Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wide World Of Crap-tastic Cartoons, Part 1 - Made For TV

Your Blogmeister freely admits it - he likes terrible cartoons. No, make that horrid cartoons that were (shudder) MADE FOR TELEVISION!

Today's post will commence the "how low can you go" exercise with a cartoon that satisfies the prime "ineptly made" and "nonexistent storyline" requirements, Robert Capeheart's The Magic Of Oz.

Daring to ask yet further just what elements make a crap-tastic TV-toon, author/film historian Jerry Beck and Frank Conniff (from MST3K and Cinematic Titanic) devoted an entire show, Cartoon Dump, to skewering both cartoons of the ilk of The Magic Of Oz - so bad it doesn't even have an imdb entry - and such well-meaning but dreadful children's shows as The New Zoo Review.

We'll serve up some Cartoon Dump clips at the end of this posting, after presenting just a few of the show's odiferous headliners, starting with The Big World Of Little Adam and Spunky & Tadpole by Beverly Hills Productions.

To make a crap-tastic cartoon, what Frank Zappa termed "cheepnis" is not enough! After all, in the late 1940's, Jay Ward and Alex Anderson figured out how to make entertaining cartoons on no budget; write exceptionally funny scripts, closer to a Bob & Ray radio show than to Mickey Mouse - and spend the budget on damn funny voice actors. Voila - Jay Ward Productions' witty Crusader Rabbit and (later) Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle series.

Frankly, other criteria must be met for inclusion in the cinematic dung heap. Animation? Nonexistent. Music? Canned, cheesy or preferably both. Character designs? Ugggg-leeeee! Storylines? Don't make me laugh!

The sum total of all these elements must add up to something both head-shakingly awful and unintentionally humorous.

Scoring a Grand Slam with two outs in the 9th and a 3-0 deficit in all of these departments, and only ever-so-slightly less stunningly inept than The Magic Of Oz, would be the cartoons by bargain basement Sam Singer Productions.

On a minimal budget and auto pilot, Sam Singer Productions created the always execrable Bucky & Pepito and ever-excruciating Pow Wow The Indian Boy.

My personal "worst ever" candidate would be TransLux Productions' The Mighty Hercules.

Even though there are, amazingly, cheaper TV cartoon shows than this - and, no kidding, talented veteran New York animators were hired to provide the occasional full animation moments that are interspersed between the hours of limited animation on this and other Trans-Lux productions - unquestionably there's something horribly wrong with the series as a whole.


Nothing compares in sheer WTF factor to these Hercules cartoons, which still manage to compel otherwise responsible, upstanding adults to imitate the astonishingly irritating Newton The Centaur ("Helena wants to jump your bones Herc. . . Helena wants to jump your bones Herc") out of sheer spite for the annoying little bastard.

Making the worst, most artistically indefensible Hanna-Barbera or Trans-Lux made-for-TV toons look like Fantasia by comparison would be those series produced using the patented Syncho-Vox technique, which involved superimposing live-action human lips on the squared jawed ultra-macho cartoon characters.

In other words, Syncho-Vox = action/adventures without action and a way of delivering as little bang for the buck as possible but lots and lots of programming for minimal cost. Nonetheless, one must wonder if Gene Roddenberry ripped off any ideas for the first Star Trek series from "another exciting episode of Space Angel".

Here is the Syncho-Vox Valhalla - the advertising film for a prospective series based on the Moon Mullins comic strip!

The Cartoon Dump extravaganzas at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood presented a veritable Dishonor Roll of made-for-TV monstrosities.

Funny, every one of these animated abominations in today's post entertained this blogger, for whom approximately 99.3512% of all sitcoms produced since the second Bob Newhart Show constitute a rare form of torture. Such low art on a lower budget as Bucky & Pepito seems like high art compared to the 21st century market-researched drivel from broadcast TV and such cable sources of agony as Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

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