Boomerang on CN: "1972" Comments

Anthonynotes

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May 1, 2001
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A bit late this week---between the MLK holiday and a dental appointment yesterday, I was busy. So, here it is. All information again from either memory or "TV Party"'s website...:

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1972: As America's involvement in the Vietnam War begins to wind down, as "Doonesbury" picks up in popularity in newspapers across the country, as "women's liberation" and the notions of feminism it espoused continues to pick up steam (accompanied by the passing that year of Title IX, guaranteeing equal rights in funding for girls'/womens' sports in public schools and universities), as O'Neil continues to re-define Batman for the 70's in a myriad of classic Bat-tales, as Nixon wins his re-election campaign, as the Jackson Five pound out a few decent hits... uh, we got a lot more crudely-animated cartoons from the "Big Three" networks...

Re: Saturday mornings:
Apparently in an attempt to shake things up (for ratings, natch), the Big Three networks shook up their schedules a bit this year, adding a bunch of new shows and altering the formats on previous ones. Cashing in on celebrities of the day also proved to be a popular track.

Pointless trivia from TV Party's website: the ever-popular-on-Toonzone Eisner was (ironically) head of ABC's Saturday morning programming this year, while color TVs first outsell black-and-white sets in '72.

Notable entries in this season include:
- "The New Scooby Doo Movies": the first of the numerous Scooby spinoffs, aka "the one with the two Batman and Robin appearances" (albeit ones based on the Adam West incarnation of Bats; as inferred in the comments above, Bats in the comics was being taken somewhat more seriously by this point---more along the lines of his B:TAS modus operandi [albeit with better social skills]...). Personally, as a kid I liked the Cass Elliot one as much as the Batman ones (even if I didn't know who Cass Elliot even was at the time!)...

- "The Osmonds": Since Gary Indiana's favorite singing clan the Jackson Five had a popular cartoon, someone thought Utah's favorite singing family (and future "Donnie and Marie"/"Pyramid" hosts) deserved one as well. The family did their own voices. I've never seen it, so can't comment on it more than that...

- "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space": another entry in the "bizarre ideas for spinoff shows H-B came up with back in the day"... basically what the title says: the "Josie" gang got accidentially launched into space, and are trying to get back home. Features a weird new character, some goofy-looking alien sidekick (that's obviously the one that was parodied in the Korn episode of the South Park Halloween special...).

- "The Brady Kids": Yes, sadly enough, '72 *did* have its dark, sinister moments, when this sorry, nefarious excuse for programming was summoned up by Filmation. Running for two seasons(!), this is my nominee for the *WORST CARTOON EVER MADE*. Yes, worse than "Rubik the Amazing Cube"... at least I *liked* Rubik's Cubes as a kid---unlike the source for this show, "The Brady Bunch." Throw in shoddy (even for Filmation)-yet-psychedelic-looking animation (this *is* still the tail end of the "flower power" era, remember), the use of not one, not *two*, but *THREE* lame goofy animal sidekicks, and a bunch of other stuff I've probably blocked out of my memory for the past 20-25 years, and, well---"all around sorriness" sums things up.

Say what you will about various modern cartoons ("d00d, that 'Critters' episode of TNBA rilly suked!")----this thing makes "Critters", "Rubik the Amazing Cube", "Pinky Elmyra and the Brain" and "The Wacky World of Tex Avery" look like "The Lion King" in comparison. Even *combined*.

OK, done ranting. :)

- "Fat Albert": Debuts this year for a lengthy 12-year run on Saturdays. Based on Bill Cosby's 60's standup comedy routines about life in Philadelphia. As a kid, this was the show to watch, even in all its chintziness (though as a kid, I hated it when they replaced the "Brown Hornet" segments with "Legal Eagle"...). Probably Saturday morning's most successful show with a predominately Black/minority cast (going by longevity), despite a lack of merchandise--Cosby wasn't too keen on merchandising the show at the time, though apparently judging from FUBU brand clothing recently, he's changed his mind on that regards...

This weekend, as noted above, we got *three* shows this weekend, which means extra work for me:

"The Roman Holidays"
"Sealab 2020"
"Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan"

"The Roman Holidays" (NBC)
Show description:
In ancient Rome (circa 64 AD), architect Gus Holiday and his family---wife Laurie, teen son Hap (aka "Happy"...get it?), grade school daughter Precocia, and pet lion Brutus---have various adventures, a chunk of them involving their temperamental apartment building landlord Mr. Evictus (voiced by Dom DeLuise).

Today's episode:
During a spring cleaning/garage sale, Gus thinks he's found a real treasure map, and chaos ensues.

Comments:
As a kid, I rather enjoyed this show (it aired on reruns on USA in the 80's, back when they had actual children's cartoons); watching it again today, I still think (for its time/compared to stuff like "The Brady Kids") it was an OK show/idea, even if, as you've noticed by now, it was probably inspired by the "Flintstones" (and previous season's success with "Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm") in the "let's put a 20th century family in another time era" department. In this case, it's ancient Rome, done Flintstones/Jetsons style --- thus, stupid "Roman" puns instead of stupid "rock"/"space" puns, etc., though this show didn't seem to use as many "primitive" gadgets as the Flintstones did (the characters here drove chariots and used scrolls/hourglasses/etc., despite also having television and telephones). Personality-wise, the Holiday family seemed to resemble their Jetsons counterparts more than the Flintstones.

By my book, this show is probably set in the Flintstones' future (and Jetsons' past, by default---probably between “Flintstone Family Christmas” and the knights in the Middle Ages seen briefly in “The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones”, if you want to be anal...), given the similar setups/technological state shown (there's also an original series Flintstones episode involving a time-trip into the future, where they briefly land in ancient Rome...).

Keep in mind I'm not an expert on the real ancient Rome, thus if I make any mistakes, please forgive me...

Analyzing the title scene:

"When in Rome, you'll do like the Romans do...": the theme's opening lyrics is also an old saying (which means "go along with the flow")...

Yep, that's right---they spoke perfect English (with heavy Latin influences) in ancient Rome, contrary to everything you ever learned in school. ;-) (In real life, the Roman Empire *did* stretch at its peak into what's now England, but Latin was obviously the dominant language...)

The Coliseum in Rome, Italy is where various Roman contests were held (see: "Gladiator" , etc.). In this show's case, it's being used for football---with the opposing team looking like Vikings/Huns (IIRC, part of the reason for the real Roman Empire's fall was attributed to various relentless attacks by "barbarians" such as the Huns---see: the Animaniacs song about Atilla the Hun :) ). Note the Roman numeral uniform numbers on the Roman athletes (and the channel indicator on the TV with the cheerleaders showing it tuned to "IV", or "4").

Using snails as lawnmowers---guess they weren't in a hurry to mow that lawn...

IIRC, real-life ancient Romans were actually big on using sundials---I don't think hourglasses were invented yet (and sundials would've probably worked better as a "wristwatch"...).

"Precocia"... "precocious"... more "Roman" puns.

"Hap Holiday"... the stupid-yet-sort of-amusing "Roman" puns just keep on coming. :)

The blonde girl next to Hap is his girlfriend, "Groovia" (or "Groovy" for short).

IIRC, in the real ancient Rome, chariots were mainly just used by Roman soldiers---if the average family even owned a horse, it would've probably just used a regular old cart/carriage (or merely walked)...

In quick succession, we see: an elevator, people on a "bus" (a Flintstones-style one, w/everyone powering the vehicle with their feet), an ice cream parlor, and a "traffic jam" (chariots/carriages backed up on a roadway).

"Meet the groovy Holidays": well, Hap and Precocia were "groovy", I guess, but Gus was decidedly square. :)

The Holidays live in the "Venus de Milo Arms" (yep, another bad "Roman" pun). The Venus de Milo, of course, is the famous armless statue, presumably of the famed Roman deity Venus, the goddess of beauty.

The title "Roman Holidays" itself is probably a play on the old Audrey Hepburn movie "Roman Holiday".

Analyzing this episode:

As "Weird Al" Yankovich once noted, baby elephant vacuum cleaners were a staple for the Flintstones, and apparently for these guys as well...

"Chariot and Driver magazine" is a parody of "Car and Driver" magazine.

The reference to Caesar in this ep probably refers to the most famed one, Julius Caesar, who ruled the Roman Empire until his assassination in 41(?) B.C. Gauging from a few comments on this show on other websites, the emperor in this show's probably Nero (the guy who "fiddled while Rome burned" in its big fire in 65 AD, according to myth/legend)...

"John D. Fellerrockius" is apparently the "ancient Rome" ancestor/version of famed 19th century(?) tycoon John D. Rockefeller.

The real-life Leaning Tower of Pisa is in, believe it or not, the Italian town of Pisa itself... and was built sometime in the Middle Ages. Recently, efforts have been made to prop up the Tower (since it's starting to lean *too* much, apparently). IIRC, there's another episode of "Holidays" where Hap and Groovia eat at the "Leaning Tower of Pizza" pizza parlor...

"Post-hastius".... as in "post-haste"... and "two horsepower" with two real horses... the "Roman" puns just keep on a-comin'. ;-p

I'm guessing that second TVs weren't as common in homes in the early 70's as they are now, so getting a portable TV as a gift for a kid was still probably a big deal (and second TVs likely were almost assuredly black-and-white sets)...

Seeing the antics of Mr. Evictus brings back memories of past landlords of mine... all bad. :) Though I think in real life, most current-day landlords would by law have to give tenants 30 days to move out (at least in my state, IIRC) before such a building sale---not that sleazy tactics by landlords have exactly gone unknown...

Mistake: the Roman numeral for "50" (on the decibal meter for 50 decibals) is just a letter "L", not "VIIV" (which isn't a real Roman numeral at all--- "V" = "5" while "I" = "1"; "VII" would be "7", but one couldn't put another "V" on the end of it). Chalk it all up to more cut-rate H-B animation of the time, I suppose (like that one cartoon short that ran in the "Flintstones Comedy Hour" where Fred and Barney's hair exchange colors during several scenes...).

The Roman Empire did manage to, erm, "borrow" a lot of aspects of neighboring Greek culture (the Roman gods being renamed Greek gods being the most well-known example).

"Holidays"'s competition at 10 AM EST on Saturdays in '72:
CBS: The second half of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies". See comments above.

ABC: The second half of the "ABC Saturday Superstar Movie." According to TV Party's website, this was an attempt by ABC to turn its then-popular primetime TV "movie of the week" format into a Saturday morning equivalent, via a 60-minute "movie" each week (produced by various people/animation studios); wonder if they were aware that Scooby was doing the same thing at this exact same timeslot or not. Among the films aired included the now-infamous "Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovy Ghoulies" Filmation special, and "The Brady Kids" (see disparaging comments above).

Presumably, neither the ABC movies or the "Holidays" were a match for the ratings juggernaut of the Scoobster, even though I thought "Holidays" was an OK show (for the time era). That aside, wonder if kids were also turned off by the focus on Gus (vs. the kids) and his problems (KID: No teenagers? No cheesy fake rock songs?! No mysteries being solved?! And he's worried about something called a "raise", whatever *that* is? What a gyp!)...

Either way, "Holidays" lasted only one season (with reruns of it running on USA in the 80's, but that's about it)...

"Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan" (CBS)
Show description:
Chinese detective Charlie Chan and his (*very* extensive) family of children accompany him on mystery-solving adventures around the world.

Today's episode:
The Chans try to solve a crime involving ancient Roman artifacts.

Comments:
*Annoying* children, I'll personally add (though whether or not they're as annoying as Jade on its latter-day descendant show "Jackie Chan Adventures" is debateable).

The show was based on the famed "Charlie Chan" movies of the 1940's (with the addition of the kids), with Chan himself voiced by one of the film series' actors (who went on in the 70's to appear on "Kung Fu" as "Master Po", according to TV Party). The films themselves presented the usual Asian stereotypes of the day (prompting complaints recently when Turner Classic Movies tried to run a Charlie Chan marathon a year or so ago), though unlike this cartoon, Chan didn't need ten (by my count!) kids to solve his mysteries. Either way, the show's still a "Scooby Doo"/"Josie" ripoff (complete with the kids having a pet dog *and* playing musical numbers as musical group "The Chan Clan").

We hear another reference to the "when in Rome..." expression in today's episode.

Wasn't really looking forward to re-watching this show (after seeing it once before), to be honest; hence a very short commentary. :)

"Chan Clan"'s competition at 9 AM EST on Saturdays in '72:
ABC: "The Osmonds". See remarks above.

NBC: "The Pink Panther." See comments above.

Presumably, "The Pink Panther"'s popularity ensured a short run for this show (apparently it was another one-season effort, far as I can tell)...

Sealab 2020 (NBC)

Show description: The adventures of a team of researchers at an undersea lab in the oh-so-futuristic year of 2020.

Today's episode:
The crew must try to excavate a sunken ship, as well as rescue one of their own when they're trapped in the wreckage.

Comments:
Yes, this is the original show that, years later, spawns its successor series "Sealab 2021" on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim", though of course this original version lacks its successor's, erm, more "Adult" tendencies. :)

At the time this show was made, the year 2020 no doubt was quite far off (almost 50 years in the future!). Of course, we've seen this phenom before, i.e. reality catching up with fiction---see: "Space: 1999", "1984", comic book characters' lack of aging, etc.

I admit it---I kept thinking about "2021" while watching this show...

The crew fight off a barracuda and have a brief run-in with a moray eel; I'll leave it to Sharklady to offer any further information about these denizens of the deep. ;-)

"Sealab"'s competitors at 11 AM EST on Saturdays in '72:

CBS: "The Flintstones Comedy Hour." An hour-long version of the previous season's hit show "Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm," basically reruns of that show combined with new episodes, plus various "Archie"-style gag segments and musical numbers---in this case, Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm, and their friends Wiggy, Penny and Moonrock form the group the "Bedrock Rockers" (IIRC, Pebbles played the tambourine, and Bamm-Bamm played a ostrich posing as a "bass"...). This is also the last new spinoff for awhile that featured the teenage versions of the Flintstones children; the next spinoff, the late 70's "The New Fred and Barney Show," reverts back to the "classic' setup, with the kids as toddlers.

ABC: "Bewitched". Reruns of the classic 60's sitcom, here on its second and last season on Saturday morning.

Guessing the stiff competition (the "Flintstones", "Bewitched") didn't fare too well for "Sealab", though thanks to Cartoon Network and "Adult Swim" decades later, it now probably enjoys more success than it ever did back in the 70's.

Personally, I thought the "let's shrink everyone down to microscopic size and play football on an electronic football board" AS episode of "2021" was sort of amusing...

---

Next time, it's 1973, and another year of cheesy old cartoons...don't miss it!

-B.
 

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