Television

Tuning in to 'Totally Tooned In'

Vintage cartoons finally have a home on broadcast television.

For those of us who don’t have cable or satellite television, good old-fashioned cartoons are hard to come by. When I was growing up, Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, and Winnie-the-Pooh were Saturday morning staples, but things have changed in recent years. The best Warner Brothers and Disney shorts have been saved for DVD releases, while the airwaves are clogged up with cheap-looking anime knock-offs, family-friendly sitcoms, and bland “educational” programs that would bore anyone over the age of ten to tears.

But if you have Antenna TV, the retro-themed TV network that airs in at least 26 states, you can watch Totally Tooned In. Usually airing in three hour blocks early Saturday morning, it’s the place to see characters like Mr. Magoo, Fox and Crow, Gerald McBoing-Boing, Scrappy, and Lil’ Abner.

Comprised of UPA shorts from the 1930s to the 1950s, each episode features three segments interspersed with commercial breaks and previews of future features. Produced in 1999, it aired in various different countries around the world before making its US debut last year.

I’ve seen roughly half of the series, and there’s nothing too offensive for kids, though characters sometime smoke cigars or cigarettes (usually villains who sometimes heavily cough afterwards) or accidentally get drunk (with an emphasis on the fact that alcohol makes you look and act stupid). It’s still a good idea to watch the show with your kids, though, so you can explain some of the dated references, like when Cinderella goes to a USO dance or when bluebirds impersonate celebrities like the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy.

Totally Tooned In has quite a cult following amongst animation enthusiasts on the internet. There is some controversy about certain shorts being edited for time or content, but most people are just glad to see these hard to find and long out-of-print cartoons at all. Perhaps its success might lead to more of the same on broadcast TV stations.

Here’s some of the best of what Totally Tooned In has to offer:

Gerald McBoing-Boing’s Symphony: From the mind of Dr. Seuss comes this rhyming short about a boy who doesn’t communicate in the usual way. Check out the cool 1950’s minimalist drawing style!

 

Unsure Runts: Cigar-smoking meanie S. Crow tries by hook or crook to sell insurance to innocent, British-accented Fox.

 

The Ragtime Bear: Mr. Magoo can’t tell the difference between his nephew and a grizzly bear at a ski lodge. Watch the bear rock out on the banjo, then check out the look he gives the shotgun-toting, banjo-stealing old man!

 

Sadie Hawkins Day: Why does Daisy Mae want to marry Lil’ Abner so much? Just look at the other guys in town!



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.