June 21, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Favorite (and not so favorite) Throwbacks and Reboot Appearances

FIRST – Some (very brief) Thunderbean News:

Things continue to move forward on many things; these weeks are busy most all the time. Thunderbean is expanding whether I like it or not, and trying to keep up with it, though largely self-imposed, is always a challenge. I’ve got some excellent help that is expanding as well. The freelancers have recently left here for the night, and I’m so happy to see some beautifully cleaned up work today in the ‘can’. A particular Flip the Frog saw its last fixes today, as did Destination Earth, a John Sutherland film produced for the American Petroleum Institute, scanned from a beautiful Ib Technicolor Print. I’ll be giving more detailed updates next week along with some stills. Here’s a preview:

NOW – onto this week’s Post:

I was thinking this week about how I really enjoy seeing old characters brought back to life again, especially when they capture the original spirit of the characters, or are an entertaining new take. Here are a few of my favorites — and some others that are, well, not so much. What are your favorite or not-so-favorite reboots?

For me, I loved the title sequence from the John Halas Masters of Animation series (UK, 1986), featuring some favorite characters from over the years, starting with Gertie:

My favorite of the Twisted Tales of Felix series by Film Roman is “Forever Rafter” (1995), directed by Milton Knight.

And, there is this. Felix is very popular in Japan.

The King Features Popeye TV ‘reboot’ in 1960 has its fans, and I won’t deny that there are 16mm prints of some of them sitting just below my ‘Fleischer’ section, but they are not favorites. The first Pilot episode, Barbecue for Two (1960) *is* a favorite of mine. It’s especially fun to hear our usual suspects voices as well as seeing Popeye back in his Navy Blues.

The funniest thing about this odd short is that Bluto is named ‘Junior’ at one point by Popeye – much to his dismay! King Features didn’t know if they owned the name ‘Bluto’ or if Paramount did — so this was a safe way to go until they knew for sure. Funny enough, they could have used the name, officially, but decided to go with ‘Brutus’ instead for the series.

They eventually of course settled with these designs (below). I think the series would have been at least a little more fun with the original ones above.

This and several other Hanna-Barbara Popeye interstitials from the late 70s Popeye show are easily my least favorite appearances of the character, and that is out of many not-so-favorite appearances:

Of course, the famous Betty Boop Formula 409 commercial. I really wish they had hired Mae Questel to do the voice here!

and then there’s The Romance of Betty Boop directed by Bill Meledez. I really wish it was better….

Droopy really was alive again in Roger Rabbit, animated by Mark Kausler:

and maybe Droopy’s worst days at Filmation:

If you loved the above cartoon, you could buy this model cel from the series.

I was really excited at the idea of seeing more obscure 30s characters come back to life in Tattertown. It was going to be a follow up show to Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures by Bakshi Animation, but of course, only a Christmas special was made (for Nickelodeon). The final special is largely absent of the 30s characters below (click to enlarge), but they appeared in this Animato magazine article from 1988. A more finished color image of this same lineup appeared in Animation Magazine around this same time. Funny- this almost looks like a lineup of Thunderbean blu-ray projects — I wonder if this image somehow influenced my own choices. Hmmm.

I do wish the final ‘Tattertown Christmas’ had come together a little more; so many talented people worked on this show, including designer extraordinaire Louise Zingarelli, with animation and layout by folks like Mike Kazaleh, Tony Fucile, Ed Bell, Charlie Downs, Virgil Ross, Irv Spence and Tom Minton. I was lucky enough to work with Louise in the mid-90s at a game company called Media Station- and loved watching her draw.

And, while not a reboot of an ‘animated’ character, these spots (created for reruns of the original Star Trek show) is my favorite reimagining of Spock from that series, spoofing the popular MTV “Cribs’ show:

Ok.. now your turn!


  • In the 1990’s, The Pink Panther, Secret Squirrel, & Mickey Mouse & his Gang,
    are given “New Updates”.

    “The Pink Panther (1993)”.
    “Super Secret Secret Squirrel (1993)” (a co-cartoon of “2 Stupid Dogs (1993)”).
    “Mickey Mouse Works (1999)” (remade into “Disney’s House of Mouse (2001)”).

    • …and your thoughts about these? (I believe that’s what Steve was asking. 😉

    • “Super Secret Secret Squirrel” is one of the rare examples of a reboot being better than the original.

    • And don’t forget “Droopy: Master Detective”, which came as a sort-of spin-off from “Tom and Jerry Kids”. It also had a segment with Tex Avery’s Screwball Squirrel.

    • The Mouseworks series was pretty good. I find it better than Aaron’s recent shorts (who I do not trust to do a 90th anniversary “tribute” for Mickey later this year).

    • Wasn’t aware of a 90s pink panther, but I enjoyed the others on your list.

      I really like what was done with Taz in Taz-Mania. It fleshed out taz as an actual character.

  • I loved the ’80s reboot of Mighty Mouse a lot.

    It’s a shame Tattertown didn’t gel. Why didn’t the protagonists get culture shock or initial homesickness? Why was that doll so driven to be evil out of the blue?

    I need to get going on the animatic for my own reboot, “The Inventer & Igor”. It’s a reworking and fleshing out of an interesting bit of juvenilia. OTOH, I’d also love to reboot InterStellar OverDrive (now on it’s 27th retcon) or Sci-Fi Guy! as real comic books.

  • “The funniest thing about this odd short is that Bluto is named ‘Junior’ at one point by Popeye – much to his dismay! King Features didn’t know if they owned the name ‘Bluto’ or if Paramount did — so this was a safe way to go until they knew for sure. Funny enough, they could have used the name, officially, but decided to go with ‘Brutus’ instead for the series.”

    But isn’t the story here that King DIDN’T really find out that they owned the Bluto name? I thought they concluded (wrongly) that they didn’t… and that’s why they went ahead and used “Brutus” for the full series. At least that’s the explanation that’s given in one of the documentaries on Warner’s Fleischer Popeye DVDs. It makes more sense to me than anything else — surely, using the “Bluto” name must have been seen as the most profitable option, given the huge popularity of the decades of theatrical shorts featuring Bluto.

    • Yes, that is accurate– I should have stated this differently. It’s hard to say when they *did* find out they could have actually used the name. It is possible they made this decision without knowing that Segar had used ‘Bluto the terrible’ earlier in the strip– or perhaps they knew, and thought that since it was so established in the theatrical cartoons that there could be a basis for a lawsuit for this particular character.

    • RE: “It is possible they made this decision without knowing that Segar had used ‘Bluto the terrible’ earlier in the strip…”

      Yes, that is what I meant. That is what one of the documentaries on the Warner Popeye DVD states.

      “…or perhaps they knew, and thought that since it was so established in the theatrical cartoons that there could be a basis for a lawsuit for this particular character.”

      If so, the historian who was telling the story in the DVD documentary would be wrong. I don’t remember who he was at the moment, but he seemed knowledgeable about Popeye’s history overall. The point the historian was making was that King COULD have used the Bluto name without problems — they just didn’t do their research properly with regards to Segar originating the character in the comic strip. (In other words, they found out about it way too late, after the TV series had been produced with the character designated as “Brutus”.)

  • I’ll NEVER forget having seen the 60s popeye for the first time. I was appalled, and offended, by it….as a SEVEN year old.

    Ka-tripley JUST as appalled NOW!!!

    • I honestly do not see what the problem was with the Paramount, Ray, and possibly Rembrandt shorts. Harmon and Kinney’s on the other hand…..

  • The Secret Squirrel reboot, however, was WONNNderful. They made the shorts all-animal. QUITE clever….and well done, and funny!!!

  • Looking back at the King Features Popeye cartoons, what’s frustrating now is thinking about what Fleischer Studio could have done with the Sea Hag, who was really the only recurring “villain” in the Segar Thimble Theater comic strip, and who was genuinely scary and evil. Given their track-record for the creepy and surreal, they could really have had fun with her.

    • Very good point; never really thought of that. I actually got introduced to Popeye via this series as a small child in the late1960’s/70’s.

  • I must admit to liking the King Features POPEYE cartoons for TV because, in so many cases, at least in the DVD set of ’em available from the Warner Archive, there are examples where they were true to the comic strip. I don’t recall characters like the Sea Hag showing up in the Fleischer shorts, as good as they were. This “BARBECUE BRAWL” short, though, sounds as if its voice tracks were somehow cobbled together from other sources within the King Features series, but I’d still take the remainder of these on a future Warner Archive set, if one were offered; the same goes with the Trans-Lux FELIX THE CAT cartoons expressly because Jack Mercer created every voice, and some of those, with Felix carting his Magic Bag, were downright surreal. Shame that some of those characteristics were not present in the Van Buren cartoons. I have to see more of the “TWISTED TALES” to warm to this version that you posted, though. Actually, I wished that someone would again reboot “BEANY AND CECIL”; now there is a series of cartoons that would benefit from new and interesting supporting players, and I think that a modern animation studio could become easily attached to the series if they sat down and watched some choice episodes from the past, even though a character like Dishonest John is a villain type popular in the silent era. Fans knew that “nya-ah-ahhh” and enjoyed his bizarre antics, trying to foil all the fun that Beany and his tall, green and gruesome companion had each week. The Kricfalusi series didn’t last long enough to leave an impression of any kind, but there are still folks who treasure the Bob Clampett original, possibly since discovering the two now out-of-print DVD’s…and you *KNOW* I want the remainder in a completist box set with plenty of extras from those Clampett vaults. Actually, come to think of it, you could consider “THE BEANY AND CECIL SHOW” a reboot of sorts since the original was “TIME FOR BEANY”, so let me backtrack and say that I *LOVED* that limited animation reboot even more than the original puppet version *BECAUSE* of the colorful supporting cast of undersea characters, including Li’l Homer (the baseball loving baby octopus) and his friend, Twinkle Twinkle; now, there is a great idea for a spin-off series of toons within the cartoon show. We just need someone with that Bob Clampett wit and knack for speedy and well-timed animation–remember how much wordplay became literal stunts in those cartoons?

  • I vote for the UPA re-imagining of The Fox and the Crow. Very cool, even if those films were made at Columbia’s request.

  • Jack Zander’s “Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter” is probably my favorite Popeye reboot, or at least the weirdest…

  • I actually liked the recent Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie pretty well; the middle third meandered a bit and the final act fell into the cliched, frantic, action-packed save-the-day scenario, but I really enjoyed the first third and felt that on the balance the good outweighed the bad.

    Steve, I do have a question for you, if I may: In your recent Thunderbean Thursday posts, you’ve given at least brief updates on all the projects I’ve pre-ordered save one, the Little King Blu-ray collection. Is that one still ongoing?

  • I always thought Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat was our cat’s finest hour (er….half-hour). That was probably the best Felix was ever going to get to returning to his roots …….at least the first season.

    • I agree with your first sentence, but I found season one a little dark and found season two to be Felix at his zenith.

  • In case anyone didn’t see it;
    in last week’s Thunderbean Thursday
    ( 14th June ) Steve put a long-ish post here in the Comments section
    ( about 8 posts from the end of the thread at the moment ) where he talks about the work being done on Flip –
    a really interesting read & shows
    ( as always ) his steadfast commitment to producing the very best animation collections possible – & almost a mini ‘Thunderbean Thursday’ in itself !

  • It’s interesting that KFS apparently did two pilots on the TV Popeyes. “Hits and Missiles” was the other, done by Paramount, with the design on Olive more in line with the ones they had been using in the 50s theatricals. No Bluto/Brutus in that one, and the more standardized TV look showed up after that (though as off-model as some of the KFS efforts would be at times, I don’t know if ‘standardized’ is the right word here).

  • Interesting post.. I’ve never seen those Boop or Popeye commercials. It’s kind of hard to take Popeye’s thoughts on smoking seriously when he has a pipe in his mouth at all times… 😛

  • The illustration of the 1930s characters in the Bakshi article was drawn by me. I also was involved in the Tattertown special, mostly doing model sheets of the main characters. Unca Ralph could be a fun boss to work for, he could also be difficult. Ralph’s biggest weakness was in not imposing a story structure on his films. This was a problem for Tattertown, but an even bigger problem for his animated features. In general, the features are made up of stronger and weaker sequences, but there is no overarching theme to the material. This tends to weaken the empathy that audiences should feel for the main characters. I think that this weakness eventually killed Ralph’s career. He doesn’t really believe in his characters.

    • Well said, Mr. Kausler, and I liked how you animated Droopy.

  • Leslie Cabarga’s “Fleischer Story” had reprinted the model sheet of Betty from the 409 commercial; he wrote that Dave Tendlar drew it (and animated).

  • What are those horrific creatures in the car in the Popeye PSA?

  • Reboots/Updates/Sequel Series I do like:
    Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and Adult Party Ren & Stimpy (I am well aware of John K being a horrible person, shut up. Plus, I’ve seen worse cartoons than APC. (See: Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan.))
    Extreme Ghostbusters (Yeah, it has its flaws, but considering what ABC and Q5 did when Season two hit airwaves, I can let it off the hook.)
    New Cutey Honey (Best sequel/update ever.)
    Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat (As much as Milton Knight hated certain episodes, the 1989 movie that was an example of a misallocated budget was much worse.)
    Beast Wars & Beast Machines (Yeah, the former’s animation hasn’t aged well, and the latter had some noticeable story problems. However, I still enjoyed them despite that.)
    Batman: The Animated Series (Despite Bruce Timm and Paul Dini faltering at times.)
    The Devilman OVAs (I am well aware of Go Nagai disliking these.)
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 (Possibly the best thing from the often-reviled 4Kids, and I’m not being sarcastic.)
    Secret Squirrel ’93 (Much better than the mid-’60s cartoons, which were made when Hanna-Barbera was starting to decline.)

    Used to like, but no longer do:
    Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (Though props to Joe Alaskey and June Foray. RIP to both.)
    Any Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck cartoons made after the end of the theatrical Warner Bros. shorts. (How many times do we have to see Daffy Duck as the greedy, bitter, spiteful, vindictive fall guy; or for that matter, Porky Pig being second banana or Bugs having every victory handed to him on a plate? Why can’t we have ’40s Daffy back?)
    Tom & Jerry Kids (I sincerely doubt I would be able to go back to this, even when compared with Ducktales ’87, Animaniacs, or Tiny Toon Adventures.)

    Woody Woodpecker ’98 (I agree with what Thad Komorowski has said. Those were boring despite the talent behind it.)
    Quack Pack (Though I will say that E. G. Daily, Kath Soucie, and the late Christine Cavanaugh did a good job at voicing Donald’s nephews. Unlike whoever voiced Dipper in Gravity Falls in Ducktales 2017, who made all three of them sound way too old and therefore, unfitting.)
    Teen Titans 2003 (The humor is boring and the anime style that was used was frightfully bland.)
    The Batman (Not bad, but not great either.)
    Re: Cutie Honey (At most, I chuckled twice.)
    Sailor Moon Crystal (Stiff, inexpressive, badly-drawn animation that comes off as a poor imitation of the manga. At least the original ’92 anime had some great poses and expressions despite the animation errors. I’d like to let that slide if it wasn’t for the fact that it doesn’t do anything new aside from the fight scenes.)
    Dragon Ball Super (I’m in the camp that Dragon Ball Z should have ended with the defeat of Frieza. That series went downhill after that.)
    Powerpuff Girls 2016 (Talking about a lazy cash grab.)

    • What is exactly wrong with “greedy” Daffy (besides the ’60’s problems)? I’m getting sick and tired of these complaints. I thought Greg and Terry did a great job with the later shorts.

      And I though “Crystal” was a nice adaption of the magna.

    • Enjoyed the Ford/Lennon Daffys of the late 80s. That said I will always take the original, wacky Daffy. That version is one of my favorite characters and he didn’t have to be constantly humiliated to prop up Bugs (who I also love).

  • LIKE:
    DANGER MOUSE: (2017) This reboot is more visual and less verbal than the original, given a bigger budget for animation, but the characterizations are still spot on and the sense of humor is still very much British. Not perfect, but it hits the mark a damn sight more than most other reboots.

    INSPECTOR GADGET:(2017) CGI is ok, but the loss of Don Adams has REALLY affected the franchise. Gadget’s current voice actor is lousy, plus, the writers seem to have gone out of the way to suck any remaining lovability out of Gadget and make him a totally self-absorbed, oblivious A-hole. (though to be fair, it seems that even as early in the original series, the writers seemed to remove any depth Gadget originally had and make him progressively dumber – at least Adams’ voice work could bring out some endearment) Penny’s rival/crush Talon is the one nice touch, though.

  • Not a big fan of reboots, but that “Baby Felix” was rather cute, here’s a few other episodes of it…

  • Is my Amazon order ever gonna ship, Steve?

    • Great question, Thom…i’m still waiting for 2 BDR’s AWARD WINNING CARTOONS and CARTOON PARADISE…Not blu ray Projects, but to support Thunderbean coming sets…(???)

  • Doggone it! Steve, if I lived closer to you, I’d help you with your Thunderbean projects for nothing. (I’m retired.)

    Comment on one remake: I liked the Sherman and Peabody movie. The puns were just as bad as ever. “I’m just an old Giza…”

  • Congrats on the rave review from Leonard Maltin!

  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast is hands down my favorite reboot of an old cartoon and one of my favorite things ever. Sadly, none of the other shows that came later, when Adult Swim started, were ever able to capture the magic of Space Ghost or Cartoon Planet. Those shows really felt like they were made by people who were certain that nobody would be watching them. (And, they were right, very few people were watching them, but I was one of those proud few.)

  • Here are some Reboots/Updates I like:

    Tom and Jerry Kids
    Danger Mouse (2015)
    The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries
    DuckTales 2017
    Tom and Jerry Tales
    Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
    Space Ghost Coast to Coast
    Super secret Secret Squirrel
    Most of the Looney Tunes Shorts made in the 1990s and 2000s
    The New Woody Woodpecker Show
    What’s New Scooby Doo
    Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated
    The Little Lulu Show

  • I’ll second Super Secret Secret Squirrel, Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, and Scooby Doo Mystery Inc.

    I’ll also add Flintstones on the Rocks, which I consider the peak of the property.

    I also recall the Astro Boy reboot from the turn of the millennium was quite good.

    • I also loved On The Rocks and find it a textbook example on how to take a property to back to it’s essence.

  • 90s Woody was the most disappointing. I was pleasantly shocked to see Felix on the CBS Saturday morning bumpers. Loved Twisted Tales, especially the second season
    I found the first season a little dark and ‘too cool for school’ and Felix sounded like Michael Jackson. Season two was simply wonderful silly nonsense.

  • Those 60’s Popeye cartoons were pretty much horrible. Interestingly, that “pilot” episode uses the late 50’s Paramount opening credit music for the titles of “Barbecue For Two”, even awkwardly repeating Popeye’s pipe tooting as they re-looped the title music to make it seem longer.

    The 60’s Popeye’s directed by Seymore Kneitel were the best of the lot, and in my opinion, were better than some of the late 50’s Paramount versions.

  • Thanks for mentioning the FELIX, Steve. This short was one Hollywood project I am truly pleased with.

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