Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tooning In

Wandering around the internet yesterday, I caught mention of a new cable channel starting on January 1 called Antenna TV. This looks to be something along the lines of the Retro TV channel showing a variety of old shows other channels don't show anymore. Whereas Retro TV gets its stuff mostly from the Universal Studio vaults, this new channel will use all kinds of shows from the Sony archives like All In The Family, Father Knows Best, The Monkees, The Partridge Family and Gidget.  What got my attention on their schedule, though, was what they are showing on Saturday mornings, Totally Tuned In.  If that's what I think it is, that's a real find.

Totally Tuned In was a series put together by Columbia in 1999 to showcase their large library of cartoons. According to Cartoon Research, the website of animation historian Jerry Beck who worked on the show, it was syndicated in foreign countries but never shown in America. This may be the show's American debut.

The importance of all this is that most of the Columbia cartoons have been rarely seen for a long time. When I was growing up in the late 50's and 60's I saw cartoons from all the other major movie studios, the Warners mob, the Paramount stuff from the Fleischer Brothers and later Famous Studios, Universal's Walter Lantz work and even Terrytoons cartoons from Fox.  As for Columbia, they put all their live comedy shorts on television, featuring of course The Three Stooges, but none of their theatrical cartoons.  Back then I didn't even know Columbia ever released any cartoons. They did have one enduring star, Mr. Magoo, but, as I know now, the Magoo cartoons I saw back in the day were new ones made for television.

     Since then I've read some about the various Columbia series and seen some of them through VHS tapes and YouTube but this series looks to be a bonanza of little seen work. There's a list of what's on all the Tooned In episodes here and looking through it made my eyes pop. Besides the Magoo cartoons there is work from directors Ub Iwerks and Frank Tashlin, some of Columbia's other most successful series, The Fox And The Crow and a lot of work from the legendary "modern" studio of the 40's, UPA, which Columbia distributed. Now I just hope this channel makes its way to my cable system here in Northern Virginia

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