CBBC Memories – The Addams Family.

The Addams Family (ABC, 1992-1993)

It’s not another cartoon review, is it? Yes, it is! The Addams Family are “the ghoulish clan”, as they became known, who were created by Charles Addams to appear in a comic strip. This led to a successful sitcom in the mid-60s (and I plan to review that soon too). There have been various spin-offs since. And there was a revival of interest when a well-received film was released in the early-90s.

This led to there being a cartoon version that was aimed at younger viewers. and I’m fairly sure that this was where I encountered this family for the first time (there had been a previous attempt at a cartoon version in 1973). The family live in Happydale Heights and consist of several bizarre characters, including the married Gomez and Morticia (in a connection to the earlier TV sitcom, John Astin reprised his role to voice Gomez).

There’s no doubt that he was very fond of his “Tish”. Their children are Wednesday and Pugsley, who bicker with each other as much as any other sister and brother do. And there’s Granny Addams and Uncle Fester, who was rather fond of doing experiments, and constantly blowing himself up. And don’t forget Thing the hand, and the grumpy servant Lurch.

There was also a running gag with references to various rather bizarre-sounding uncles, this really was a rather large family. One difference in this version is that their neighbours were the Normanmeyer family, who were as ordinary as they come, and they were rather convinced that there was always something strange happening next door, with the parents constantly telling their son not to interact with them.

There were 21 episodes in two series, and there were a lot of rather silly and strange stories featured. I suppose that the only comparable cartoon that was around at the same time would be Beetlejuice that was on CITV. It seems that The Addams Family was first shown on CBBC as part of the first series of Saturday Morning fest Live & Kicking.

This then moved to the main CBBC afternoon strand, and for a short while the original 60s sitcom was repeated on BBC2. And then a few years later, this ended up being shown about 1,000 times (and that’s probably not that much of an exaggeration) on Cartoon Network, at all hours, imagine coming across this on the TV at about 2am.

And after this, there have been some more films, and revival of the sitcom as The New Addams Family (that I reviewed a while ago), that unfortunately was always going to come off second-best to the original. And within the past few years, there has been a stage show, and a new generation of viewers have been won over with some computer-generated films, which are as spooky as ever.

More TV Memories – Hong Kong Phooey.

Hong Kong Phooey (ABC, 1974)

I have now come to the final Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I want to review, and I have realised that there really have been a lot of them. Others include Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, and so on, but I don’t really remember those. It has definitely been a good experience to look back at these, there really are a lot of creative and amusing characters.

And it’s proof for me that they were as enjoyable as anything that the likes of Disney and Warner Brothers have had to offer. This was shown on CBBC for about a decade until the mid-80s, but the repeats stopped before I was a viewer, the first time that I saw this was actually on Cartoon Network in the late-90s. This is another one with a rather bizarre idea.

Who is the mysterious superhero who plays the main character in this show? Is it Sergeant Flint? No. Is it Rosemary, the telephone operator? No. Is it Daffy Duck? No. Is it Penry Pooch, the mild-mannered (canine) janitor at the police station? Could be… Penry turns into Hong Kong Phooey by jumping into a filing cabinet, but he always gets stuck, and Spot The Police Cat has to help out.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00052.jpg

Hong Kong Phooey really was “The Number One Superguy”, according to the rather groovy opening theme, and he was voiced by Scatman Crothers, and remember, if the Scatman can do it, then so can you. He was also quicker than the human eye, although that’s taking his boasting to rather ridiculous levels, as that’s not entirely possible.

He also had a car that he would jump into, that could change into various shapes. And he learned martial arts, well some of them, he would often have an instruction book to hand, if he needed some help. He would take on various villains, and often save the day (although it seemed that Spot was actually more skilled than he was). And nobody at the police station ever realised that he was their janitor all along!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00054.jpg

Once again, it’s a surprise to realise that there weren’t a huge amount of episodes of Hong Kong Phooey made, but there seemed to be so many Hanna-Barbera cartoons in production at this time, all competing for the attention of viewers, maybe they only had so many paintbrushes to go round. And this was another one shown as part of Cartoon Network’s Cult Toons, a real delight.

CITV Memories – Scooby-Doo.

Scooby-Doo Where Are You? (CBS, 1969-1970)

This is yet another Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I remember was shown rather regularly on CITV, and that’s probably no surprise really because it’s very popular, it has now been going in various versions for over 50 years. It’s another one where it’s difficult to know what to say about it because so many people will already be familiar with it, but it does deserve to be featured here.

The first version of the show was called Scooby-Doo Where Are You? and it launched on TV in America in 1969. It was a mix of horror and mystery, and contained a group of young characters who would soon become very familiar. The situation in every episode was just about the same too, but when you hit upon a winning formula, why should you change it. vlcsnap-00865

The show’s main characters travelled around in The Mystery Machine. They are Shaggy (originally voiced by Casey Kasem off America’s Top Ten) along with his rather big dog Scooby-Doo. There are also Fred, Daphne, and Velma. Now their van would always conveniently break down when they were on the road to somewhere. They would then have to put their mystery solving skills to use as they would encounter something rather creepy, such as a ghost, vampire, or witch. vlcsnap-00868

At this point the team would often go their separate ways. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo would stay together, although they would often get rather scared, at which point Scooby-Doo would jump into Shaggy’s arms despite being huge (he also sounded rather familiar to Astro the dog in The Jetsons, although that’s because they were voiced by the same actor). Then we have rather a long period of running around. vlcsnap-00869

As they find the clues, they realise that it actually wasn’t a ghost at all, would you believe it. Episodes would always conclude with what I ended up calling the “hmm-pop” moment, when they finally tracked down the villain who was always wearing a mask, and when they took it off it was always accompanied by the same tried-and-trusted “hmm-pop” sound effect. They would never get it away with it of course, crime doesn’t pay. vlcsnap-00870

After the original series ended, there have seen several more series and spin-offs right up to the present day. There was a twist in 1979 when Scooby-Doo’s young nephew Scrappy-Doo was added to the cast with his “puppy power”, but most viewers didn’t consider this to be a popular move. I remember this series was shown regularly on CITV too, along with Cartoon Network. In various other series we meet more members of Scooby-Doo’s family too. vlcsnap-00871

Because of the continuing popularity, there have been two live-action films made, along with several episodes and feature-length specials released on VHS and DVD. And there’s the merchandise that covers just abut everything, from comics to computer games. The show was also parodied in Family Guy. As Scooby-Doo is still around after five decades, it’s one of the few cartoons that has several generations of fans.

More TV Memories – The Flintstones.

The Flintstones (ABC, 1960-1966)

This is a look back at another cartoon, it’s one that was originally on TV a rather long time ago, and this year is its 60th anniversary. I’m not usually so familiar with shows from as long ago as this, but it has been repeated so many times since, meaning that several generations of viewers will know this one. Firstly, it is noted as being just about the very first attempt at an animated show being shown in a primetime slot in America.

Also, it’s another one of those shows that is so well known that it’s difficult to know what angle to take because people will already know its story. For example, The Flintstones is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that was set in Bedrock a rather long time ago in the Stone Age and featured the adventures of a family and their friends. But you already knew that. In fact I know you already knew that. vlcsnap-00828

This is because once on the daytime game show Pointless, I remember a moment where a contestant gave an answer that scored 100 points, meaning that everyone in the survey knew the right answer, the opposite of what they are supposed to achieve. So that must mean that it’s a piece of knowledge that literary everyone knows, and should be put on a list of the only things in life that are really worth knowing. I say all this because there was a question about who the main character in The Flintstones was, and all 100 correctly said Fred, so if you all know that already, what else can I say? vlcsnap-00815

You probably know too that Fred’s wife is Wilma, and their next door neighbours are the Rubbles. The show’s characters were loosely based on the sitcom The Honeymooners. It’s  a show that I’ve not ever seen much myself, but it was one of the most successful in helping to establish American TV in the 50s, and it was shown in this country on BBC2 in the late-80s/early-90s. vlcsnap-00816

Here’s something that you won’t know about the show, which is how I got into it. I first remember watching The Flintstones in the late-80s, when it was shown after CBBC ended (I don’t think that it was ever shown as part of CBBC itself) and although I wasn’t that old I do remember enjoying it. After a while though, the repeat of Neighbours was put into this slot and the ratings soared, so it moved off to various other timeslots, and everyone had a yabba-dabba-doo time. vlcsnap-00835

There were 166 episodes of The Flintstones in six series, and this total wasn’t surpassed by a primetime animated show until the The Simpsons about 30 years later. And since the show ended in 1966, there have been a huge amount of spin-offs almost right up to this day, along with two live-action films that did rather well. The show has often been parodied in Family Guy, and a while ago there was a rumour that Seth Macfarlane was working on a revival, but this didn’t happen. vlcsnap-00834

I also remember when I had Cartoon Network they often dedicated rather a lot of their schedule over to showing various original episodes and spin-offs, and they were still enjoyable to watch all these years on. And of course plenty of episodes have been released on DVD. After The Flintstones was a big success, Hanna-Barbera decided to launch a new cartoon about a family that was at the other end of the timescale, way into the future, which was The Jetsons, and I’ll review that one soon too.

More TV Memories – Wacky Races.

Wacky Races (CBS, 1968-1969)

This is a cartoon that was first shown on American TV in the late-60s. I am not really a big fan of cartoons from as long ago as this, but it is one of the classics from this era, and I do remember watching and enjoying it, so it deserves a review. And as we will see, it has had plenty of repeats and spin-offs. It’s another one that was produced by Hanna-Barbera.

Wacky Races was indeed a rather silly cartoon that featured lots of hot racing action. It featured 11 cars racing against each other, travelling for miles and miles across various American states and beyond. They were all aiming to finish first, and they would stop at nothing to try and be the one to meet the chequered flag and be declared “World’s Wackiest Racer”. vlcsnap-00185

The cars also had names and numbers, and among the drivers were Peter Perfect, The Ant Hill Mob, Professor Pat Pending, Penelope Pitstop, The Slag Brothers, and The Gruesome Twosome. There was also The Arkansas Chuggabug that rather confused me as one of the passengers was a big bear. How that would help them win I’m not sure, and it wouldn’t exceed several regulations as well? I doubt that was within the rules. vlcsnap-00173

The best-known characters though were the duo of Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley in The Mean Machine with the number 00. They had no problem with cheating, and they would do anything to try and gain an advantage and take first place. These plans always went wrong though, and they would end up being disqualified or finishing nowhere, at which point Muttley would simply laugh at their endless misfortune. vlcsnap-00174

But they kept trying with these various plans even though they were always doomed to failure, with an almost Wile E Coyote-style attitude to constantly trying even though it was always going to be to their disadvantage and you wondered why they bothered. All of this was accompanied by some breathless commentary, and there were some very close finishes. Although there was no overall series champion declared, the car with the most podium finishes was The Slag Brothers. Well done them! vlcsnap-00188

There were 17 episodes of Wacky Races, containing two races each, making 34. It was shown a lot on the BBC throughout the 70s and 80s, and it was still being shown into the 90s on Cartoon Network. The show was popular enough for there to be two spin-offs in the late-60s/early-70s. Firstly there was Dastardly And Muttley In Their Flying Machines (known for the “Stop The Pigeon” song). vlcsnap-00187

And there was also The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop (and even now when I see that name I still think of the show’s catchphrase “hay-elp!”). I remember watching both of these too, and there was also an advert based on Wacky Races that was on TV in the 90s for Eagle Star Direct. There have also been plenty of games. I think that all of the episodes have been released on DVD too, but I haven’t got round to buying that one.

More TV Memories – I Am Weasel.

I Am Weasel (1997-2000)

This is a look back at yet another show that I discovered on Cartoon Network. I’m fairly sure that this is the last one that I have to review that I discovered on that channel. So I don’t get another chance for now, I hope that you’ve realised just how fond I was of watching Cartoon Network (I think I watched it even more than Nickelodeon which I also enjoyed a lot around the same time) and there are so many great shows that I was introduced to that I have enjoyed sharing memories of on here.

And this show has a good claim to being the noisiest and craziest of them all. The opening theme to I Am Weasel sounds very similar to “Pop Goes The Weasel” which shouldn’t be that much of a surprise really. The show centred around the adventures of I M Weasel, who was very clever and became something of a superhero to people. He was skilled in a wide variety of abilities, and he also had a really nice voice. vlcsnap-00149

His main rival was I R Baboon, who was the opposite really, being rather daft and causing lots of problems for everyone. He would also begin lots of sentences with “I are…”. Also among the cast are The Red Guy, who appears from the second series and eventually overtakes I R Baboon as the main rival, along with Loulabelle, Jolly Roger, and Admiral Bullets. vlcsnap-00136

I Am Weasel was created by the same team as Cow And Chicken, which was the only cartoon that could match this one for craziness. Also making some appearances were the cast from that show, including Cow and Chicken themselves, and also Flem and Earl. The show features some rather bizarre ideas, which were accompanied by the stranger end of various sound effects. vlcsnap-00153

I Am Weasel was another cartoon that featured contributions from Seth MacFarlane. Even Poopy Face Tomato Nose from Family Guy seems a straightforward character compared to this show. There were 79 episodes in five series, and most of them were only about eight minutes long as they shown as part of Cow And Chicken. It was definitely one of the more popular shows on Cartoon Network, but I don’t think it was ever shown on CBBC, CITV, or anywhere else like that. vlcsnap-00155

And as always, some episodes have been released on VHS, but there haven’t been that many released on DVD. Once again, it gives me the opportunity to express my surprise at just how few shows from this era seem to be available to watch or buy in full, I definitely wouldn’t hesitate in buying them, and I’m sure that many other people would like to as well.

More TV Memories – The Powerpuff Girls.

The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)

This is a look back at yet another great show that was on Cartoon Network, how terrific. This was one that contained a lot of action and adventure. We begin with the scientist Professor Utonium who is working in his laboratory one day to try and create the perfect girl. He has got the sugar and spice, but he accidentally adds the Chemical X… and this leads to the creation of The Powerpuff Girls! vlcsnap-00803

They were a trio of young female superheroes who had various abilities including being able to fly, super speed, X-ray vision, and much more. They were Blossom the pink one (with brown hair) who is the leader, Bubbles the blue one (with blonde hair) who is the funniest, and Buttercup the green one (with black hair) who is the toughest. The Professor looks after them. Their look was also rather distinctive and minimal. They’ve got no nose. How do they smell? vlcsnap-00812

The show is set in the fictional city of Townsville, which was once rather sleepy, but it has now been overrun by various monsters and aliens. Who can come to the rescue when all of this happens? Well you can probably guess. They are often contacted by the mayor when chaos is being caused. The main villains in the show are Mojo Jojo and Him, who are always up to something rather naughty, including creating a male equivalent called The Rowdyruff Boys. vlcsnap-00813

Also featuring is the narrator (voiced by Tom “SpongeBob” Kenny) who breathlessly updates the viewers as the action unfolds and often gets a little too involved. Most episodes end with his announcement “once again, the day is saved, thanks to… The Powerpuff Girls!”. Another good thing about the show is that the closing theme was performed by famous for five minutes Indiepop band Bis, so that’s really great isn’t it. vlcsnap-00807

There were 78 episodes of The Powerpuff Girls in six series. Again, of most these consisted of two separate stories, and there were 136 in total. This was one of the more successful shows on Cartoon Network, and it did well enough to be given the honour (and it was an honour I’m sure) of appearing on the cover of the OnDigital magazine one month in 1999. I hope Johnny Bravo wasn’t jealous.powerpuff0001

I think the show might have also been on CITV for a while. The Powerpuff Girls did well enough for there to be several specials, and there was more merchandise than most shows. Along with the usual tapes and DVDs, there were books, comics, games, toys, and much more. It’s definitely a show that it still fondly remembered by many two decades on, and proof once again at how enjoyable Cartoon Network was to watch in this era.

More TV Memories – Johnny Bravo.

Johnny Bravo (1997-2004)

While I’ve been thinking about the shows that I enjoyed on Cartoon Network again recently, let’s have a look back at another one. This is yet another one that I remember enjoying at the time, I did watch some other channels around this time, honest. Johnny Bravo was a cartoon about a character who considered himself to be something of a ladies’ man, the joke being that the person he is in love with most is himself.

Johnny (voiced by Jeff Bennett) had a rather large blond hairstyle. He was very muscly, liked to dance, was a fan of karate, and he always wore shades and a black shirt. He also often used a comb to make sure that he was totally stylish. His voice and mannerisms were loosely based Elvis Presley, the king of rock’n’roll, and the show was set in Aron City (which was Elvis’s middle name). vlcsnap-00726

When he is out on the town, upon seeing an attractive young woman, Johnny would often become rather overexcited, and he would try to seduce them, at which point he would start to raise his eyebrow and say his catchphrase “oh, momma!”. This often failed though, and he ended up embarrassed rather frequently. When Johnny does get as far as going on a date though, something rather unusual often happens, such as the woman turning out to be an antelope. Well of course.vlcsnap-00687

Other regular characters in the show included Johnny’s mum and Little Suzy. Also featuring were a few celebrity guests, lots of pop culture references, plus a few characters from classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons. There also would be scenes where Johnny oddly appeared to have no mouth when he wasn’t talking, in a similar style to Dilbert. The show is also notable for featuring some contributions from Seth MacFarlane who went on to create Family Guy. vlcsnap-00681

I remember that Johnny Bravo was often promoted in the monthly OnDigital magazine that used to come through the door. And one issue featured an interview with the man himself, although I don’t know if anyone who actually worked on the show had anything to do with it. It just amused me that he seemed to be considered as one of the stars of the whole platform, I’m sure thousands subscribed simply to watch his show. vlcsnap-00736

There were 65 episodes of Johnny Bravo in four series, and again they were split into three stories that were about eight minutes each. The animation style also changed somewhat over the years. As well as Cartoon Network, I don’t think that it was ever shown on CBBC or CITV, it might have been another one that turned up on Channel 4’s weekend mornings strand. Once again, lots of episodes were released on VHS and DVD, along with a few books and games.

More TV Memories – Dexter’s Laboratory.

Dexter’s Laboratory (1996-2003)

This is yet another cartoon that I discovered when I began to watch Cartoon Network in the late-90s, which was packed full of creative shows. It really did take me a while to come to terms with the fact that I now had access to a 24-hour TV channel that only showed cartoons, it was so great to be able to watch them all day, and this was another of the highlights.

Dexter’s Laboratory was a cartoon with a science-fiction twist that was all about the adventures of a boy who was an inventor and something of a scientific genius. He has a special secret laboratory that is underneath his bedroom, where he invents all kinds of things. His parents are unaware of this, however, his sister Dee Dee knows all about it (I don’t know how she got access to the secret password), and often interferes with his ideas which causes chaos. vlcsnap-00553

Dexter had ginger hair, glasses, and a rather bizarre accent (and either he was tiny or Dee Dee was huge). He is always trying to work on experiments, and some of them are rather ambitious and doomed to failure, but he always has a go. This means that all kinds of things can happen, such as inventing robots, doing strange things with brains, or suddenly going back in time, and this is all usually before breakfast. vlcsnap-00551

But of course, there always has to be some tension added into the show from somewhere, so Dexter has a similar-looking rival called Mandark who is also his next-door neighbour. Now he considers himself to be something of a genius too, and he isn’t modest about it at all. He often thinks that he can easily match anything that Dexter comes up with, and this causes a lot of trouble when they attend school together. It is also rather clear that Mandark is somewhat fond of Dee Dee. vlcsnap-00679

There were 78 episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory in four series. Every episode usually featured three stories that ran for about eight minutes each. Along with Dexter’s antics, in the early series there were a couple of segments featuring other characters that were Dial M For Monkey and The Justice Friends, all about a group of superheroes that lived together. vlcsnap-00680

This was yet another show that managed to stand out with a distinctive look and was packed with ideas on a channel that was full of them. Dexter’s Laboratory was one of the more successful shows on Cartoon Network from this era, and it later went on to be shown on CITV. As always, there were lots of episodes released on VHS and DVD, and other merchandise included a few books and games.

More TV Memories – Angela Anaconda.

Angela Anaconda (1999-2001)

Cartoon Network was a channel that introduced me to a lot of unusual shows, and this is another one that I remember caught my attention when I was doing some channel hopping at a rather ridiculous time one day. While this show wasn’t necessarily my favourite cartoon from this era, it is notable because it had a distinctive style that definitely made it stand out.

Angela Anaconda was a cartoon about the adventures of an eight-year-old girl who lived in the town of Tapwater Springs. As we will discover, Angela had something of a rather wild and wonderful imagination. We meet her family, including her parents (her dad liked to call Angela “angelfish”) and her twin older brothers. We also see Angela at school, her circle of friends are Johnny Abatti, Gina Lash and Gordy Rhinehart. vlcsnap-00672

Also featuring is the schoolteacher Mrs Brinks, and Angela’s enemy is Nanette Manoir, a beret-wearing blonde who is rather spoilt and thinks of herself as terrific, and Angela always has fantasies about ways to outsmart her. Nanette’s circle of friends (more hangers-on really) are January and Karlene. Most of the other characters at the school were the usual mix of nerds, bullies and so on.vlcsnap-00664

The first notable thing about the show is the animation style, it really caught my eye. It consisted of photographs of black-and-white faces that changed with their expressions which looked good. All of the colours such as their hairstyles, clothes, and Angela’s distinctive orange freckles were all added in after. Whether this look seemed to help the show or not seems to have divided viewers, but it definitely made me take notice of it. vlcsnap-00659

Another thing I remember about the show that I thought was rather quirky was the way that the characters usually referred to each other by their full name, so for example when Angela spoke to Gina she would always call her “Gina Lash”. And as the episodes went by, there were plenty of strange characters to meet, and Angela got up to lots of things including the excitement of when the dog ate her homework. vlcsnap-00677

There were 65 episodes of Angela Anaconda in three series. Every episode featured two individual stories, so that makes 130 altogether. I don’t think that it was ever shown on CBBC or CITV, but it seems that along with being shown regularly on Cartoon Network, some episodes turned up on Channel 4 on weekend mornings in the early-2000s. I don’t recall there being any VHS or DVD releases in this country though.