Sing

Be My Guest, And Watch the Amazing Jerry Orbach Sing!

Be Our Guest is stuck in your head now, isn’t it?

Earworms, Disney Style

When I was nine years old, I loved watching Disney movies. One of those movies that I’ve seen as many times as most five-year-olds have seen Frozen is Beauty and the Beast. Combine those frequent viewings with ownership of the soundtrack on a cassette tape (which got frequent rotation in my Walkman), and yeah, I knew the songs. Kids now have Frozen (specifically, “Let it Go”); I had everything from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and the song that is the subject of today’s earworm.

Being that it is Academy Awards weekend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t fish a clip out of my archives that fit the occasion perfectly. And since many of my archives are from the 1990s, I just happened to have something perfect and, well, 90s.

Before There was Lenny, There Was Lumiere!

Many younger 80s kids (myself included) probably remember Jerry Orbach from his years as Detective Lenny Briscoe on Law and Order, a role he played from 1993 until leaving the show in 2004. When he passed away that same year, a void was left behind, and I had a hard time watching the show and not missing his cracks of wise. But before I saw him on Law and Order, I knew Jerry Orbach’s amazing singing voice as Lumiere the Candelabra in the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast. And while I don’t actively watch Disney movies (aside from the Marvel Cinematic Universe), I do know a good Disney movie when I see one. More specifically, I know a good performance of a Disney movie song when I see one.

Sing

When I was working on the subject of my most recent Throwback Thursday article, there were a few snippets of the 64th Academy Awards that I left mixed in with the commercials, and for good reason. Witness the Disney movie emcee with the most, Jerry Orbach, as he asks you, the audience to be his guest.

Be my guest and click play to witness him sing and dance, because after all this is France!

Uploaded by…yours truly! :-)

Sheer amazement, isn’t it?!

So whether you watch the awards for the dresses, movies you like that got nominated, or because you happen to like award shows, enjoy this year’s Academy Awards. And if not, well…have a great weekend!

 

It (Allegedly) Stinks!: Exploring the Underappreciated Charm of “The Critic”

*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?

The Critic!

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.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiryercg53SAhUJQiYKHYL_DoQQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fthecritic.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FComing_Attractions&bvm=bv.147448319,d.amc&psig=AFQjCNEqc-Ck9gcv4BGSDSuac4pQRP1bOA&ust=1487623536718562

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?

Nope.

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

Original Run

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’.

Uploaded by seinfan9

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.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjNobH_gp3SAhVGRyYKHWlqBvUQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fvillains.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FDuke_Phillips&psig=AFQjCNHrWIYFLd55U3_v78q0QVPqCH0u7Q&ust=1487623348012497

“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.

And What About Those Movie Parodies?

Yeah, what about them?

Uploaded by Random Comment

There are many more amazing parodies, and this merely scratches the surface. There’s this…

Uploaded by KnightedFrog

This…

Uploaded by Kanaru2

And this!

Uploaded by YoKozo

These, and the many other parodies of the movies…not bogus!

Availability

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!

How could anything with that distinction stink?

It is impossible!

Batman ’66 3¾” Figures Revealed: Finally, The Heroes We Both Deserve AND Need

Retroist readers, it took me a minute or two to literally stop dancing in my office (believe me, I’m getting some looks), stop singing the Nelson Riddle Batman theme, and write this up for you. If the news from the real world is getting you down, this news is guaranteed to pick you up. Friends, bear with me and forgive my journalistic trespasses, for this brief article is bereft of any objectivity whatsoever.

Funko’s ReAction line is bringing characters and vehicles from the 1966 Batman TV series to the 3¾” scale (known almost by default as “Kenner Star Wars scale”.

Take a moment to let that sink in. Like the recently announced Twin Peaks figures also expected this year from Funko, the Batman figures will have more than 5 points of articulation.




(I wonder if they will release a variant edition of Mister Freeze – who was also portrayed by George Saunders and Eli Wallach. This toy design certainly appears to be based off the time that Otto Preminger played the character in the Batman ’66 series. – Vic)

And get a load of this glorious, glorious Batmobile.

The show’s villains are well-represented, and not even the most obvious ones: Mr. Freeze, King Tut and Catwoman are just the tip of the iceberg of memorable baddies that could be commemorated in plastic.
Conspicuous by their absence: the Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin. (I have no insider info, but just between you and me and the Batcave, I smell a box set waiting to happen there. There’s clearly no issue with likeness rights, as both the Riddler and the Penguin will be appearing in the second wave of Funko’s Batman ’66 Vinyl Pops.)
Batman '66

And while she may have been a late addition to the show, Batgirl will be one of the first arrivals in figure form.

If you, like me, have been waiting for this moment since you were six years old, well, I’m gonna start up the Batman soundtrack in my office and start dancing again until these are in the stores.

When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at theLogBook.om, a site devoted in roughly equal parts to classic sci-fi, classic video games, classic soundtracks, and space history. He can be heard on theLogBook.com’s Escape Pod daily mini-podcast of geek history, and monthly on the Select Game, Don’t Give This Tape To Earl, and In The Grand Theme Of Things podcasts.

Battlestar Galactica

Atari Was Making A Battlestar Galactica Laserdisc Game?!

Battlestar Galactica was required viewing in my youth. Of course it didn’t hurt the television series that in 1978 everyone was in the grip of Star Wars fever. In fact I I saw the Battlestar Galactica movie, which was an abridged version of the TV pilot, at the 62 Drive-In of my youth.

ReMastered By JDG

My notebooks at school were chock full of doodles featuring Stormtroopers as well as Cylon Warriors. Although I regret to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to receive very many of the toys. However I did get my hands on Mattel’s Cylon Centurion figure. Moreover it became a rival bounty hunter for Boba Fett in my Star Wars toy universe.

So in other words, I was a pretty big fan of the short lived Battlestar Galactica series. What I was not remotely aware of until yesterday though, was that Atari had plans on a laserdisc game. I found out about it thanks to Patrick Barnes who posted on the Diary of An Arcade Employee Facebook Page. It was back in 1984 that Atari began work on a conversion kit for another of their laserdisc titles – Firefox.

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive.

Sadly the Battlestar Galactic arcade game never saw the light of day. On the positive side at least there exists this test footage of the proposed arcade title.


Uploaded by Scottith Games to his YouTube account!

Furthermore he shares an interview with a designer of the game. Owen Rubin who worked on such classic games as Battlezone, Space Duel and Major Havoc:
“With Galactica, it was my idea originally as I was a Galactica fan obviously, (those are Cylon ships in Major Havoc, and the graphics displays in the tactical display were drawn like in Galactica as well), the guys who did Star Wars and Firefox started the project. I did a small amount of work as well. All that was really done was some footage on the laserdisc that let you land a fighter ship into one of the landing bays on either side of the large ship.

The video on the disc is recorded in such a way that playing it back would look like garbage. It is a bunch of still frames that you play out of order so that you can change what you are playing seamlessly. For example, the landing footage is one of 9 to 16 or so frames from different positions as you approach the landing bay. Imaging a 3×3 of 4×4 grid of possible positions you can approach from, with the center being straight on. If you fly straight, the program would display every 9th frame which was the video of flying straight.
Battlestar Galactica - Landing Bay
If you moved right, you would select the proper “frame view” and it would look like you moved in the video to the right, and now play every 9th “right position 1″ video frame in order. With this scheme, you could fly in 2 dimensions with the joystick while the game pushed you forward in the third as well, controlled by a throttle.”

It most certainly isn’t every single day that you learn about such a video game project. I want to thank Patrick Barnes once again as well as Scottith Games for documenting what might be lost arcade game history.

Now that you’ve learned about the Battlestar Galactica arcade game. How about you watch the 1998 trailer for the reboot of the series that the late and great Richard Hatch conceived?

[Via] Peter Noble

DuckTales - Retroist Scoreboard

The Retroist Scoreboard: DuckTales the Movie And More 2/8/2017

There’s a whole cottage industry surrounding the release of classic TV and movie soundtracks out there that you may not know about. Small labels, usually limited by musicians’ union rules to a releasing only 3,000 or so copies of a given title, unearth classic soundtracks that have often never been issued on CD before, or have only had a CD release featuring about half of the music that was included in the movie. Labels like Intrada, La-La Land Records, Perseverance, and Quartet Records release a steady stream of classic TV and movie scores throughout the year…and the Retroist Scoreboard is here to let you know what’s just dropped.

Intrada gets bragging rights this week with the first-time-ever-on-CD release of the complete score from 1990s DuckTales: The Movie, composed by David Newman (later of The Mighty Ducks, The Phantom, Galaxy Quest, Serenity, and many others). Weighing in at nearly the maximum possible length of an audio CD, it isn’t just that DuckTales hasn’t been on CD before, it’s never been released before in any form other than a couple of excerpts featured on a 1990 Disney compilation CD, The Disney Afternoon. Disney animation fans are ecstatic about this one, to say the least.
DuckTales - Retroist Scoreboard

As new titles are introduced, old ones sell out or are retired; Intrada is giving everyone until February 13th to buy the last remaining copies of the soundtracks from Disney’s Unidentifed Flying Oddball (1979, known to UK audiences as The Spaceman & King Arthur) and a two-fer CD with the Laurence Rosenthal scores from 1976’s Return Of A Man Called Horse and the 1999 TV movie remake of Inherit The Wind.

La-La Land Records has just released the score from the 1993 Sylvester Stallone flick Cliffhanger, scored by Trevor Jones (Excalibur, Time Bandits, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Notting Hill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). As is often the case with La-La Land’s released, the first disc of the 2-CD set is the complete score (including never before heard tracks), while the second is a remastered reissue of the original 1993 album.

A gaggle of past La-La Land releases are about to go out of print forever, including David Newman’s The Phantom (1996), Tangerine Dream’s score from Wavelength (1983), a lavish 2-CD set of Alfred Newman’s A Certain Smile (1958), Mark Mancina’s score from 1995’s Money Train, Bill Conti’s score from I, The Jury (1982), Andrew Belling’s score from the 1977 Ralph Bakshi animated film Wizards, a selection of Brian Tyler’s music from the far more recent TV series Terra Nova, and a similar selection of music by Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter from Batman: The Brave And The Bold. All of the retiring titles have been marked down while supplies last.

UK classical label Dutton Vocalian has jumped into the fray with a CD reissue of the original soundtrack album from Watership Down (1978), scored by Angela Morley (The Goon Show, Dynasty, Dallas), including the original album’s Art Garfunkel vocals and narration by Michael Hordern. The single disc is a hybrid SACD which is compatible with most garden-variety CD players, and for an import, it’s surprisingly affordable.

Looking further down the road, soundtrack specialty labels often let their customer base know if something is coming up that they might have to save up for. La-La Land – who has all but taken ownership of vintage Star Trek soundtrack releases in recent years – has announced that its first (yes, first) 4-CD box set of music from Star Trek: Voyager will land on February 28th. La-La Land’s Star Trek box sets tend to arrive at the $50-$60 price point, so start saving your quatloos now; they’ve tentatively scheduled a second box set of Deep Space Nine soundtracks for the third quarter of 2017, with a second Voyager box set hitting about a year from now, and what the label says will be its final Star Trek release, a 4-CD box set collecting fan-requested “leftovers” from Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise in late 2018.

Varese Sarabande has announced an April release date for the scores of all three of the original Mel Gibson Mad Max films on “sandy” vinyl, and they’re accepting pre-orders now.

Stay tuned to the Retroist Scoreboard…as new releases arrive, we’ll let you know what, and more importantly where, the score is.

When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at theLogBook.com, a site devoted in roughly equal parts to classic sci-fi, classic video games, classic soundtracks, and space history. You can catch him lining up carefully curated excerpts from TV, movie and game scores most months on the Log Book’s soundtrack mixtape podcast, In The Grand Theme Of Things.