Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy 2013

Thanks to everyone's support and interest throughout 2012. Here's to further Blog Posts in the New Year. Stay groovy!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Catmas

Many thanks to all who have followed and commented on my blog throughout 2012. Here's to plenty more in the long run!

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year. God Bless, and all that jazz =)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Willows In Winter (1996)

Even though my heart will always remain true to Cosgrove Hall's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's timeless Wind in the Willows, William Horwood's sequels should receive equal admiration for capturing the original spirit of Grahame's characters and text. Each little hidden gems in their own way, intertwined with flawless continuity.

In fact, the first sequel penned by Horwoods, The Willows in Winter, was adapted for animation by HIT Entertainment and TVC for Carlton UK, just over a year after they had brought to life their vision of the first original book - and with its beautiful hand-drawn animation and well-chosen cast, it has in itself remained a much-loved favourite to many since.

Featuring the voices of Alan Bennett, Michael Gambon, Michael Palin and the ever-enthusiastic Rik Mayall!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Raggy Dolls - Christmas and Swans

Yes, even Melvyn Jacobson's most-endering characters celebrate Christmas. However, as The Winter Swan proves, sometimes the best winter-themed episodes don't always have to focus on Christmas... ;-)

Hope your Christmas will be Merry and Bright!



Thursday, 20 December 2012

TUGS - Bigg Freeze

While many loyal fans of TUGS aren't entirely sure of the exact order the 13 episodes were originally broadcast, a few are entitled to agree that this serves as a fitting finale than anything else. The last two words "Goodnight Vienna" comes from a little-known expression meaning, literally, "it's all over."

Confidentially, it's also the name of one of Ringo Starr's solo albums.

So while it's not a Christmas-focused blog post, it's still a treat the whole year round!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the singer at the very end was Sue of Sue and Sunny fame.

TUGS on Toonhound
Bigg City Port Fansite
TUGS Audio Productions

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Story Store - Music and Moonlight

Whenever we watch a Christmas animated special, you may notice that many fall into a similar pattern - that the main character/s either have to save Christmas / Santa, or learn that Christmas doesn't come gift-wrapped. Clich├ęd as they may seem, there are plenty that manage to twist either format into a fresh new approach, while others become preachy as preachy can be...

This Christmas Special definitely falls into the "fresh" approach. And it's all thanks to one man.

As Brian Trueman had for many of Cosgrove Hall's shows, Joe Austen was a vital contributor to Storyland Ltd. During his time with the company he had created, written and illustrated just about everything for Storyland; some that sadly did not get enough establishment to be developed further (Bud, Atoz) while those that did became true little gems to those who remember them - these being The Magic House and The Story Store.

The company, in a desperate attempt to regain focus from today's generation, even snapped up the rights for Biker Mice From Mars...but that's another story.

The Story Store focused mainly around George and his small assistant Pip, as they managed the magical products of the Story Store to their local customers, like a charming old-fashioned corner shop - from the exemplary Granny Clump and her idiotic grandson Sammy, to Victoria Pumpkin the Dancing (and accident-prone) young hippo.

Despite having a 13-episode run in 1995 on CITV, the charm of Joe's imagination and the craftsmanship of the stop-motion models (by Mackinnon and Saunders, I believe) remains as fresh as ever. A brilliant series that ought to resurface even for a mere DVD release at least.

Even so, Joe got the chance to present a Christmas Special for 2002. While the TV Series had been narrated by the gentle Alan Bennett, Rory Bremner was called upon here when Bennett was taken ill. And thanks to everyone's efforts at Storyland Ltd, it retains all of the magic of the Story Store and more - there is a message somewhere like all Christmas Specials, but it's woven so delicately in this delightful tale that you'd hardly even notice ;-)


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Snuffy Smith - It's Better To Give

Even in Hooter Holler, Christmas is as celebrated as anywhere else!
Snuffy Smith (and Barney Google) had been adapted for animation and live-action respectively a few times in the past - in the late 1920's by Barney Hellum for F.B.O Pictures, then in the mid 1930's by Charles Screen Gems Studios through Columbia Pictures. But it was Paramount Cartoon Studios in the 1960's where Snuffy and Barney held their ground in the medium.

Part of the King Features Trilogy (one out of three comic strips to be animated, the other two being Krazy Kat and Beetle Bailey), Snuffy Smith ran for 50 episodes and featured the vocal talents of Paul Frees and GeGe Pearson. The entire series can be found in the Advantage Cartoon Mega Pack on DVD if one is fortunate enough to come across it.

But here's a festive episode for y'all t'enjoy. Great Balls o' Fire!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

CITV - No School like the Old Skool

This year has seen a number of anniversaries, achievements and landmarks celebrated - but for us British, this is one celebration to round off 2012!
Children's ITV - once an after-school programme block and now it's own dedicated Digital Channel - is to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special documentary in January and an entire weekend of classic shows to air. Featuring old friends like Danger Mouse, Count Duckula, The Raggy Dolls, Children's Ward, Fun House, Huxley Pig and plenty more.

TBH, I'd love to see an Old Skool block become a permanent staple in CITV's schedule. As a child of the late 80's myself, so many of its programmes still hold up against all the merchandise-driven, celebrity-hyped madness of today - which while rakes in the quantity are fleeting in quality. Nostalgia is wonderful stuff that should be cherished than cashed-in or thrown out as this intriguing little article might explain.

And earlier this month, we have seen an example of history being remembered when animation veteran Brian Cosgrove was (finally!) awarded his BAFTA Special at the British Academy Children's Awards - which you can view in full coverage here:

So until January rolls in, relive further memories by viewing a wide selection of UK shows from this special - if lengthy! - little playlist =)


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Walking In The Air Again...

Despite downsizing the amount of animation for children in the last dozen-so years, the only time Channel 4 airs animation that is NOT "the Simpsons" is, naturally, during Christmas - where we're treated with repeated airings of Olive the Other Reindeer, Famous Fred, Little Wolf's Book of Badness and, best of all, The Snowman. Undoubtedly one of Raymond Briggs' most timeless stories brought to animation.

But this year, in honour of its 30th anniversary, Channel 4, with Lupus Films, are treating us with a surprising sequel to the original... "and this time, he's got a new friend..."

The Snowman and the Snowdog!


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas Colours

In case you're curious, there's a reason of sorts behind the green patch here:

Many folks may not realise that, once upon a time, Father Christmas's trademark colour used to be Green. It was only when Coca-Cola and others got involved somewhere in the 30's that a marketing plan of the time saw Saint Nick changed to Red instead. So that's my little nod here.

Least that's what I heard anyway. But this web page from the BBC might help explain things more clearly.

PS: only 24 more shopping days 'till Christmas! =P