Widely considered the original manga comic, Astro Boy was conceived and written by the recognized pioneer of the genre, Osamu Tezuka in 1952.
From the franchise's diminutive launch pad, the endless chain TV anime franchises took flight. Without Tezuka's creation, there's no Lupin III, no Golgo 13, no Ghost in the Machine, no Cowboy Bebop, etc. The strange thing is, some of those TV shows from different eras pack more U.S. pop culture recognition than the franchise that set the table.
I like Star Trek, but for some odd reason I've never bought any of the various DVD sets (and there have been many, especially for TOS). I usually borrow them from a friend of mine if I want to watch them, or watch them on television. I won't buy these "Best Of" sets, but it does remind me that I have to buy a set of TOS for my very own.
- CSI - Season 1 (Widescreen/Blu-ray)
- Curious George - Curious George Goes Green
- The Dana Carvey Show - Complete Series
- The Jeff Foxworthy Show - Season 2
Call me crazy, but in today's economy, I don't think anyone can be picky when it comes to getting a job.
Unless you're Matthew Fox.
According to various reports, the Lost star claims that when the sci-fi drama finally ends, it'll be the last TV show he ever does. Part of me doesn't blame him. He spent six years on Party of Five, another year trying to make something out of nothing on the abysmally bad UPN (remember them?) drama Haunted, and it'll be five more years notched for him once Lost ends.
Wow, this is quite a list of shows this week, though I think the only one I'm definitely going to buy is the second season 30 Rock set. Maybe the Three Stooges set too. Those are good sets to have. I'm tempted to buy the complete series set for Speed Racer because I remember it from my childhood, but I have a big suspicion that my memories would be better than the show itself.
- 30 Rock - Season 2
- The Beverly Hillbillies - Season 2
- Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern - Collection 2
- Brotherhood - Season 2
- Corner Gas - Season 5
- Doctor Who - The Brain of Morbius and Trial of a Time Lord
- Full Circle with Michael Palin
- Ghost Hunters - Season 4, Part 1
- How I Met Your Mother - Season 3
- Johnny Cash & Friends - Christmas Specials
- Martin - Season 5
- Midsomer Murders - Box Set 11
- Mission: Impossible - Season 5
- The Munsters - Complete Series and Family Portrait
- Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - Vol. 2
- Robot Chicken - Season 3
- The Sarah Jane Adventures - Season 1
- The Simpsons - Season 11
- The Smurfs - Season 1, Vol. 2
- The Three Stooges Collection - Vol. 4: 1943-45
- South Park - The Cult of Cartman
- Speed Racer - Complete Series
- Speed Racer: The Next Generation - Vol. 2
- Wagon Train - Going West
"Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer. He's a demon on wheels." -- The beginning lyrics to the theme song of Speed Racer.
In this week's installment of 'Saturday Morning' we take a break from our regularly scheduled coverage to talk about a cartoon near and dear to many readers' hearts. A cartoon that, while not the first anime to reach the shores of America of the 60s, it was certainly the most influential.
Even though it was never part on any official network schedule, Speed Racer was on somewhere at sometime during the era of Saturday morning cartoons. And, why wouldn't it be? It had everything that a child hopped up on sugar-coated, chocolate-filled cereal could want: action, drama, comedy, mysterious heroes, villains, gadgets, cars, and a boy and his chimp. It also featured animated characters with more natural characteristics than those previously seen on American television. Plus, it had a kick-ass theme song that dug into your brain.
Much has been written on the history of Speed Racer since it premiered over four decades ago. However, with the new Speed Racer live-action film now in theaters, it's a good time to revisit the origins of Speed, Trixie, Pops, Racer X, and the rest of the players. So, if you have your Mach 5 model kit in front of you, let's Go, Go, Go!
I enjoyed Speed Racer when I was a kid. I haven't seen it in 25 years or so and I'd probably be horrified now by what my youthful tastes were back then, but I remember liking the race scenes and what the car could do. I remember wanting my first car to be one that would have buzzsaws come out of the front and a big lever that would come down underneath the car that would make it jump over other cars. That last feature doesn't seem like it would work to me, now that I think about it as an adult.
Anyway, the live-action version with Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, and Matthew Fox opens this Friday. And the early buzz is that it's not going to do as well as they were hoping it would.
Here are the new TV DVDs, in stores tomorrow.
- The 4400 - Season 4
- Acapulco H.E.A.T. - Complete Series
- 'Allo 'Allo - Series 8
- Avatar The Last Airbender - Book 3 Fire, Vol. 3
- Bewitched - Season 6 (color)
- Crossing Jordan - Season 1
- Greg the Bunny - Best of the Film Parodies: Vol. 2
- A Haunting - Hauntings in America
- Hiya Kids! A 50's Saturday Morning Box
- The Jack Benny Show - The Jack Benny Show
- Madeline - Next Stop America
- Man vs. Wild - Collection 1
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (widescreen)
- Naruto - Uncut Boxed Set Vol. 7 (special edition)
- Punky Brewster - Season 1, Vol. 1
- Sgt. Preston of the Yukon - Best Of
- Speed Racer: The Next Generation - Vol. 1
- Spider-Man - Mutant Agenda
- That Girl - Season 1, Vol. 1
Here is a pleasant letter I got this week from a fan named Everett Mason...
Everett writes, "Hi Paul, I'm trying to remember a 70's anime. I know it was about a boy from outer space that had powers. It was in black and white. It might have been called space boy or something like that."
Well, clearly the answer is Astro Boy. Even if you have never seen the show, I'm sure most of you are at least familiar with it. The character has been one of the more successful crossovers from Japanese animation to America.
What's happening on other blogs via the interweb.
- On December 17, Ann Curry is going to bungee jump off a bridge.
- Here's the trailer for the big screen Speed Racer movie.
- Behind the scenes of Rachael Ray.
- MTV picks the 10 most uncomfortable star interview moments (I think the Phoenix interview should be #1).
- Cracked picks the 13 most ridiculous TV shows of all-time (I don't agree with their choices of Quark and The 100 Lives of Blackjack Savage.)
- Tim Goodman has started a new TV blog, and he picks the 5 best Christmas specials, and I really can't argue with that list (though Miracle on 34th Street should probably be in there).
Today I did an interview with a radio station in British Columbia and we took some calls from listeners asking me all sorts of questions. One listener asked me about an animated show called Star Blazers. He wanted to know the name of the starship that was featured on the show. Well, I'm sure all you anime fans remember that the original title of the show in Japan was Star Ship Yamato.
Friday at Comic-Con got underway with the Warner Brothers presentation. The swag bag included a Get Smart t-shirt with "KAOS" written on one side and "CONTROL" on the other. Not so surprisingly, no one under the age of 20 seemed to know what this meant, but Warner Brothers needn't worry because the kids love The Rock. And, because this is Comic-Con, The Rock (Agent 23) put in an appearance along with his Get Smart co-stars Steve Carrell, Masi "unofficial Comic-Con poster boy" Oka, Studio 60's Nate Torrence and Borat's Ken Davitian mercifully wearing pants.
Over the next couple of days, I'll be covering panels featuring the casts of Lost, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica and a few of this coming season's most anticipated new shows - Pushing Daisies, Reaper and Chuck among others. You can keep abreast of the latest scoop by following TV Squad's Twitter feed. (You can score a free TV Squad t-shirt if you're in San Diego by finding me via our Twitter feed.) I'll also be posting photos on Flickr and wrapping-up each day with as many posts as I can churn out to keep you, gentle viewers, informed.
As I've written before, the character of Chim Chim, Speed's monkey pal, would be played in the movie not by some animatronic 'bot or CGI creation, but by an actual flesh and blood chimp. Unfortunately, the chimp bit an actor on the set and was beaten, or so PETA was told, and the animal rights group sent a letter to producer Joel Silver asking him to stop using a real chimp.
Big thanks to our sister site Cinematical for news on the latest addition to the live-action Speed Racer flick. Richard Roundtree, Shaft himself, has joined the cast as Ben Burns, a former racer who now works as a commentator at the track.
The cast also includes Emile Hirsch as Speed, Matthew Fox as Racer X, Christina Ricci as Trixie, John Goodman as Pops, Susan Sarandon as Moms, Roger Allam as Royalton, and Scott Porter as Rex, Speed's brother who becomes Racer X (played by Matthew Fox, as mentioned).
The Wachowski brothers, the men behind the Matrix trilogy, have said they want Speed Racer to be a family movie, and apparently that's exactly what it will be with its G rating. Also, based on the design of the Mach 5, it would also appear they're trying to emulate the original cartoon series as much as possible.
The film hits theaters May 9, 2008.
When I heard Speed Racer was coming to Nicktoons, I figured it was the original cartoon, but no such luck. Instead, a newer version is being created to (not) coincide with the upcoming live-action film version from the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix), although having both debuting around the same time will definitely result in the kind of synergy studios crave.
The new Speed Racer 'toon is being produced through Lionsgate and Animation Collective, the studio behind Kappa Mikey, an anime-inspired comedy that also airs on Nicktoons.
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