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The Chad’s Review of the 80’s Revival: The Good, the Bad, and the Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous [Jun. 30th, 2011|10:08 pm]
The Chad
[mood |hungryhungry]

Ah! The 1980’s! The Decade of Decadence! The “Me” Generation! A time when a man could wear leopard-print hot pink and neon yellow spandex and still be considered macho!

From Madonna and Michael Jackson to Miami Vice and Mr. T, in my opinion there has not been a decade before or since so focused on entertainment (No, I don’t see reality television as entertainment just a sad excuse to either live vicariously through others or celebrate mankind’s stupidity).

Hey! I like Reality Shows!

Well, that’s just my opinion and you’re welcome to yours. I respect that, but let’s just focus on the 80’s for now.

Okay…Sweet! I love the 80's! Most of my favorite cartoons from when I was a kid were from the 80’s! Awesome! I noticed a lot of them making a comeback!

Indeed there has been a resurgence of 80’s nostalgia in the past few years. In fact, this entire past decade has seen many properties that originated in the 80’s make a successful comeback leading to a renewed public interest in the franchise. Still others attempted to make a comeback and failed miserably. Many fell in the middle of the road, lasting a year or two then disappearing again (If that).

In fact there has been a huge surge of 80’s nostalgic memorabilia in many forms, not just fully produced movies and shows. T-Shirts, DVD releases, candies, energy drinks, and many other kitsch items featuring original 80’s properties have been popping up all over the place. In fact, when I first mentioned I was writing this review I was taken to a themed pizza place in Westland, MI called “Slice of the 80’s” (And spent over $10 on nostalgic buttons alone).

I had originally intended to make one large review about many of the 80's animated properties that have seen a revival in the past decade. However, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot just write one big review.

Why not?

For one thing, I simply have too much I want to write about. The list of properties I wanted to talk about just kept growing and growing and I simply can't do each one justice in one single review. Besides which, by the end of the list many of the properties were ones that originated in the 80's, but did not actually see a revival, I just really like them. A lot of the fun of these reviews is sharing my personal opinions and experiences and there will be more room for such if I review each one individually instead of trying to summarize a lot of things in one gigantic review that would take forever to finish.

Then why are you writing this at all? Why don’t you go right to the separate reviews?

Because there was one key point I wanted to make about the recent resurgence of 80's nostalgia and the success of many of these revivals.

Which is?

That the recent rise in 80’s nostalgia and revival of properties from the 80’s is the result of the people who are making these decisions and making businesses out of them having grown up in the 80’s and remembering it fondly.

Well, that’s obvious and bland.

Logically, yes, but think about it. This clearly doesn’t happen every decade. Credit where credit is due, I recently had someone remind me that there was a resurgence of 50’s nostalgia in the 1970’s with movies like Grease and television series like Happy Days. It’s the joy they received growing up in that time and that makes them want to bring aspects of it back.

Yes, I am obviously a child of the 80’s and rather partial on the whole thing, but that is the secret to the success of many of these revived properties. They are being made by fans for fans and sharing it with the next generation is giving it staying power (For many, there own children).

The 1990’s revivals and revamps of these series (G.I. Joe Extreme, TMNT: The Next Mutation, etc.[More on those in future installments.]) failed mainly because it was too soon (Like That 80’s Show). Their targets were either growing up and not wanting to watch it, horrified at the changes to their cherished shows, or the following generation who didn’t want to like what their older siblings enjoyed and had their own properties to focus on. Besides many of the decisions for those shows were made not by the original creators, but corporate executives who thought flat out copying or completely butchering the ideas behind a popular franchise and tacking the word “EXTREME” or “NEXT” to the title would have equal to or greater success than the originals.

Yeah, because alienating the core fandom just because they’re too old to ask Santa for merchandise and too young to get a job to pay for it themselves is always the right way to go.

Three words Turtle-fans: “Venus de Milo”!

Ouch! Low blow! That’s a DQ!

Okay, but it’s true. Many of the driving forces behind these revivals have stated in interviews that they were great fans of the originals and wanted to bring them back, staying true to the original but also added their own spin on them. In many cases I think this was well done

So, as a true fan myself, I intend to do justice to as many as I can in a series I’d like to call: “The Chad’s Review of 80’s Animation: The Good, the Bad, and the Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous”!

And what exactly will you be attempting to “Do justice to” in your reviews?

Oh, you know. Things like G.I. Joe, Pound Puppies, Ghostbusters, Transformers, Mad Balls, Masters of the Universe, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Inspector Gadget, Nintendo cartoons, maybe some Don Bluth movies, etc. Stuff like that.

Okay, so I’ll be stretching the “Animation” part for some of these (And the “80’s” part), but I hope you all will have as much fun reading them as I intend to have writing them.

And it all starts with my next shared review on Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.

What?!? Why?!?

You’re going to have to trust me on this one. The reasons why I’m doing these first will be made clear in the actual review.

Until then: Don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out of it alive!
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(no subject) [Jun. 5th, 2011|02:52 pm]
The Chad
[mood |crazycrazy]
[music |>:-(]

I have come to the conclusion that I am going insane.

I have a three track playlist stuck on repeat in my head of the songs "Hot Drinks" from 1980-90's Wendy's training videos, "Summertime (Lovin' in the Summertime)" a song from an episode of Regular Show about getting a song stuck in your head, and the "Jem Girls" theme from Jem (A bi-product of my research into the 80's Revival Review I'm working on).
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The Chad's Quick Review of Thor [Jun. 3rd, 2011|04:09 pm]
The Chad
[mood |chipperchipper]
[music |"Hot Drinks" Wendy's Training Video]

Thor was a pretty good movie. Not great, just pretty good. It was very entertaining, but some elements of the movie were left rather wanting overall. It’s not that any one thing was bad or seemed completely out of place, but it just seems like they could have stretched it out and put more into it. More action, more story, more characters. Just more.

To start off, there were four action scenes in the movie and they were all very good. They were well plotted out and dynamic with easy to follow action, but just seemed to not be enough. While the usual idea in an action movie is to have the fights become increasingly extravagant and challenging, it seemed almost the exact opposite to me in this movie. The challenges went from an army of Frost Giants (Who aren't really giants at all, just really tall Smurfs) to human S.H.E.I.L.D. Agents (With a special superhero cameo) to The Destroyer (A literal walking weapon more than an actual character or proper villain) all the way to Loki (Who put up a great fight, but was never able to go toe-to-toe with his brother). Each time the stakes never seem to be a high as they could or should be. At the beginning of the movie this makes sense and serves to show the consequences of Thor's actions. At the end it also makes sense and serves the same exact purpose, except to prove Thor's newfound nobility instead of showcase his arrogance. They were good, but seemed to lack something and ended with simply smashing stuff (Then again, it is Marvel after all).

I will admit the actors and portrayals of the characters are top notch. Chris Hemsworth made a worthy Thor. He brought out more than just the arrogant and powerful God of Thunder. He was able to believably portray the humbled and repentant son of Odin as well and I follow and feel his character change as the story progressed. I think it was a good casting call for this relatively unknown actor and a major career boost to boot.

Another thing I liked was the portrayal of Loki by Tom Hiddleston. There's a Shakespearean twist with Loki’s character and you can clearly sense director Kenneth Branagh's touch in this portrayal. Instead of being jealous of Thor and just plain evil like in the comics, Loki is jealous of Thor, but also insanely desperate for his father’s affections after he discovers his true origins.

Anthony Hopkins as Odin was a true coup in my opinion. True, the classically trained dramatic actor has done a wide range of roles including a cannibal genius, a retired swashbuckler, and a werewolf, but I honestly never thought I’d see him in a “comic book movie”. Though when you think of it, Odin is the perfect role for Sir Anthony Hopkins, King of the Norse Gods, a role sufficiently grandiose and legendary enough for his talent. On the other hand, Renee Russo as Frigga is there, but she doesn't really do anything and her role isn't as big as it should have been for an actress of her caliber. Again with the idea of needing more.

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster wasn’t bad as far as the spunky love interest, but I really didn’t buy her as an astrophysicist. In fact, I might go so far as to say they needed Stellan Skarsgård as Professor Erik Selvig to sell the group as actual scientists. It's not that Portman doesn't sound like she doesn't know what she's talking about, but she comes off more like a student than an actual scientist. Sounding resolute and spouting phrases like "Einstein-Rosen Bridge" does not an astrophysicist make. All of her other actions make her seem more like the over-eager April O'Neil type than anything else. She is not a bad character by any means and she plays a wonderful part as the grounding love-interest for our hero, just as she originally did in the comics.

Here's a bit of comic history to clear things up. Odin did indeed cast Thor out of Asgard and strip him of his powers as punishment for his brash arrogance, but originally he also wiped Thor of his memory and turned him into a mortal doctor with a bum leg, because A) all superheroes at the time needed a secret identity and B) all superheroes by Stan Lee needed to be humanized/relatable (You know, instead of enhancing secondary characters for that purpose). Now, in the persona of Dr. Donald Blake, Thor helped heel others instead waging war (I admit, this was a good twist) with the help of his nurse, Jane Foster. Of course, as is the case with many Marvel Comics, in the 'round about 50 years of continuity the original idea of the story and characters got swept under the rug and forgotten in favor of focusing mainly on the Asgardian side of Thor's adventures (Except for that span where he got turned into a frog in Central Park). Because it served the story better in the movie, when Thor was banished to Midgard (Earth) he retained his memory and did not become a doctor (At least not literally, but the idea was touched upon in a very clever way), and his nurse became an astrophysicist. Because all little girls dream of becoming astrophysicists when they grow up!

… … …I kid! Of course all children should aspire to roles beyond the sexist stereotypes and norms of society, but it just doesn't seem to fit Natalie Portman whose more popular roles included an extremely fantastical queen/wife/mother and a ballerina (See what I mean?). So in comes Professor Selvig the sensible old teacher/mentor to make the group seem legit, because the third member of the team sure didn't sell it.

The one character I just plain overlooked the first time I watched the movie was Kat Dennings’ clichéd quipping character Darcy Lewis. Basically, she's just there to earn college credit and make smart ass comments. Would the movie have been stronger without her? Not necessarily. We certainly wouldn't have had as many cheap chuckles without her character, but the story wouldn't have suffered without her either. In the end, a completely inconsequential character.

One interesting twist was Clark Gregg reprising his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson from Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Besides making a clear reference to his previous appearances he actually gets much more screen time and his character is a little more flushed out in subtle ways (Plus it’s just hilarious to hear Thor refer to him as "Son of Coul"). I look forward to seeing him again in next summer’s The Avengers.

The roles of the Warriors Three (Volstagg the Valiant, Hogun the Grim, and Fandral the Pimpin’) were well cast, but unremarkable. The same goes for the warrior woman Sif and the all-seeing guardian Heimdall. They were there, they played their parts well, they all had at least one good/clever/funny line, but they didn’t draw away from the overall plot. Granted this is good for secondary characters but it just seemed like almost anybody could have played their parts (With the exception of Fandral who I’ve had people willing to fight me over the fact that he was NOT played by Cary Elwes).

Of the Asgard mainstays in the Thor comics, there actually were a few missing I would have liked to see, but I can understand why they were left out. First there’s Balder. In Norse mythology he is another son of Odin. This is also later revealed in the comics although up until then he was just a close friend of Thor. Either way he just largely treated in the comics as Thor’s understudy, filling in as a warrior or leader when needed then fading back into the background. It would have also just made the Shakespearean Loki/jealousy angle too convoluted to add a third son of Odin into the mix so better just to forget about him entirely (They do in the comics half the time anyway).

Amora the Enchantress and her enthralled henchman Skurge the Executioner are another two I would have liked to at least seen or had made mention of. Exclusive as villains in the Marvel comics universe with no actual basis in Norse mythology, these two are nonetheless gods of Asgard and when they’re not directly causing trouble or battling Thor they are often as commonplace in the Halls of Asgard as Loki, so it would not have been strange to see them in a group scene or briefly mentioned. Still they are just two more villains to add to the plot, otherwise to get an appropriate actress to play the Enchantress would take all attention away from the other female actresses for a cameo. And without the Enchantress including the Executioner would just be silly.

And finally there’s Hela, Goddess of Death and ruler of Hel and Niffleheim, where the dishonorable dead (Those who did not die a heroic death in battle) go. Of course she’s not a major part of the story unless death is involved and why would they want to kill off major characters in a movie? Also she’s Loki’s daughter although they typically don’t have much of a bond. Also also, to have control of a major universal element like death she would have to be an actual god and the movie establishes that the Asgardians are not gods; just highly advanced beings form another dimension.

Wait...they're NOT actually gods? They're aliens?

Oh there you are. Well, yes and no. They’re not so much aliens as extra-dimensional beings with abilities so advanced as to be magic that were worshiped as god when they visited ancient Norway. This is another reason Jane Foster worked better as an astrophysicist than a nurse.

The story of the movie actually only touches on the very first and very latest aspects from the comic's 50-year continuity in a clever blending of the two. Of course, it features Thor's initial banishment to Earth and change from an arrogant god into a hero, but it also includes elements from a relatively recent story-arch where Asgard is recreated after Ragnarok in the desert near a small town in Oklahoma (In the movie it’s New Mexico). This brings up one of the more jarring aspects of the movie. The differences between the grand kingdom of Asgard and the tiny New Mexico town on Earth are drastically different and I didn’t really feel like there was a connection between the two until Sif and the Warriors Three were walking down the small town street over 2/3 of the way into the movie. It was almost like watching two completely separate movies at the same time. Although it was a genuinely charming moment to see four armored fantasy warriors smiling like idiots through the glass door of a greasy spoon diner.

All in all Thor was a good movie and very entertaining, but it just didn’t quiet stack up to movies like Iron Man 2 and The Dark Knight. Are we a bit spoiled by movies of such caliber? Perhaps. After all, you can’t expect to get the gold 100% of the time. The time, effort, budget, and just plain talent put into a blockbuster film doesn’t always realistically allow for it. Sometimes you just have to settle for silver. Still the biggest “disappointment” came after the credits. Samuel L. Jackson makes an uncredited cameo as Nick Fury and calls for Professor Selvig to show him a glowing cube (An object any
Marvel fan should recognize instantly as a powerful device). This device will not only be fully revealed in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger, but also sets up the plot for The Avengers. Making the whole movie ended up seeming like a two-hour prologue to next summer’s The Avengers. I can only hope both upcoming movies live up to the hype and enhance Thor through their close association.

Until next time: Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.

Next: The Chad’s Review of the 80’s Revival.
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The Chad’s Review of Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty [Apr. 22nd, 2011|11:11 am]
The Chad
True, when you've been in business as long as the Walt Disney Company, even with their history of quality entertainment (Largely excluding current history, mind you), they can't all be gems. What surprises me is how 1959's Sleeping Beauty got away with being considered one of those gems. I'll admit, I must've seen the movie a few dozen times since I was little and I'd probably not fight too hard if it were to be suggested as potential viewing material, but man does it have some serious flaws all the way around.

Hey! I thought you liked Disney! What's your problem with Sleeping Beauty?

Well, for starters it played a huge part in a financial disaster for the Walt Disney Company at the time and was partially responsible for the rumors that Walt Disney himself was anti-Semitic.

WHAT?!?

Let me explain: As of it’s release in 1959, Sleeping Beauty was the most expensive film to date costing a total of six million dollars to produce, but only earned about $7.7 million from the box office. The film cost more than even their live action features at the time and cost over twice as much as each of their previous animated features Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp, but only saw a minimal profit in return. Unfortunately, the rest of the Walt Disney Company’s releases from that year also under performed at the box office and caused the first annual loss for the Walt Disney Company in over a decade for the year 1960.

This resulted in massive layoffs for the animation department. The fact that many of these now out-of-work animators were Jewish started rumors that Walt Disney himself was anti-Semetic because they were fired. First of all, he hired them in the first place, didn't he? And second, there are accounts of personal interviews, including from some of these same animators that state Walt Disney was not racist or anti-Semitic.

Besides that, the relative financial failure of Sleeping Beauty caused Walt Disney Animation to avoid traditional fairy tales for the next 30 years! They finally returned to the genre in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, which was an amazing success. In fact, there is a documentary about how the Walt Disney Company returned to fairy tales with The Little Mermaid and enjoyed a period of financial and critical success often referred to as the "Disney Renaissance" in the 1990's. The documentary is called "Waking Sleeping Beauty" and chronicles the events of Disney's success from Who Framed Roger Rabbit through The Lion King. It is quite interesting and I recommend it for anyone interested in learning how the Walt Disney Company really works behind the scenes.

Let's get back on track here. I saw Sleeping Beauty a bunch of times when I was a kid. If it was such a flop, why is it still so popular?


Well, first of all, it's a Disney animated movie. That alone gives it an edge in staying power. While it was never re-released in theaters in Walt Disney’s lifetime (Just like Alice in Wonderland, which was also initially a box office failure), Sleeping Beauty saw a great deal of success when it finally was shown in theaters again several times between 1979 and 2002 and released on home video (Because, let's face it, it's Disney. People are going to take their kids to see it regardless). In fact, it is second only to Ben-Hur as the most successful movie originally released in 1959.

A lot of excellent work did go into the production of the movie and it is considered one of the greatest animated features of all times, due largely to it's stylized designs by artist Eyvind Earle and classic musical score by George Bruns. Too bad impressive artwork does not make good character development and a lush score does not equal catchy/memorable songs (You know, the things an audience actually notices).

In all honesty, I can see that excellent talent was used to make Sleeping Beauty. It had so much potential and could have been great right off the bat if only they had cut back on the Fairies instead of letting them run rough-shot over the entire movie.

What do you mean?

You know, the three good Fairies; Flora (Plants), Fauna (Animals), and Merryweather (Partly sunny with mild temperatures). They're the three old bitty Fairies that serve as Princess Aurora's guardians throughout the movie. They're meant to be secondary characters, but they pretty much take over the whole movie from beginning to end. The movie should've been called Three Fairies and a Baby, not Sleeping Beauty!

From when they're introduced in the very beginning of the movie they become bigger protagonists and do more to move the plot along than all of the other characters combined! The arrive to grand fanfare at the celebration of the princess’s birth and proclaim they will each give the infant princess one gift; no more, no less (Well, duh! You can’t give less then one!). Flora and Fauna respectively give the grandiose gifts of Beauty and Song (That’s right kids! Because good looks and talent can only come from magic!), but before the final gift can be given (Bum Bum BUM!) Maleficent appears!

Maleficent! That’s something good about the movie! She’s awesome!


Agreed, but we’ll get to her in detail later. I’m not done ranting yet.

As soon as Maleficent arrives it’s readily apparent she’s offended by not being invited, but leave it to Merryweather to just poke the bear (Rule #1: Do NOT heckle the super villain). Of course, this results in Maleficent’s curse where the princess will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die! Way to go, Merryweather! Personally I think she should have been glad Maleficent showed up. Aurora already had grace and beauty, what was she going to present her with? A gift certificate to Babies “R” Us? Now Merryweather gets to be the hero and rework the curse so she’ll only sleep until she receives “True love’s first kiss” (Awfully specific if you ask me, but I guess that’s just how the story works).

What really gets me about this is the king’s reaction. Instead of planning ahead to protect his daughter he just has all of the spinning wheels in his kingdom burned. He greatly inconveniences his entire kingdom and its people, not allowing them one of the modern necessities of clothing making and repair on the off chance it'll protect his daughter from a curse that's not supposed to take effect for sixteen years. Even the Fairies think this is a bad idea. Of course their idea is to turn Princess Aurora into a flower because a flower doesn't have any fingers to prick.

That is the STUPIDEST idea I've ever heard in my life!

Fortunately, their second plan is at least logical (Kinda). Take the infant princess and raise her in the woods as three old women who found an orphan child. A sound plan, Maleficent wouldn’t expect the king and queen to give up their child and suffer in sadness and worry for sixteen years even for the sake of their own daughter. Unfortunately, the three Fairies treat this like six-year-old schoolgirls playing house. "Oh, we'll get to feed the baby and wash the baby! Who cares if her parents suffer in constant fear and sorrow for sixteen years? We'll have an itty-bitty wittle baby to pway wif!" I don't know about you, but that kinda killed the gravitas of the moment for me.

Why you hatin' on the Fairies?


Truth be told, I don't really hate them. Like I said before, they just kinda take over the whole movie. The Three Fairies are okay characters on their own, but they just over used them to the point of eclipsing almost the rest of the characters entirely (With the obvious exception of Maleficent). In fact, any one fairy has more dialogue than both of the main characters combined!

I both like and dislike Flora more and more each time I watch this movie. Despite the fact she’s the “leader” of the Fairies she’s naïve and kind of slow. She’s like a grandma who’s accidentally racist. She means well and she tries, but things just don’t seem to work out the way she intended mostly because she just doesn’t get it. She is obviously the "Moe".

Fauna is the ditzy comedy relief of the trio. She’s naïve and saccharin sweet to a fault, but that’s okay with me. It leads to some actually funny almost Three Stoogesque moments when she attempts to bake a cake. Although she generally avoids conflict, she serves as the voice of reason when the other two are arguing. She is the "Larry".

Merryweather is by far the most well-rounded fairy character, making her by default the most well-rounded character in the entire movie. She is a good fairy, but overall appears much more competent and isn’t as cheerfully naïve as the other two and isn’t afraid to speak her mind (Granted, this may have just raised the ire of the villain, but I give her credit for standing up to Maleficent). Her generally negative attitude makes her the odd man out, even among the already socially awkward three Fairies. That makes her the “Curley”.

Did you just compare the Three Good Fairies to the Three Stooges?

Yes. Yes I did.

Why?

Mostly due to the scene of the Fairies preparing for Aurora's...I'm sorry, Briar Rose's sixteenth birthday.

Who?

Oh yes. Confusing, isn't it? We'll get to that later.

After the sixteen-year time lapse, it's astounding that the Fairies have apparently learned to do absolutely NOTHING without magic. It's implied that Merryweather might be the only one who can cook, but seriously! They can do NOTHING! Granted, it’s for comedic effect, but are we just expected to believe that they bumbled around for years until the Princess was old enough to do the work for them? Really?!?

Actually, it's not all bad. Fauna trying to bake a cake and Flora trying to make a fancy dress is a comically sound and mildly amusing scene and is almost exactly like watching the Three Stooges trying to do the same (Now do you get the comparison?). Unfortunately, the scene is ruined by the fact that they realize how pathetically inept they are at basic home economic skills and decide to finally use magic again. Apparently, magic requires no control what-so-ever as what they were unable to do before suddenly gets done automatically as the cake mixes and bakes itself and the dress gets sewn together with almost no effort (Remember kids! Don't take the time to learn something when you can take the easy shortcut instead!).

Even this tiny victory is ruined when Flora and Merryweather get into an argument over what color the dress should be and magically change it back and forth from pink to blue and back again. This devolves into an all out zapping battle that just so happens to draw the attention of Maleficent's pet raven, who quickly leaves to alert his mistress. This leads directly into Maleficent fulfilling her curse and putting Princess Aurora into the enchanted sleep.

Talk about tripping at the finish line.

So...after sixteen years of playing house in the woods, after the kingdom sacrificed their entire supply of spinning wheels, after the king and queen suffered in fear and sadness, on the night of the Princess's sixteenth birthday, the very last chance Maleficent had to fulfill her evil curse, they #@%&! FAIL!

But I digress.

Honestly, I know it's all just to provide levity, drama, and move the story along and I'm just complaining to complain at this point. But it just goes to show you how much the movie relies on the Fairies' magic and happenstance to move along the plot instead of being character-driven or use a natural progression of events (You know, something that would actually make sense!).

Wait! You've spent all this time complain about the Fairies, what about Sleeping Beauty?

You know what? That's a very good point and also what I view as one of the major flaws of this movie.

First of all, her name isn't "Sleeping Beauty". It's Princess Aurora. You have no idea how much it annoys me when people call her "Sleeping Beauty", especially on professionally licensed merchandise.

Who's your favorite Disney Princess, little girl?

"Sleeping Beauty!"

NO! THAT IS NOT HER @$%*# NAME! IT'S THE TITLE OF THE @$%*# FAIRY TALE SHE IS IN! PAY ATTENTION, DAMMIT!

It is the ONE thing that made me think the Walt Disney Company thinks of the consuming public is just a bunch of drooling idiots (Before Hannah Montana anyway). Don't they think children should learn to be observant, accurate, and intelligent? Their whole block of overly simplified preschool age original children's programming seems to think so. You can title the story "Sleeping Beauty", you can name a product line about the entire story "Sleeping Beauty", but you cannot release a doll of the main character and just call her "Sleeping Beauty"! It is a loose description of the events of the narrative simplified as the title of a story! NOT a character's name!

Sorry about that. It's just always been a huge pet peeve of mine.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the movie makes it even more confusing by giving her yet another name!

For like half the movie and most of her life, she is called “Briar Rose”. True it’s all part of the plan to keep the identity of the princess a secret, but when all model sheets, film credits, character references, and all related materials call the character both Aurora/Briar Rose, it's no wonder Disney thought it was easier just to refer to her as Sleeping Beauty. It would seem to me like a severe detriment to a movie not be able to decide what to call your main character.

That's another thing, the princess is supposed to be the MAIN CHARACTER, but she doesn't have any dialogue for most of the movie.

It’s true, the last thing we hear from the character is her sobbing emotional breakdown after she is told of her true heritage and taken back to the castle. Of course, this would have been much more emotionally impactful if they hadn’t used the same stock sound effect of comedic sobbing as Dopey, Pluto, and Goofy.

Although I don’t blame her for falling apart like she did though. Imagine, a teenage girl living in the woods with only three old bitties for company, meeting a charming boy with talk of love and dreams, only to have her world pulled right out from underneath her. Although she might be animated to look older, she is still a teenager. This was her first real strong emotional connection with another human being besides three old women who raised her only to have then betray her trust and turn her world upside-down all in the span of a few hours. Those Fairies have no tact whatsoever.

“Hey! Guess what! You’ve been living a lie for your whole life! You’re really the most important person in the kingdom and you've been in hiding all these years because Merryweather here mouthed off to an all-power demon sorceress at your birthday and she cursed you. You’re also going to marry a prince you’ve never met to unite your kingdoms so you’ve got to dump this schmuck you just fell in love with! … … …Yay!”

I feel I should add that Mary Costa voiced Princess Aurora/Briar Rose and Bill Shirley voiced Prince Phillip, but that hardly matters considering like I said THE MAIN CHARACTERS DON’T TALK FOR MORE THAN HALF THE MOVIE!!!

Even when Princess Aburose—whatever! is returned to the castle she pretty much stops being a character all together and is reduced to a walking MacGuffin. True, she is cursed to fall asleep, but at least we should care if she wakes up.

This is also a huge disappointment when you consider that Prince Phillip is by far the best prince in a Disney movie up until this point. The Prince in snow white did little more than sing and kiss the princess and Prince Charming in Cinderella did even less. Prince Phillip however was a pretty cool guy when we’re introduced to him. He’s witty, he’s charming, and he’s funny (“Father, you're living in the past! This is the fourteenth century!”). Unfortunately, this does not last.

After he rides off to meet the “peasant girl” he met in the woods (Briar Rose, of course) he has no more dialogue of any kind. There’s not even stock sounds as he is pummeled and captured by Maleficent’s goons, is taunted by the “Mistress of All Evil”, makes a miraculous escape (Actually just runs and rides at the Fairies command who pretty much do the majority of the work), and has the fight of his life against a DRAGON!!! You’d think he’d at least grunt or gasp during all this, but noooo. He becomes a pale imitation of his formerly clever, charming, and witty self from earlier in the movie. He’s a cardboard stand up with a sword. After everything we saw from him earlier in the movie the banter he could’ve traded with Maleficent at any point during the movie would’ve been epic! Nope. We get squat.

Phillip is the most awesome prince up until Eric. The first one with actual personality! He uses actual EFFORT to charm and win the princess and he doesn’t even know she’s the princess!

Just like everything else in the movie, the Fairies take over the prince as well. They bust Phillip out of Maleficent’s dungeon, hand out Shields of Truth, Swords of Virtue, turn arrows to flowers, boiling oil to rainbows, and ravens to stone as if it makes up for failing to protect the Aurora in the first place. I call bullshit! At he beginning of the movie Flora clearly stated that their magic “Doesn’t work that way”! They’re @#$*ing cheap! To top it all off they cast Instant Kill on the +100 Sword of Truth right when Maleficent has the prince dead to rights and she goes down like a punk! CHEAP!!! Despite Phillip’s awesomeness, he’s pretty much the Fairies’ monkey boy throughout his whole escape and fight with Maleficent.

SEE?!? Do you see?!? Even in my review the antics of the Fairies just eclipse everything else around them!

Okay, we get it. The Fairies make this a terrible movie.

Now, I didn’t say that. There are a few things that act as a saving grace for the film.

Such as?

As I said before, the music and art style are very good. Although there are only a couple of annoying or bland songs the music is orchestral music score is actually pretty good. The artwork and style of the background and characters is also new for Disney films and is a very refreshing change from the norm.

The fanfare at the beginning (An annoying tune gets stuck on repeat in my head) and the "Gift Songs" are not what I would consider actual musical songs. More like just added for atmosphere. "I Wonder" and "Once Upon a Dream" are the only two actual songs sung by the characters and one just leads into the other making it pretty much a single song. And despite the fact that it’s the movie’s big musical number and uses the Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Tchaikovsky it’s only meh at best in my opinion. “Skrumps (The Drinking Song)” is at least mildly entertaining with the drunken lute player.

Speaking of which, during the fanfare the background characters are so stiff and solemn during the march it looks like they’re being herded by the black nights on horseback. It’s like King Stephan’s Gestapo is forcing the kingdom to celebrate the birth of his daughter. Kinda makes you re-think the scene with the giant burning pile of spinning wheels, don’t it?

What about Maleficent, huh?

Ah. Yes. Here it is, the topic I’ve been putting off just because I don’t have enough time or space to truly due the character justice.

Maleficent is God-Tier evil! By far, the single best Disney villain of all time. She is the single largest saving grace of this film and totally carried the movie on her shoulders. Voiced by Eleanor Audley (who also did the wicked and intimidating step-mother, Lady Tremaine in Cinderella) Maleficent runs the gamut of villainous emotions, from charming and smarmy taunting villainy to flat-out raging kill-your-foolish-underlings villainy (Okay, so there’s a few more clichéd villain archetypes out there, but she’s pretty damn good at what she does). From stroking her pet raven, Diablo, and taunting the captured prince to raging at here idiotic goons and transforming into a dragon that scared the crap outta me when I was little, Maleficent is an amazing villain even outside of the film.

Maleficent is undoubtedly the most used character from the movie. She has reappeared as a main antagonist in everything from video games and books to television and live shows at the Disney parks, without any other characters from the movie even getting so much as a mention.

Maleficent is a super villain level main antagonist in the Kingdom Hearts video game series and Kingdom Keepers novel series and has attacked Mickey Mouse and been in control of scores of other Disney villains in any number of live shows at the Disney parks around the world. She even took control of the entire Hong Kong Disneyland this Halloween and turned it into a haunted horror zone (No, really, Orlando has “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” and Hong Kong gets Maleficent’s evil takeover. Go figure).

So, no other characters have been used from Sleeping Beauty ever?

Well, no. Actually Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora (Yes, that’s her official name these days) have appeared, but comparatively little as opposed to Maleficent or other characters in the Princess franchise.

Prince Phillip made a more significant comeback even before Aurora did in the Disney Heroes line of action figures sold exclusively at the Disney Store. In fact I actually own the Maleficent Dragon from this line and she’s sitting on my bookshelf facing an updated Gigan (Ironic considering the fact she makes Godzilla’s trademarked roar when you press the button on her back).

Princess Aurora herself wasn’t officially touched again until decades later in a strait-to-DVD "Princess Tales" short movie. Even then, not much was done with the character. (Song was pretty catchy though, especially compared to the ones from the movie.)

Of course, all three make regular appearances along with the Three Good Fairies as meetable characters at the Disney parks.

This has been something of a rambling roller coaster review. What's the final verdict?

Sigh. As much as I complained about the whole movie, I still have to admit, it's not terrible. I still like it and would sit down and watch it at almost any chance. I had noticed flaws in the movie even from when I was very young (Most notably how the two "main characters" stopped saying anything past a certain point and how distracting the Fairies' arguing was at the end of the movie), but this last viewing before writing this was really the very first time I took off the nostalgia glasses and looked at the movie with a critical eye. It’s not ever going to be one of my favorite Disney movies any time soon, but if anyone else likes it I won’t look down on them for it either. Overall, it has more good points than bad, but it also has what I would consider some serious flaws.

Though it was the reason the Walt Disney Company did not return to classic fairy tales for thirty years it’s still considered a classic and is still enjoyed by millions across the world for good reason.

I give Maleficent an A+, but the rest of the movie a 6 out of 10, averaging out to a solid 75%. Good, but not fantastic.

Still, damn Fairies.
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THE CHAD’S TOP 15 FOR HALLOWEEN [Oct. 26th, 2010|02:33 pm]
The Chad
Okay, here’s the deal. I love Halloween, but I hate to be scared and gore makes me queasy. So, horror movies are pretty much out. So instead here’s a list of 15 things I like to watch in this spooky season. Unfortunately, I some of these ran a little long and I ran out of time causing some of my reviews ended up a little short. Oh well, live and learn. On to the list! Ready? No? Too bad. Here we go!

15) Monster High – Okay, this one is more about my petty pride than anything else. One day at work I was stopped and asked by two teenage girls if we carried any "Monster High" toys. We did not. In fact, I had never heard of such a thing. Now, I pride myself on knowing all of the new animated shows coming out and combined with a general love of mythology and monsters I thought I was missing something huge! My mind immediately went to the series Gravedale High Starring Rick Moranis. An animated series in 1990 which was simply a vehicle for comedic actor Rick Moranis after starring in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The premise, of course, was a high school of teenage stereotype versions of classic movie monsters (a cool vampire, a nerdy werewolf, a mall rat medusa (gorgon, I know), etc.) with Rick Moranis as the normal human teacher. I really enjoyed that show. Even bought the whole series on DVD. This "Monster High" must be something just like it! Well, one quick Internet search later and I realized I was only partially right, but the fact that it was two teenage girls asking about it should have tipped me off. Turns out Monster High is the new Bratz, but with a twist; a series of fashion dolls based on the same idea of teenage monsters. Still, I was willing to at least see if there was an animated series to accompany the toy line and again, I was half right. The first thing I found a music video of the "Monster High Fright Song", obviously the theme for the series. It was a pseudo-spooky pop song that was obviously meant to be a springboard for whatever wannabe pop princess was singing it, but I liked it well enough. What really caught my eye was the animations of the characters dancing to the song. Drawn in traditional 2-D animation, the style of each character (Mostly girls, of course) looked good and unique, their movements were fluid and well-done, the shading and overall look was just amazing. I thought, even if it is for girls, this could be one well-done series. Boy was that a tease! Turns out the theme is actually for a series of flash animation shorts for the toy line's website. While the character designs are still pretty good and unique, the animation is stiff and crappy, the paper-thin plots are all about the same schlock as every other animated show about teen girls (Hair, boys, the test, etc.), and the dialogue is lousy with puns that would make the Cryptkeeper ashamed ("Fearleaing", "ghoulfrields", the "talon" show, Ugh!). Still the extremely amusing saving grace is the character of Ghoulia Yelps, a shambling zombie who is also the smartest girl in school (Ghoulia is also the only character not to be in the well-drawn music video, sadly). Despite the fact she shuffles slowly around the school, can only communicate through a series of pained moans, and rigor mortis has set in making it difficult for most facial expressions, she is the deus ex machina of most episodes, able to solve the problems quickly and easily. Apparently there's also a novel, but judging by the description it sound like the toy creators just gave the author some money and just told her, "Girl monsters in high school...go!" The two are seemingly nothing alike. Still, it's a based on girls fashion dolls so...yeah.

14) It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – I have to admit, despite the fact this is considered a classic holiday special coupled with the cultural and literary standing of Peanuts as a whole, I actually find this one pretty dull and haven't watched it in a long time. I don't find Peanuts totally boring. In fact I really like the comic strips and several of the specials (Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back) is one of the best animated specials of all time), but this one special just seems short and thrown together by comparison. Many of the jokes and scenes are just some of the common gags used in the strips and other specials (Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Snoopy is his “Halloween costume” flying his doghouse against the Red Baron, etc.) Sure, you can admire Linus' lonely vigil and stalwart belief that the Great Pumpkin will rise and reward his dedication (Religious allegory, much?) and you can feel sorry for Charlie Brown's "Too-many eyeholes" ghost costume and bad luck, but I don't see much else to the special. Still, it says something about the impact of it when after it first aired that thousands of people saw the pitiable protagonist confess, "I got a rock" from every single house he and his friends stopped at that Peanuts creator Charles M. Shultz received candy from all over the world "Just for Charlie Brown".

13) Garfield's Halloween Adventure – I love Garfield in all his comic and cartoon incarnations (Well, the new Garfield Show is only so-so). I find him very witty and funny, despite the limited premise of his character (A lazy cat who loves to eat) and his grand Halloween special is no exception. Garfield discovers (Via TV's annoyingly loud "Binky the Clown") that it's Halloween, a time to dress-up in costumes and get FREE CANDY! Upon hearing those magic words Garfield shows in uncharacteristic amount of enthusiasm as he prepares for a night of unrestrained candy gorging. The songs are some of my favorite parts. “What Should I Be” is by far my favorite and gets stuck in my head all year round. Sung by Garfield’s original voice actor, the late Lorenzo Music, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like, Garfield digging through a costume chest in the attic and singing to Odie about what he should be for Halloween (o/` “An astronaut, a robot, a hobo, a clown; Or an alien creature going out on the town…” o/`). He settles on pirate costumes for him and Odie (An ill-fated choice) and sets out on his quest for candy promising Odie a single piece in exchange for him carrying an extra bag for Garfield. Even after a successful night of candy collecting and a few amusing gags Garfield is still not satisfied and convinces Odie to row across the river to an island with a single large house. This is where it actually gets creepy. Instead of the surplus candy they were expecting, Garfield and Odie find an old man sitting by the fire in the large home. The old man is drawn with such detail in contrast to the other characters that the effect was actually scary when I was a child and is still really creepy. And it only gets worse from there. The old man begins to tell the hapless pets a ghost story. A story about pirate treasure buried under the very house they are in. A cursed treasure that the pirates have vowed to return for at midnight one hundred years from the time it was buried. Tonight! As Garfield ponders the implications of their predicament, he and Odie discover that the old man has already fled stealing their boat (...and their candy!!!) and leaving them stranded on the cursed island...at midnight! In what is without a doubt the scariest moment in any Garfield media, the ghost pirates do indeed return for their treasure. Garfield and Odie barely escape, jumping into the river. Garfield is rescued by Odie and the two make it to the shore to find their abandoned boat...and candy and head for home. Garfield is grateful enough to Odie to actually give him his fair share of the candy. Of course, when you think about it, neither the cat or dog should be able to eat any of the candy they've collected...especially if there's chocolate in it, but hey, it's just a cartoon. This was actually one of the few legitimately scary animated Halloween specials on television when I was a kid. Combined with the fun normally associated with Garfield and it is the perfect blend of trick and treat (Yeah, I know it’s bad, but I had to do it sometime).

12) Mickey's House of Villains – I wrote a very detailed review of this strait to DVD Halloween special so I’m not going to spend too much time on it. House of Mouse was a short lived series featuring Mickey Mouse and friends as nightclub owners who cater to other Disney characters (Mostly from features) and showing new Mickey Mouse animated shorts during an overall story for the episode. The overall story for this special was that the Disney villains, lead by Jafar, take over the club on Halloween night. The odd thing is, instead of showing Disney villain highlights from their movies like other Disney Halloween specials, they just continue showing Halloween themed Mickey Mouse shorts. While the Song “It’s Our House Now” is a catchy tune as the villains take over, the real treat is the uncut classic Disney shorts, particularly the classics Lonesome Ghosts where Mickey, Donald, and Goofy duke it out with pesky poltergeists and Trick or Treat where Heuy, Dewey, and Louie meet a real witch who decides to teach their uncle not to be so stingy on Halloween.

11) Hocus Pocus – True, it stars Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, but as three evil undead witches out to steal the souls of children they are really entertaining! This Walt Disney Pictures presentation about a teenage boy who accidentally raises the evil Sanderson Sisters from beyond the grave one Halloween night and must stop with dastardly plot before the sun rises is defiantly a Halloween classic and has been an annual tradition since I first saw it in the theaters over a decade ago.

10) Villain Dance Mix and Mingle – Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is Walt Disney World's answer to Universal Studios Orlando's truly terrifying Halloween Horror Nights event. While Halloween Horror Nights is a frightening event, filled with specialty characters, events, and shows, walkthrough haunted houses, and an overall horror movie storyline that takes over the whole of Universal Studios it is meant for mature adults the Disney alternative is clearly meant for children and families. The catch is that the Disney World one is a hard ticket event, meaning you have to buy and extra ticket then leave the park and come back in to attend. Although Halloween Horror Nights is clearly a better representation of the adult aspects of the holiday, Walt Disney World's version has something they don't: Disney Villains! Yes, those wacky evil-doers are out in force for this event. Some you can only see this one time of year, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood and Stromboli from Pinocchio. Now, I have never actually been to this event and considering it's meant for children and families, it's doubtful I ever will, but through the magic of the Internet I have been able to see videos of the unique entertainment events and shows via YouTube. The part I have become almost obsessed with is the Villain Dance Mix and Mingle stage show that takes place in front of Cinderella's Castle right in the middle of the park. The show starts with a oddly threatening message; “Not having fun, would be a grave error indeed…Hahahaha!!!!”, which I think is hilarious. They actually threaten your life if you don't enjoy the show. Yup, Villains. Maleficent then comes out to address the audience and cast a spell to start the music. The music itself is a pseudo-creepy pop/hip hop number that I find kinda catchy, but your mileage may vary. During this part the backup dancers appear, about three muscular men in mesh shirts and three women in sexy vampire outfits. I am not joking. It's like Britney Spear's rejected back up dancers. It's even more amusing that Maleficent seems to treat the males as if she was an S&M mistress. The music continues for a bit, including a very short interlude from the Haunted Mansion's "Grim, Grinning, Ghosts". The tone then becomes ominous and Maleficent summons forth other Disney villains to join in. Captain Hook, Jafar, the Evil Queen, Cruella DeVil, the Queen of Hearts, and Judge Claude Frollo appear from a backlit fog and, of course, dance along to the music. The real treasure if this show is actually how well the performers act as their unique characters. They treat it not as if they’re all in costume and doing the same dance, each character performs differently. The Evil Queen remains mostly stiff and regal, while Hook and Maleficent use more sweeping and dramatic movements. Cruella is just hilarious to watch as she slinks around the stage. The hardest, of course are the full body costumes like Frollo and Jafar. In fact, because you cannot see their faces and they wear almost the same style of costume, it’s almost like having the same character twice. Besides the fact that I just don’t think Frollo fits in the show. Don’t get me wrong, he was a fantastic character in the movie, but that’s just it, in a more light-hearted setting the character just seems woefully out of place. Which is why I was so excited when I discovered the change in this year’s performance; Frollo has been replaced by the newest Disney villain, Dr. Facilier from Princess and the Frog! Whoever they got to play the character fits him to a tee and is an amazing addition to the show. After the musical number the villains then exit the stage to “mix and mingle” with the audience for photos and autographs. It is kind of funny when Maleficent announces, “We’re coming…down there…with you…right now!” in a tone that sounds like she’s threatening the audience with their presence. She scared the crap outta me in Sleeping Beauty when I was little. Up on the stage is fine, but I can just imagine some kids might just wet themselves thinking she’s actually going to be within arm’s reach of them in a few short seconds.

9) The Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des loups) – The story of a knight and royal taxidermist who is assigned to hunt down a monstrous beast that stalked the countryside of Pre-Revolutionary France. Based on the legend of the Beast of Gévaudan it is a very clever and exciting action/horror film with amazing fight scenes and truly frightening beast controlled by a dark conspiracy. I originally saw it subtitled when it in theaters and immediately bought the English dubbed DVD when it came out.

8) Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein – It has Count Dracula portrayed by Bela Lugosi, the Wolf Man played by Lon Chaney, Glen Strange as Frankenstein’s Monster, and even Vincent Price cameos as the Invisible Man. This is awesome! Made in 1947, it is the last of the classic Universal monster movies. The fact that it stars one of the most entertaining comedy duos of all time (“Who’s On First?”) at the top of their game is just the icing on the cake. Dracula has risen and is plotting with a femme fatale mad scientist to control Frankenstein’s Monster, but the only available brain simple enough to be controlled belongs to Wilbur the baggage handler (Lou Costello) whose skeptic partner Chick (Bud Abbott) doesn’t believe his friend is in terrible danger. Along comes Lawrence Talbot out to destroy Dracula and the Monster before he again transforms into a werewolf and wrecks havoc himself. As expected, a comedy of errors ensues as the classic monsters chase after the hapless duo. It is a perfect blend of comedy and old-school monster flick and I highly recommend it if you are a fan of either.

7) Scary Godmother – A computer animated Halloween special based off of the graphic novel series by Jill Thompson. The story of young Hannah who gets so frightened one Halloween night that it summons her Scary Godmother. Scary Godmother takes young Hannah to the Fright Side, where monsters live for her annual Halloween party. This colorful and entertaining special is full of unique characters and clever comedy and an overall lesson of facing your fears because some things are not as frightening as you think.

6) Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island – You all know the formula: Awesome + Zombies = EPIC WIN! I’ll say it right now, Scooby-Doo is my all-time favorite cartoon character and this is arguably his best movie. Although it went strait-to-video, it is the first feature length movie staring the Mystery Inc. gang and was set up as a revival for the character in the mid-90’s with the tagline, “This time the monsters are real” (Despite the fact that several incarnations of the gang already faced actual paranormal beings as oppose to crooks in a mask). The movie starts out with a case scene featuring the theme song to the original series “Scooby-Do, Where Are You?” performed by Third-Eye Blind. You can see the difference in quality right away as the Moat Monster chasing the gang is actually a pretty impressive beast, which of course turns out to be just a counterfeiter in a mask trying to scare people away from his operation. That was the last mystery solved by the gang before they ended up going their separate ways and finding new jobs. Scooby and Shaggy found gainful employment as airport security and proved very effecting in finding contraband food…that is until they ate it all. Velma now owns and operates a mystery bookstore something she is less passionate about than she originally thought. Daphne has become a successful television personality with her own show, Coast to Coast with Daphne Blake. Along with her producer and cameraman Fred Jones, Daphne tours the country looking for interesting locations and stories. This season’s theme: “Haunts of Louisiana”. Missing the old gang, Freddy invites them along for the trip. After adding a new paint job to their tour van, making it the new Mystery Machine, they head off to Louisiana in hopes of finding real ghost (Well, except for Shaggy and Scooby). Mystery Inc. is back in business! After an awesome montage of mysteries featuring more interesting monsters and the song "The Ghost is Here", the gang finally reach New Orleans (For once NOT during Mardi Gras) and are invited to a haunted pepper plantation on an island by the plantation's housekeeper, a lovely young woman named Lena Dupree. Once on the island the gang meets the beautiful, cat-loving owner Simone Lenoir, who takes an instant disliking to Scooby-Doo. They also meet the disgruntled gardener, Beau, the cheery ferryman, Jacques, and the angry fisherman Snakebite Scruggs and his pet boar, Mojo, who are after the elusive giant catfish, Big Mona. Once the gang begins to get settled in, strange things start to happen. A ghostly sword carves a warning into the wall and a Civil War Southern general appears in Shaggy’s mirror to do with the same message: “Get Out!” Of course, the gang believes it to be just another hoax (Except for Shaggy and Scooby who scream and hide). It isn't until the next day when they spit up to look for clues that Shaggy and Scooby literally stumble into a clue: A large rectangular hole about six-feet deep. While attempting to get out Scooby accidentally uncovers a skull. There may have been a human skull or two in past Scooby-Doo episodes, but it's what happens next that is really unique. Some mystic force comes out of the sky and raises the skull, collecting other bone from the ground to form a zombie pirate. Let's take a moment to think about that. An actual rotting human corpse has just risen from the ground, dressed as an authentic pirate captain, and has Scooby-Doo and Shaggy trapped in a grave. Can't say I ever remember that happening on Saturday morning. Later, after Shaggy and Scooby escape, more zombies start to rise and when one is caught by Fred, Velma, and Daphne they try to unmask the culprit. Having quite a hard time with the “mask” Fred actually ends up ripping the zombies head clean off! That’s just awesome! Now that they’ve clearly established that the zombies are indeed real it’s “Terror Time”! As the song of that title plays, the Mystery Inc. gang run from zombie Pirates, Civil War soldiers, mobsters and their molls, and even some hapless tourists, only confirming the plot that people have been disappearing on the island for hundreds of years (Unfortunately, they found them). What has been trapping these people on the island and killing them? How did it get there? Who is really responsible for all these deaths? The answer involves an unexpected conspiracy on the small island dating back hundreds of years. Let's just say, something is rotten in the state of Louisiana (And it's not just the reanimated corpses). If you like Scooby-Doo, you should definitely see this movie. Even if you don't, you should still give it a try. No Scooby-Doo property has been this dark before or since. As the first new Scooby-Doo property in years, after this movie’s release the popularity of the franchise skyrocketed into two live action theatrical releases, three new television series, two more live action made for TV films, countless amounts of merchandise, and dozens of more strait to DVD release movies.

5) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – There are many versions of Washington Irving’s classic story of an unfortunate early American schoolteacher, but my favorite is still the Walt Disney version narrated by Bing Crosby. Like most people, it was the first version I had ever seen and it is a relatively accurate version of the story presented in a truly entertaining way that still manages to be scary at its climactic conclusion. While I first saw it as a single animated short, as part of a Halloween special, it was originally released as one half of a theatrical release with the Disney adaptation of The Wind in the Willows called The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Tim Burton's butchering of the story as well. Don't get me wrong, I actually liked Sleepy Hollow the first and only time I saw it. It is a decent action/horror flick, but nearly everything was changed from the original story (Oh yeah, everyone complains about Disney's version of The Little Mermaid, but raves about Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. Think about it. Hypocrites). And when the Headless Horseman actually gets his head back...and it's crazy-hair Christopher Walken ("Raaahg!")! Seriously? (Again, I like Christopher Walken, but it just defeats the entire purpose of the Headless Horseman by giving him A HEAD). Anywho, Disney's version doesn't change much from the original story at all. In fact, one of my favorite things about it is how realistic and unflattering the characters are. Ichabod may be peculiar looking, but he is still talented and intelligent. However, he is also presented as a selfish and arrogant con-artist, out to use his skills not to teach his students, but to weasel his way into their mother's cooking or the Van Tassel fortune. His competition, Brom Bones, is the neighborhood hero. When he first appears he buys around for everyone and even gives beer to his horse and the neighborhood dogs (Okay, maybe not the best idea, but it's supposed to represent kindness to animals...just go with it). Brom is also an unrelenting bully, using his superior strength to frighten others into getting his way. When he comes across the unflappable Ichabod, someone he can't bully, he has to step up his game and get clever to get rid of the scheming teacher. The attention of both their affections, Katrina Van Tassel, is possibly worse than both of them. An unrelenting flirt and heartbreaker, she controls all the men in town with a flutter of her eyelashes, but gives the impression that she is aloof and uncaring when someone like Brom earnestly seeks to win her affections. Instead she decides to string Ichabod along just to make Brom jealous. Of course, Ichabod is only using her as a way to her father’s fortune. The fact that she’s the most beautiful woman in town is just a perk. None of these characters are extremely flattering personas, but each are still relatable and likeable in their own way. The narration, voices, and singing are almost entirely performed solely by Bing Crosby. At first glance you won't think one crooner, a single voice, could pull off this range of story. From funny, to romantic, to scary, but it works amazingly well. There isn't much actual dialogue so the entire story is relayed through the narration and character actions, which just speaks of the skill of the animators as well. Speaking of scary, the Headless Horseman himself is just pure terrifying in his own right. As soon as the catchy, but intimidating song about the legend of the Headless Horseman ends at the Van Tassle's Halloween party ends and we see Ichabod make his way home at night, the entire mood changes. The build up is just a masterful piece of pacing and animated storytelling and when the Horseman himself enters the picture, it's just one of those classic moments in animated cinema. True, the chase scene was actually directed by the person who usually directs Goofy cartoons, but that just made it all the better in my opinion. While it's true that the secret of the story is that Brom Bones is most likely just disguised as the Headless Horseman to finally scare Ichabod out of town, there's just too much legacy and impact to the Headless Horseman as a real ghost to just throw the idea away entirely. The ending is left purposefully open to interpretation for just that reason.

4) The Halloween Tree – A Halloween special written and narrated by Ray Bradbury. Do I need to say anything else? Okay, fine. It’s the tale of four children in a small town heading out to Trick-or-Treat only to find that their fifth friend, Pip, is being sent to the hospital. Fearing the worst, the children are crestfallen until they spot Pip running away from his house. Believing it to be just another one of his infamous pranks, they follow their friend to the rundown mansion of the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud (Voiced by Leonard Nimoy). That is where they find out they’ve been chasing Pip’s ghost and Mr. Moundshroud claims it is his property. Their friend escapes by stealing a jack-o’-lantern that looks like him off of Moundshroud’s Halloween Tree. They follow Pip and Moundshroud in a case through time learning the history of their Halloween costumes and the cultural impact of each one. The chase ends when Moundshroud captures Pip’s pumpkin, but the children each trade a year from the end of their lives for their friend. It is a deep and interesting look at how the cultural impact of death and superstition has shaped the holiday we all know and love.

3) Beetlejuice – Tim Burton’s epic comedy about life, death, and a perverted semi-phenomenal nearly cosmic powered Ghost with the Most. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t know what you’re missing! It’s hilarious, it’s morbid, and it’s fun to get those calypso tunes stuck in your head! What more is there to say?

2) Mad Monster Party – It’s cheesy as hell, the animation is jerky stop-motion, and the plot is paper thin and full of holes, but God help me I love it! This Rankin-Bass cult classic (Yeah, the guys who made all those stop-motion Christmas specials) has a plethora of monsters gathering to celebrate Dr. Frankenstein’s latest announcement. Baron Boris Von Frankenstein (Voiced by monster movie legend Boris Karlof) has discovered the secret of destruction and now plans to retire on top and leave his entire evil empire to his awkward and accident-prone nephew, Felix Flankin. Now Felix has to survive attacks from Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and his Mate (Voiced by Phylls Diller), his uncle’s beautiful, but jealous assistant Francesca, and a host of other classic monsters (The Creature, The Mummy, The Werewolf, Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde, etc.). It all leads up to an explosive climactic battle against “It”.

1) Ghostbusters – Who ya gonna call? (All together now…) Ghostbusters! That’s right! Just the theme song gets me pumped up! I love everything Ghostbusters! From the movie to the follow up animated series. From the sequel to the 90’s Extreme revival. Even the original live-action series from Filmation and their animated spin-off that was made to bank off of the Hollywood blockbuster that stole their name. There’s so much here it’d take an entire review just to cover it all. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. In the near future I will write a review on all things Ghostbusters and hopefully it will make up for some of the shorter reviews on this list.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Sorry some of them ended up too short. Do you agree with my choices? Do you have a favorite thing to watch for Halloween? What else do you like to do to celebrate Halloween?

Until next time, don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out of it alive.

Honorable Mentions:
Steven King’s It
Michael Jackson’s Thriller
The Monster Mash
Flying Purple People Eater
Corpse Bride
Van Helsing
Bill and Ted’s Halloween Spectacular
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The Chad’s Review of “Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns” [Oct. 9th, 2010|01:00 am]
The Chad
I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the limited-edition variant you just can’t find! I AM…THE CHAD!

That’s right! Darkwing Duck is back!

What?!? Really?!? Disney’s making a new Darkwing Duck series?!? That’s awesome! I loved that show!

We all remember and love the original comedy action series from the 90’s, but what many people don’t realize is that it was originally conceived as a direct spin-off of DuckTales staring Launchpad McQuack as a spy. This premise, as well as the evil spy organization F.O.W.L. was actually a throwaway James Bond parody episode in the second season of DuckTales, “Double-O-Duck”.

However, it was determined that Scrooge McDuck’s bumbling pilot wasn’t exactly main hero material and the premise was expanded from just a spy-spoof to include elements of superhero/masked vigilante parody from another DuckTales episode, “The Masked Mallard” and the character of Darkwing Duck was born! Of course, the creator didn’t want to drop Launchpad entirely, so he became the sidekick to ”D.W.” and continued as a (now much more competent) pilot and mechanic.

Who created Darkwing Duck?

Darkwing Duck was designed for television by Disney mainstay Tad Stones. Tad Stones entered the Walt Disney Feature Animation training program in 1974 and began his career on the film The Rescuers, and worked in the story department for The Fox and the Hound. After a short time working as an Imagineer at Epcot Center, Stones moved on to the Walt Disney Company’s new television animation department where he produced both producing Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers before being tapped to create Launchpad’s spy spoof spin-off.

As I said before, Launchpad was moved to the sidekick role and a new main character was needed. Drawing inspiration form the pulp comics’ vigilante heroes of the 1930’s like The Shadow, Green Hornet, and The Phantom, Tad Stones created the titular Darkwing Duck. Where many of these heroes were stoic and secretive, the satirical Darkwing is an egotistical glory hound. In fact, his dramatic “I am the terror that flaps in the night…” entrance is a direct parody of The Shadow’s fear inducing speech, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

In another twist on the genre, instead of a rich loner, Darkwing Duck has the secret identity of a suburban single-father after rescuing and adopting a spirited little girl named Gosalyn in his premier adventure. Of course the show has an elderly official in J. Gander Hooter, head of S.H.U.S.H., but instead of other public officials and a reporter girlfriend, Darkwing has wacky neighbors and is dating a formerly evil sorceress.

Then there are the villains. Besides F.O.W.L. and its top agent Steelbeak (A parody of SPECTRE and the henchman Jaws from the 007 franchise, respectively) DW also faced off with a series of themed criminals and super villains, like the Fearsome Five. The Fearsome Five was lead by the evil doppelganger, Negaduck, and made up of Darkwing's most recurring nemeses ...and the Liquidator. Oddly, enough while the Fearsome Five consists four of the most used villains (Negaduck, Megavolt, Bushroot, and Quackerjack) the Liquidator actually had only one solo episode. I thought I heard that it had something to do with his dialogue which is made up almost entirely of parody tag lines and advertising slogans, but I can't back that up. Still he was my personal favorite villain and I was sorry he got so little screen time comparatively.

Now, well over a decade since the series cancellation, the Masked Mallard returns to active hero duty with all of his friends and foes…albeit, as a comic book.

A comic?!? Seriously?!? Man, I thought you meant they were making new episodes of the show. I remember those comics in Disney Adventures. They were cute, but nowhere as good as the series.

Yeah, I’d have to agree. A new series would have been cool, but a lot more expensive and not likely to happen. It's been too long since Disney has seen any sort of actual profitable public interest from DuckTales let alone Darkwing Duck that it's highly unlikely we'll see a new animated series. Sadly, as much as I love it the Walt Disney Company is still a business and it's all about the bottom line (Even cartoonists have to get paid). Same thing happened to Gargoyles. There are plenty of devoted fans still out there, just not enough that Disney expects to see a return on investing in a new animated series. At least they're more willing to spend money on a comic series in an attempt to revitalize such nostalgic properties. I just hope this series is better than all of the previous Darkwing comics.

Most of the comics starring Darkwing Duck were either one-page gags or uninspired stories, short of a few in Disney Adventures. My favorites of which were the ones where Darkwing had to match wits with the super intelligent house cat, Fluffy who became a recurring villain only in the comics on a continuous search for opposable thumbs and world domination. There were also comic adaptations of the multi-part episodes "Darkly Dawns the Duck" and "Just Us Justice Ducks" published by the short-lived Disney Comics brand. They kept the story together well enough, but I didn’t like the drastically off-model artwork and the jokes didn’t transfer well from television animation to sequential art.

After the fall of Disney Comics, the Walt Disney Company used Marvel Comics to print Disney properties including their Disney Afternoon title, which occasionally featured some Darkwing Duck. However, these stories where of no better quality than the ones found in Disney Adventures. If I were to lay blame on anything on why these comics weren't as good as they could have been, it would be the length. These comics were only allowed so many pages in a single issue that they only had enough space to tell a very basic story. The art was usually good, with the exceptions I mentioned before, but the stories were usually short and very basic. Five pages of sequential art do not equal the same as a twenty-minute animated episode.

By and large I found this was the problem with most Disney properties that transitioned to comics. The art was decent, but stories were too short to be very good. There were a couple multi-part Mickey Mouse stories in Disney Adventures that didn't suffer this and who could forget when they started printing Jeff Smith's Bone? Still for the most part the comics printed of Disney properties in America have been pretty much lacking compared to their animated counterparts.

Wait you said "In America" (Attention Duelists!). There are Disney comics printed in other countries and you’re saying they're better then the ones printed here? How so?

Well, in some ways, yes. Disney comics are in fact very popular in Europe, most notably Italy, were they often write the characters in more of an action/heroic vein. The treasure hunting tales of Donald Duck and his "Unca Scrooge" and even Mickey Mouse's adventures against mad scientists and criminals such as Big Bad Pete and the Phantom Blot that have been printed in America since 1930 have sparked some pretty interesting comics "across the pond" (Yeah, yeah, I know that usually means England, just work with me). As a matter of fact, Donald Duck even has a gadget-wielding superhero persona in Italy known as Paperniki (Which made its way stateside as a videogame called PK Duck and in a current comic series as the Duck Avenger). There was even a mini-series where he was treated as a slightly darker and more serious tone. Hmmm…a slightly dark gadget-wielding superhero duck? Why does that sound so familiar?

There was also a time when we had some really good Disney comics here in America. In my lifetime, it was in the early 90’s when Disney printed their own brand of comics. Previously Disney used a variety of outside publishers to print their comics, such as Gladstone Publishing, which may have inspired the name of Gladstone Gander who was among the more prominent members of Donald’s extended family created in these very same comics. I know I said the adaptations of Darkwing Duck episodes printed by this company weren’t exactly stellar and I stand by that, but they also had some really good titles as well.

During the period of the "Disney Renaissance" right after The Little Mermaid began to revitalize the popularity of Disney that was reflected in the success of the Disney Comics brand. Besides reprinting some of the classic adventures of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks and Don Rosa, which were the basis for DuckTales, which in turn was the basis for Darkwing Duck (Full circle, baby!) other characters and aspects of earlier Disney comics were revitalized like Super Goof (Yes, even Goofy has a superhero persona) along with new comics and characters. By far one of my favorites were the titles Roger Rabbit and Roger Rabbit’s Toontown based off of the popular movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit (My #1 favorite of all time, by the way) and follow up theatrical shorts. Mickey Mouse Adventures was another favorite of mine which again presented Disney's flagship character as a civilian adventurer going on globe-hopping treasure hunts, time traveling, or stopping crime in his hometown of Mouseton. It actually took me over a decade to find the final issue of a three-issue story arch of this series in which a mystery mastermind was using the new villain Prince Penguin and Mickey's classic arch nemesis Pete as pawns in his revenge plan against the heroic mouse. I could go on, but I've pretty much gone way off track as it is. So, yeah, Disney Comics was a good, if far too short-lived, brand and proved that comics was indeed a medium that Disney could do well in.

After the fall of Disney Comics, the Walt Disney Company printed a few of it's properties through other publishers, most notably Marvel Comics (Which, ironically, it now owns), but as stated before I do not believe the ideas were handled as well and were just coasting off of what Disney properties were popular at the time (With the exception of a darker Gargoyles, which was just plain awesome, but not in cannon with the series). Eventually the idea of Disney comic books faded into obscurity for a few years until Disney attempted to appeal to an adult comic book audience through Slave Labor Graphics by printing series based off of popular nostalgic fan-based properties like Tron, Alice in Wonderland, The Haunted Mansion, and an actual connonal continuation of the series Gargoyles and it's planned spin-off Gargoyles: Bad Guys. Unfortunately, fan-reaction was not as hot as anticipated and all five titles tanked.

It appeared as if the idea of Disney in comics was destined to fail until just a few short years ago, the Walt Disney Company used Boom! Studios to begin publishing new series through their Boom! Kids imprint. Again, instead of just going with comics based strictly on what is popular at the time Disney made new adventure stories that always worked in the sequential art format. In some cases Disney literally picked up where they left off with some comics. Mickey Mouse and Friends along with Donald Duck and Friends both have issues above #300 and Walt Disney Comics and Stories is numbered over 700 (Remember that's twelve issues a year) and reprinted classic adventure stories form early American years and English translations of recent popular stories from Italy. Flagship titles for the brand featured new stories from the Disney/Pixar movies Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, and an impressive ongoing Incredibles series penned by mainstream comics writer Mark Waid. Disney even began publishing several fringe properties through Boom! Kids like The Muppet Show and Muppet parody mini-series that are actually really good, proving they could pull off the comedic pacing and characterizations that originally made the Muppets a household name.

Then it happened. Due to the success of Boom! Studios’ Disney line, the announcement was made on March 13, 2010 that a four-issue Darkwing Duck miniseries would begin June of that year. The immediate positive fan reaction was so strong that Darkwing Duck was made an indefinitely ongoing series before the first issue was even printed.

That…was a lot of useless information. So did our devotion pay off? Is it a good series or not?

Yes! Emphatically, yes! It's already superior to all previous comic incarnations in the past. The writer, Ian Brill, and artist, James Silvani, are obviously fans of the show. The artwork is superb. The characters are always on model, the backgrounds are full and rich, and even the background characters are given careful detail. One of the first things I noticed was how no matter how many different and unique characters there are in the background, each one is in their proper place in any given angel. That's artistic integrity right there! Even mainstream comic artists rarely put that level of devotion into their work! Oh they're almost all good, don't get me wrong, but to put that much effort into such a minor detail is impressive to me.

The writing is fantastic as well. From the very beginning we are involved in an interesting new plot that does not leave out the comedy of the series. As I said before, transitioning something like an animated series to sequential art is not an easy thing to do. The images don't move so physical comedy and action have to be handled differently. This Darkwing Duck series does it and does it well! From the hilarious dialogue seen largely in Darkwing's egotistical and snarky comments to physical comedy like Drake climbing the Quackwerks office stairs to running gags like flashbacks to the glory days where Darkwing's arm has been turned into a random object during a super villain fight; This series is able to take the comedy that kept us glued to the series and perfectly emulates in this new format. There were quite a few times in the first issue alone where I laughed out loud and ended up with a few questionable stares from the people in the break room at work.

Heh. That's awesome. Wait…"Flashbacks to the glory days"? "Quackwerks office"? What exactly is going on?

It’s all part of the new, unique storyline I mentioned. As “Return of the Duck Knight” begins, we find that it’s been over a year since St. Canard has had need of Darkwing Duck…or any law enforcement for that matter. The entire city now works for the mysterious ultra-corporation Quackwerks whose robotic Crimebots patrol the streets and have defeated and hired every super villain in town. Now Drake Mallard (Darkwing duck’s secret identity) is working as a data accounts networking officer and sharing a cubicle with his old high school classmate Elmo Sputterspark (A.K.A. his most-recurring enemy Megavolt). Even S.H.U.S.H. and F.O.W.L. have been closed down and their members joined the Quackwerks team (Which is odd because both organizations were depicted as worldwide in the series).

Still, the former Darkwing is in a boring, dead end job to pay for Gosalyn’s tuition at an expensive private school and had a falling out with Launchpad who has moved back to Duckburg. Depressed and resigned to a life of paperwork and public transportation (No more Ratcatcher), Drake Mallard seems to have no intention of returning to his Darkwing Duck persona until the Crimebots break through his living room wall and arrest Gosalyn’s friend Honker Muddlefoot for illegally downloading a single song from the internet (Corporal punishment for Internet piracy...subtle Disney, subtle). At the same time, an unsuspecting Elmo Sputterspark is kidnapped from right in front of the Quackwerks building and tied blindfolded to a chair in a warehouse. His blindfold is removed to reveal Quackerjack, Liquidator, and Bushroot. Yes, they're "Getting the band back together" (Quackerjack actually says that. An overused cliché, but I still love it).

Sounds cool so far, but what happened to Nega--?

DON’T SAY THAT NAME!!!

Turns out Quackerjack goes crazy if you even mention “You-know-who”. This is so serious that even Liquidator warns Megavolt without using a single slogan or catchphrase and this is after they help Quackerjack blow up a Quackwerks toy store. Quackerjack doesn’t even look back at the massive, fiery explosion. In fact, Quackerjack goes totally berserk when one of the Crimebots mentions their former leader and tears it apart with his bare hands in a seething rage. Even creepier is that he seems totally fine and goofy as ever when he finishes and builds his missing Mr. Bananabrain from the parts of the Crimebot.

Wow! Looks like Quackerjack’s taken a level in badass. What happened?

Negaduck had insulted Quackerjack, refused to include him, and destroyed the original Mr. Bananabrain when he revealed that he knew Darkwing Duck’s secret identity an was planning to administer his final attack. In fact, Negaduck’s attack is exactly what created the current rift between Darkwing and Launchpad. He figured out Darkwing was really Drake Mallard when he followed his sidekick to the dry cleaners where he took both Drake’s laundry and Darkwing’s costume.

I always found it odd that even though Negaduck appears to be an evil version of Darkwing from a mirror-universe (“Life, the Negaverse, and Everything”) he didn’t know Darkwing’s secret identity. I mean seriously, doesn’t he ever take off his own mask? Oh well. In any case, it was only the timely intervention of the newly created Quackwerks’ Crimebots that saved the Mallard household and convinced Darkwing to retire and take a job at Quackwerks in order to make money and pay for the tuition at Gosalyn’s expensive, but safe, private school.

You know what, that’s a good point. Didn’t Drake Mallard ever have a real job in the series? How did he make money?

Turns out they answer this in the comic. Turns out Darkwing was earning a stipend from S.H.U.S.H. until it was taken over and closed by Quackwerks.

So, after Honker is arrested, Darkwing comes out of retirement in order to discover who the mysterious owner of Quackwerks is and why he has allowed the Crimebots such a totalitarian reign on the city. DW discovers very little in the Crimebot Factory and instead needs rescue from Launchpad in the Thunderquack who Gosalyn went to Duckburg to find. The two reconcile, but they are all soon attacked by the Fearsome “Four” who all too happy to see their archenemy return. The Crimebots manage to capture DW, Launchpad, Gosalyn, and the Fearsome Four while they’re distracted and take them to the mysterious Quackwerks C.E.O.: Darkwing Duck’s first and most powerful enemy, Taurus Bulba!

As it runs out, Quackwerks and its complete control of St. Canard was all just a part of Taurus Bulba’s master plan to gain control of the Gizmosuit that he stole after he was revived as a “Blendito” blender in Gyro Gearloose’s lab.

Wait wait wait--How in the hell did Taurus Bulba end up as a "Blendito" in Gyro Gearloose’s lab?

You know what? I have no earthly idea. Last time we saw him in the series he was transformed into an escape jet swearing vengeance upon Darkwing Duck. F.O.W.L. had resurrected him as an ultra-powerful cyborg, that is explained, but he was last seen completely intact. I have no idea what happened between then and now that caused him to become pieces in one of Gyro's inventions.

Okay. Well, let’s wrap this up. I have plans for next August.

Fine. Long story short (Too Late), together Darkwing, Launchpad, and “Gosmoduck” fat Taurus Bulba and have a heartfelt reconciliation. Gyro had remotely changed the pass code for the Gizmosuit from “Blatherskite” to Gosalyn’s catchphrase “Keen Gear” by random coincidence.

Discovering the federal government has deemed Quackwerks has become “Too big to fail” after Bulba’s defeat, they call in the one and only Scrooge McDuck, officially crossing over the spin-off with its parent series. McDuck gets busy returning a well-balanced economic law-and-order system to St. Canard and naming Launchpad of all people as the new CEO of Quackwerks.

Now, the criminals are back behind bars and Darkwing Duck is back on the job albeit now apparently with Quackwerks/McDuck backing. I, for one, cannot wait for what will happen next to our favorite fowl crime fighter and we are given a preview on the last page of the mini-series. It’s this cliffhanger that makes everything that much more awesome. You just have to see it for yourself. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

Alright, cool, but how would you rate this return of Darkwing Duck?

A+! Seriously, this is exactly what Darkwing Duck fans have been waiting for and deserve! It combines the same super heroics and action and off-the-wall comedy (“Guard dogs!”, “Guard Flamingos!”, “Guard dogs riding guard flamingos!”) from the series. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that both aspects are even better than they were in the series! The action is better now that there’s no FCC stopping Darkwing from actually punching the bad guys, and there is even a bit of adult comedy thrown in. For example, when DW discovers that all of the acquisition forms for chains and cowboy hats he has been approving as Drake Mallard are for building the Crimebots he states, “And here I just thought someone just had a really unique way of enjoying the weekend.” I don’t think that one would have gotten passed the censors on the Disney Afternoon.

I am eagerly awaiting the next issue of the now on-going adventures of the Terror That Flaps in the Night, the Masked Mallard of Might; these are the continuing adventures of…DARKWING DUCK!

Until then, this is The Chad reminding you not to take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!
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Writer's Block: Random acts [Feb. 1st, 2010|10:22 pm]
The Chad
[Tags|]
[mood |tiredtired]

Although there is definitely a more recent occurrence (Opening a door for someone, picking up something someone else dropped, etc.), I just like this recent example the most.

A little while ago, I accidentally dropped a small amount of change outside of a 7 Eleven. I left it there knowing someone, anyone, would pick it up and most likely have a better use for it than I would.

Yes, I do believe in karma.
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(no subject) [Jan. 29th, 2010|08:55 pm]
The Chad
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Huh. Looks like my first attempt at photoshoping was a succes.
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The Chad’s Review of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog [Dec. 18th, 2009|03:13 pm]
The Chad
I had seen the movie a couple of days ago in theaters and I hope to see it again soon. I'm going to make this one of my classic long and rambly reviews because they’re so much fun to write and, I hope, fun to read. So, I warn you now there will be spoilers in this review, but I’ll make them as few and as vague as I can. Now that you’ve been officially warned, here we go!
 
Did it live up to the hype?
 
To answer your first question, yes, classic Disney animation is back, baby! Yeah! The Princess and the Frog is Disney’s first traditionally animated feature film since Home on the Range in 2004 (Not exactly the best note to end on) and the first one produced in the United States since 2007’s The Simpson’s Movie. While it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the traditionally animated family musical can still be done and done well in this day and age of overwhelmingly mass-produced, poorly-conceived, over-priced for 3-D, computer animated kiddie flicks splattered on the screen once a month, I still have a few criticisms. Still, for every one fault I have found, there are a great number of things done right that make The Princess and the Frog every bit a Disney classic in it's own right. 
 
What are you talking about?
 
Disney’s first traditionally animated feature film in five years, The Princess and the Frog (I thought I made that clear already). The story takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans around the 1940's era and centers around Tiana, a poor, young waitress working two jobs in hopes of saving enough to start her own restaurant, a dream shared by her late father. In comes Prince Naveen of Maldonia, a handsome fun-loving goof-off who has been ostracized by his parents due to his lazy lifestyle and has come to New Orleans to woo and marry Tiana's rich friend, the heiress Charlotte La Bouff. Unfortunately, the evil voodoo practitioner, Dr. Facilier a.k.a. The Shadow Man has other plans and turns the Prince into a frog so he can have a fake Naveen under his control marry into the La Bouff fortune.
 
Frog Naveen manages to escape and runs (or hops) into Tiana at the LaBouff’s costume party. Believing Tiana to be a princess due to her dress and citing the original Grimm’s fairy tale The Frog Prince, Naveen convinces her to kiss him in order to break the curse. Not kissing a real princess however has an unforeseen side effect and turns Tiana into a frog as well. Soon the two end up lost in the bayou and with the help of Louis, a jazz-playing alligator, and Ray, a happy-go-lucky, love-struck Cajun firefly, end up on the search for the voodoo priestess of the swamp, Mama Odie. 
 
When Dr. Facilier discovers Prince Naveen has escaped, he sends out evil shadows to scour New Orleans and find the escaped frog so he can use Naveen’s blood to keep the faux Naveen in disguise. 
 
I’m going to cut it off right there so I don’t give any more away. To find out the rest, you're just going to have to watch the movie.
 
Okay, fine, if I'm going to see the movie I at least want to know who's in it.
 
Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) stars as the main character and newest Disney Princess, Tiana. I like this character. She's a proud, hard-working waitress working two jobs and a talented cook. Her problem is that she's so busy working towards her goals, that she doesn't stop to relax or have any fun (Exactly the opposite of the movie's other main character, Prince Naveen). The goal she's working so hard to reach is to own her own restaurant, even though she's fighting an uphill battle due to her station in life. Yes, there is a bit of shaded segregation when it comes to her attempt to buy a building. A surprising twist for a Disney movie, but still realistic when you look at the time and place the movie occurs. As I said before, Tiana is proud and believes the only way to get ahead in life is to work hard and do your best everyday. A noble view, but harshed by the negativity, prejudices, and greed of other people. Still, she is determined to achieve her dream and believes the only way to achieve it is to work hard until she succeeds. Tiana is unique in that she doesn’t put any stock into fantasies or fairy tales and works hard by choice not because she’s forced to, determined never to take the easy way out or a quick fix to her problems. It’s odd to note that it isn’t until she’s willing to compromise both of these ideals and she finally meets the prince that everything goes wrong, only to ultimately turn out right.
           
Bruno Campos plays Prince Naveen of Maldonia. Honestly, I’ve never heard of this actor before and the voice he gives to the character sounds like it could be anybody with a cheesy accent. Still, it fits the overall character and is as good as any. I will admit, Prince Naveen has more personality than the majority of princes in Disney films. Naveen is used to getting what he wants all the time even if all he wants is to just have fun and play or dance to jazz music. He is the exact opposite of Tiana at the start of the movie. All he cares about is having a good time, work and responsibility are the furthest things from his mind. So much so that his royal parents cut him off from their fortune and kicked him out on his own. He comes to New Orleans because he was invited by “Big Daddy” LaBouff and intends to woo and marry his daughter Charlotte so he can get access to her father’s fortune and continue his carefree lifestyle. However, he is so irresponsible as soon as he gets off the boat in New Orleans he is so excited he immediately forgets only goal and just tries to have fun. He has to be reminded by his long-suffering manservant, Lawrence (Voiced by soap star Peter Bartlett). Lawrence factors into the story in a very significant way, but by himself is a very uninteresting character. This is the way things stand when the pair meet Dr. Facilier. Even after Naveen is turned into a frog, he is very arrogant and lazy, more content to let Tiana to do all the work and make all the effort to change them back into humans. For most of the movie he still intends to marry Charlotte for her money, even though his motives change to something less selfish. 
           
Charlotte “Lottie” La Bouff is voiced by Broadway performer Jennifer Cody and is an extremely spoiled Southern debutante. As the daughter of the richest man in New Orleans, Eli “Big Daddy” LaBouff (Voiced by Disney staple John Goodman), Lottie wants for nothing and has been able to get anything she wants and more from her father since her and Tiana were very young. Despite this, Charlotte and Tiana have been best friends since childhood. Charlotte breaks the stereotype of the spoiled rich girl character by actually being a kind, caring person…for the most part. There are a couple of times she would have every right to get mad or upset at Tiana, or at least the situation, but she proves to be nothing but supportive and concerned for her friend. Unlike Tiana, Lottie believes in fairy tales, wishing on a star, and desperately wishes to marry a prince and live happily ever after. This provides a lot of the humor at the beginning of the movie, especially the interactions with her father, who is also a jovial and kind character to Tiana and her mother. One might wonder if these characters are so kind to Tiana why they haven’t just given her the money to buy her own restaurant or at least offer to finance it. They probably have, but Tiana’s nature and pride probably won’t allow her to take such an easy route and she also has to be the sole owner. One thing I was surprised about was that John Goodman didn’t sing at all. He’s a member of The Blues Brothers! The music in this movie is tailored to his style! Oh well.
           
Keith David (Goliath in Gargoyles) stars as the newest Disney Villain, Doctor Facilier a.k.a. "The Shadow Man". He is a crafty street con man and voodoo practitioner who fits in right along side other entertaining villains such as Hades and Jafar. While he is as charming and clever as an experienced con man, he gets all of his real powers from his “friends on the other side”. His abilities even extend to his shadow which is alive and can operate independently, affecting the shadows of other objects and people affecting the actual thing. He is even able to summon evil living shadows to hunt down the frog Naveen when he escapes. His only limitation is that he can’t conjure anything for himself, however what he does conjure he owes back as a debt to his “friends” which is a driving force behind his actions.
 
On the opposite side of the magic spectrum, Jenifer Lewis plays the “fairy godmother” of the movie Mama Odie, a 197-year-old, blind voodoo priestess. While she is a humorous old woman, at times her voice and accent are a little difficult to understand and come off as a over-the-top and annoying to me at least. Still she provides the wisdom and means to help Tiana and Naveen become human again by teaching them the moral lesson of the film.
 
Other characters met on the bayou include the jazz trumpet playing alligator, Louis voiced by Michael-Leon Wooley. Louis is a comical character who dreams of becoming human so he can become famous playing jazz music. He is comically cowardly, but is still willing to help the frogs on their way, even if it is in the wrong direction. Another friendly character is Ray Cajun firefly voiced by Jim Cummings (Voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck, Pete since Goof Troop onwards, and many, many others). Ray is a very entertaining character who is the most helpful in getting the frog duo to Mama Odie. He is just a happy-go-lucky character who is glad to help, a hopeless romantic and wants for only one thing in life, his love, "Evangeline".
 
Apparently, Emeril Lagasse has a cameo as a hungry gator who tries to eat Naveen and Tiana when they first arrive in the swamp. This may be true, but I didn’t recognize his voice at all. By far, the funniest characters in the movie are the redneck Cajun frog hunters Darnell and his sons, the big lummox Reggie and the aptly named Two-Fingers. Their short scene brings to mind some of the best in Looney Tunes style antics.
 
Terrence Howard (Iron Man, August Rush) also has a part as Tiana’s father and Oprah Winfrey plays Eudora, Tiana's mother. Funny thing is, at one part when Tiana’s mother is talking I can’t help but think, “Didn’t they edit this out of all of the old Tom and Jerry cartoons?” A friend of mine claims, “They brought back the crows (From Dumbo)!” This is a topic I’m gonna drop right now, but it was an amusing thought none-the-less while watching the movie.
 
So, Tiana is the newest member of the exclusive Disney Princess line?
 
Yes, Tiana is the ninth official, and first black, Disney Princess. The others include, in order, Snow White (1937), Cinderella (1950), Aurora (1959), Ariel (1989), Belle (1991), Jasmine (1992), Pocahontas (1995), and Mulan (1998). Five are princesses by birth, three by marriage, and then, for the sake of cultural diversity, there’s Mulan who isn’t actually a princess in any way. Go figure, she’s still my favorite. 
 
In the past, the line-up also included TinkerBell due to her popularity, eventually spinning off into her own successful franchise, Disney Fairies. Alice, of Wonderland fame, also appeared in a few promotional materials (DVDs, CDs, etc.) and was even a Princess of the Heart in the video game Kingdom Hearts, but never made the official list. 
 
Originally, Giselle from 2007’s Enchanted was supposed to become the ninth princess until Disney execs realized they’d have to pay for likeness rights to actress Amy Adams for the rest of her life. That and she never actually becomes a princess.
 
It's a musical, right? How’s the music?
 
Okay, here’s my biggest criticism. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the songs written and composed by Randy Newman (Also the composer for Toy Story and a few other Disney/Pixar films). The music wasn’t bad by any means, no. It was fun, it was catchy, but for a musical based in New Orleans, one of the most culturally interesting and musically diverse places in America, it still seemed to be lacking something. In my opinion, the best and most memorable songs from Disney movies can fit into one of three categories, the Villain Song, the Romantic Ballad, and the Showstopper. This movie had at least two of these. 
 
The Villain Song, “Friends on the Other Side” sung by Keith David as Dr. Facilier (Yes, Goliath sings. I had fun with that one too) is a fun and creepy number with a bit of homage to the Tiki Room attraction at the Disney Parks with the singing voodoo masks, but it seemed to take place a bit too early in the story to me. It did serve as a gateway to the crux of the story and set up a bit of explanation for the villain’s powers and motivation, but I always liked to get to know the heroes a bit more before we give the villain the spotlight. At least, that’s how I felt about it at the time. It also brought to mind shades of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" without quite living up to it.
 
The Romantic Ballad was a bit of an odd number though. “Ma Belle Evangeline”, sung by Jim Cummings as Ray, is a lovely song that serves to spark a romantic interest between the formerly at odds frog heroine and prince, but it is still a song about a goofy, love-struck, Cajun firefly singing to a star he named Evangeline. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful song sung by a guy who usually voices gruff and goofy characters or fills in for celebrities that can’t hit those high notes, such as for Scar in The Lion King or the Chief and medicine man in Pocahontas. The song even includes a couple of well-delivered French lines. Which reminds me, this movie seems to have more French, both sung and spoken by the characters than four other Disney movies that actually take place in France! These movies being The Aristocats, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Ratatouille, to be exact. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I find that hilarious if true. Still, the song seems a bit short and doesn’t seem to carry the same emotional impact as other Disney songs with the same idea (“Kiss the Girl”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “A Whole New World”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, etc.).
 
Where’s the Showstopper?!? I was expecting to leave the theater humming a tune that would go down as a new Disney classic in the vein of “Under the Sea”, “Be Our Guest” and “Friend Like Me”, but I was sadly disappointed. 
 
Sure, there were a few other catchy tunes. Like “Almost There” a jazzy number performed by Anika Noni Rose as Tiana singing about her motivation and her dreams of opening her own restaurant. Then there’s "When We're Human" sung by Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos as the titular frog Prince Naveen, and Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis the jazz playing alligator, all sharing their plans for when they become human. Oddly enough this is a song premise already used in another Disney movie. Originally from the Broadway musical and included in the special edition re-release of Beauty and the Beast “When We’re Human Again” was the same basic idea sung by the servants of the Beast’s castle who were transformed into objects by a curse. Although clearly a different song and style of music, it still seems like an unoriginal idea if you’ve heard the first one often enough. Disney has done so much already, it'd be hard to find another song idea to fit the situation so well and it's still a fun song. I guess the closest thing to a Showstopper would have to be the gospel-style "Dig a Little Deeper" by Jenifer Lewis as voodoo priestess Mama Odie and the Pinnacle Gospel Choir, but the song served mainly to hammer in the overall moral lesson of the movie than just be a good ol’ fashion, toe-tappin’, fun song like the ones previously mentioned. Plus, I found the Mama Odie character to be kind of annoying so that didn’t help the song much. Also, many of these songs sounded very similar, almost like one long song broken up than several different and unique songs.
 
My favorite song of the movie is actually the short, utterly simplistic Cajun-styled “Gonna Take You There” sung by Jim Cummings and featuring Terrance Simien on accordion. It was just a fun song that served no real purpose in the storyline than to set up Ray as a helpful and happy character.
 
The score itself includes varying styles including jazz, zydeco, blues and gospel, but no particular piece stands out or lends much of an emotional impact as of my first viewing of the movie. Overall, the music was really good and fun to listen to, but none of it seems destined to go down in history as a Disney classic song.
 
Okay, so the music's so-so, how's the animation?
 
The visuals of the movie are exactly what you would expect from a Disney feature film. The characters are well drawn and unique. The scenery is colorful and vibrant when it needs to be and dark and ominous when it’s called for as well. Nothing much else to say here, Disney knows its animation. Look for a few surprises in the movie as well. I spotted the magic carpet from Aladdin right off the bat, but since then I’ve found there are quite a few that I missed.
 
So what's the final verdict?
 
All in all, The Princess and the Frog is a new Disney classic. I'm going to give it a generous 8 out of 10. I purposefully left out a few things from the movie that gave it a higher score. I may have found the music to be merely “really good”, as oppose to the “fantastic” level Disney usually puts out, but the art, the complex story where convergent plot threads meet in a logical and yet still very creative way, and stereotype-breaking, realistic characters make up for it by far. Truth be told, I am judging the music too harshly in my review. I actually have the soundtrack and have been listening to it almost every day. So, with that in mind, go see it! I mean now! Schnell! Andelé! Go! Okay, fine. See it later. But do go see it, enjoy, and most importantly, share your thoughts and opinions. You know what I think, I want to know what everyone else thinks.
 
Until then, this is The Chad reminding you not to take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!
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CARTOON COMPILATIONS [Feb. 12th, 2008|12:20 am]
The Chad
[Current Location |Here. Where else would I be?]
[mood |satisfiedsatisfied]
[music |"Witch Doctor" Alvin and the Chipmunks]

I love cartoons.  There, I said it.  Happy now?

Overe time, I have collected nearly every cartoon theme song I could think of and put them onto CDs I like to call me "Cartoon Compilations".  

I got them off of CDs and soundtracks, downloaded them from various filesharing sources, and even recorded them off of youtube and retrojunk.com.

And now, for your consideration, here they are...

ENJOY!!!

Cartoon Compilation #1

1. Powerhouse (Short Version)

2. Drawn Together

3. Mad Balls

4. Ducktales

5. Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers

6. Tale Spin

7. Darkwing Duck

8. The Wuzzles

9. Speed Racer

10. G.I. Joe the Movie

11. Superfriends

12. Batman the Animated Series

13. The New Adventures Of Superman

14. Superman the Animated Series

15. X-Men

16. Spider-Man

17. Swat Kats

18. Thundercats

19. Silver Hawks

20. Sailor Moon

21. The Legend of Zelda

22. King Arthur and the Knights of Justice

23. The Tick

24. Mighty Mouse

25. Gigantor

26. Astro Boy

27. Underdog

28. Super Chicken

29. Johnny Quest

30. The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest

31. Space Ghost

32. Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast

33. Josie & The Pussycats

34. Pac-Man

35. Muppet Babies

36. Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

37. The New Scooby-Doo Movies

38. Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics

39. Heathcliff

40. The Flintstones

41. The Jetsons

42. The Powerpuff Girls

43. The Powerpuff Girls (Closing)

44. Johnny Bravo

45. Dexter's Laboratory

46. Dexter's Laboratory (Closing)

47. Cow and Chicken

48. I.M. Weasel

49. Ed, Edd N Eddy

50. 2 Stupid Dogs

51. Dastardly & Muttley In Their Flying Machines

52. Sonic the Hedgehog

53. Sonic Underground

54. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

55. Captain Planet and the Planeteers

56. DinoSaucers

57. Hong Kong Phooey

58. Animaniacs

59. Pinky and the Brain

60. Freakazoid

61. Care Bears

62. The Shirt Tales

63. Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan

64. Yogi Bear

65. Huckleberry Hound

66. Quick Draw McGraw

67. The Atom Ant Show

68. Popeye the Sailorman

69. Zoobilee Zoo

70. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

 

Cartoon Compilation #2

1. Family Guy

2. The Muppet Show

3. Invader Zim

4. The Boondocks

5. Futurama

6. Danny Phantom

7. Atomic Betty

8. All Grown Up

9. Robot Chicken

10. Galaxy High

11. Kidd Video

12. “Hello Nurse!”

13. Stripperella

14. Jem

15. Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi

16. Alvin and the Chipmunks

17. Challenge of the Superfriends

18. Justice League

19. Justice League Unlimited

20. Teen Titans (Long Version)

21. Megas XLR

22. C.O.P.S.

23. Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

24. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Long Version)

25. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

26. She-Ra Princess of Power

27. Kim Possible

28. Kim Possible (Movie Mix)

29. Trasnsformers Animated

30. The Real Ghostbusters

31. Filmation’s GhostBusters

32. Digimon

33. Tiny Toon Adventures (Around the World Mix)

34. Cro

35. Duck Dodgers

36. Beetlejuice

37. Scooby-Doo Where Are You? by Third-Eye Blind

38. What’s New Scooby-Doo?

39. The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries

40. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo

41. The Scooby-Doo Show

42. Fraggle Rock

43. Alf

44. Mickey’s House of Mouse

45. Donald Duck

46. Quack Pack

47. Gummi Bears

48. Bonkers

49. The Emperor’s New School

50. Lilo and Stitch the Series

51. Gargoyles

52. The Perils of Penelope Pitstop

53. Captain Caveman and the Teen Angles

54. Top Cat

55. Pink Panther

56. Garfield and Friends

57. Spongebob Squarepants

58. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

59. The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

60. Super Mario World

61. Do the Mario!

62. Pound Puppies

63. Inspector Gadget

64. Gadget and the Gadgetinis

65. Felix the Cat

66. Punky Brewster

67. Sabrina the Animated Series

68. Magical Do Rei Mi

69. Fairly Odd Parents

70. Waldorf and Staler

 

Cartoon Compilation #3

1. “Dr. F’s Maddest Madness Yet” MST3K

2. The Simpsons

3. “Homer Sings the Flintstones Theme”

4. Sonic X

5. Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters

6. Samurai Pizza Cats

7. Samurai Pizza Cats (Closing)

8. The Get Along Gang

9. The Raccoons

10. The Raccoons (Closing)

11. “Run With Us” by Kevin Gilis

12. “Run With Us” by Spray

13. “Now” The Holograms, The Misfits and The Stingers

14. Josie and the Pussycats Musical Evolution

15. “Do You Believe in Magic” Barbie and the Rockers

16. “Dressing Up” Barbie and the Rockers

17. Blondie and Dagwood

18. “This Black Chick’s Tongue” Drawn Together

19. “Sugar, Sugar” The Archies

20. Jake Long American Dragon

21. Avatar the Last Air Bender

22. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

23. Gravedale High

24. The Addams Family

25. My Pet Monster

26. Count Duckula

27. Code Monkeys

28. Back to the Future

29. Bump in the Night

30. The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show

31. The Disney Afternoon

32. Goof Troop

33. The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

34. Marsupilami

35. Doug

36. The Angry Beavers

37. Eek the Cat

38. Fat Albert

39. The Flintstone Kids

40. The Comic Strip

41. Tigersharks

42. Wild West C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa

43. Bravestarr

44. Mega Man

45. Men in Black the Series

46. Danger Mouse

47. Godzilla

48. Help!  It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!

49. Jabberjaw

50. “Jabberjaw” by Pain

51. Jeannie

52. Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater

53. Kissyfur

54. The Littles

55. “Laugh Like Circus Clowns” Jackie Chan Adventures

56. “Casper the Friendly Ghost” by Little Richard

57. Smurfs

58. Yogi’s Treasure Hunt

59. Yo Yogi!

60. Road Rovers

61. Tom and Jerry Kids

62. The Mask

63. Pink Panther and Sons

64. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo

65. The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo

66. The Scooby-Doo/Scrappy-Doo Show

67. Taz-Mania

68. “George of the Jungle” “Weird Al” Yankovic

69. “That’s All Folks!”


Are there any you don't recognize/remember?  I love to share my vast animation knowledge with the world!

Are there any you DO recognize/remember?  Go ahead, relive your childhood!  Share with the group!

So, can you think of any that I might have missed?  I looking to make some more, but I'm running short of ideas.  HELP ME OUT HERE!

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