Thursday, May 12, 2011

On finally being able to easily explain why the dwarves in Final Fantasy saying "Rally-Ho! is funny

Modern video game fans know "Rally Ho!" (sometimes translated as "Lali-Ho!") as the greeting of the Dwarvish race in the Final Fantasy games.  But older fans, who grew up in the late 60s and early 70s remember the phrase from a far different source.

The Impossibles were one of Hanna-Barbera's first Superhero cartoons, following Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel, and coming out the same year as the legendary Space Ghost.  As opposed to the more serious hero from the Ghost Planet, The Impossibles were a more tongue-in-cheek show, with an animation style closer to the more "cartoony" Winsome Witch style. Featuring villains like The Paper Doll Man and The Insidious Inflator, the trio fought crime in the Washington DC area, as well as a number of fictional cities across the country.

Coil Man had the ability to stretch and spring his body, Fluid Man could change to any form of water, including steam and rainclouds, and Multi-Man could create a seemingly endless stream of duplicates, all expendable, as long as the villains never took out the original, which they never seemed to. Fluid Man could fly; indeed they all seemed to be able to on rare occasion, though Coil Man usually bounced along, and Multi-Man had this cool way of traversing chasms by generating duplicates in rapid succession like a deck of cards being spread out on the felt.

Like all superheroes, they had secret identities, though theirs were a bit "Hide in plain sight"y.  When not fighting crime and/or evil as The Impossibles, they were a popular singing group called...The Impossibles. I mean, NOBODY made the connection?  Even when on occasion they'd visit the villains' prison cells as the SINGING Impossibles?  Also, we never learned their real names; they were ever referred to as "Coily", "Fluey" and "Multi" to each other, in our out of their fighting togs.

The shows would begin and end with a small number of the band's catchy pop tunes, a theme we'd see repeated on Josie and the Pussycats. Though, sadly, we never got to hear longer versions of the songs, and certainly never got to buy an album.

The character designs and stories were a delight, and the voice talent was from the heart of H-B's stable of classic actors. The team were voiced by the inimitable Paul Frees, Hal Smith (who aside from his miles long voice resume, you likely better remember as Otis the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show) and Don Messick, who was as close to royalty as a voice actor can get. They doubled up on numerous characters, but villains were also voiced by such luminaries as Alan Melvin (Best known as Barney Hefner on All in the Family) and Fred Flintstone himself, Alan Reed.

The team were paired with an equally outlandish superhero character's adventures, Frankenstein Jr. The creation of boy scientist Buzz Conroy, Frankie was a giant robot with a seemingly infinite array of powers. Combatting an endless rogues gallery of criminals and mercenaries, the pair prevailed time and time again in their science-fictiony world of the near future.

Again, only the best voice talent was good enough for Hanna-Barbera. Frankie was voiced by Ted Cassidy, who didn't get nearly enough of a chance to show off his vocal and comedic talents as Lurch on The Addams Family. Buzz Conroy was played by Dick Beals, another perennial worker for H-B, and best known as the voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer.. John Stephenson, the original Dr. Benton Quest played Buzz' dad, Professor Conroy. His wife, Buzz' mom was never seen on the series; The Wife assumed she left the relation ship early; I assume some sort of experiment of which the pair do not speak...

Once again beating the trend to the punch, Frankenstein Jr. appeared well before the big explosion of gian robot cartoons. Only Gigantor (originally the Japanese show Tetsujin 28) appeared first, several years earlier, but while Jimmy Sparks controlled Gigantor from afar, Buzz piloted Frankie personally, riding on his shoulder. Only years later would the genre make a reappearance in Japan, spawning the endless examples that we've seen since.

After a great number of requests, the increasingly awesome Warner Brothers Archive has made the show available on DVD. The Print-on-Demand DVD industry has seen a lot of growth in the last year or two, with almost all the major studios starting a line. It's a great way to make movies available that would appeal to a core audience, but could never support a full-blown release which would require thousands of copies to be printed and distributed. Here, they only need to build the content and label, and burn a copy as it's ordered, making each release profitablequickly, possibly after only a few dozen orders.

As the lines have proven successful, more time and money have been invested on the releases. In addition to a very nice digital clean-up and re-mastering of the cartoons, this release features a short documentary on the shows, with interviews with animation historians and W-B animator Scott Jeralds, late of the under-appreciated Krypto the Superdog and The Secret Saturdays. The mini-feature includes a look at a lot of pre-production art for both series, back when the super-team was to be named "The Incredibles" (Pixar dodged a bullet there, huh?) and Frankie was actually going to be created by Dr. Frankenstein.

The WB Archives have released a number of H-B series so far including The Pirates of Dark Water, and up next, The Herculoids. But it's this release that has created the most excotement and joy in our household, and it's WELL worth a look.


  1. Oh joy of joys! Oh dream of dreams! Our family has loved Hanna-Barbera's FRANKENSTEIN JR. and THE IMPOSSIBLES since we were youngsters, and now thanks to Warner Archive, we have a high-quality 2-discs-including-extras FRANKENSTEIN JR./IMPOSSIBLES set in our own home, where our daughter loves it, too! See, sometimes dreams do come true! :-)

  2. Actually, speaking of The Impossibles, I always felt that a lot of their villains (e.g. Mr. Instant, The Paper-Doll Man, etc.) would've made great additions to Flash's Rogues Gallery. They all seemed to have that 60s DC Comics feel to them.

    As for Frankenstein Jr., for me my favorite bit (which, if I recall correctly, occurred twice) was when Buzz was trapped in some remote location, and he was required to activate Frankenstein Jr. by bouncing the signal from his Radar Ring off of a series of incredible positions (satellites, mountain tops, etc.). Fast Eddie Felton had nothing on that boy.