable language, but they'll also be confusing as all get-out with the changed names, and that stupid robot.

So, I'm trying to work on mending my son's broken heart with some other great anime from the same era, Star Blazers and Voltron. Voltron I never watched as a kid but it is fondly remembered by many of my age peerage. I never saw the English-language version of Star Blazers; I remember watching 16-mm silent footage of Space Battleship Yamato at the Polish-American Center in the East Village back in the early 80's.

We've had fun watching both of these so I've packed the Netflix cue chock-full. I've now got the Star Blazers theme going through my head almost constantly and occasionally will bust out with a couple of stanzas while DJ and I drive around on errands. I return once again to Blackcatter's World of TV Theme Song Lyrics to share the words with you: "We're off in outer space/protecting Mother Earth/To save the human race/Our Star Blazers!" I often think of Battleship Potemkin when I think of the theme song, I'm not sure why.

It'll be a fun summer.

Star Blazers photo taken from
Voltron pic from

Monday, March 03, 2008

In Which I Take a DIC Entertainment PR Person to Task For Doing His Job

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the letter letting me know about "Liberty's Kids" being aired on the History Channel. We don't have cable in our house and I don't know if the History Channel is an appropriate venue for "Liberty's Kids." For instance, here's the lineup for March 4th (tomorrow):

07:00 AM Liberty's Kids: Across the Delaware

James knows a secret about a captured spy named John Honeyman, but he can't tell anyone--not even Sarah. Using the element of surprise, General Washington gets two much-needed victories at Trenton and Princeton.


07:30 AM History's Lost & Found: The Lost Squadron/Uncle Tom's Cabin Manuscript/Ty Cobb's Dentures.

In this half-hour version of our historical scavenger hunt we locate: the P-38 fighter planes and B-52 bombers that crash-landed on a glacier in Greenland in 1942; the 14 remaining pages from the original manuscript for Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe's explosive book about slavery; and baseball great Ty Cobb's dentures, which sold for $7,475 at auction in 1999.


08:00 AM Hillbilly: The Real Story:

The two-hour special, hosted by celebrity Billy Ray Cyrus, brings these mythic people to life through stories that span 300 years. Outcast immigrants, war heroes, isolated backwoodsmen, hard working miners, fast moving moon shiners, religious warriors, musicians and statesmen make up the rugged cast of characters.

"Across the Delaware" is a great episode, but followed up by a show featuring how much Ty Cobb's dentures fetched at auction somehow seems not a good fit for children or the history buffs who watch the History Channel at 7 am.

DIC Entertainment has had some good shows, but a lot of your stuff leaves a lot to be desired, like "Dino Squad" as part of CBS' Kewlopolis. Why not do more educational shows like "Liberty's Kids" and less stuff like "Dino Squad" and "Archie's Weird Mysteries" --- Good God, what's "Sushi Pack?" Oh, wait, here's the synopsis:
The Sushi Pack are tougher than tough, mighty munchies of goodness! Four pieces of sushi and a wad of wasabi jolted to life – out on the streets fighting for what is right! In a world where dark forces will always pursue their wicked goals, the crusading, crime-fighting Sushi Pack is here to fight back on our behalf. These bite-sized morsels of might are ready to serve!
But you already probably know that about "Sushi Pack."

Look, I realize you're doing your job, but c'mon, you obviously haven't read the blog enough to know that I'm mad at DIC Entertainment for charging 400 dollars for the complete canon of "Liberty's Kids," making it next to impossible for mom and dad consumer to purchase the collection for their children; or, alternatively, DIC has only made a few episodes available (12, I think) on DVD where you have to buy a DVD with only 3 episodes on it, and the episodes do not fall into any particular order, either.

Thanks, anyway, and keep reading the blog!

Michele of Saturday Morning Cartoons Blog

On Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 6:46 PM, Bennett, Mark wrote:

Dear Michele,

I was glad to come across your blog that mentioned Libertys Kids, which is being tested right now on The History Channel at 7:00 in the morning.

For the next ten days we need to get the word out to people like you who may favor putting an award winning animated series about the Americas Revolution on the air. This series was done with PBS and has received Emmy nominations (2 for Walter Cronkites rendition of Benjamin Franklin) and features an all star cast. This is a great show but it is hard to get shows like this on TV when so many toy and game supported shows fill up the network time. This is an important opportunity for us to let The History Channel know that they will be rewarded by bringing this type of programming to kids.

Thank you for your time and please let others know that we are on the air for the next ten days at 7 in the morning (except for Sunday).


Mark Bennett


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Friday, February 08, 2008

Goodbye Gatchaman

Just finished watching the last of 18 discs of Gatchaman. It is mind-boggling to realize that I watched 105 episodes of this show. It was so worth it and feel, ultimately, like I watched the show for the first time, even though I was a big fan of Battle of the Planets as a child. In the span of 105 episodes I saw about every type of insect and fish stylized into a giant "mecha" built to destroy the earth; in the Gatchaman universe Jesus has a place on Mt. Rushmore; a giant Buddha mecha destroys a bunch of stuff. I cannot remember every weird disconnect I noticed but it was so amazing. I recommend this show to anyone who wants to see some really good, early Japanese animation in a developing genre.

I feel bad that we couldn't let our son watch the rest of the series, but the ADV dubbing and the heavy violence made it simply inappropriate for a 5 year old. I did make him a Gatchaman t-shirt, however, which I will surprise him with today when I pick him up from school.

I did see one other instance where I suspect Watanabe is referencing Gatchaman in Cowboy Bebop. In Gatchaman it is the scene where Joe is shot in the front of the church in the episode where he returns to his home town, only to find out it is a Galactor stronghold (and -- gasp -- his parents were Galactor agents); it is sort of like an altar-like area with steps leading down and I was suddenly reminded of the last scene in Cowboy Bebop where Spike is shot, also on an altar-like space with stairs leading downward (ever downward).

When I retire I'm going to sit down with the entire oeuvre of Gatchaman and completely deconstruct it. Yes, and that is what I'm going to do in my dotage.