Saturday, 30 March 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Easter Sunday Morning Cartoons

Tomorrow is Easter! Are you excited?

Well, I'm not sure how any-bunny can be with such a lack of quality Easter cartoons. Maybe they're just really well-hidden?

I mean, have you seen that movie Hop? It's eggs-cretable! Like they crapped out a script as they went along. And there is no way I'm even considering watching this...

That doesn't look fun at all! Those eyebrows scare me!

I feel bad for your kids! They deserve more than this! Mind you, I don't think we had much better to choose from growing up. There were a lot of rotten eggs that both we and our parents sat through. I hunted for some of them, and unfortunately was taught to always share, so you'll find a few of them below. But there's a delicious creme egg or 2 in here if you're patient, so don't hop on down the bunny trail just yet.

Let's begin with the ultimate sugar rush, courtesy of Disney in 'Funny Little Bunnies'. (1934)  So sickly sweet, you'll contract diabetes upon a single viewing.

The original character of Bosko, which started at Warner Bros., looked like this...

Bosko was already heard as a racial stereotype when he spoke for the first time in 1929's 'Bosko The Talk-Ink Kid'. But when he was moved from Warner Bros. to MGM, he would later be redesigned into more of a physical stereotype to match. Here's an unfortunate example of this in 1937's 'Bosko's Easter Eggs'.

In 1967, 'The Easter Bunny' was robbing banks and brandishing a gun, but was no match for Super Chicken. Super Chicken was a segment featured in Jay Ward and Bill Scott's George Of The Jungle, and featured one of the best theme songs ever made.

Rankin/Bass OWNED Christmas, but also had a fondness for Easter. It started in 1971 with their stop-motion, 'Here Comes Peter Cottontail'. Notable voices include Danny Kaye, Casey Kasem, Paul Frees and Vincent Price as January Q. Irontail.

Then in 1976, they released the fully-animated 'The First Easter Rabbit', which featured narration by Burl Ives.

Then a year later, they released the stop-motion 'The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town'. Note the parallels to Rankin/Bass's Christmas special of a similar name. This features the same newsreel-style opening and the same narrator as 1970's 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town', again played by Fred Astaire.

Warner Bros. put out 'Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies' in 1977, but like many of their TV specials, the thematic bridges to the cartoons they showcased became a bit of a stretch.

Weirdly, the only cartoon that SHOULD have been included, wasn't - Bugs Bunny in 1951's 'Easter Yeggs', directed by Robert McKimson.

For being so anti-holiday at times, it's surprising the Charlie Brown gang starred in so many holiday-themed TV specials. 1974's 'It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown' is a real treat! It's funny and fun to look at. I love the continued use of those great backgrounds - the pink horizons and sometimes-trippy skies reminiscent of the ones seen in 'The Great Pumpkin'. Those backgrounds later become the star of the show, as they make distracting and hilarious statements on consumerism as the gang wanders through a shopping mall. I've included a full upload of the special below from a VHS transfer, but keep in mind you can watch a cleaner version of this tomorrow (Sunday) night on ABC, who have aired the special annually since 2001. Prior to that, CBS ran it for 26 years.

Here's a rare Easter egg courtesy of Conan O'Brien, who recently "unearthed" a never-before-seen director's cut of 'It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown'...

Another lesser-known comic strip-to-cartoon creation was Bil Keane's "The Family Circus", who were inserted into 3 Hallmark holidays - 1978's 'A Special Valentine With The Family Circus', 1979's 'A Family Circus Christmas' and 1982's 'A Family Circus Easter'. Who wants to watch them? Not me!

Rare is the occasion I will acknowledge ANYTHING post-1970's when it comes to Yogi Bear. I've never been able to fully accept the watering down of a once perfectly-flawed character. I meant to include 1994's 'Yogi The Easter Bear' as a fleeting Family Circus-like footnote, but must admit I rather enjoyed it. It was the last time Ranger Smith and Boo Boo would have their original voices, provided by Don Messick, who passed away in 1997.

The Simpsons have desecrated Easter on several occasions. In Season 10's 'Simpsons Bible Stories', Homer inserts a chocolate bunny he found in a dumpster into the church collection plate on Easter Sunday. In Season 17's 'The Last Of The Red Hat Mamas', Homer steals Easter eggs from children at Mayor Quimby's mansion, and kicks the cotton out of Hugs Bunny. And in the last new episode from Season 24 called 'Dark Knight Court', the Springfield school band brass section is implicated in a mass egging, set-up by Bart's devious hand. But perhaps most famous for me (and not entirely related to Easter) is Homer's imaginary visit to The Land of Chocolate, where he gleefully prances after half-price Easter bunnies in his mind...for 10 front of a VERY understanding pair of German safety inspectors.

You may not know this, but Homer made a return visit to The Land of Chocolate in 'The Simpsons Game', released in 2007, where he was tempted and taunted by a different chocolate.

In 1992, The Simpsons were up for a Primetime Emmy in the category of Outstanding Animated Program, but lost to Will Vinton's 'A Claymation Easter'. I'd say that upset was well-deserved, because even though The Simpsons were in their heyday back then, 'A Claymation Easter' is a better testament to the craft. You can see the painstaking detail that must have went into making this film. At times you question how it can possibly be clay-based! And like The Simpsons, it's snappy and clever to boot.

Will and his studio also made Christmas and Halloween specials, but are most famous for creating The California Raisins in 1988.

But enough about egg hunts and...pigs with pet sharks. What about the true meaning of Easter? What does it all mean? Kyle asks that same question in 'Fantastic Easter Special' from South Park Season 11.

To clarify, the true story of Easter is about Jesus! It's actually pretty interesting. Maybe when I have more time, I'll invite you over for dinner to tell you about it.

Hoppy Easter, meester!

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