Nov 21, 2016

The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie

When I was in junior high in the 1970s, the anthology series The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie grabbed kids and teens (and sometimes adults) from live-action sitcoms and put them into badly-animated adventures:

The kids from The Brady Bunch are trapped on a desert island.

The Nanny and the Professor kids tackle spies.

Gidget (who actually hadn't been on tv for a decade) tackles smugglers.

Ann Marie from That Girl goes to Wonderland.

I watched sometimes -- it was pleasant to see some of my mega-crushes, like Greg Brady and David Doremus (from Nanny and the Professor), even in animated form.

And there was plenty of animated beefcake, like this hunk, a cousin of Tabitha and Adam from Bewitched who plays in a pop group in a circus, or something.

Besides, the only other option was Scooby-Doo.

But the stories varied in the quality of their animation, and their level of ridiculousness.

Yogi Bear flies around with Hanna-Barbera characters in a giant ark, ridding the world of bigotry, greed, sloppiness, and lack of niceness (all caused by mad scientists with ray guns).

Warner Brothers stars Porky and Daffy clash with The Groovy Ghoulies from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

The absolute worst was Popeye and the Man Who Hated Laughter, which aired on October 7th, 1972.

I would love to hear the conversation in the board room at ABC:

"Let's do a cartoon special about newspaper comics!  Kids love reading the newspaper, right?", we didn't.

"Great idea!  We can include all of their favorite comic strip characters -- Jiggs and Maggie, Tim Tyler, Mandrake the Magician, The Little King, the Katzenjammer Kids, the Phantom..."

Right, comic strips that were last popular 40 years before we were born!  

They added Popeye, another character from ancient days who was having something of a renaissance on Saturday morning cartoons.

And a plot was created about a mad scientist who hates laughter, so he kidnaps the source of most of the world's laughter -- characters from doddering, long-forgotten comic strips.  The only way they can escape is to convince him that laughter is not so bad after all.  So they put on an idiotic talent show.

The only song I remember is: "Hi, my name is Iodine, and I'm feeling so fine, doing the comic strip rag."

"Rag" was a dance craze from before World War I.

Well, at least you could see The Phantom and Bluto together.

See also: 1970s Saturday Morning Beefcake; Gay Subtexts in "Bringing Up Father."

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