Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoons!

The Archie Comedy Hour (1969)

Okay. I wasn't much for comic books when I was a kid. There was only one comic I ever bugged my parents to buy me. I even went on to get a subscription to it. It was The Archies. I thought Jughead was hysterical and Betty and Veronica were HOT!

In 1968, CBS had a big hit with "The Archie Show" based on the comics. They came back the next year with an expanded format, "jumping the shark" before that phrase was even coined. They added a bunch of cute characters, including Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and made the gang a band. Which is kind of weird. Nobody liked Reggie, and yet, there he is, in the band. Guess they were hard up for a rhythm guitarist.

This was the age of bubblegum pop music where music producers would manufacture bands and rapidly release songs trying to score number one hits. I'm sure the success of The Monkees had a little something to do with this. Producer Don Kirschner had a hand in both. The Archies would play a rather disposable piece if candy-coated music every week. One of them became a huge hit. Of course, I'm talking about the appropriately named "Sugar, Sugar." It was number one hit in the United States - knocking The Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Woman" out of the spot - and it was a number one hit in the UK, as well.

Other than "The Banana Splits," I can't think of another group of fictional characters who didn't really sing or play instruments fronting an international number one hit (other than Villi Manilli). The promotional machine behind this hit was pretty crazy. You didn't need to go to a record store to find the single. Honey Combs cereal had cheap vinyl versions built in to the back of their cereal boxes!

The actual performers were an anonymous group of session musicians and, during the run of the show, were never seen or interviewed so as not to spoil the magic of The Archies.


Yesterday, I asked,

"A woman entered a library in Fort Smith, Arkansas yesterday (Thursday) and demanded what?"

20% picked "They hand over the new Harry Potter book - nice and easy." (I thought this would be the higher scorer, given its timeliness and all.)

20% said "They stop dating that fancy talking new music teacher." (Thank you for getting The Music Man reference.)

50% thought it was "They stop harassing her for an overdue book." (Must of been a lot of you burned by overzealous librarians.)

The correct answer, that 10% of you got, was "They hand over their moo-la."

That's right, she robbed the joint. According to the Associated Press, she entered the library with her face covered with a bandanna, handed the librarian a note demanding cash and implying she had a weapon. The bandit made off with less than $20 from the petty cash. Maybe this was a starter robbery and she's working her way up to banks. Maybe they should have referred her to "How to Get Rich with Armed Robbery." Any way, I hope they throw the book at her. And not at me for that last line.


Unknown said...

I always found the Archie band thing weird. During the day in high school, didn't everyone else in "the band" think that Reggie was sort of an asshole?

Is this what eventually led to "creative differences"?

Joe Janes said...

It's probably why they never showed them rehearsing in the cartoon. Too much hostility going on. Especially when Reggie started showing up with his Japanese artist girlfriend.

Paul Rekk said...

I demand more Banana Splits coverage.

Joe Janes said...

In the works, my friend. Look for it next week. - Joe

Unknown said...

I could watch that frog dance all day long.

Anonymous said...

I love this Librarian robbery story.

Could make a interesting like piece out of it. I might try to make a little bit of pulp fiction out of this thing. A woman robs the libraries and a self appointed detective tries to solve the crime?

I'll call it "Monkeypants"


Lori said...

The dog reminded me of Bod Dole in the Britney Spears Pepsi commercial.

Lori said...

Whoa, that was a bad typo. I sincerely hope it was not some kind of Freudian slip.
Bob Dole, I meant Bob Dole.

Anonymous said...

Kirschner learned his lesson from the Monkees: animated drawings don't complain about their lack of artistic freedom. But the Monkees eventually 'won' by having a much longer and successful career than the Archies.

Read the book "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth" if you're a music and/or pop culture geek and find this stuff fascinating.

Joe Janes said...

I heard The Monkees were really pissed at him, too, for this. Thanks for the tip on the book. - Joe

Pete Best said...

Dude, everyone knows Reggie played bass, not rhythm guitar.

Joe Janes said...

You are so right, Pete. My bad. I also remembered a cartoon group that had two hits singles way before The Archies. Alvin and the Chipmunks, of course! They are the true pioneers in this field.