Sunday, September 25, 2011

Country Cornflakes

I know very little about Len Glasser, but I love what I've seen of his work. Here's a very funny commercial he did for General Mills' Country Cornflakes. Any commercials that has "please buy our cornflakes" in their song deserves extra attention.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

David H. DePatie on cartoon violence

An example of network restrictions. Image on left is from the theatrical version of Pink-A-Rella (1969); image on right is from the same cartoon but with the scene re-animated for Saturday Morning broadcasts.

Pink Panther Creator Talks About TV Restrictions on Children's Shows
By Jay Sharbutt
AP Television Writer
(Columbus Dispatch 12/4/1978)

LOS ANGELES - For some reason, I thought recently of a wild bit in a Pink Panther cartoon wherein a piano falls on - but doesn't harm - an old lady the Panther tries to help across the street. ["Super Pink" from 1966]

"Yeah," laughed Dave DePatie, "that was in the days before the network restrictions" on such cartoon mayhem.

DePatie, co-creator of the panther with Friz Freleng, just finished the first-ever P.P. special made for prime-time TV. But he doubts there'll be any gripes after ABC airs the show this Thursday.

Called "Pink Panther's Christmas" [actually "A Pink Christmas"] and based on an O. Henry tale, it only concerns efforts by the Panther, broke, frozen and friendless in New York, to get tossed in a warm jail cell Christmas Eve.

It isn't knock about comedy in, say the manner of Tom & Jerry or Roadrunner cartoons, he says, but then "we've never had the real daucous, violent gags. It's more of a sophisticated comedy."

His observation came when a veteran Panther observer asked if those who gripe about cartoon mayhem on Saturday kid shows on TV don't seem bent on outlawing the classic kid-show form known as Punch 'n' Judy.

DePatie, 47, a tall thoughtful man, father of two grown sons and a teenager, said that was a fair characterization: "I think so. That's a pretty good way of putting it, as a matter of fact."

His "Panther," which leaped to fame 14 years ago during opening titles for a film comedy about an Inspector Clouseau, aired Saturday mornings for eight years on NBC. It is on year No. 9 at ABC.

There's been no specific gripes about his series, he says, but pressure has been put on the networks over the past five or six years to generally reduce the slambang comedy of Saturday cartoons.

The pressure mainly was generated by the Boston-based parents' group called Action for Children's Television, he said, and it has led to certain network no-no's in kiddie cartoon matters.

"I think possibly the most important one is physical contact of one character with another," he said. "No more slapping in the face, hitting on the head. 'No one-to-one contact' is the standard way their broadcast standards people put it."

But DePatie, who has two other Saturday kid series on the air, says the restrictions don't crimp his firm cartoon comedy style.

But he does regard as exaggerated the fears of various groups about cartoon mayhem and possible effects of same on of young viewers.

"I think they go back to that Surgeon General's report (about TV violence)," DePatie said. "But I think there's a big difference between realistic violence and comedic violence."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'll sign the contract

The Dogfather theme song (click to listen)
Lyrics by John Bradford
Music by Dean Elliott
Sung by Bob Holt

I'm going to make you an offer
You can't refuse
On my hot proposition
That you can't lose
Since you muscled in
On my bullet proof heart
What a gang-land war you started
I thought that I was taking you for a ride
But Boom!
Oh you got me Bonnie
Right in the Clyde
So give me half your action
Or wind up in traction
Or in the sea in cement shoes
Oh baby!
That's my offer
My final offer
That's an offer that you can't refuse
I'll sign the contract
That's an offer that you can't refuse

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

I've written about the show before and if you follow my blog you know I've done alot of fanarts for it, but with season 2 starting today I thought I'd do a brief post about it.

Cartoons based on toys will always carry a stigma with me, and I'll admit I sometimes feel dirty that I watch this show. But I wonder how much of the stigma is based on the commercial aspect of it, and the fact that all the other toy-based shows just plain suck.

Sorry to any anti-capitalist animation fans reading this, but I have no problem whatsoever with doing something for the sake of commercializing it. Hell I sometimes do it myself, whether on this blog or elsewhere. So in principal I have no problem with the idea of doing a TV show with the intent of making money from selling toys of it.

But I do have problem with badly-made cartoons. And pretty much every toy-based cartoons fall on that camp. There are many reasons for it: content restrictions, uninspired staff artists/writers, and just plain no interest in the work. Friendship is Magic, however, was produced by an artist (Lauren Faust) who was intent on making a good show, and many of the staff (in US, Canada, and the Philippians studios that co-produce the show) working on the show actually gives a crap. Much of the crew is made up of Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home, and Ed, Edd n Eddy veterans and their previous experience on those shows really shine in FIM.

Lauren Faust is no longer on the show, but the crew has stated that season 2 is shaping up to being great. This week's and next's episodes were actually made during the production of season 1, so we won't truly know how season 2 is shaping up until the third episode airs.

Equestria Daily, a FIM fanblog, recently put up an in-depth interview with Faust. It's actually a fascinating read with some interesting info. Who knew that it was Lynne Naylor (Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, Ren & Stimpy, Chowder) who designed Princess Luna?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Texas Toads

One of the theatrical series DePatie-Freleng produced for Mirisch and United Artists was Tijuana Toads, which had 17 shorts released from 1969 to '72. In 1976 they tried to get the shorts to television as part of the Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show (a 90-minute block of DFE shorts) on NBC but ran into problems. As David H. DePatie explained in our interview last December:

When they went on television, we had to completely change them around and the series became known as the Texas Toads, and we had to redo all of the tracks that had any type of ethnic content and it really watered down the series down. We all thought it was a hell of a lot more funny when it was the Tijuana Toads, but at the time we had to do it in order to bring the thing on television.
With that the characters, Toro and Pancho, became Fatso and Banjo respectively.

Interestingly enough, both versions of the Toads were shown in syndication at the same time throughout the 1980s. There were two different DFE shorts package that TV stations could have: as a half-hour Pink Panther Show (with three shorts plus bumpers) and also as individual shorts that the stations could run however they want. The Texas Toads version was included in the half-hour Panther Show package, but the original theatrical Tijuana Toads version were available on the individual shorts package.

From 1993 to '95 MGM Animation produced a Pink Panther revival where the formerly silent character spoke, voiced by of Matt Frewer. The new show also featured appearances of DFE stars such as the Ant and the Aardvark (John Byner reprised his role), the Inspector and the Commissioner, and the Dogfather and gang, abet with drastic design change. According to Mike Kazaleh MGM was trying to revive all the DFE theatrical characters at the same time.

And apparently there were plans for a revival of the Toads. The 60th and final episode of the new Panther featured a stand-alone Texas Toads short. It's pretty obvious that this was made as a backdoor pilot for a possible spin-off (the same episode also featured a Ant and Aardvark short).

There's a Portuguese-dubbed version of the cartoon on YouTube (embedded below). I don't know how the voices sound in the English track, but the new designs don't really work here. It's also apparent that they were planning to re-imagine them as sheriffs for the possible new show.