Saturday, 2 February 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Super Bowl Edition

With about 24 hours left until Baltimore vs. San Fran, figured we should pre-game by pouring ourselves a (Super) Bowl of vitamin-charged Quisp (or Quake) and watching a few football cartoons.

Let's kick-off with Popeye in 'You Gotta Be A Football Hero' from 1935. Not the greatest Popeye episode, but you always find at least one gut-buster in all of Max Fleischer's cartoons. And in this episode, for me, it's Popeye's horse-like gallop down the field, holding that football like it were a baby in need of a change table. There's other funny stuff too, but that run cycle kills me every time.

Stats and Standings: The original voice of Popeye, William Costello, who apparently had an ego the size of Popeye's forearms, was fired after the making of this cartoon, because he asked for a vacation in the middle of production. He was then replaced by MVP Jack Mercer, who voiced the character into the late 1970's.

Next, we forward-pass a decade (1944) to watch Goofy(s) teach us 'How To Play Football'. These 'How To' shorts (many of which involved Goofy playing sports) are hands-down my favourite Disney releases, because even though there's still beautiful Disney animation, it's strictly played for big, dumb laughs. 'Fantasia', this ain't. There are some hilarious smoking sequences in here, which you'll never see on TV again.

This cartoon was nominated for an Academy Award, with good reason. The names of the players are also names of Disney employees, which frequently occurred in other Goofy sports cartoons.

Then we rush another decade to 1959, with Yogi Bear in 'Rah Rah Bear'. Yogi has no real interest in sports. He's a victim of circumstance, walking that noisy walk of his to Chicago to help his fellow "Bears", only to be immediately chased home again to Jellystone Park by helicopter. It's by no means a classic, but it's still fun. A dog with a blog I know has an excessive and wondeful amount of information about this cartoon (including music cues!) along with all other manner of Hanna-Barbera stuff from this era. His name is Yowp, which is also a sound effect you might recognize if you're a Yogi Bear fan.

Now, in the home stretch, the most Super Bowl-specific cartoon you could imagine - a TV special from 1994 called 'You're In The Super Bowl, Charlie Brown', directed by Peanuts regular Bill Melendez. Truthfully, I had no idea it existed. I found it while I was looking for a clip of Lucy pulling the football away. It happens in this program too, but it's surrounded by 20 additional minutes of animals playing sports, and a punt/pass/kick competition for a new bicycle/trip to the Super Bowl.

This relatively uninteresting cartoon has a very interesting history...

1) It was the first Peanuts special in nearly 30 years to air on NBC instead of CBS. NBC had Super Bowl broadcast rights that year.

2) It was the last special to be televised before the creator of Peanuts, Charles Schulz, died in 2000. He has a writing credit here, similar to the other specials. Everything after that would be direct-to-video release, except for 'A Charlie Brown Valentine' in 2002. (which aired on ABC)

3) This is the only Peanuts special unavailable for home video or DVD. The reason? Someone would have to pay royalty fees for use of the official NFL and team logos on the signage and uniforms.

Speaking of which, if Charlie Brown's helmet is any indication, we know who he's cheering for tomorrow.

Anyone need more cereal? It's packed with "go-go-go"!

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