Welcome back to a new installment of Toon In, friends. Our offering this week entitled Tweet Zoo was released in theaters back in 1957. A Merrie Melodies animated short that was directed by Friz Freleng. Who as a matter of fact created the likes of Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, and the stars of Tweet Zoo Sylvester and Tweety.
In addition it has also been noted that the Tweet Zoo title is a play on the 1928 hit song Sweet Sue, Just You. Which was composed by Victor Young and featured lyrics by Will J. Harris. It was covered by many bands and singers from Benny Goodman to Miles Davis. Furthermore it was sung by the cast of I Love Lucy in 1952 as well as 1954 and once again in 1957.
You get all types of knowledge here at The Retroist, right?
Tweet Zoo was written by Warren Foster (Porky in Wackyland ) and finds Sylvester in a tour group at the city zoo. Of course his attention is solely on Tweety Bird who happens to be one of the rare exhibits. Certainly our favorite wise-cracking yellow canary isn’t going to let himself become an easy meal, right?
1957’s Tweet Zoo features the talented Mel Blanc of course. Moreover Freleng injects some of the most laugh out loud animated physical bits of comedy. Case in point when Tweety Bird takes refuge in the the bear den and Sylvester tries to reach him with a net.
I can’t help but bust a gut at the bear’s reaction every single time. However while Tweet Zoo is a fantastic animated short. It was actually another Sylvester and Tweety short that won the 1957 Academy Awards – that honor fell to Birds Anonymous.
So without further ado, join us and Toon In as we enjoy 1957’s Tweet Zoo!
[Via] Classic Cartoon Vault
After watching Tweet Zoo perhaps you feel up to more cartoon fun?
Then why not check out Zim Animation’s 3D animated intros to the likes of He-Man, Ghostbusters, and more?
The Upcoming Cuphead was originally announced back at E3 in 2015. StudioMDHR certainly turned more than a few heads with the below teaser. I was of course blown away by its mix of Fleischer Studio inspired art style. As well as what I have to say looks to be a platformer with shoot ’em up game elements!
As I just mentioned, the game was announced in 2015. Although it was revealed to Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference. Furthermore Cuphead was expected to debut in 2016. In the early part of October 2016, StudioMDHR announced that Cuphead wouldn’t debut until mid-2017. The reason being was a sound one I believe. Instead of forcing themselves to a strict deadline, which would of course mean the excising of certain parts of the game. They wisely decided to delay so that their full vision for the game would be kept intact when it is released on September 29th of this year.
The systems it will be readily available for include the Xbox One, Windows 10, and Steam. I will have to admit that I was rather shocked that the title wasn’t being offered to the Playstation. However I wouldn’t be too surprised if a little down the road it doesn’t make its way over to the Sony fans.
Brothers Jared and Chad Moldenhauer are the lead game designer and art director for Cuphead. They started working on the idea for the game back in 2010 in fact. Featuring hand-drawn animation and watercolor backgrounds, the audio includes original jazz recordings.
I should mention the story for Cuphead involves the titular character losing a bet with the Devil himself. Judging from that 2015 E3 teaser our hero and his pal Mugman decide to fill up with some liquid courage and try to repay that debt. Doing so involves overcoming 30 boss battles. Which is five more than the Guinness World Record says a shoot ’em up has challenged Players with so far.
I have also read that Jared and Chad have stated they are aiming for old school difficulty. While I’m hoping they aren’t going as old school as Capcom’s Mega Man I will buy this game no matter what. My love of animation that I share on the Toon In posts demands I play this game even if I’m horrible at it.
I ask you to look at these beautiful screencaps of the game in action. That anything is possible in a cartoon feel really shines through!
Certainly a lot of work has gone into Cuphead, the team has expertly crafted a title that wears it’s love of the Fleischer Studios on its sleeve. In addition StudioMDHR has a merchandise page that is suitably retro of course. Pins featuring the likes of Mugman and Cuphead are available. As well as sweaters, T-shirts, stickers and even posters. All looking like they were plucked right out of the animated shorts of the 1930s!
*Watching the “Readability monitor* (Sigh) Such a critic.
Not The Simpsons
Anyway, now that you know how I feel about that Readability monitor…
If you watched enough primetime cartoons in the 1990s (other than The Simpsons, of course), “it stinks!” may sound familiar to you. And many believe it to be a direct spinoff of The Simpsons (and they’re so wrong!).
This show it comes from, you ask?
Before There Was Family Guy…
In the 1990s, one primetime cartoon was king, and that was The Simpsons. There was nothing quite like it at the time, and it ruffled quite a few feathers. Bart Simpson was every parents’ worst nightmare, and the example that moms used when they said “this is not how you will behave!” Because my mom allowed my brother and I to watch the show, I never understood why so many other kids could not, and why parents were in such a tizz over The Simpsons. And that show was supposed to be family-friendly – I can’t imagine what the people who got their panties in a bunch over The Simpsons felt when they saw Family Guy a few years later.
If you guessed they got their panties in a bunch AGAIN, you’re right. Pat yourself on the back, you’re so smart!
Picture it, a Brief Time in 1994 (and 1995)…
Between that time, in 1994, Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were previously showrunners on The Simpsons, decided the time was right for another primetime sitcom, but not of the family variety. The premise, you ask? The life of a New York film critic named Jay Sherman. That’s it. He’s a film critic, he’s balding, fat, has a child, is divorced, and has a Siskel and Ebert type show (called with all originalness, Coming Attractions) where he watched trailers for upcoming films. The movies he reviews are spirited parodies of actual films that you’ll immediately figure out if you’re familiar with movies of the time.
And they were hilarious! Who didn’t want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Rabbi Cop, Clint Eastwood make another Dirty Harry movie, a Raptor smoke a pipe, or Dennis the Menace shoot up Mr. Wilson?
A Critic(al) Response
In theory, The Critic seemed like a great concept. It was funny, witty, and was floated as a “love letter to New York.” Plus, Jon Lovitz had name recognition and seemed like the perfect person to have his own series. So this should have been a hit, right?
Like the tagline Jay Sherman used to describe the movies he was forced to watch and review, people were not fans. The Critic started off on ABC in January 1994, but moved to Fox in its second season. Despite improving ratings, the show was cancelled after two seasons, and twenty-three episodes. For several years in the mid-late ’90s through its Fox airing and later Comedy Central reruns, this was regular viewing for my brother and myself.
Since I had no idea (at least, initially) that this show began life on ABC, I assumed it was premiering on Fox because of the crossover episode of The Simpsons, when Jay hosts a film festival in Springfield. Oh, and he badmouths MacGyver. I’ve never forgotten that. :-D
The show originally premiered on ABC in their Wednesday night lineup beginning on January 26, 1994, but was cancelled after 13 episodes.
Uploaded by VHSgoodiesWA…and proof that this show aired on ABC.
The show promptly moved to Fox for the 1994-1995 season (airing all those original episodes during the summer explains why I thought it only aired on Fox). It followed The Simpsons on Sunday nights (a respectable timeslot), but was cancelled after the second season. A move to UPN never happened, and with no network to pick it up for a third season, The Critic was officially done.
Old Soul Approved
Admittedly, I’ve always been an old soul. Don’t get me wrong – I was your typical kid when it came to toys and cartoons, but I loved primetime sitcoms growing up. As far back as I can remember, I watched many of the “important” ones that ’80s babies grew up on, and even at a younger age, I liked the humor. As an adult, I have not spotted one sitcom I liked as a kid and cringed over it. Ok, except for Small Wonder. I now see why my mom was so weirded out by that show.
Where The Simpsons was low-brow and played to the “everyone can relate” stance, The Critic took a satirical approach to humor, parodying movies by combining different movies, lightening up some, darkening others, and parodying high-profile stars of the time. The movie parodies were brilliant – the “clips” were movies any smartass would love to see. And then there was the Orson Welles parodies – Maurice LaMarche is brilliant. Just sayin’.
The feeling of audience commonality to The Simpsons was parodied in one episode. Jay Sherman was often depicted as elitist and smart, but it was his over-the-top dramatics that made him funny and endearing to this “old soul.” I always liked the humor of the show, even at 11-12 years old. The movie parodies were the highlight for me.
I sorta knew who Jon Lovitz was at the time (thanks to A League of Their Own). His is a voice you can’t forget, and his haminess works perfectly for Jay.
“All hail Duke, Duke is life!”
The only other character I laughed at as hard as I did at Jay was his boss, Duke Phillips, and while I knew who Charles Napier was (but not until much later), I didn’t think that was his real voice! Duke’s characterization was that of Ted Turner – a media conglomerate owner who rules with an iron fist.
These, and the many other parodies of the movies…not bogus!
The show aired in reruns on Comedy Central (where I watched it after Fox cancelled it), has been in syndication during the last decade, and made the trek to TV-on-DVD in one set with all 23 episodes, including the ten-episode Flash Animation webseries (2000-2001). The set is available on Amazon for a respectable price of $14.99. And yes, I own that DVD set.
And In Closing…
The Critic was one of those gems that lacked the proper respect in its time, but still holds up well despite its age. It had a great sense of humor that paved the way for the humor of Family Guy, and all of the shows that would follow in that vein. Ahead of its time? Maybe. Classic? Definitely!
You might remember Zim Animation from the post I shared on Halloween two years ago. It was a 3D computer rendered version of the intro to the classic Real Ghostbusters cartoon. But that wasn’t the only bit of awesome retro inspired 3D work that Zim Animation has produced.
Why back in 2014 he in fact delivered the 3D intro to the 19802 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
It appears that Zim Animation though is more than willing to keep bringing us 3D versions of popular animated series. To prove this the Vancouver, Canada based animation team have put together this short teaser. With the idea in mind that they will eventually include short clips – mashed together with various classic characters. Like the Thundercats, Masters of the Universe, and Batman.
One can hope that in addition we might see some of the Transformers included as well! Furthermore is it too far a stretch to believe that G.I. Joe might make up the roster of retro cartoons to make the cut?
Without further ado here is Zim Animation’s 3D Remake Mashup!
With what we could see in that teaser – I assume this new project will look like someone is flipping channels. If you want to help support Zim Animation in this new project, you can totally visit their Patreon Page. Moreover make sure to check out the awesome rewards for pledging your support to this endeavor. Reward such as first looks at the work in progress and communication with the animators as well!
Back in 1985 one of my favorite animated series was Defenders of the Earth. Numerous times on The Retroist I’ve mentioned my fondness for pulp characters. Of heroes of the Golden Age – like The Shadow, The Phantom and others.
Thanks in fact to the 1980 Flash Gordon film. I came across an old collection of comic strips from King Features Syndicate at my local library. Which is of course how I was introduced to the likes of Mandrake the Magician and Lothar. Which like The Phantom was a creation of Lee Falk as well. They even had old Popeye collections from the E.C. Segar strip days!
So you can easily imagine my joy when the Defenders of the Earth series debuted one morning. Bear in mind that if you didn’t have access to a TV Guide you were generally caught unawares about a new animated weekday show.
Until last night however I wasn’t aware that the Defenders of the Earth had grouped together before 1985. Back in 1972 in fact for Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter – which was part of ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie!
When I stumbled on this I felt for a moment like I was reading an issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moreover these early Defenders were joined by another King Features Syndicate hero – Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon.
That is not even the most interesting part of it. The group that we would come to know as the Defenders of the Earth were brought together for a very special mission.
The Defenders of the Earth circa 1972.
In Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter, the US government asked the team to locate missing comic strip characters. Such as Blondie and Dagwood.
Beetle Bailey and Sarge.
As well as Popeye and Olive Oyl of course!
To say nothing of characters from Henry, Hi and Lois, Tiger and Prince Valiant. In addition to Bringing Up Father, Little Iodine, Snuffy Smith, and more.
Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter concerns itself with the villainous Professor Morbid Grimsby. A wretch who plans on banishing all laughter in the world – aided by a super computer as well as Popeye’s nemesis, Brutus. Inviting the cast of comic strip superstars aboard a yacht – the S.S. Hilarious. Taking them to the island hideaway of Professor Grimsby, where they will be his prisoners.
It’s up to the proto-Defenders of the Earth to locate the missing characters. Now in view of just how awesome this TV special really is, I should warn you about something. The sound isn’t that good. But in all honesty we are all incredibly lucky that Stupid Dim Bulb was able to upload this rare 1972 movie.
While it would take the Defenders of the Earth 13 years in fact to return to animation. Popeye was back in action in 1978 with The All New Popeye Hour!