Tag Archives: Hanna-Barbera

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 9: A song that makes you happy

There are some songs that–by their very nature–make you smile. There are some songs that conjure happy memories. This one does both.

The Banana Splits Show theme (aka “The Tra La La Song”), besides all the happy memories of summers long passed, is another one of those simple songs that through its bright melody and hum-able lyrics just exudes the kind of emotions that remind me of childhood innocence and seemingly endless playtime.

The Banana Splits were born of that late-60s, Sid & Marty Kroft school of children’s entertainment that defined the late Baby Boomers and early GenXers’ childhoods through reruns on syndicated television. My dad remembers watching it as a kid, and I was first exposed to it during a New Years Eve marathon on TBS in the late 80s or (very) early 90s. The Kroft-designed sets and costumes were odd and certainly outdated by my sensibilities, but I really got into the Hanna-Barbera cartoon shorts that made up the bulk of the show. The Arabian Nights and The Three Musketeers stories fit in well with my fandom of adventure series like Johnny Quest, The Pirates of Dark Water, and DuckTales, and the Danger Island serial was one of the very few live-action programs I had interest in at the time. (Live action, to me, was “adult” television–boring programs like “the news” or As The World Turns.)

Liz Phair and Material Issue deliver a brilliant cover of the old theme, adding some depth and a little bit of edginess to the clean-cut, inoffensive instrumentation and cheery elementary sing-along vocals of the original. Dig it deep!

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 3: A song that reminds you of summertime

Who is this super hero? Sarge? NO!

Rosemary, the telephone operator? NO WAY, MAN!

Penry, the mild-mannered janitor? COULD BE!

Every time I hear this deep cut by Sublime, it brings me back to summers and weekends, cruising around Cobb County, Georgia in a 1996 Ford Windstar with the best mates an oddball kind like me could hope for! The album, Saturday Morning, Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, and this track in particular, served as the soundtrack to many an ill-advised jaunt around the greater metro Atlanta area. Adventures that led to destinations like Funcoland for old video games (we were retro gamers when the N64 was still new), to Peachtree Industrial for new airsoft guns, or even the occasional detour to Crescent City Beignets for an afternoon of caffeine, muffalettas, fried dough, and enough powered sugar to kill a small animal.

I first discovered this track while watching the MCA Records-produced TV special on Cartoon Network’s Mr. Spimm’s Cartoon Theatre (this was during the early days of Cartoon Network, before classics such as Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls even existed), and I thought it was the coolest thing to see theme songs to shows that I loved performed by contemporary artists that I was enthralled with! I mean, Sublime, Helmet, Wax, Reverend Horton Heat–what’s not to love about that? Sadly, this was also the days before the widespread adoption of the Internet, so there was really no way to find a copy of this video at any of my local outlets.

Sometime in the late 90s, I happened across the soundtrack on CD at Disc-Go-Round (RIP), tucked in the back corner of the shop among copies of Titanic and The Bodyguard that no one seemed to want anymore. Of course, I let out an audible shriek and plunked the $17.95+tax onto the counter before gleefully running out the door to listen to my newest treasure in the Sony Walkman that I had stashed in the center console of the minivan (routed into the stereo by way of a cassette adapter, naturally). From that day forth, the merry band of misfits known as Angst Haben had a new freak flag to fly, compliments of that 3rd-wave ska band out of Long Beach and the first black superhero on television (who also happened to be a dog).

Heidi’s Song TV Broadcast Bumper (circa 1988)

Commercial broadcast bumper for Hanna-Barbera’s Heidi’s Song starring Lorne Greene!

Watching The Jetsons and I just realised how much Mr. Spacely looks like Adolf Hitler.

Watching The Jetsons and I just realised how much Mr. Spacely looks like Adolf Hitler.

Happy Birthday, Godzilla!

…And Godzuuuuuukeeeeee….

2 Stupid Dogs Combines Childhood Slapstick With Adult Innuendo

If you were a kid in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, chances are you probably (didn’t) watch a little cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera studios featuring the antics of two highly-stylised and intellectually-challenged canines. The show in question, 2 Stupid Dogs, is one of the rare, unappreciated gems that helped herald the new renaissance in American animation and gave way to later unbridled shows–such as The Oblongs, Superjail, and Robot Chicken (pretty-much the entire Adult Swim lineup)–that have come to define a humour for an entire generation.

The show was the brainchild of Disney house animator Donovan Cook who had worked on several feature films while finishing his degree at CalArts.  In addition to Cook’s demented sense of humour, Spümcø president John Kricfalusi (“John K.” of Ren and Stimpy fame) as well as other Spümcø writers and artists would often contribute story and artistic elements (Kricfalusi was even credited with contributing “Tidbits of Poor Taste” in some episodes).  The series also helped launch the career of some of the biggest names in animation in the 1990’s and 2000’s:  Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory), Craig McCracken (The PowerPuff Girls), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents), and Rob Renzetti (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), to name but a few.  The writing was fresh and often topical, appealing to a mature audience while silliness, gross humour, and slapstick appealed to the “target” audience.

The sheer brilliance of the series laid not only in its razor-sharp wit, but also in its unusual “retro” style.  The cartoon was drawn the the very simplistic, stylised manner of cartoons common in the 1950’s and 60’s, considered to be the golden age of television animation; the show also employed many conventions that had fallen by the wayside during the 1980’s such as absurdism, irrelevant sound effects, and wild takes.  The show also employed a gaggle of celebrated voice actors, some of which were legends in their own right (June Foray, Carol Channing, Casey Kasem, Frank Welker), and some of which were just beginning to get noticed (Ben Stiller, and Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett).

Though only 36 shorts were produced (a paltry 4.5 hours of content compared to other shows at the time), they are packed full of quality content with absolutely no “throw away” episodes.  2 Stupid Dogs guarantees to appeal to both the classic animation lover and to the casual aficionado of cheap jokes and hearty guffaws.

P.S.: This is quite possibly the best line in the series.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice….