August 15, 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 shirt) 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)
Linkara (v/o): Next up is the show ProStars, and if you ever wondered if any series can get greenlit, this show is your answer. Get this: Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky joining forces to fight crime and help children. Yes, this is a real thing. This is the theme song...
(The ProStars theme plays, albeit in truncated form, due to content ID, as per a message on the screen)
Singers: Gonna put them in their place / ProStars! Go Stars! / Crunch time, Wayne will score just in time...
Michael Jordan: ProStars, it's all about helping kids.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, this really happened. I could spend an entire video deconstructing this theme song alone and trying to figure out just what the hell happened in it.
Narrator: In a place called "Mom's Gym"... three famous figures watch a giant video screen...
Paco: (on screen) Buon dia, from Brazil! I am Paco... and this is a picture of a mountain called "The Devil's Spire"...
Linkara: ProStars. Sometimes, it's Michael Jordan and rocket boots; other times, it's National Geographic.
Linkara (v/o): No, actually, this shirtless Brazilian youth informs the ProStars – not sure why he has a Superfriends-esque communication system, but whatever – that a famous rock star named Carosi went with his band up the mountain, but then the mountain sank into the ground and disappeared. And thus we get our first good glimpse at the ProStars and– GOOD GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!? I DON'T EVEN– Where to start? Bo Jackson looks like his head was replaced with a pear, Wayne Gretzky looks like Bruce Campbell from Army of Darkness when his face was stretched, and... is that Michael Jordan? It– It can't be. It looks nothing like Michael Jordan! What's with the massive teeth? Why is his face twisted and stretched? Were they under the impression that Michael Jordan was some bizarre alien thing? Oh, and get this: they work out of this gym command center or whatever run by this woman named Mom, whose assistant also provides them with high-tech equipment.
Bo: A laser bat! Cool, Mom...
Linkara: (at a loss for words) Laser... bat...
Wayne: ...a spear-slinging hockey stick...
Linkara: How about a gun? Ever just think about using a gun? It's probably more accurate and more easily reloadable than a hockey stick that shoots spears! (beat) Laser bat?!
Linkara (v/o): Annnd Michael Jordan is also apparently a member of the Sinestro Corps.
Michael: ...and a magnetic field generator ring! Thanks, Mom!
Linkara: (scarcely believing what he's reading) I... I don't think magnetic fields work like that.
Linkara (v/o): They read in the paper that Carosi's band went there to raise money to save the Amazon rain forests.
Linkara: Then why the hell did he go to the forest itself? Wouldn't you raise more money doing tours and cities and areas where people actually have money they could use to invest in saving the rain forests? You're not gonna find a lot of dollar bills hiding under trees.
Linkara (v/o): And so they travel to Brazil in their ProStar jet. Of course they have their own jet; their athletic careers must provide more than enough funds for their private A-Team corporation or whatever the hell it is they do, I'm sure.
Wayne: These rain forests below are of vital importance to life on our planet!
Michael: Right, Wayne! They provide 25 percent of the oxygen we breathe!
Bo: Bo likes breathing... so Bo loves rainforests!
Linkara: You know, I'm not a sports fan, and I've never heard Bo Jackson talk, but I'm gonna take a wild guess here and presume that he DOESN'T TALK LIKE THAT!
Linkara (v/o): And they land next to Paco, who is wearing some kind of stereotypical native person loincloth and speaks perfect English. One wonders if he is supposed to some indigenous person, where the hell he got an advanced communication system to call the ProStars for help, and furthermore, why the hell this is our representative of Brazil and not the other 190 million people who live in the country in modern friggin' cities! And now we get to meet our two-dimensional villain: some invisible guy who captains a submarine that's in the Amazon River. Seriously.
Captain Ipenema: So... more do-gooding Americans have shown up! I'd better contact my submarine...
Linkara: Dear Lord in heaven, they're serious with this crap, aren't they? These are the people that are destroying the rain forests, huh? Okay, here's what the Wikipedia article says about the episode this is based on...
Linkara (v/o): "Captain Nemo Ipenema is destroying the Brazilian rainforest as a site to his mining operation designed to secure the world's supply of Amazonite for his own egomaniacal use." Okay, if this guy's mining operations are actually legitimate, then why the hell is he capturing people who are just trudging through the woods? If his mining efforts are illegal, then why the hell are people organizing a "save the rainforest" thing, when they could just appeal to the authorities?! Also, "Amazonite"? You're serious with this. Gah, this is stupid, even by the standards of a lot of kids shows. Anyway, he sets a trap for our heroes. Michael Jordan is sprung by a simple rope.
Michael: I know there's a "down side" to everything... but this is RIDICULOUS!
Linkara: (stunned) Was... Was that a joke?
(Cut to a clip of Dr. Cox from Scrubs)
Dr. Cox: (to a female coworker) You would hear crickets chirping, but they were too uncomfortable about just how unfunny that actually was.
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Gretzky falls in a hole, and then a cage conveniently springs up on Bo Jackson and Paco. The invisible... Why the hell is he invisible? ...Captain Ipenema declares that soon, he will rule the world. With what, Amazonite? Or whatever it is? The world was doing just fine without it, and if there's a limited supply of it, since I'm going to guess it's only found in the Amazon, then it's worthless for whatever the hell you plan to do with it. Fortunately, Bo has his... laser... BAT, which was stored in his... wristband?
Linkara: Why, comic? Why do you make US-1 look plausible by comparison?
Linkara (v/o): I'm not even sure what the hell the laser bat is supposed to do, exactly? It just kind of vibrates and then some sound effects, and they're free. You know, "James Bond, Jr." had some really stupid-ass gadgets, but this is just ridiculous. Do you get me, comic? I am comparing you to "James Bond, Jr.", and that show is the one that's winning! Speaking of stupid gadgets, Wayne Gretzky's harpoon hockey stick is even dumber, since it's not even like it's a harpoon inside of the stick, but rather just a harpoon gun shaped like a hockey stick that he still needs to load up. Where is he carrying the spears? He cuts Michael Jordan free and then climbs out of the pit. Bo Jackson, remembering that he can speak without referring to himself in the third person, puts on a pair of infrared shades that allows him to find the invisible guy, and that leads into the episode.
Narrator: Will Michael, Bo and Wayne follow the evil Captain Ipenema to almost certain doom?
Linkara: Oh, for crying out loud, it's an action-based kids show! That's a stupid question! (dopey voice) Duh, no, they're not gonna follow him into the dark doom! They're just gonna go home and play video games! Duhuhuh!
Linkara (v/o): Our next tale of "what is even the hell" brings us to the Ohio Museum of Really Important Things. Okay, that is mildly funny. However, it's rendered stupid by the fact that in this Museum of Really Important Things, there was a "cheesecake diamond" that was stolen by a jewel thief named Rhymin' Simon.
Narrator: That's why they've summoned those alien feline crime fighters, sworn to make their world a safer place to live in and eat tuna--The Spacecats!
Linkara: (resignedly) Let the awful cat puns begin.
Linkara (v/o): Annnd right from the title: "DIAMONDS ARE FUR-EVER". Ugggggh! Naturally, our Spacecats need to discuss this in a crowded movie theater, where they're subsequently kicked out.
Tom: That's the last time we hold a secret meeting in a movie theater!
Linkara: I feel a little dumber for having read that. And so should you.
Newsboy: (off to the side as the cats are thrown out) Read all about it! Museum robbed again while Spacecats attend movie!
Linkara: (holding up newspapers) Extra, extra! Read all about it! Newspaper boys have not existed since the 1960s!
Linkara (v/o): Their ingenious plan to catch this Rhymin' Simon person is to dress up like archaeologists and claim that they've just discovered a precious diamond; in reality, a glass doorknob. And like the Wish Kid story, this one relies on the criminal having a doorknob for a brain, since they will rob the same location yet again, despite heavy police activity around it. Oh, and let's not forget about the part of the plan where the only friggin' anthropomorphic cats in the world who are evidently well-known public figures are attempting to disguise themselves in stereotypical explorer gear. Yeah, that'll fool 'em. So that night, the trap is sprung, but the doorknob still gets stolen, and one of the Spacecats is missing, and we're supposed to give a damn enough to watch the show. Let us instead conclude this...
(Cut to a Saved by the Bell comic in the book)
Linkara (v/o): ...with a one-page Saved by the Bell comic promoting their then-upcoming comic book.
Zack: Kelly! Jessie! Lisa! Are you girls tryin' out for the cheer leader's squad?
Kelly: Forget it, Zack! We women today have too much pride for that RAH-RAH stuff!
Jessie: That's right!
Kelly: ...You'll never catch us jumping around and yelling for a bunch of dumb jocks!
Jessie: No way!
Linkara: Annnd insert your own "Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls" joke here.
Jason Hickey: Hey, Zack! Slater! Screech! How's it goin'?
Kelly: Who was that hunk?
Zack: Jason Hickey, captain of the football team!
Kelly, Jessie and Lisa: RAH! RAH! RAH! GO, TEAM, GO!
Linkara: (laughing uproariously) Because women's principals and pride mean absolutely nothing when they see something that activates their libidos! (laughs some more, then becomes angry as he holds up comic) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): Dear Lord, this was stupid and pointless! Yeah, I know walking into it that it's just a big advertisement for the shows, but leaving everything on cliffhangers doesn't make you want to watch it. It just makes you realize how little you care for this insane crap. The only passable one was Wish Kid, and even that was moronic.
Linkara: However, it does give me some inspiration. (puts down comic and puts on baseball glove, hitting his fist on it) I wish this comic didn't exist. I wish this comic didn't exist. I wish this comic didn't exist. (suddenly, there is a flash of light) Ha! It worked! Convenient! (takes off glove) Well, I'm sure glad there were no lasting repercussions from th– (suddenly stops as he looks down at something) What the hell is this?
(From his perspective, what he is looking at is a copy of Mightily Murdered Power Ringers 1; he picks it up and examines it)
Linkara: (looking visibly uncomfortable) Uh... tune in next week for the, uh... (looks at comic again) 150th episode.
(Dramatic music plays as the screen cuts out; credits roll)
(Stinger: Linkara is looking confused and frustrated)
Linkara: LASER BAT??