Do you remember waaaaaay back when having a day off meant Saturday, and Saturday meant waking up at the crack of dawn to plop yourself in front of the television set with a bowl of sugar based cereal substitute to watch Saturday morning cartoons? Yeah, me neither. But that’s okay. Let’s get NOSTALGIC!
There you are, in the creepy forest, driving along in your dune buggy with your two best friends and a dog, when, all of a sudden, it starts raining! Oh no! Your dune buggy doesn’t have a roof. It’s probably not even road safe! What do you do? Obviously, you break into someone’s home and immediately reset the first grandfather clock you see to the correct time, because that’s just the kind of wacky hijinks you and your friends get up to. It’s a Saturday, September 11, 1971 and, if you can stop messing around with clocks long enough to find a tv, you can watch The Funky Phantom.
“The Phantom was Johnathan Muddlemore: a Revolutionary-era New Englander who in 1776 had escaped from the Redcoats by scooting into an old mansion and hiding into a grandfather clock.” “To make amends for his long-ago cowardice, Muddlemore (nicknamed “Musty”) aided [April, Skip and Augie] in fighting 20th century villains – all the while regaling them with his name-dropping anecdotes about the Colonial founding fathers.” I think that says everything it needs to. The Funky Phantom lasted from September 11, 1971 to January 1, 1972 and that’s only because Sam and Dean from Supernatural weren’t able to lay the phantom to rest sooner.
What I remember
Nope. I’m not even going to pretend that I’ve heard of this one. Let’s take a look at that cover imagery instead. There’s a total of six figures. Three of those and their dog are obviously meddling kids. I’m sensing a Scooby Doo connection. The other two are what I’m assuming to be the phantoms: an American Revolutionary and his cat. The background appears to be a standard spooky house including an old grandfather clock. The back cover gives a description of the series that makes it sound like someone threw a bunch of names and verbs into a hat, drew a few out at random, and made a cartoon based on the result. Let’s just skip to the rewatch.
Did everyone back in the 70s own a dune buggy? Or secretly wished that they did and this desire was reflected in the cartoon designs of the time period? Episode 1, “Don’t Fool With the Phantom,” is Scooby Doo with a ghost that sounds like the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz, instead of a dog, plus a dog AND a ghost cat, just in case there weren’t enough sidekicks. A group of teens stumbles upon an old man who laments that he will soon lose farm due to the actions of a shadowy individual calling himself The Raven. Taking pity on him, they agree to help him raise the money needed to save said farm by entering into a local car race. During the race, the teens are attacked by a man in a mask. After they win the race, the figure is unmasked and revealed to be the town banker who has been trying to buy the old man’s land.
If you like Scooby Doo and vague references to colonial America, you’ll like The Funky Phantom. It doesn’t really add all that much to the teen sleuths and their pet genre, even with the addition of ghosts, but it’s also largely harmless fun.
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More to come (live from what I remember about the 80’s!) as this story continues.
Kevin Wadlow is 100% a real human being and definitely not a murder of crows wearing a person suit. He is an avid reader of horror, tabletop gamer, and drinker of coffee who enjoys drawing things of strangeness along the way. When the zombie apocalypse comes, he will probably be eaten first after saying something about how he fully expected to go out like this.