August 22, 2011
Learn about the shows you DIDN'T wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch!
(Linkara is sitting on his Futon)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. My generation... Dear Lord, I sound old; "my generation", indeed. ...grew up watching shows on Saturday mornings.
(Cut to footage of Saturday morning shows on Fox Kids, such as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Spider-Man (1994), among others)
Linkara (v/o): I couldn't tell you if kids these days... God, I really sound old... still watch Saturday morning cartoons and shows, but for me, it was just standard. The two major kids' programming blocks in my house came down to Kids WB and Fox Kids. For my brother and I, it would be a struggle sometimes for certain shows we both like being on at the same time as another show, though usually, we'd be able to work around it. We checked TV listings to see if the episode would be repeated sometime during the week, we'd get another TV in the house to tape it; this was before Tivo and when we still used VHS tapes, mind you, and all that kind of stuff.
(Cut to a quick clip of the Animaniacs characters on Kids' WB)
Linkara (v/o): However, Kids' WB and Fox Kids were lucky. They had probably the best stuff to offer...
(Cut to a rapid-fire montage of shows that were shown on these blocks)
Linkara (v/o): Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, Spider-Man, Power Rangers, Pokemon, Digimon, Animaniacs, etc. Other networks, however, I just didn't really watch until their shows ended up syndicated on another channel.
Linkara: I can tell you one thing, though: I don't think there was a single damn thing I ever watched from NBC's Saturday morning lineup.
(Cut to clips of shows that were once on NBC's Saturday morning lineup: Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, ALF Tales)
Linkara (v/o): Mind you, that might have been because NBC's entire Saturday morning show was canceled in 1992, except for Saved by the Bell. Before it was canceled, it featured such shows as...
(Cut to footage of the following from this last gasp of NBC's Saturday morning...)
Linkara (v/o): Chip & Pepper, Space Cats, Yo Yogi, Captain N and the New Super Mario World, ProStars, Wish Kid starring Macaulay Culkin, and of course, Saved by the Bell.
Linkara: And of course, to promote such a "stellar" lineup of shows, they made a comic book. So let's dig into (holds up the comic book to be reviewed...) "NBComics #1".
(AT4W title sequence plays; cut to a shot of the title card for this episode, with Adam Ant's "Friend or Foe" playing in the background)
(Cut to a shot of the cover of this comic, showing all the characters from the show lineup)
Linkara (v/o): I should talk about the name first. Technically, this thing is actually called "NBC Saturday Morning Comics". However, the only reason I know that is because I looked at the copyright information on the first page calling it that and then looked at the logo again. I completely missed the part where it said "Saturday Morning" right there, but I didn't even know that was part of the logo since the thing that draws your eye is "NBComics", making you further wonder how the hell I was supposed to pronounce this. "NBComics"? "NBC Comics"? I guess in the long run, it doesn't really matter, but it just bugs me. The rest of the cover features the stars of the lineup, all clamoring to get out of the TV.
Linkara: I am confused by this. Logically, wouldn't we want them to stay in the TV so we can watch them?
Nick McClary: Who are your Saturday morning favorites, kids?
Linkara: (smiling) Not you, that's for sure.
Michael Jordan: (his tongue hanging out) Check us out! We're all terrific!
Linkara: (slurring, his tongue hanging out in imitation of Jordan) Thith ith how we talk with ou' tongueth ha'ging out.
(The first comic is shown, featuring the cast from Wish Kid)
Linkara (v/o): This is a bit of an anthology comic, featuring short stories about the various shows.
Nick McClary: My name's Nick McClary. I'm 9 years old. I have a pretty cool family.
Linkara (v/o): But not cool clothes, it seems. What the hell is the dad supposed to be wearing exactly?
Nick: A big stupid bully, Frankie Duttweiller, told everyone in school my dad's a wimpy newspaper reporter.
Linkara: (as Nick) That's a damn lie! He won (holds up three fingers) three Pulitzer Prizes for his war coverage, you son of a bitch!
Nick: Me and my dog Slobber tried to counter attack with a 80mm [sic] mud missile... But Frankie and his dog, Nuke, counter-counter-attacked!
(Cut to a clip of Patton)
Patton: (to another soldier) Tell him to hit him hard on the right flank. Here's where I hold my nose. Kick him in the ass, come on.
(Back to the comic)
Nick: I guess it's time to make a wish.
Linkara: (as Nick, his eyes closed) I wish for my enemies to all die horrible, painful, lingering deaths.
Linkara (v/o): So this is Wish Kid, starring Macaulay Culkin. We go to his bedroom, where his dog is living up to its name, and he's contemplating his situation.
Nick: Too bad my hero, Captain Mayhem, is only a comic book hero, Slobber! He'd be able to handle Frankie Duttweiller for me!
Linkara: Oh, the ways he could (holds up his fist) murder that bastard!
Linkara (v/o): He gets a brainstorm and starts digging through his closet.
Nick: I'm gonna be a super hero, find Dad a great story and give Frankie a surprise as soon as I find my... I found it!... MY MAGIC GLOVE!
Linkara: Kid, don't bother with magic gloves. You'll just end up with a dead Planeteer.
Linkara (v/o): He repeats...
Nick: ...I wish I was Captain Mayhem!...
Linkara (v/o): ...three times and hits the glove, which is apparently the method by which he utilizes this magic glove. Also, the noise the magic glove makes is "KABLOOIE!" Who knew explosions were in fact magic? And thus he is transformed into Captain Mayhem! Wait, Captain Mayhem? I'm noticing an incongruity here with that name. He looks like a generic tights-and-cape superhero, yet the name "Captain Mayhem" evokes a '90s hero.
(Cut to 90s Kid standing there)
90s Kid: Duuuuuude! Captain Mayhem is awesome! I remember when he teamed up with Blood Gun in "Bloody Mayhem #1"! Ha! It was a one-half issue because each one of them was half the teeeeeeaaam!
Linkara: I know I'm getting off track here, but it just confuses me: what does someone named "Captain Mayhem" promote exactly? Mayhem? Disarray? Chaos?
(Cut to a clip of NewsRadio, involving Matthew Brock going punk)
Matthew: (lifting up his shift) Mayhem!
(Back to the Wish Kid comic)
Linkara (v/o): And yet, he's the Wish Kid's favorite superhero. Some comics really are truly philosophical. On top of that, if he did change into Captain Mayhem, shouldn't he have completely transformed, and not just gained the super powers and costume? Shouldn't he be over-muscled and an adult now? He flies off, apparently having wished for his dog to gain superpowers off-panel as well, and says he'll go tell his friend Darryl about his wish. Yeah, he could wish for world peace or, if we're gonna be selfish here, fame and fortune, but that's fine, enjoy being a superhero and all. He arrives at Darryl's house and overhears on the radio about some car thieves who keep striking. He apparently forgets all about the whole "getting back at the bully" thing, and instead decides that he can take care of the thieves and get a great story for his father at the same time.
Nick: And I think I know how to get the car thieves to come to us!
Linkara: Aaaaand he says this while looking at his dad washing his car. Wait, he flew away to get to Darryl's house, but now they're back at the Wish Kid's house?
(Cut to a clip of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Mike Nelson and the Bots are watching The She-Creature)
Mike: Space is warped and time is bendable.
(Back to the Wish Kid comic)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and the plan to get the car thieves to come to his house? (reading flyer made by Nick) "ATTENTION CAR LOVERS! Check out my dad's NEW WHEELS! Stereo! Leather Seats! Chrome Mags! It's HOT!!"
Linkara: We'll ignore the fact that this plan is immensely stupid and that he's just putting up posters all over town that say "Check out my dad's car," and if it were that simple, the police would have done so already, and instead look at the major flaw of the entire damn thing: HE DIDN'T LIST HIS ADDRESS!!
Linkara (v/o): But no, somehow the car thieves arrive and steal right out of someone's driveway, showing just how idiotic the thieves are. However, the wishes apparently have a time limit and it runs out, leaving him without superpowers. Instead of running back inside and wishing for the car thieves to appear back in front of them and then wishing for his powers back or something more useful, they decide to use the dog as a bloodhound and have them track the thieves back to an abandoned warehouse. And because this is for kids, they whip out remote-controlled racecars, and that is enough to knock one of the thieves on their ass. They just screw around with them, instead of calling the police, resulting in the two thieves spotting them, ending the story. Wait, ending the story? Yeah, apparently, the stories in this book don't have real closure. You have to watch the actual matching TV show to find out what the hell happened!
Narrator: Has Nick finally run out of wishes?
Linkara: (confused) Are you saying there's a limit to the amount of wishes they have*, or are you saying that the car thieves are going to murder them?
- NOTE: The reason why Nick McClary could not make another wish on his magic glove was because he was only allowed to make one wish on it per week.
Linkara (v/o): Our next not-really-a-story-but-an-advanced-preview-of-shows-not-on-TV-anymore begins with some kind of mutant cockroach attacking people on a street.
Narrator: When "The Pest," a king-sized cockroach, menaces the town of Jellystone... it's ATOM ANT to the rescue!
(A clip of Adam Ant's "Friend or Foe" music video is shown)
Adam Ant: I want those who get to know me / To become admirers or my enemies...
(Back to the comic, for better or worse)
Linkara (v/o): No, it's Atom Ant, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon hero.
Atom Ant: Roaches like garbage... so here's a whole truck full!
Linkara (v/o): Wow, Atom Ant is kind of a dick. First of all, he's hurling a garbage truck at this cockroach, no doubt intending to murder it! Secondly, garbage men provide a necessary and useful service to people, and you're just treating their truck like it's, well, garbage, and tossing it around without regard for the safety of whoever's inside of it, or the property itself. You know, at least when regular superheroes cause collateral damage, it's against beings more menacing and powerful than a giant cockroach, whose biggest crime so far was hitting a guy with a newspaper. Anyway, Atom Ant apparently gets an award for heroically trying to kill a sentient being with a garbage truck, but a passing car splashes water on him and knocks off his atomic helmet, which is apparently the source of his powers.
Narrator: A lost helmet? A powerless ant? This is a job for...
(Cut to a clip of Casper, with Dr. Ray Stantz, addressing Carrigan and Dibbs)
Stantz: Someone else.
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Well, in fact, it's a job for Yo Yogi!
(Footage of the Yo Yogi! cartoon is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Yo Yogi! was the last Yogi Bear cartoon show, and frankly, that doesn't surprise me. It only last sixteen episodes and basically has Yogi Bear operating a detective agency out of a mall.
Linkara: (frustrated) Okay, what the hell is it with television show spin-offs and detective agencies?
(A montage of titles of spin-off shows based around detective agencies are shown to illustrate Linkara's point)
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, Baywatch Nights, Angel, Beverly Hills Buntz, Booker, Bourbon Street Beat, Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, A Man Called Hawk, Barnaby Jones, Diagnosis: Murder, Sons of Thunder, Surfside 6, Honey West, The Law & Harry McGraw, all of them are spin-off shows where the characters start a detective agency.
Linkara: Is a detective agency really an all-purpose storytelling engine for spin-offs?
(Cut to an open door, with a hand reaching out, holding a magnifying glass)
Announcer: Coming this Christmas to NBC...
(The hand belongs to a woman, wearing fairy wings. She powders a doorknob and looks at it closely. Then she puts on a trenchcoat and hat)
Announcer: Makeover Fairy, P.I.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We open with Snagglepuss jumping on a table in the food court – and considering he doesn't wear shoes, that's got to be real hygienic – talking about the awesome pinkie ring he found. And you'll forgive if I don't get the voices right; I haven't watched a Hanna-Barbera cartoon in over a decade.
Snagglepuss: It's attractive! It's tasteful! It's ME, even!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, it's Atom Ant's helmet, so apparently, what's "him" is something designed to fit on an ant's head with two holes in it. Also, he doesn't wear any other jewelry, so why does finding a dirty ring on the ground work so well for him? A woman comes screaming for help, since her baby has somehow climbed into a chairlift and is in mortal peril. Okay, a few questions come to mind. One, why aren't there any seat belts or restraints on that thing? Two, why would you ever have a chairlift in a mall?! You'd have to be the laziest damn people on the planet if escalators and elevators aren't good enough for you. Three, no, I don't care if it turns out that there actually is a mall with a chairlift system. That is frickin' stupid! I live in Minnesota, home of the Mall of America, AKA the mega-mall. It's four stories tall, and it has a movie theater and a theme park inside of it with rides and stuff, and there's still isn't a damn chairlift anywhere! Anyway, the kid jumps out like an idiot, and Snagglepuss, now possessing superpowers, thanks to the ring, catches the baby. Huckleberry Hound asks him how the hell he did that, but he doesn't question it beyond being in good shape. Ugh, I can see where the show was canceled: everybody is a moron, not helped by our title character pulling a picnic lunch, wrapped in a blanket, out of a filing cabinet. We're gonna skip through this and just get to the next one.
Linkara: What's that? You won't get a complete rundown of the events? Who the hell cares? The stories in this stupid thing don't even have proper resolution. The whole thing is a teasing advertisement for the shows, and not complete stories in themselves!
Linkara (v/o): Hell, this comic came out the fall of 1991. If Wikipedia's airdates are to be believed, you wouldn't even get resolution on this thing until December! And if you had tuned in to a single episode of the show before, why the hell would you still be watching it in December? Anyway, Snagglepuss is made into a celebrity at the mall and is overworked for merchandise. Atom Ant recruits Yogi to find his helmet, but then the roach returns with a death ray, and the story ends on a cliffhanger of him aiming it at Atom Ant. Dun-dun-dun... Next, we get two pages of ads for all the shows that were coming, even though only about four or five of them had actual stories in this comic. We sadly lack a comic telling us all about... uh, Chip and Pepper. According to Wikipedia, the two are identical twins who were clothing spokesmen, particularly of jeans, and they hosted a show featuring old cartoons, sketches and interviews... from people who sold jeans and beachwear.
Linkara: The more I dig into this, the more reasons I have for why they canceled their Saturday morning lineup.
Nick McClary: AWESOME! This sure beats staying home alone!
Linkara: (listlessly) Haaaa-haaaa-haaaa... (stares silently at the camera for a long time)
This guide is unfinished. Please finish it. Thanks.