"Lost" footage of Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Rock Hudson, others discovered
Blog, TV, People
Posted on Jul 25 2013 by Greg
Jack Benny is arguably the greatest comedian of all time. Beginning in Vaudeville, he played violin and told jokes as a start. But he accumulated comic ticks and personality quirks, one after another, and incorporated them into his act. He nurtured his writers and his supporting cast.
He was a radio giant through the Depression, WWII and the Korean War. He balanced TV and radio appearances in the mid-50s then moved to the tube full time. His series, "The Jack Benny Program," gave way to occasional specials and an endless procession of guest appearances, along with movies and even a Warner Brothers cartoon ("The Mouse That Jack Built").
Many of his TV episodes, numbering over 200, are still being rerun on cable stations. Some are in the public domain and can be found on budget DVD sets. This new "Jack Benny Show: The
Lost Episodes" collection from Shout! Factory, is different. It's very big news of course for fans, but also because many of them figure prominently into pop culture, Hollywood legend and American history.
This set is big news, indeed. Perhaps the most astonishing find among the 18 shows is one with then-married Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, singing, dancing and playing beautifully off Benny. But then most anyone could play well against Benny, even Harry Truman.
Jack Benny's "Truman show" is a rare appearance on an entertainment show by the 33rd President. The episode was shelved after its first broadcast because the sound quality in the Truman sequence is not really broadcast quality. Seeing it now is astonishing.
If you love Jack Benny, this set is a gold mine. While there are not a lot of episodes that follow the "Jack at home" format with Mary Livingston, you'll see Dennis Day, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Don Wilson and Mel Blanc (who does the classic SÃ / Sy" routine).
While some might have to be cautioned about political correctness issues in a very few instances within specific shows, it is worth noting that there is also a very sly inversion of incorrectness in one of the selections. When Benny introduces Lux soap as his new sponsor, an Asian announcer comes onstage and begins a very inappropriate, stereotypical pitch. Then it is revealed that he really speaks in the rich tones of an American announcer, and Benny is the butt of the joke, as usual.
In the last episode of Season 10, Jack faces dismissal when the network executives (real CBS suits played by Joseph Kearns (TV"s Dennis the Menace, Disney"s Alice in Wonderland) and Bob Sweeney (actor/director who played Tupper in Disney"s "Toby Tyler). They have discovered that Benny himself doesn't generate laughs. They actually isolate his speaking parts and compare them to those of Dennis Day. It's a wicked jab at network research and corporate pragmatism. Brilliant for its day and for today as well.
Jack Benny also got Hollywood's biggest stars of the day to appear on his show. In addition to Wood and Wagner, there Gary Cooper, Rock Hudson, John Wayne and Tony Curtis. "Lost Horizon" superstar Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume make their sole Benny appearance, though they did numerous radio shows in which Benny's character pushed their British courtesy to its limits.
Dick Van Dyke, in the midst of filming his classic TV sitcom and the movie version of "Bye Bye Birdie," appears in a show that, like the others, many of us have never seen before. My personal favorite is the Easter show, because this was the one time we can see Jack walk along the boulevard, greeting members of his oddball troupe. The routine was a radio favorite of mine, so it"s cool to see it unfold on film.
I"m the kind of classic and radio fan who has to constantly invest in compilations to find even one or two that I have not seen or heard. How wonderful to find a brand new collection, filled with material I didn"t know could ever be recovered!
1. Episode 65, Season 7
October 7, 1956
George Burns / Spike Jones Show
2. Episode 66, Season 7
October 21, 1956
George Gobel / Red Skelton Show
3. Episode 67, Season 7
November 4, 1956
Jack Is Invited to the Ronald Colmans
4. Episode 96, Season 9
September 21, 1958
Gary Cooper Show
5. Episode 111, Season 10
October 4, 1959
Jack Switches Sponsors (The Jack Benny Program 30 Years in the Future)
6. Episode 112, Season 10
October 18, 1959
Harry Truman Show
7. Episode 115, Season 10
November 25, 1959
Jack Paar Show
8. Episode 122, Season 10
March 6, 1960
Natalie Wood / Robert Wagner Show
9. Episode 124, Season 10
April 17, 1960
10. Episode 125, Season 10
May 1, 1960
Final Show of the Season
11. Episode 126, Season 11
October 16, 1960
Guests George Burns, Tony Curtis, Robert Wagner & Mike Wallace (Nightbeat Takeoff)
12. Episode 128, Season 11
October 30, 1960
Milton Berle Show
13. Episode 130, Season 11
November 20, 1960
Guests John Wayne, Frank Fontaine, Jaye P Morgan
14. Episode 161, Season 12
December 24, 1961
15. Episode 189, Season 13
February 18, 1962
Rock Hudson Show
16. Episode 195, Season 13
January 29, 1963
Guest Dick Van Dyke - The Murder of Clayton Worthington
17. Episode 206, Season 14
September 24, 1963
Billy Graham Show
18. Episode 247, Season 14
December 24, 1964
Guest Gisele MacKenzie
â€¢ A Conversation with Harry Shearer, Norman Abbott & Dorothy Ohman (42:23) â€¢ Excerpt - Jack Benny's 20th Anniversary Special, Feb 17, 1969 (9:04)
â€¢ Excerpt - Jack Benny's New Look, December 3, 1969 (3:48)
â€¢ Excerpt - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jack Benny But Were Afraid to Ask, March 10, 1971 (3:30)
â€¢ Excerpt - Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special, January 24, 1972 (9:48)
â€¢ Hearst Newsreel Footage, 1935-1945 (Total 7:19)
"Difficult Men" generous with "Sopranos" and "Wire" insights, not so much "Mad Men"
Posted on Jul 24 2013 by Greg
We live in an era in which the Wicked Witch of the West has become the hero in a big, successful and superb musical, where Sleeping Beauty's enemy is about to tell her side of the story in a major tentpole movie. Good and bad are relative. It is reflection of the injustices and inequities. In real life, often bad behaviors are very publicly given surface rewards and valuable publicity.
One of the threads within "Difficult Men
," what the author calls "The Third Golden Age" of TV, is a world of dark dramas in which the heroes aren't very good people, but they're not textbook bad. Tony Soprano, Don Draper and Walter White are fallen people but are also sympathetic. All the shows seem to depict voyeuristic situations against cautionary consequences.
So do the people, apparently, who create and run the shows. With only two clear exceptions, the guiding forces behind these artistic landmarks are complicated and conflicted. The duality of their collaborative styles do not exactly transform their writers rooms into sparkling joyfests. The anecdotes about the workplace situations are among the most compelling sections in the book. The biggest successes seem to come at the highest costs, especially on a human level.
If you love "The Wire" and "The Sopranos," this book is a sumptuous feast. Not so much for "Mad Men," which gets little more than a chapter. The other shows might not warrant more few pages or a few chapters, but "The Wire" and "The Sopranos" simply dominate the text. Admittedly, their stories also provide a narrative thread. the points about some other programs might not warrant as much detail, especially if the points are already elsewher. And Martin may have had greater access to some showrunners than others -- "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner might have been less forthcoming with background info, as he is known for keeping so much under wraps. The staff of a current show would rather not risk his/her position for a candid interview.
It makes the most sense for "The Sopranos" to dominate the book, since it is clearly positioned as the touchstone of this new era. Even if you don't watch the show, the facts behind "The Sopranos," as well as the general gist of the show, are enough to hold interest. However, significant as "The Wire" is, no other series gets so much detailed coverage. A little too far into the weeds.
Martin tends to dismiss much of the remaining television landscape, past and present, in his effort to build a case for this particular era. His rhapsodizing of these recent works is may certainly be warranted, but they and their creators is not islands unto themselves. It might have been helpful to acknowledge such works as "Citizen Kane," "Carousel" or most Hitchcock films, all of which gave an insight into caddish, corruptible lead characters and placed viewers in the uncomfortable position of rooting for them.
The creators, these "difficult men," are unique in the circumstances and the time frames in which they were able to envision their concepts, but there might have more room devoted to some and less to others. That said, this era is worth examining as are these works. Martin's exhaustive research is evident. I'd love to read a full book on "Mad Men" by Martin. Maybe that chapter is a preview for his next book
"Robot Chicken" DVD takes on the DC superheroes
Posted on Jul 18 2013 by Greg
Robot Chicken, like Saturday Night Live, Lipitor or Cymbalta, is not for everyone. But it's enjoyed significant success. This particular entry in the stop-motion Adult Swim satire series provides quite a notable twist in the ongoing saga of super powers engaged in battle -- not superheroes, but entertainment companies with growing portfolios of characters and franchises.
Co-Written, Co-Produced and Directed by Seth Green
With the Voices of: Abraham Benrubi, Alex Bornstein, Breckin Meyer, Nathan Fillion, Megan Fox, Clare Grant, Seth Green, Neil Patrick Harris, Alfred Molina, Aaron Paul, Tom Root, Kevin Shinick, Matthew Senreich, Tara Strong, Paul Reubens, Zeb Wells, Steven Tyler
DC has had some bumps along the big-screen freeway to box office and critical success while Marvel is enjoying a measurable edge. However, Warner can spoof their characters to a searing degree. Disney probably would demur to do the same with its properties. It's ironic that Robot Chicken, which hit big with its Star Wars sendup (before Disney bought Lucasfilm), has allowed satire within its own library, from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast to Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.
Some may take umbrage at how Warner can produce satires of this kind with their classic characters, but the point is in the irony. Robot Chicken is an unapologetically crude, edgy puppet show that is now a six-season series with over 100 episodes. Big name stars do voices and awards have been won. I'm not making an evaluation here, just observing and tilting my head to the side in wonderment.
Members of Robot Chicken's team are also behind Cartoon Network's animated MAD series, which follows the same rhythm, transitional devices and hit-and-miss satire, albeit for a younger audience. MAD does not come near the expletive level of Robot Chicken.
But it's not the use of language that makes this particular entry in the series funny, it's the silliness and the running gags. Aquaman's lack of respect is the show's "through line," as the writers call it on their commentary. I got a kick out of the nod to Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In in the "That's Bane" gags. It's also nice to see Captain Carrot and His Zoo Crew mentioned - in a sketch reminiscent of the classic "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. And let's face it, Mister Banjo steals the show. He should have his own big-budget tentpole CG feature film.
Robot Chicken moves at such a breakneck pace that a lesser gag is forgotten when a greater one follows it, also a "Laugh-In" technique and a luxury that the longer format SNL does not have. Having this episode on DVD bears repeat viewings in order to catch the gags - and of course, the more you know the comics, the funnier the jokes. Although it's a half-hour special, there are a lot of bonus features.
As a special note, I have never read a funnier DVD box than the one in which this is packaged. Whoever wrote it deserves props, and those who shepherded it through what is likely a series of corporate approvals is also a superhero. It even has fake prices! I could just imagine someone saying, "If we put a price of 12 cents on the front cover, the public may expect to pay that..."
1. The Making of the RCDC Special
Even though specific words are bleeped on the special, they are heard here in voice sessions. Apparently the stop motion animation is all done domestically, at least from the way it looks in this segment.
2. Writers' Commentary
Nice explanations of the concepts behind the gags and how the show is structured.
3. Actors' Commentary
It's fun to hear Alfred Molina talk about the British comics he grew up with, as well as his take on doing this show. Guess who Banjo Man is?
5. DC Entertainment: The Tour
Seth Green and other creatives tour the office lobby, research library, toy graveyard, things in storage, video game room, product room, archives and writers room.
6. Aquaman: His DC Special Origin Story
7. Chicken Nuggets (sketch-by-sketch commentary)
8. Stoopid Alter Egos costume wrap party
10. Cut sketches: voice sessions and storyboards
DVD Review: Best of Warner Brothers 25 Cartoon Collection: Hanna-Barbera
Blog, Reviews, TV
Posted on Jul 02 2013 by Greg
Warner Home Video just recently released this commemorative anniversary DVD collection, Best of Warner Bros. 25 Cartoon Collection: Hanna-Barbera. Any collection that claims to be the “best of” is just like one of those magazine or Internet “all-time best” lists. Fans have made their opinions about this collection known elsewhere on the net. No one is going to be completely happy with the selections and they will point out what should or should not be included.
Apparently there were cartoons announced for this set that did make it to the final release. Huckleberry Hound and Yakky Doodle appear on the package but are not represented with episodes. The box does not list the cartoons, making me wonder whether the package had to go to press before the final selections were made. (Because I love these cartoons and I’m nice, I have listed them in detail below.)
My guess is that there were lists of cartoons that might have made the final cut but were eliminated for one reason or another. Thanks to Stu’s Show, I know that Capitol and other production music is challenging to license, so you will only see and hear one cartoon with non-HB library music—the first one on the set.
Another consideration is the disparity between what was acceptable in the ‘60s and the social mores of today. This is a mainstream WB release and does not have a “for collectors” disclaimer. Could a young parent sit their kids down to watch this and be assured that there wouldn’t be anything that is considered unacceptable?
Let me quote Tami Horiuchi, amazon.com’s in-house reviewer, about the first “Saturday Morning Cartoons” DVD set: “While these cartoons are great fun for the adult set, it’s interesting that what was considered kids’ entertainment from 1961 to 1968 is now deemed unsuitable for children due to things like excessive cartoon violence, dishonesty, animal cruelty, and sexist and chauvinistic behavior.”
Thus, this collection includes an early Flintstones episode in which Fred is jealous but not the “caveman” he is in other early shows, Top Cat and the gang at their most warmhearted as they care for a lost baby and so on. There is some violence, gunplay and stereotyping—but you can tell after watching the entire set that a lot of thought went into selecting the cartoons, whether you agree with the choices or not. Which cartoons would appeal to the greatest number of people in 2013, especially those to whom HB cartoons are not as familiar as they are to those of us who grew up adoring them?
Then, there are today’s kids, used to explosive theatrical tent-pole movies and more edgy, rapid-fire cartoons on cable. The choices in this set contain space ships, aliens, funny animals, fairy tale characters, giant monsters and ghosts—the sort of thing that plays well to kids today as well as yesterday. I’d like to think that the kids who watch this set would come away with a desire to see more of this stuff.
So I’m not being an apologist so much as a realist. There are some Hanna-Barbera landmarks here (the debuts of several characters, premiere episodes, etc.). 11 of the 25 cartoons, as far as I can tell, are new to DVD. It’s not a definitive collection by any means, but I’m glad I bought it.
1. Quick Draw McGraw in “Dynamite Fright”
Story: Quick Draw offers a dog biscuit to Snuffles to help rid a town of Dynamite Kaboom. (I love Snuffles!)
Voices: Daws Butler, Doug Young
From: The Quick Draw McGraw Show, Episode 41a, Season 3, 1961
2. Snooper & Blabber in “Outer Space Case”
Story: Martians hire the detectives to recover a ruby.
Voices: Daws Butler, Don Messick
From: The Quick Draw McGraw Show, Episode 41b, Season 3, 1961
3. Augie Doggie in “Growing, Growing, Gone”
Story: Augie decides he has to leave home to grow up.
Voices: Daws Butler, Doug Young
From: The Quick Draw McGraw Show, Episode 41c, Season 3, 1961
4. Hokey Wolf in “Castle Hassle” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Hokey tries to con Snow White’s stepmother, the queen.
Voices: Daws Butler, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl
From: The Huckleberry Hound Show, Episode 47c, Season 3, October 30, 1960
5. Quick Draw McGraw in “The Mark of El Kabong”
Story: Quick Draw, as the avenging figure El Kabong, arrives to bring justice to a small Mexican town. At the introduction of Senorita Rita, listen for the “El Kabong” song in the background, which was sung on the Golden records.
Voices: Daws Butler, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl
From: Quick Draw McGraw Show, Episode 44a, Season 3, 1961
6. Augie Doggie in “Party Pooper Pop” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Doggie Daddy wants Augie to attend a neighborhood birthday party.
Voices: Daws Butler, Doug Young
From: The Quick Draw McGraw Show, Episode 44b, Season 3, 1961
7. Snooper & Blabber in “Chilly Chiller” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Spoof of the TV series “Thriller” and “The Addams Family,” with precursors to The Gruesomes from “The Flintstones.”
Voices: Daws Butler, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl
From: The Quick Draw McGraw Show, Episode 44c, Season 3, 1961
8. Hokey Wolf in “Tricks and Treats” (Pilot) (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Hokey and Ding-a-Ling threaten a farmer with a bogus animal cruelty lawsuit.
Voices: Daws Butler, Doug Young
From: The Huckleberry Hound Show, Episode 40c, Season 3, September 11, 1960
9. Loopy De Loop in “Wolf Hounded” (Debut) (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Loopy tells the Red Riding Hood story from his point of view. This story was recorded, with alterations, for the Golden LP, “Songs of Yogi Bear.”
Voices: Daws Butler, June Foray
A Columbia Pictures Theatrical Cartoon, May 11, 1959
10. Flintstones in “Love Letters On the Rocks”
Fred finds his old ‘frying pans’ love letter to and mistakes it for a note from another man. This was a familiar “Honeymooners” premise.
Voices: Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benaderet, John Stephenson
From: The Flintstones, Episode 21, Season 1, February 17, 1961
11. Snagglepuss in “The Roaring Lion”
Snagglepuss makes his debut, escaping from the circus and playing college football. The football angle was done on an earlier Yogi Bear cartoon.
Voices: Daws Butler, Don Messick
From: The Yogi Bear Show, Episode 8, November 6, 1964
12. Top Cat in “T.C. Minds the Baby”
Story: The gang becomes attached to an abandoned baby.
Voices: Arnold Stang, Leo DeLyon, Marvin Kaplan, Maurice Gosfield, Allen Jenkins, Jean Vander Pyl, John Stephenson
From: Top Cat, Episode 17, January 17, 1962
13. The Jetsons in “Rosie the Robot”
Story: Premiere episode in which Rosie joins the family. This was released on Colpix Records along with “A Date with Jet Screamer.”
Voices: George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl
From: The Jetsons, Episode 1,
January 17, 1962 September 23, 1962
14. Magilla Gorilla in “Makin’ with the Magilla”
Story: Magilla joins in a beach party and helps invent a new dance. One of my favorite Magilla episodes; the groovy song by Little Eva (“Locomotion”) is available on iTunes.
Voices: Allan Melvin, Howard Morris, Don Messick
From: The Magilla Gorilla Show, Episode 22a, October 23, 1965
15. Jonny Quest in “The Robot Spy”
Story: This is that neat episode about the giant eyeball spider thing from the flying saucer!
Voices: Tim Matheson, Mike Road, Don Messick, Danny Bravo, Vic Perrin
From: Jonny Quest, Episode 8, November 6, 1964
16. Peter Potamus in “Cleo Trio” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Pete and So-So try to settle a rift between Caesar and Cleopatra.
Voices: Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett
From: The Peter Potamus Show, Episode 3a, Season 1, October 7, 1964
17. Touché Turtle in “Rapid Rabbit” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: A farmer calls on Touché and Dum-Dum to get a rabbit (named Ricochet!) who can outrun bullets.
Voices: Bill Thompson, Alan Reed, Doug Young
From: The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series, Episode 6b, March 6, 1962
18. Yippee, Yappee & Yahooey in “Black Bart”
Voices: Hal Smith, Daws Butler, Doug Young
Story: To make the King give back their jobs, the goofy guards plan to disguise Yahooey as notorious Black Bartholomew, but the real bandit arrives and confuses everyone.
From: The Peter Potamus Show, Episode 2c, Season 1, September 23, 1964
19. Atom Ant in “The Big Gimmick” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Professor Von Gimmick’s giant robot threatens a vacation resort.
Voices: Howard Morris, Allan Melvin
From: The Atom Ant Show, Episode 12a, December 18, 1965
20. Secret Squirrel in “Cuckoo Clock Cuckoo” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: A giant clock collector steals Big Ben.
Voices: Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, Henry Corden
From: The Atom Ant / Secret Squirrel Show, Episode 11b, December 11, 1965
21. Hillbilly Bears in “Do the Bear” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Paw Rugg becomes a pop recording star. A big fave of mine, this cartoon was expanded for the Hanna-Barbera LP record album.
Voices: Henry Corden, Jean Vander Pyl, Janet Waldo, Don Messick
From: The Atom Ant / Secret Squirrel Show, Episode 26e, October 15, 1965
22. Frankenstein Jr. in “The Shocking Electrical Monster”
Story: In the series premiere, Dr. Shock transforms his assistant into a monster that grows as it gains electrical power.
Voices: Paul Frees, Dick Beals, Ted Cassidy, Vic Perrin
From: Frankenstein Jr. & The Impossibles, Episode 1a, September 10, 1966
23. The Impossibles in “The Spinner”
Story: Also the series premiere, the heroes recover a stolen million dollar tiara.
Voices: Paul Frees, Hal Smith, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl, The Hanna-Barbera Singers
From: Frankenstein Jr. & The Impossibles, Episode 1b, September 17, 1966
24. Space Ghost in “The Heat Thing”
Story: Space Ghost, Jan and Blip rush to rescue a fiery monster that can throw lava bombs.
Voices: Gary Owens, Ginny Tyler, Tim Matheson
From: Space Ghost & Dino Boy, Episode 1a, September 10, 1966
25. Abbott & Costello in “Gadzooka” (NEW TO DVD)
Story: Bud and Lou are policeman who are sent to save the city from a 100-foot creature. I liked that this series had titles much like those in “The Man Called Flintstone.”
Voices: Bud Abbott, Stan Irwin, John Stephenson
From: The Abbott & Costello Cartoon Show, Episode 23b, February 10, 1968
“Here Comes a Star” (1964)
Documentary for TV Stations Premiering “The Magilla Gorilla Show”. Hosted by George Fenneman, with Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and scenes from Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear and The Magilla Gorilla Show.
DVD/Blu-ray Review: "Adventure Time" Seasons One & Two
Posted on Jun 24 2013 by Greg
With the voices of: Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, Pendleton Ward, Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, Maria Bamford, Olivia Olson
Adventure Time is one of those properties that taps right into what its audience is looking for at just the right time. Though there is undoubtedly an adult crossover - and certainly a college student following – Adventure Time nails what I would surmise is its target: children and adolescents.
At first glance, Adventure Time looks like doodles that kids scrawl in the margins of their notebook paper. To leave it at that does a tremendous disservice to the talented work behind the show, however. If you listen to the commentaries (and season two has one for every episode), it becomes apparent that these are artists capable of the simple and the complex, and that they are expanding upon the concept of the show’s creator, Pendleton Ward.
Every writer, or at least the ones on the commentaries is a storyboard artist as well. Their work is subject to lots of changes. The show moves at a rapid pace with storylines twisting like freeways at rush hour. None of this is by accident or haphazard, even though the series seems like the kind of make believe that you hear when two or more kids are mixing up their action figures and making up wild adventures in their living room rugs.
For the uninitiated, Finn is an adolescent who fashions himself a warrior hero and often finds himself doing just that, but not usually the way he intends to. His best friend is Jake, a magical stretchy dog with the earthy savvy that comes with the voice of John DiMaggio. The stories are largely fantasies, but they weave in quite a bit of relationship issues, especially between sexes and fantasy species. Other stories are more sitcom-like, in which what we know about the characters drives the plot and the twists.
Even though Adventure Time is the product of today’s voice of kid’s TV, the fascination with monsters and witches always attracts kids, from Universal horror movies in the '50s to The Munsters, Dark Shadows and The Addams Family in the '60s, all the way up to the previously-reviewed Beetlejuice. Each covers similar ground but are rooted in different times with different sensibilities.
Its mad stream of consciousness storytelling should delight fans of The Goon Show and Monty Python; the show is a satire of sorts but is mostly free of pop culture references and will likely be cherished by today’s kids when they grow up – then they’ll have to explain it to their kids just as we do with our favorites ("I tell you, this was a really popular thing when I was your age!" "Oh, really, Daddy?")
Yet despite its "wee-wee" humor and imitation curse words, there is a mad morality to many of the stories; some are downright warmhearted. Say what you will about Adventure Time, but its characters have more depth than many found in prime time (also now a haven for wee-wee).
The first season DVD set contains a few behind the scenes segments and commentaries on select episodes emphasizing Ward and several voice cast members. These commentaries are done in a studio and while they have a party atmosphere, they are more conventional than those in the season two DVD.
Season two has a feature in which Ward and eight members of his staff watch something on an office monitor that we do not see and they react to it, sometimes in disgust, embarrassment, knowing nods, laughter, etc. The way they were able to add a commentary to every episode was to bring Ward and some of his team into his bedroom where they watched a literal marathon. Ward strums and hums to fill in the gaps. But what emerges is a lot of insight into their creative process, how they are diverse even though the show has a singular vision and trivia bits about where character names came from and like that.
But of all the commentaries, you can’t forget hearing the unmistakable voice of George Takei (who voices Riccardio). After watching the Riccardio the Heart Guy episode, he says, "This is for kids?"
ADVENTURE TIME EPISODE GUIDE - SEASON 1
Guest Voices include: Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, George Takei, Erik Estrada, Michael Dorn, Lou Ferrigno, Clancy Brown
April 5, 2010
Slumber Party Panic
Finn makes a royal promise to Princess Bubblegum not to tell the Candy People about zombie-baked goods on the rampage and faces consequences when he tells Jake.
Trouble in Lumpy Space
After accidentally biting Jake, Lumpy Space Princess takes Finn and Jake to Lumpy Space, where she has a huge fight with her parents and has to borrow a car from her friend Melissa.
April 12, 2010
Prisoners of Love
Jake and Finn rescue a collection of Princesses that Ice King holds as potential wives (Ice King muses "Why don't people like me?"). This episode sold the series, even though there was an earlier pilot that is not included on this set. Listen for when Tom Kenny does a Spongebob-like giggle in this episode.
Gentle, guileless Tree Trunks the elephant joins the heroes on a quest for the Crystal Gem Apple.
April 19, 2010
Finn and Jake battle old-lady threatening gnomes and other illusions to test their heroism on their way to find a legendary book.
Finn's electronic singing attracts a cute little jiggling creature, but when they take him home and feed him, things get explosive. This is actually a warmhearted episode, and not in an ironic or sarcastic way. Note the character development and depth in what some might see as merely a raucous, loony series.
April 26, 2010
Ricardio the Heart Guy
Guest voice George Takei plays a heart guy who becomes a rival for Princess Bubblegum's attention through his charm and intelligence.
Finn and Jake hire the Business Dudes to work for them. They become complacent and the Dudes become a problem.
May 3, 2010
My Two Favorite People
Jake wants to spend time with both Finn and Lady Rainicorn. He uses a universal translator, which allows Finn to understand her and it works so well that Jake becomes jealous.
Memories of Boom Boom Mountain
We find out who brought up the waifish Finn after he admits that he once pooped on a leaf.
May 10, 2010
Finn and Jake get offered free magical powers from a mysterious guy, but discover that nothing is really free.
May 17, 2010
This episode introduces Marceline, a kind of cool but kind of scary vampire who likes to play mind games on Finn. She kicks Finn and Jake out of their house and they have to search for a new place to live.
May 24, 2010
City of Thieves
Finn tries to reform an entire city and recover a stolen basket from the king of thieves while Jake struggles to resist the urge to steal.
June 7, 2010
The Witch's Garden
Finn helps Jake find a mud puddle in order to get his powers back after a vengeful witch takes them (because he stole her donut).
June 14, 2010
What Is Life?
Finn creates NEPTR, the Never Ending Pie Throwing Robot, who is as much a conscience for his mischievous ways as he is a servile subordinate.
June 21, 2010
Ocean of Fear
This inspiring fable finds Finn, who is terrified of the ocean, facing his fears to help another.
June 28, 2010
When Wedding Bells Thaw
The Ice King makes Finn and Jake throw him a “Manlorette” party for his impending wedding; otherwise he will go back to his horrible ways, which seems likely anyway.
July 12, 2010
Finn goes down a hole to the dungeon of the Crystal Eye without Jake to join him to help.
July 19, 2010
Finn accidentally causes PB to turn green, bald and ugly (Don’t you believe it -- being bald rocks, kids!), but she blames someone else and Finn is afraid to tell her the truth.
July 26, 2010
One of my favorite characters, the singing lunatic Magic Man, carelessly imposes "Monkey's Paw"-like magic on whomever he sees. His main object in life is to be a jerk. None of this is like real life, of course.
August 9, 2010
Finn and Jake successfully reform Donny, but must make him go back to his obnoxious ways in order to restore the proper order of things.
August 23, 2010
Like Belle did for her father in “Beauty and the Beast,” Finn agrees to take the place of another as the Henchman of Marceline, who likes to play head games with him.
September 6, 2010
Rainy Day Daydream
Finn claims to have no use for making believe, which is odd since unbelievable things are always happening to him and his friends (though maybe that explains it right there).
September 13, 2010
What Have You Done?
Bubblegum orders the duo to capture Ice King, who is imprisoned and hurt -- but she doesn't seem to be forthcoming with the reason.
September 20, 2010
After meeting Billy, his action hero idol (voice of Lou Ferrigno), Finn decides to turn to nonviolent methods for saving the day.
September 27, 2010
The Soft People mistake Jake for the Gut Grinder, a gold-stealing monster. This brings on stress, causing at least one of the Soft People to go wee-wee.
ADVENTURE TIME EPISODE GUIDE - SEASON 2
Guest Voices include: Martin Olson, Jeff Bennett, Paul Reubens, Stephen Root, Miguel Ferrer, Andy Samberg, Ron Perlman
Season 2, Episode 1 (Series Episode 27)
October 11, 2010
Loyalty to the King
The Ice King becomes The Nice King when shaving off his beard makes him unrecognizable to the Ooo citizens.
Season 2, Episode 2 (Series Episode 28)
October 18, 2010
Blood Under the Skin
Finn gets a splinter on his finger and has to accomplish tasks to get magic armor to make him indestructible.
Season 2, Episode 3 (Series Episode 29)
October 25, 2010
It Came from the Nightosphere
Marceline and her dad have issues, like so many kids and parents, except she’s a vampire and he’s a lord of evil. The commentary tells you where he got his name, Huntson Aberdeer. Includes the song, “Daddy, Why Did You Eat My Fries?” Listen for Martin Olson’s Merv Griffin-ish pronunciation of “the land of Oooooo.”
Season 2, Episode 4 (Series Episode 30)
November 1, 2010
Again, considering what bizarre things happen to Finn and Jake, it’s ironic that they are too creeped out by a strange horse and cannot sleep.
Season 2, Episode 5 (Series Episode 31)
November 8, 2010
Ailing Jake wants Finn to tell him a real-life story, so the young warrior ventures out into the country, annoying people and messing with their lives.
Season 2, Episode 6 (Series Episode 32)
November 15, 2010
Snorlock the slimy slug destroys the house until Finn and Jake help him find romance ("Lady time!"), but he can't talk to females without something going wrong.
Season 2, Episode 7 (Series Episode 33)
November 22, 2010
The Grand Master of the Gnomes kidnaps Jake to use his energy to power a machine to flip over the world.
Season 2, Episode 8 (Series Episode 34)
November 29, 2010
Crystals Have Power
Jake vows to be soft and not hurt anyone but is tempted when Finn is facing crystallization. I was particularly interested to see how this was resolved because of what its message is about appropriate use of force vs. mind power.
Season 2, Episode 9 (Series Episode 35)
January 3, 2011
Jake fools Lady Rainicorn's parents into thinking he's a Rainicorn, too; the parents want to eat Finn, as they think humans are mighty tasty.
Season 2, Episode 10 (Series Episode 36)
January 10, 2011
To Cut a Woman's Hair
Wanting lovely hair, the Tree Witch threatens our heroes unless she get a lock from a princess. (No kids, you don't die from being—it's looks hot and feels cool)!
Season 2, Episode 11 (Series Episode 37)
January 17, 2011
The Chamber of Frozen Blades
Finn and Jake are told that Ice King is going to kidnap a princess. While waiting for him in his cave, they discover Ninja equipment and become Ninjas to save the day.
Season 2, Episode 12 (Series Episode 38)
January 24, 2011
The Other Tarts
Honestly, I have been to bakeries where it seems just as life threatening to get some delicious pastries. This is like real life. Is it ageist for PB to emphasize that the previous tart-toter “has become mad…AND old”?
Season 2, Episode 13 (Series Episode 39)
January 31, 2011
To get to the ice cream marathon, the guys plant beans to get rid of two evil beans, one of which is filled with baby pigs dressed in silly costumes and the other filled with magic wands.
Season 2, Episode 14 (Series Episode 40)
February 7, 2011
The Silent King
It's not easy being king, as Finn learns; he and Jake struggle to save the Goblin kingdom.
Season 2, Episode 15 (Series Episode 41)
February 14, 2011
The Real You
Princess Bubblegum asks Finn to speak at her barbecue. We just read an Archie comic where Veronica has this problem, but of course she didn't go to a college of worms to learn how and she didn't get magic glasses.
Season 2, Episode 16 (Series Episode 42)
February 21, 2011
Guardians of Sunshine
BMO does a “Tron” for the duo and they go inside a video game
Season 2, Episode 17 (Series Episode 43)
February 28, 2011
Death in Bloom
Peppermint Butler helps the duo through a portal to the Underworld so they can bring back Bubblegums’ dead plant.
Season 2, Episode 18 (Series Episode 44)
March 7, 2011
Finn finds a human female and he and Jake rescue her people from darkness, only to become concerned when they try to eat the candy people.
Season 2, Episode 19 (Series Episode 45)
March 14, 2011
Jake takes Finn on a train ride for his birthday, when the two encounter a murder mystery that Finn’s aching to solve in a grand manner.
Season 2, Episode 20 (Series Episode 46)
March 28, 2011
Go With Me
Finn wants to take Bubblegum to a movie night for couples, so he asks his friends for advice.
Season 2, Episode 21 (Series Episode 47)
April 4, 2011
Belly of the Beast
The two friends cannot seem to convince a party-crazed group of bears that they’re inside a stomach and risk digestion.
Season 2, Episode 22 (Series Episode 48)
April 11, 2011
Jake literally tries to stretch himself to his limits.
Season 2, Episode 23 (Series Episode 49)
April 18, 2011
To avoid violating the warning code on their videos, Jake, Finn and their friends make their own movie. I have not checked, but I can guess that more than a few kids have done Adventure Time videos on You Tube, right?
Season 2, Episode 26 (Series Episode 52)
May 2, 2011
Marceline changes Finn and Jake into vampires, but it's more of a playful prank to delight her old underworld gang.
Season 2, Episode 24 (Series Episode 50)
May 9, 2011
The truly horrible Lich is released from his tree prison and wreaks havoc.
Season 2, Episode 25 (Series Episode 51)
May 9, 2011
PB, under Dr. Donut’s care, is saved from her injuries but has been changed.
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