Newton vs. Toot

This was one of those not-much-posting days (for me, I mean; not for our bloggers covering the election, who continue to deliver the goods). So as a combination of compensation and sheer filler, here’s a little flashback to a show that was on all the time when I was a kid — and I know for a fact that I was not the only one in my neighbourhood who watched it. I was at this birthday party where the entertainer was one of those “man of a thousand voices” types, and one of the voices he did was Newton. Or, should I say “Was Newton, Was Newton.” It was pretty good, too (pretty good, too) and most of the kids in the room seemed to respond with delighted recognition. Unfortunately, as I recall, he didn’t do Daedalus, who was voiced by Jack “Popeye” Mercer (the show was put together by people from the Paramount/Famous cartoon studio after it shut down). Nor did he sing the theme song, which was really cool even by the surprisingly high standards of these cheap ’60s cartoons that TV stations showed as filler (or CanCon, since many of them were U.S./Canada co-productions). All the best work seemed to go into the songs on shows like Rocket Robin Hood or Spider-Man.


The fact that a lot of us watched it and recognized the characters doesn’t prove that the show was good; I don’t know for sure that anyone really thought that. In fact, I think it was a formative moment in recognizing bad storytelling. When you’re a child, you frequently don’t notice (or care about) plot holes or repetitive stories, but with “The Mighty Hercules” I finally started to notice that the show really seemed to reach to find reasons for Hercules to be stripped of his powers or not put on his magic ring. (The ring was basically his equivalent of spinach.) Then I noticed that the plots seemed to be exactly the same every time. The tipping point was this villain (also voiced by Mercer) with a garbage can on his head, who called the can “The Mask of Vulcan” and claimed it made him invincible. When I saw them find one excuse to knock the can off his head, that was fine. When I saw them do it several times, a lightbulb went on in my childish head and I realized: this show has writers, and they’re not doing a very good job.