Here’s another not-necessarily chronological look at some random leftovers from early television focusing on mechanized metal men and creatures, with a few related leaps into later animation during the post-Roger Rabbit period, when the industry experienced its revival, and it became more popular for adults to not simply classify animation as strictly kid stuff.
By popular demand of one of our readers, we begin with the return of a title visited in previous trails, Invasion of Earth by Robots (Beany and Cecil, 1/6/62). The space robots in question turn out to be a happy domestic pair – a “mother ship” female named “Venus the Meanest”, and a baby robot named “Venice the Menace” (both play-on-words on Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” comic). Cecil is sent by Captain Huffenpuff to ward off the impending landing of their spacecraft, as his patriotic duty to the nation. Cecil little realizes that the aliens’ only mission is to find a nice quiet place to have a picnic. Venus (shaped much like am artillery shell with a metallic female wig) lands with a metal basket marked “Instant Picnic”, which unfolds to reveal a largely metal meal, including “bagles (misspelled on film) and locks”, and a box of “Grape nuts and bolts”. A telephone extends out of the saucer, and Venus begins an endless prattle of girl talk with a friend named Maisie, which sounds amazingly natural. Not being sure what they may find on the planet, Venus has come well-prepared to make the picnic a real one – with her own supply of poison ivy, and a jar of robot picnic ants. “What’s a picnic without ants?”, she tells Maisie. The ants march out of the jar in military formation, performing in sped-up “chipmunk” voices a rendition of “The Children’s Marching Song (Knick Knack Paddy Whack)”, recently featured in “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” (1958), with custom lyrics delivered in comic-strip style dialogue balloons (“Robot Ants, Robot Ants…We’re the ants in your plants”).
Venus brings out little Venice, held in a compartment door inside her hollow belly, something like a kangaroo. “I’ve got you under my tin, dear”, she says to her offspring. Venice is a miniature of mom, carrying a dirty security blanket and sucking his thumb, which Venus discourages – it’ll make his thumb rust. Venice chomps on a piece of bubble gum, blowing a bubble which detaches his head unit and almost floats it away. Venus insists he finish his plate, causing Venice to devour his nuts and bolts and the plate itself. Venus presses a button on Venice’s chest to activate his digestive motors, then raises Venice over her shoulder to pat his back. Cecil approaches at this moment, to receive a burp in the face of several of the nuts and bolts. Venus places Venice into a playpen (surrounded by barbed wire) so he won’t get into any trouble. Venice merely pulls out a ray gun, and blasts away one wall of the barbed wire – then turns the gun on himself, blasting away part of his own midriff. Venus meanwhile rambles on in her conversation with Maisie, about how there’s too much violence on television, and that Venice has plenty of his own ideas on the subject without encouragement, She replaces Venice’s midriff, and tells her son to pull himself together. She gives him a pulsating ball shaped like the structure of an atom to play with. Cecil winds up swallowing it on the rebound, causing an explosion that swaps heads between himself and Venice. Venus comes on the scene to give Venice his afternoon oil can of formula, and eventually notices the switch. Swapping heads back to normal positions, she is suddenly struck with a heart-throb when she sees Cecil in one piece. She informs Maisie, “If I play my cards right, I think I’ve found a father for Venice. He’s a regular Robot Stack” (Pun on television actor Robert Stack). Cecil responds with a pun on Stack’s most famous television series – “Yeah, but I’m strictly an ‘untouchable’.” All ends happily, with Venice taking Cecil along for the ride back to her home planet in the saucer, also rounding up the robot ants back into their jar.
Another old favorite we’ve visited at least once before is the story arc from Jay Ward’s “Rocky and His Friends”, The Metal-Munching Moon Mice (1960-61 season). Boris Badenov, at the command of “Mr. Big” (a diminutive villain last seen stranded on the moon), has assumed the role of “The Big Cheese” by donning a metal suit and hat with mouse-shaped ears. Why? Mr. Big has concocted a scheme to put all of Earth at his mercy, by placing them into a state of languidness and despair through depriving them of their TV reception. His means of accomplishing this is unique – recruit the moon men to build an army of six-foot tall metal robots in the shape of giant mice, with powerful steel jaws and huge wind-up keys in their backs, each of them designed to devour anything metal – especially TV antennas. The usual string of close shaves and misadventures befalls our heroes Rocky and Bullwinkle, as they, together with their old friends Cloyd and Gidney the Moon men (who have somehow escaped from the tyranny of Mr. Big), attempt to heroically ward off the invasion. Boris, as the Big Cheese, leads the attack, and is also responsible with Natasha for winding the robots’ keys whenever a recharge is needed. A strange showdown occurs when Bullwinkle accidentally discovers that the mice have a weakness, following the old adage of music soothing the savage beast.
The mice are suckers for Bullwinkle’s wailing vocals of songs from the teens and twenties, self-accompanied on ukulele. Boris tries to battle back for control if the mice, with a musical contest featuring his own performance of rock and roll on the balalaika – but the robot troops turn on him and reject his idea of music, dumping Boris into a lake and remaining Bullwinkle’s loyal fans. There is only one way to satisfy the mice’s love of music – for Bullwinkle to perform a concert in a local dish-shaped arena venue. Boris booby-traps the stadium by placing TNT in all the supporting columns, willing to sacrifice the mice along with the moose, since the robots may be replaced with more. That’s what he thinks, as, on the moon, materials for their construction have run out. Mr. Big decides to check om the status of the robots he’s already sent, by flying down to Earth in a saucer. Back at the stadium, Boris presents Bullwinkle with an electric ukulele for the concert – wired to act as the ignition for the dynamite when he strikes his first chord. He fails to reckon on Bullwinkle tuning up in a small rehearsal building outside the stadium – causing the stadium and all the mice to be rocketed into space, colliding with Mr. Big’s saucer and destroying it, while the mice fly on, all the way back to the moon. Mr. Big, surviving by parachute jump, takes vengeance on Boris in scenes so brutal, the shot is blocked from our view by a sign reading “Censored”. Bullwinkle ends the day by giving the concert he never gave for his friends – despite the fact they are wearing earplugs to save themselves from the agony.
Jay Ward would revisit the world of robots, in the fantastic adventures of that hero of heroes, Super Chicken. In Salvador Rag Dolly (12/2/67), we visit a series of children’s birthday parties, each of which produces “surprise” results from the gift for the birthday boy or girl. Each receives a different type of walking mechanical doll inside a huge box. A giant teddy bear picks up the family TV set, and walks through the wall with it. Before the police can be summoned, the bear boards a full-scale wind-up toy helicopter with a mysterious shadowy figure at the controls, and flies away. A Talkie Tillie doll at a second party asks the unusual question when her string is pulled, “Where do you keep the silverware?”, then pulls a gun on the family, making an escape with the goods through the window in the same manner as the bear. A rubber duckie departs with a grandfather clock. And so on. The police are powerless to stop the crime wave – only because none of their ranks can face the humiliating thought of arresting a rubber duckie. Only one hero is willing to extend his wing in an effort to solve the crime. Henty Cabot Henhouse III, alias Super Chicken. The clever crime-fighter stages a fake birthday party for his partner Fred the Lion, hoping the Birthday Bandit will strike right on cue. For unknown reasons, the Bandit fails to become aware of the party for two weeks, until Henhouse and Fred have turned green from devouring cake and drinking six hundred glasses of punch. Finally, a large gift-wrapped box is delivered at the door. Our heroes open it – to discover a robotic terry0cloth chicken hawk, who seizes Henhouse in one of his talons. Fred quickly mixes a dose of the series’ secret elixir – Super Sauce – and it’s down the hatch, as Henhouse breathes fire from its effects. He is transformed into caped crusader Super Chicken, and after misfiring his special terry-cloth hawk missile (which zeroes in on Fred instead), finally battles the hawk claw to claw, frightening the robotic bird into flight out the window.
Super lets him go, as part of his master plan to follow the bird in their flying egg-shaped “Super Coop”, so the robot will lead them to “the brains behind the Rubber Duckie.” The culprit turns out to be a mad toymaker, Salvador Rag Dolly (pun on abstract artist Salvador Dali of melted watches fame). Super crashes his Super Coop through the villain’s window, but the villain, determined to become the richest crooked toymaker in the world (a position for which he admits there is very little competition), retains an attitude of complete control of the situation, as he produces another large box. “Even a Super Chicken can’t beat another Super Chicken”, he boasts. Sure enough, inside the box is a wind-up mechanical chicken, drinking Super Sauce. (Did Fred leave his recipe book open somewhere?) In an instant, the robot bird is transformed into Super’s double, nearly identical in all respects, except for Super’s signature “Cry in the Sky”, (While the real Super clucks the notes of the Cavalry Charge, the robot Super clucks the bugle call, “Assembly”). The robot fires a lightning bolt ray gun, and Super counters with an identical weapon – both shots hitting Fred instead. Super lights the rockets on his “Booster Boots”, but the robot does the same, and they hurtle at blinding speed toward each other. While the effect on both chickens is a knockout draw, Salvador Rag Dolly happens to be standing in the middle of their trajectories, and is the only true loser from the impact of the collision. Fred calls the authorities, and headlines read of the mad toymaker and his creation jailed. Fred shows the paper to the caped hero seated in the Super Coop beside him, but gets an unexpected reaction. “I am a Super Chicken rag dolly, and this is a recording (click)…recording (click)…recording…” The film ends with the repeated cry of the clucked “Assembly” charge, and the narrator stating, “So when you hear a different kind of cry in the sky…” Fred finishes the sentence, while his partner winds himself up by his own key. “…You’ll know that I chose the wrong dummy!”
Sea Serpent (King Features/Paramount, Popeye, date unknown – Seymour Kneitel, dir.) is a television Popeye episode I almost overlooked, featuring a brief robotic appearance. Reporter Olive Oyl is assigned to a story about sightings of a sea serpent at Loch Ness. She attempts to charter Popeye’s ship for the trip, but Popeye insists that in all his years of traveling the seven seas, he’s never seen a sea minster. Olive vows she’ll find another ship, and Popeye relents to rake her there, “just for laughs”. At Loch Ness, Bluto (aka Brutus) runs a sight-seeing booth as tour guide to the monster, muttering to himself that unless business picks up, he’ll have to find a new racket. Olive and Popeye arrive on cue, and Bluto announces his rates as $19.99 an hour, and $5 for each picture Olive takes. Popeye suspects Olive is being taken all right, and insists on proof that a monster exists. Bluto shows them a series of huge footprints in the dirt. Olive starts snapping pictures, while Popeye leans closer to investigate. Bluto thinks Popeye is getting too nosy ad will louse the deal, so, when Olive isn’t looking, socks Popeye into the mouth of a cave. Popeye is so dazed, he doesn’t know what hit him. However, he turns on a flashlight, and discovers hidden in the dark a wooden foot on a handle that Bluto used to make the trail. Popeye runs to Olive with the device, claiming the footprints were a fraud. Olive stubbornly insists that Popeye must have made the device himself, because real proof of the monster’s existence lays before her – a huge white serpent egg in a nest. Even Popeye is flabbergasted, but soon learns the truth when Bluto boots him off a cliff, and tosses down the “egg” on top of him – which is nothing but a solid white boulder, revealed to be so when it cracks in half over Popeye’s hard head. Now comes the real moneymaker – the appearance of Nessie herself. Bluto tells Olive to watch the lake while he sounds the serpents’ mating call. He moves to another location on the banks of the lake and throws a switch while blowing the call, A huge serpent begins to rise from the water. Olive snaps picture after picture, while Bluto keeps count, about to collect a fortune. Popeye returns, and dives underwater into the lake to investigate this development. Suddenly, the unexpected happens. Nessie begins to walk, trudging up the banks and out of the lake onto land. Olive freaks out and runs in panic. Bluto at first laughs at her believing in his trickery – until he too sees the monster approaching, and runs for the hills, forgetting to collect for his fees. A familiar voice causes Olive to stop her retreat, as the laughter of Popeye is heard. Popeye stands on the sandy bank, beside the monster, then opens the monster’s chest, to reveal motors, switches, and circuitry. The monster was mechanical, and Popeye took over its controls for a ride out of the lake. Olive chastises Popeye, asking was it necessary for him to scare her half to death to prove he was right? Popeye answers, “I said I was coming along for laughs – and it was really funny!”
Also from Paramount’s New Casper Cartoon Show came The Absent-Minded Robot (1963, date unknown – Seymour Kneitel, dir.). As with many of the early TV Caspers, the plot of this story seems aimed at an audience even more junior than those that watched the theatrical series, with little in the way of real laughs, and a story line so slight as to be barely passable for a seven-minute filler. Kicked out of the haunted house by the ghostly trio, Casper flies around town looking for a friend, and spots a robot factory, where a robot is being booted out the door in the same manner as Casper’s ejection. Casper flies down to investigate and meets up with Robbie the robot, who declares that he is a misfit among robots for being so absent-minded. Robbie has no idea what to do with himself now that the factory doesn’t want him, and figures he’ll just rust away as the pile of junk he is. Casper suggests he visit the forest and attempt to make some friends. Robbie is unused to long walks, and quickly tires, stating “My head is getting so heavy.” He reclines against a tree, and removes his head from his body entirely to relieve the weight long enough to take a nap. When he awakens, his body is full of pep – but leaves his head behind on the ground. “That just shows you how absent-minded I am” says Robbie, as Casper transports his head back to be replaced on his body’s neck. Robbie next crashes through the side of a barn, forgetting to turn as he walks. He manages to go two whole minutes without forgetting anything, until Casper comes to a stream to cross. Robbie insists he can’t swim, as he will rust. Casper shows him a trail of stepping stones to cross upon. Robbie trues it, but stumbles, falling deep into the water. Casper dives in to rescue him, while Robbie calls for help, claiming he is getting stiff, and that his carburetor is flooded. By the time Casper hauls Robbie out, Robbie is rusting on the inside. He states that the only cure is a complete oiling – which will require an entire disassembly to oil him piece by piece. Casper performs this arduous task, reducing Robbie to a mountain of parts and gizmos. But with no blueprints or instructions, Casper becomes confused, and can’t tell Robbie’s generator from his voltage regulator. “I’ll just have to put him together by hit or miss and hope he comes out all right.” The new reconstructed Robbie looks considerably different than when he started, but claims to feel great – and not even feel absent-minded. Casper introduces him to animals of the forest. While Robbie believes he can be of no help to a small rabbit who wants an apple from a high tree branch, Casper informs Robbie that he rebuilt the robot’s arm as extendable, allowing Robbie to telescope his hand up to the branch at the push of a button. Another new button allows Robbie to produce ice cream cones for everyone from a freezer in his chest cavity, then another button transforms Robbie into a picnic table with a built-in malted milk maker. A final feature reveals a camera Casper has built into Robbie’s head, allowing him to take instant-developing photos of his friends that pop out a side slot in his head unit. The animals invite the handy robot to stay with them, and Robbie finally finds a home. As Casper waves goodbye and turns to leave, he discovers he has one extra part he forgot to put back in during the reassembly. “Oh well,” says Casper, tossing the part over his shoulder, “He won’t be needing it.”
A trio of television shorts from Disney begins in the late fifties, then follows a trail of long memories to nearly the present day. In the “Tomorrowland” segment of the Disneyland TV series, Mars and Beyond (11/4/57, Ward Kimball, dir.) is included what amounts to a five-minute short at about the 13 minute mark, exploring space travel as viewed in pulp science-fiction. A young scientific genius at a super-secret military base spends all day “formulating new laws of thermodynamics and astrophysics” in complicated equations that appear in smoke clouds from his pipe over his head, while his attractive secretary keeps his office in order (typing with one finger). A Martian mechanical robot (menacingly black and cylindrical in shape – not dissimilar in design to the later “Master Cylinder” of Felix the Cat) abducts the secretary to satisfy a “shortage of women”. She is taken aboard the robot’s space ship, and a pursuit around the saucer’s perimeter continues all the way throughout the flight to Mars. Arriving at the red planet, the robot presents her to their “mastermind”- a wide-mouthed green creature with suction tentacles, who exhales bats when he breathes. The girl slaps him, and gets dropped through a trap door into which also climb about forty assorted creepy crawly creatures. Camera play alternates at this state between our “hero”, oblivious to the abduction and still formulating equations on Earth, and the heroine facing countless hopeless cliffhangers on Mars, including a disintegration ray, and being trapped in a giant laboratory beaker while a gaseous concoction is injected from the other end of its glass tubes. The heroine passes an “Emergency” wall case containing a ray gun. She grabs it and fires at the mastermind. Every shot multiplies the mastermind exponentially into more identical monsters. A panning shot shows the leader now backed up by a rogue’s gallery of aliens of varied size, shape, and horrendousness, to rival the array of nightmare creatures seen in Max Fleischer’s “Swing You Sinners” (1930) – but Ward Kimball can’t resist including among the pursuers a squawking Donald Duck – perhaps the most fearsome creature of all! Finally, the secretary has had enough, ducks behind a dressing screen for a quick costume change, and emerges dressed as a super-heroine. She stands her ground, and bids her pursuers to halt. When they stop, she presents them with a box of “El Atomic Cigars”, and passes one out to each of the monsters. Lighting them up, she beats a graceful flying exit out a window, as each of the cigars explodes, leaving a frazzled alien in its charcoal. Our heroine flies through space, following a road sign suspended from a balloon pointing the way back to Earth. She returns to her typewriter, her clothes miraculously transforming back to her original attire. The camera pans over to her boss, who finally stops puffing his pipe long enough to say, “Take a litter, Miss Smith. After due consideration and thorough calculation, it is my unequivocal opinion that there is absolutely no life on the Planet Mars.” Over him looms the space robot, who now makes off with him instead – as our hero’s last smoke puff displays in the air a large question mark, for the fade out and dramatic musical sting.
Kimball’s space robot design was memorable enough to bring about surprise cameos in two films over forty years later. In Mickey’s Mechanical House (9/11/99) for ABC’s Mickey Mouse Works series, a tale is told entirely in rhyme, in the manner of a mock Dr. Suess story – some of its meter directly paralleling the “Noise, noise, noise” reads of the Grinch himself. Plot is something of a high-tech upgrade of Betty Boop’s “Stop That Noise”, with Mickey unable to sleep in his old-fashioned house that creaks in the attic, lets gusts of wind in the chimney, clatters and clanks in the furnace, and slams the window shutters. Packing up his clothes drawer full of red pants and white gloves. Mickey heads for a neighborhood a few blocks away. where new homes are offered for sale. He is sold on an all-electric house, of the type seen in Chuck Jones’, “House Hunting Mice”, where everything responds to Mickey’s commands at the push of a series of buttons on a remote control. Among the modern appliances (including recliner chairs that give massages and provide snack trays with robotic hands, automatic vacuuming machines, and the like) is Kimball’s robot, who serves as master chef in the kitchen. As night falls, Mickey’s chair is transported automatically upstairs, where he passes through a car wash-style unit that automatically bathes him, Then, robotic hands tuck him in bed for the night, while microphones read him a bedtime story – even lowering the book into his lap so he can see the pictures. But Mickey can’t sleep – now for a different reason. All those buttons yet to push! He’d rather have more fun exploring the house’s functions, and decides to stay up the night and sleep the next day. But his path out the bedroom door is blocked by – the robot, who takes upon himself the role of nursemaid as in Felix and Poindexter’s “Baby Pill”, insisting that Mickey go back to bed. Mickey makes several attempts to get past him, but each fails. Mickey shouts “Enough is enough. I’ll stand it no more. If you wanna get tough, get ready for war!” He takes a sock at the robot’s jaw, causing its head to spring upwards, bobbing on a steel extender resembling the bar of an automobile jack – a direct reference to the design of Marx Toys’ “Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots”. Mickey next lays an old cartoon trap for the robot – placing a bucket of water atop a door jamb, causing it to drench the robot when he enters the door. The robot short circuits, causing massive power surges throughout the house. This results in the other appliances also going haywire, as Mickey is forced to fight the vacuum, the recliner (whose massage fingers Mickey ties into knots), and then finally escape from the house, just before it demolishes itself in a sputtering electric explosion. Mickey trudges back along the road, and spies his old house, still vacant. Having nowhere else to stay, he decides to go back for the night. To his surprise, he has no trouble at all dropping off to sleep, despite the winds, clanks, creaks and bangs – because he knows he is home.
Kimball’s robot would have one more brief appearance in the Disney Channel’s Mickey short, Three-Legged Race (9/15/17), in which Mickey enters such a race at an annual picnic, despite the fact he’s lost to cheaters every year. He is shocked to find his usual partner Minnie with ankle bound to Daisy Duck, who is among the known cheaters (as she carries stiletto points in the toes of her running shoes). But Minnie points out Mickey’s unbroken track record, and states, “Nice guys finish last.” Mickey vows to show them all, and win this time, without cheating. But who will be he running partner? None other than Peg Leg Pete volunteers – the biggest cheater of them all. Pete, however, promises Mickey not to cheat – keeping his crossed fingers hidden behind his back. Mickey hugs Pete, stating that everyone was wrong about him – the police, the sheriff, the FBI, the Mounties, Interpol….. The race commences, with nearly every other contestant having some ace in the hole to cheat by. Clarabelle Cow shoots milk missiles at Pete. Huey, Louie, and Dewey toss jacks in the path of runners to flatten their feet with punctures. Scrooge McDuck tosses money to distract the runners – then thinks better of it, running back to retrieve as much of it as possible. Ludwig Von Drake appears, his ankle strapped to that of Kimball’s robot as his running partner, with both of them astride a self-balancing wheel similar to the travelling device used in anime’s “Wonder 3″ – only to have his tire punctured by one of the runners. Pete of course breaks his word, while helpless Mickey remains strapped to Pete’s peg leg, unable to stop his partner’s actions. Pete jumps into a portable barbecue, then places a hot carbonated soda amongst its wheel base to act as jet propulsion.
Pete then takes out other runners one by one – including Minnie and Daisy, who he rips apart from one another by breaking their ankle ties, then propels Minnie away by winding up the flower on her hat like a propeller, followed by tossing Daisy into a tree trunk, where she remains stuck by the stiletto tips of her running shoes. “Get ready to win”, Pete calls to Mickey, as the finish line looms only a few feet ahead. “Not if we have to cheat”, says a frantic Mickey, reaching his hand out to grab a tree trunk and send the barbecue into a spinning spiral in the opposite direction. Pete and Mickey are jettisoned into the air, with Pete landing headfirst back at the starting line, knocked unconscious. The only runner to cross the finish line is Goofy, who is immediately disqualified for running the race inside a sack, as if entered in the wrong event. Goofy walks away dejected, emerging from the sack – revealing himself in this episode to have three feet of his own – such that he could have won anyway were it not for the sack! “Is there no one honorable enough to win this trophy fair and square?”, shouts the judge. “There is!” shouts Mickey, still back at the starting line. He is still strapped to Pete’s peg leg, but gathers all his strength to begin dragging the unconscious ball of blubber across the picnic grounds. The scene transposes into time-lapse photography, as night falls, day breaks, Ludwig Von Drake looks at his watch to see how much time has elapsed, the judge sets the trophy down for the taking on the podium and goes home, and months and seasons pass, while Mickey still continues to drag Pete at a snail’s pace. The film ends with Mickey’s hand crossing the finish line, and him claiming his trophy – despite the fact that he is now an old gray mouse with frizzled beard – but nevertheless, won without cheating.
I’m not the kind of guy who deliberately goes around trying to find dirty double entendres and symbols in innocent children’s cartoons. Driven snow, that’s me. But even so, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at the ending of “The Absent-Minded Robot”, when Casper finds in his hand the missing “part” that had been making the robot absent-minded all along, and it’s — well, it’s a sort of rigid rod or shaft with a dome-shaped knob on the end of it. I wonder if Casper bothered to oil it for him.
I’ve said it before, but the pulp magazine science fiction parodied in “Mars and Beyond” was about twenty-five years out of date in 1957. It’s a fun segment regardless. I’m glad that Disney has brought back the Martian robot in some more recent productions, and I’d like to see them do the same with Kimball’s other monstrous creations, as well as Miss Smith the secretary.
I should point out that “The Absent-Minded Robot” like all the “New Casper Cartoons” were based on the three-part fifteen paged stories in the Harvey comics (I forget which issue). In fact, the artist of these, Warren Kremer, helped with adaption of these cartoons.
To my memory, “The Absent-Minded Robot” was a fairly close (if abridged) adaptation of a comic book story that had appeared in Harvey’s “The Friendly Ghost Casper” #22 (June, 1960). The story had some charm, some of which is preserved in the cartoon version.
Re Bullwinkle’s repertoire in “Metal Munching Moon Mice,” I seem to remember reading that a lot of them were popular English music-hall tunes that Jay Ward heard when stationed in Great Britain during World War II (Music-hall was the British equivalent of vaudeville).
Let’s not forget the episode “DIet of Destruction” from the 1960s Spider-Man series, with Spidey batting a mechanical monster that eats cars and other giant pieces of scrap metal.
Jay Ward would take on the topic of robots yet again in “Mechanical Dudley” (1962). Snidely Whiplash constructs a robot duplicate of Dudley Do-Right to take the place of the Mountie, thereby allowing Snidely to carry out his nefarious schemes without interference. It turns out that the robot is a much more competent Mountie than Dudley ever was, and Inspector Fenwick is very pleased with the “improvement”. Eventually the robot beaks down, and when the real Dudley arrives to explain the plot, the inspector orders him to repair his own replacement. “That was the best Mountie I ever had!”
It was rare for any production of the 1960s to take such a pro-automation standpoint. Even Star Trek was surprisingly anti-machine for a science fiction show.
I was happy Kimball’s space stuff was here!
I heard when the “Mars and Beyond” short was in the last stages of production, Disney didn’t like Donald Duck being one of the aliens there, he wanted him out of that scene. Ward Kimball refused and said it was funny. When it got presented on TV, Disney got mad and gave him flack. Ward, being the laconic person that he was, only said “It’s funny.”
Well it is a good thing Donald is there. Otherwise, we would forget that it is a Disney production.
Was Venice’s mother supposed to be based on Golden Age radio star Arlene Harris and the monologues she’d do over the telephone?
Yes. She appeared on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
The Allan Brady Show was featuring old radio stars and she did a routine.
Big Cartoon Database indicates the voice of Venus IS Arlene Harris. After checking out the Dick Van Dyke performance, I would agree this is none other than the original.
Ahhh I thought it sounded like her but iMDb (I know I know) didn’t list that as one of her credits.
“Sea Serpent” contains a Popeye running cycle (about four and a half minutes into) that looks like it came from the ’40s: it’s fully animated, and Popeye’s neckerchief flaps in a way that it never did in the TV cartoons. Does anyone recognize it?
Those metal munching mice have the same appetite as the Iron Giant.
What about the Solenoid Robots? (buzz-click)
one question about Ward’s Martian robot: what’s with the shoes? They put me in mind of Marvin the Martian, or before him, the monster WB has come to call Gossamer.
Not to ask for an article on the shoes of our stars. Fred Ward would probably say, “It’s funny.”
I know it’s pretty late for me to comment, but, just as an aside while staying somewhat on topic, I could imagine the producers of Men In Black throwing in various scenes from “Mars And Beyond” (especially the segment at 12:43-13:15, with perhaps some dialogue either altered or redubbed altogether) for a scene involving the MiB recruits training procedure.