Friday, October 21, 2016

Disney's "The Great Mouse Detective" At 30

I remember watching The Great Mouse Detective when it premiered when I was a kid. For those who haven't seen it, this Disney animated film from 1986 is about a mouse named Basil who lives in a mousehole at 221B Baker Street in London - the home address of Sherlock Holmes. Basil is an anthropomorphic cartoon mouse who solves mysteries like Sherlock Holmes. He even has a sidekick - Dr. Dawson - who is the anthropomorphic cartoon mouse counterpart to Dr. Watson. Basil's archfoe is Professor Ratigan (voiced by horror icon Vincent Price), who is the anthropomorphic cartoon rat counterpart to Professor Moriarty. The film is excellent. It's still available in stores as part of a Blu Ray-DVD combo pack, so I highly recommend that you see it. might want to check out the children's book series of novels that inspired the film. Eve Titus created Basil, Dawson and Ratigan. She wrote five books in all, beginning with Basil of Baker Street, which I remember was brought back in print to coincide with the release of the film. I remember thinking that I didn't enjoy Paul Galdone's illustrations because the characters looked too much like real mice, whereas the Disney version reimagines the cast as pure cartoon characters. Cut to 2016, the 5 books are back in print, with new cover illustrations by artist David Mottram - these I like! Basil and Dr. Dawson have a bit of a Chuck Jones style to them...a literary Hubie & Bertie, ready to meet the cricket in Times Square  (if you got that reference..thank you)..or a wizened Pixie & Dixie. Unfortunately, they didn't have Mottram contribute new interior illustrations, so you get to stare and compare with Galdone's stuff.

As for the stories..I got a confession to make: this month will mark my first time reading the books. I remember owning the reprint of Basil of Baker Street that had the Disney version of the mouse on the cover, but being put-off by the Galdone drawings and the fact that the story had little to nothing in common with the plot of the film. You won't find prose/illustrations of balloon races across the Thames, no escapes from Rube Goldberg-esque deathtraps or clock tower showdowns or bats with peg-legs. Ratigan isn't in it - he appears in the 2nd book! You will find a similar scene of Basil deducing a location by analyzing a piece of paper, along with the disguises Basil and Dawson wore in the film. The book's plot is about Angela and Agatha - two little girl mice twins who are kidnapped by a group of mice called "The Terrible Three". Angela and Agatha have little to do, but are the likely inspiration for the character of Olivia Flaversham from the movie.

I did enjoy the book now because I appreciated reading a new story with these characters and I've got four more to go. I'm curious as to why Disney never thought of cranking out some direct-to-DVD sequels during their "cranking-our-some-direct-to-DVD-sequels-of-our-movies" phase, but there was material there. Plus, in the wake of Geronimo Stilton and Sherlock, these books seem perfect for a chance at being rediscovered by new readers.

One notable difference in the books from the film that's never addressed is the idea of anthropomorphic animals co-existing with humans in secret communities/colonies that escape the humans notice. Basil gathers a group to live in the basement at 221B Baker Street and forms Holmestead, a literal mousetown with houses and shops..kind of like the Aardman movie Flushed Away..or the "city" scenes in A Bug's Life...this might've been the forerunner to that kind of thing.

I'm about to read about Basil and The Cave of Cats..pygmy cats, huh? This would make a cool idea for a CG sequel..

One last memory: does anyone besides my old 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Vogel, pronounce "Basil" like "Bay-zil"? Y'know - like the herb? Or "Bah-zil", as in "Basil Rathone" or "St. Basil"? I remember when I ordered Basil of Baker Street via Troll - the school book order catalog. The books for the students would be delivered to the respective classrooms, then the teacher would sort out who ordered which books. She insisted that Basil's name was pronounced Bay-zil. It was a losing argument: she wasn't going to see the film, but she had to be right, because it was her classroom, so this cartoon mouse was clearly named after an herb she owned in her spice rack...

In retrospect, her intelligence was...elementary.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"The Chocolate Falcon Fraud" by JoAnna Carl

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the 3rd adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's epic detective novel, The Maltese Falcon...the one with Humphrey Bogart and the statue of a bird. All kidding aside, The Maltese Falcon should rank among the top 2 greatest mystery novels of all time (the other being The Hound of The Baskervilles) and the film actually improves on it, particularly with the ending, which leaves out an additional scene in the book that sort-of cheapens our conclusions about the character of Sam Spade by implying that he's already over the drama, whereas the Bogart version of Spade is not likely to forget what happened after "..a couple of rough nights.." If you haven't seen it, please do.

Now...I realize the only surviving participant in the 1941 film is the prop falcon statue. There are two in existence. They both have aged to the point where they appear to be made of solid milk chocolate, in color and texture - like a chocolate bunny. Some replicas of this prop are gold-plated, so they resemble a solid chocolate falcon wrapped in gold foil..

With this train of thought in mind, it was easy for me to see the appeal of a mystery novel with a title that includes the words "Falcon" and "Chocolate". Right off the bat, I will say that there is no chocolate Maltese Falcon statue in the book, even though the protagonist specializes in designing original gourmet chocolate confections. The only chocolate falcons we get are described in a way that resembles those holiday chocolate candies Russell Stover offers - marshmallow-filled chocolates in the shape of Santa Claus, Halloween pumpkins and Easter eggs. These Falcon candies are offered by our heroine at a Maltese Falcon film festival/fan expo, a convention you might think would exist, given the popularity of the film, but is made-up for the plot of the book.

The Chocolate Falcon Fraud is a cozy - a sub-genre of mystery novel in which there's a puzzle to be solved, but it's not a tough puzzle; the real appeal is that the heroine (always a female protagonist; the closest you get to a male cozy detective series is M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth novels and Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhoddenbar books, which are mostly classified as police procedural and caper novels, respectively, but Hamish is a constable in a cozy Highland village and Bernie's a thief that owns a shop, so they fit in there) runs a shop that makes gourmet chocolate with her aunt, so the author gets to better her books with recipes and trivia about fudge and chocolate foodstuffs for chocoholics. It could be adapted into a film for the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel. More on that in a bit, but getting back to what a cozy is...they're light in subject matter and not too explicit in violent content. It's Miss Marple and Murder, She Wrote territory, where a headline on the front page of the New York Daily News might actually read, "Murder Stymies Cops!"

Lee Woodyard is our eager amateur sleuth. Her stepson from a former marriage has come back into town to become the target of an elaborate kidnapping plot by a group of con artists baiting him with a ruse about a possible 3rd falcon prop statue used in the 1941 film that he wants to purchase. Doppelgangers for Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Mary Astor show up. Gawdy keychain-size replicas of the falcon pop up. This is good stuff, but my big gripe (aside from the lack of a proper falcon statue made of solid milk chocolate) is that the cool Falcon riffs kick in halfway through the second half of this book. Most of what we get is teen soap opera about Jeff, the aforementioned stepson/scapegoat, whose transformation from ne'r-do-well emo teen punk to nerdy film buff/movie memorabillia tchotchke collector with a girlfriend is sincere...or if he's on the shenanigans.

The book is okay...but JoAnna Carl (a pseudonym used by Eve K. Sandstrom) dropped the ball by overlooking the most obvious gag a mystery novel with a title like that could have. It has a lot of nice ideas..I do wish there was a bigger fandom for The Maltese Falcon.

Should The Chocolate Falcon Fraud be adapted into a film for Hallmark Movies and Mysteries? Yeah! It would be terrific! I would like to suggest Danielle Harris play Lee Woodyard. I can easily picture her in a mystery involving a popular genre film, a fan convention and collectors and tchotchkes...and Will Wheaton could play her love interest, because Danielle's husband in real-life kind-of resembles Wheaton..if Wheaton was pumping iron a bit. And Jennifer Tilly could play Lee's Aunt Nettie, so yeah, this would be awesome.

And there will be a falcon statue made of solid milk chocolate..with marshmallow center, of course.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

See The Movie...Or Read The Novel: "Suicide Squad"

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't have a tie-in novelization, but Suicide Squad does, written by Marv Wolfman, of Teen Titans and Crsis On Infinite Earths fame. I was impressed with his prose writing ability - I'm going to check out his novelization of Arkham Knight - and observed that it's probably (judging from the mixed reviews..or tomatoes, frankly) a smoother experience than the film, which I saw two months after reading the prose. In the past, I've tried reading other novels by comic book writers and found that only Dennis O'Neill, Devin Grayson and Alan Grant had a knack for it, whereas others felt very amateurish. If I didn't own the trade paperback of Crisis, I would've tracked down Wolfman's novelization of it, just to see how he wrote it up.

The book contains fewer Ben Affleck cameos. In it's place, the character of June Moon/The Enchantress and her storyarc in the film is elaborated on by Wolfman. In the film, June's relationship with Rick Flag, her initial transformation into the Enchantress and her enlistment to the Squad by Amanda Waller is just exposition, but it's dramatised in the book and takes up most of the first 1/3...having said that, the final battle between Enchantress and the Squad is really weak.

And I didn't enjoy reading the stuff with the EA's...the tar monsters (my description...or what I gathered that they looked like). All those descriptions of combat fighting felt like Resident Evil stuff. That was not interesting to read. I also disliked all the back-and-forth TV cop show-style bickering between Deadshot and Flag. Audiences liked Will Smith as Deadshot, so I'm assuming his performance added something missing from what reads like well-worn material. Captain Boomerang was fun to read, though the joke about why he owns the pink unicorn doll isn't in the book.

Neither the book or the film do anything with Katana, who's just along for the ride. Whatever additional scenes featuring Jared Leto that might exist on the cuttingfloor don't make it into the book, so it's hard to gauge whether even more material was shot after the book went to press...after all, the novel does have fewer Batffleck cameos...and no Flash cameo, either! do I sum this up? It has a lot of cool moments. The book does some heavy lifting with the characterization in parts, I didn't really like the plot, because it just becomes a video game along the middle, then has a really weak finale, while the casting choices impose a better movie exists along it's I the only one who would prefer to see the newly branded DC Films ditch their labyrinthine plans for Justice League movies and just give us straight up a Batman vs. Joker & Harley Quin trilogy, instead?

Oh, and a trilogy Wonder Woman movies. Everyone loves Gal Godat. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"The Alternate Duckiverse" (alt. title: "Is St. Canard In Callisota?")

Darkwing Duck is 25 years old. No news yet about an animated revival of the Disney TV series, but there is an ongoing comic book series published by Joe Books that's available at your (hopefully) better-than-average comic shop currently on it's 4th issue.

Series creator Tad Stones was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter about the milestone and dropped what's been reffered to on social media as a "bombshell": he never really saw Darkwing Duck as a direct spin-off of Ducktales and believed both shows took place in separate universes.

It always seemed like a natural assumption that Ducktales and Darkwing Duck were linked together, first because the latter program featured Launchpad McQuack and Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck, two major Ducktales supporting characters who were introduced in said series. A later episode of Darkwing Duck ("In Like Blunt") featured the major Ducktales villains - Flintheart Glomgold, Magica de Spell and the Beagle Boys - in non-speaking cameos. And while Scrooge McDuck and Huey, Dewey & Louie Duck remained offscreen, there was an infamous "Welcome To Duckburg" billboard with Scrooge's face appearing in the episode, "Tiff of The Titans". More-obvious examples of Disney TV shows that likely took place in separate universes, yet featured anthropomorphic talking ducks in the main cast were Bonkers, Quack Pack, The Mighty Ducks and House of Mouse. Those three series depict their lead characters inhabiting worlds that include cartoon humans, yet neither would mix well, unless you add a conceit that one or the other is a fictional series of cartoons being "filmed" within the world of another series, and the protagonists are ret-conned as actors, which is what House of Mouse does.

What supports Stones' logic is that both shows featured stylistic differences that set eachother apart..and I don't mean drawing style. Darkwing was a sendup of genre cliches featuring spies and superheroes. It also featured a lot of broad slapstick and cartoon violence in the vein of Tom & Jerry and the Looney Tunes shorts. Characters were often acutely self-aware and would break the fourth wall, knowing they were in a cartoon. Ducktales was a more conventional adventure-comedy series. Whenever there was any broad slapstick, it stayed firmly in relation to how things would happen in the real world, not cartoon physics. There were exceptions, but Darkwing would often survive a barrage of explosives and heavy metal objects and would shake it off; Scrooge suffered head trauma/amnesia after getting hit on the head with a skateboard in one episode. For Darkwing Duck to get amnesia, it would probably happen with twelve pianos falling on his head. You see what I mean?

The only way to reconcile this revelation with what's already established and all in the past is that a different version Scrooge McDuck and the Ducktales cast of characters exists within Darkwing Duck's..cartoonier universe. That's all. Not knock-offs, just apropos of Darkwing. By the same token, we can assume a different version of Darkwing Duck and his cast of characters exists apropos of the Ducktales universe as well.

And what if they crossover? Which universe does the episode take place in? Well, if it's a self-contained one-shot story, it's set within the context of the respective series. If Darkwing appears in the new Ducktales episodes premiering on DisneyXD in 2017, it'll be within the context established by that series. Same deal if Disney ever thought of a "The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones"-esque TV movie featuring these characters.

And if they really want to run wild...there's the cake gate. It was established in Darkwing Duck that portals/wormholes to parallel universes exist disguised as giant decorative cakes. There could be a cake to the Ducktales universe, a cake for the Super Goof universe, a cake to the Double-O-Duck universe*, a cake to the Carl Barks comic book Durkburg, a cake to the DC Comics universe, a cake to a mashup universe, a cake to the real world and the Disney Parks..and even a cake where Darkwing and Scrooge accompany Sorra instead of Donald and Goofy in Kingdom's a piece of cake.

Happy Anniversary, Darkwing Duck. :)

*Double-O-Duck was the original incarnation/concept for Darkwing Duck in it's early stages of development..I'm actually surprised that the team got as far as creating a press-kit for the character before revamping it into the character/series that we're familiar with today.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

See The Movie..Or Read The Book: "Ghostbusters"

Maybe I should've just seen the lady Ghostbusters movie..I wound up reading 3 books: the junior novelization, the standard novelization..and, perhaps better than either of those - a facsimile of Ghosts From Our Past, the guidebook serving as the catalyst for much of the film's plot.

The only disadvantage to opting out of seeing the film is that I can't say anything about the cast or choices regarding direction, production values and special effects. What I can observe is how earnest the story is. Erin and Abby's friendship is central to everything that happens...but it reminds me of the stuff with the baby in Ghostbusters 2 - actually, it's not as bad, but you can't have a proper screwball comedy romp when you try to add greater meaning to the shenanigans. Erin and Abby's dilemma belongs in a very different comedy, yet I'm aware that without it, this whole thing might resemble a remake of Pixels.

In the junior novel, Erin comes off particularly bipolar - she's looking for any chance to bail one moment, licking radioactive ghost traps the next. The junior novel, I'll bet, resembles the final cut of the film. Nancy Holder, who wrote the adult novel, goes to great lengths to flesh out Erin and Abby's backstory with lots of flashbacks to their salad days as teenagers and college students, eventually chronicling the disintegration of their friendship. That leaves little time for Holder to devote much to fleshing out the best characters: Kevin the receptionist and Jillian Holtzman. Midway into the final 3rd of the novel, she gives Holtzman and Patty Tolan a precious moment to talk about themselves, in a scene reminiscent of a moment between Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson driving across the Brooklyn Bridge in the original film. For the sake of a sequel centering around Holtzman at least, I wish the film was successful enough for the studio to make one.

Other hints of the author taking creative license include an attempt to explain lame gags - the same Chinese food deliveryman, the dangerous radioactive device that gets handed like paperweight, Jennifer Lynch and the Mayor's obsession with keeping up appearances, Erin a popular target for getting slimed/puked on..

Oddly, Holder and Andrew Shaffer - the writer of the Ghosts From Our Past facsimile - invent contradictory accounts of the ghost Erin encountered as a child. Shaffer's account is more farcical and set around Halloween; Holder's account offers background on the old woman ghost and why she would want to haunt Erin. Shaffer and Holder also can't agree on how many hard copies of Ghosts From Our Past were self-published by Erin and Abby before Abby ultimately made it available on Kindle: Holder limits it to two copies, Shaffer implies far more, but never gives an exact number; just enough copies for other characters - debunker Martin Heiss in particular - to discover. These examples of discontinuity are not exclusive to these two; Ozzy Osbourne's cameo has a completely different line of dialogue in the junior novel and in Holder's novel! I prefer "I can't follow THAT!" (junior) to "SHARON!! I'm having another flashback!" (Holder novelization), but in this case, I'll bet the latter is in the final cut.

The guidebook is hilarious...though I wonder why they could make room for John Belushi and Chuthulu, but have no room for likely-to-have-been-seen-and-documented-before Ghostbusters rogues like Slimer, Viggo the Carpathian (whether you like him or not), Gozer the Gozerian, Vince Klortho and Zuul. Why not? This shit had rules? Nerds.

Hands down, the best passage in the guidebook was an Epitaph purportedly from Kevin, still completely at sea, trying to write abouta guidebook he opted out of reading...and trying to see if he can see the movie, instead...

...writing-wise, I think Kevin's my intellectual opposite/counterpart in the fictional world...

At the end of the day, I thought it was all okay...kind-of middle-of-the-road, story-wise. It's a story built on the outline of a plot I've seen before, so the interesting stuff was all the character could fashion a plot around this team never encountering any ghosts at all and still be entertaining...but that's not Ghostbusters...the appeal of this franchise is the blue collar approach to encountering the paranormal - like bug exterminators! It's a deceptively simple dynamic..but they got it half-right! It could've been much worse..

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mary Jane Watson: What Do WE Know?

If you're regarding the recent reveal that actress Zendaya Coleman had been cast as Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming (or Michelle Jane Watson, but still "M.J." regardless) in terms of fidelity to the source material, then it probably is disappointing that Hollywood is still adverse to gingers..but Zendaya is an actress and glamorous model..and the Mary Jane Watson of the comics is an actress and glamorous model...she's as good a choice (perhaps a better casting choice) than the 2 actresses who preceded her (Kirsten Dunst and Shailene Woodley). And there's another thing to consider:

"Face it tiger, you hit the jackpot!" kind of a ridiculously corny thing a woman could say. The only actresses who could get away with saying that line just right - in all sincerity, without a trace of sarcasm or saccharine schmaltz - are Karen Gillan and Ellie Kemper, and they're not teenagers. Megan Fox could do it, because we've seen her play the M.J. all of you detractors think you want to see 4 Michael Bay movies (yes, I'm counting the TMNT movies). And I don't know if Bella Thorne could've delivered that line, either.

Past Spider-Man films tended to downplay M.J.'s personality to match the performance of their Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Dunst's M.J. could be noncommittal and fickle. Leaked dialogue for Woodley's deleted scenes appeared to portray Mary Jane as pragmatic and less of a party girl than the M.J. from Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.'s stories. In other words, she might've been characterized as having more in common with Peter, socially.

There's a superficial take on Mary Jane..and a more complex one. The superficial M.J. is...Megan Fox in a Transformers movie. I'm not going to waste words - if you want to see quintessential M.J. Watson, watch Megan Fox in the first 2 Transformers movies. That's Mary Jane in all but name only...yet lacking complexity.

The complex Mary Jane Watson is the one who became Peter's confidant..and eventually, his wife. She's the one who became the love of his life..first by staying by his side to help him with his grief after Gwen died. We haven't seen that M.J. depicted on film at all...maybe we will see Zendaya bring out that aspect of the character. That would be awesome.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mrs. Columbo..What Do WE Know?

Reruns of Columbo aren't hard to find on television. He really is the American Sherlock Holmes - not a copy or a parody - Columbo has his own style, but like  Sherlock, he can appear unflappably masterful as a detective. This has a lot to do with Peter Falk's would be a serious mistake if Hollywood executives tried to remake/reboot/revamp Columbo under the assumption that this was simply a recyclable intellectual property...

...but they tried that already. Twice! Even did a gender-bend! I'll get to that in a bit, but the 2nd time they did it was with Matlock. That show enjoys a long life in reruns because it capitalized on Andy Griffith's folksy good 'ol boy persona, but let's not be naive; Ben Matlock is, as a character on paper, Columbo as a lawyer.

  Now, the 1st time NBC (the network that originally broadcasted episodes of Columbo, as well as Matlock...and Perry Mason movies) tried a revamp/reboot/remake was with Mrs. Columbo.

We knew nothing about this woman. Actually, we knew small stuff that Columbo would say about her during his many dialogues with the actors who guest-starred as the murderer in each episode. "Mrs. Columbo" - if she existed (series co-creator William Link liked to tease that this might be a ruse by the Lieutenant as an ice-breaker...her name was never revealed) - would always stay offscreen. Columbo himself could be enigmatic; it's only due to the efforts of a particularly fussy prop wrangler that the i.d. card bundled with Columbo's badge revealed that his first name is "Frank".

Episodes of Mrs. Columbo have been locked away for us to never see. Or maybe I'm being presumptuous. I'm convinced a couple of episodes of the series were offered as "bonus episodes" bundled DVDs of Seasons 3 and 4 of Columbo as a test by Universal Home Video to see if we would want more. I know this because they were on sale for ten bucks each at Best Buy and I was able to witness if we were missing out on a treat...

...we're not missing anything. Our imaginations can do a better job of picturing "Kate Columbo" solving mysteries as an amateur sleuth while raising young daughter Jenny Columbo..and Columbo himself could actually be in it! Behind-the-scenes, Peter Falk refused to appear in the spinoff series, so they compensated by making sure viewers at home see Columbo's battered Peugeot convertible and "Dog" - Columbo's pet dog - would be present. It became a role reversal: every episode would show whodunit, you were watching to see how Kate Columbo would solve howtheydunit. And while she didn't wax on anecdotes about her husband to murderers as a way of talking shop like her spose did, Lt. Columbo would stay offscreen.

As an actress, Kate Mulgrew looks more comfortable playing the captain of a starship in outer space or the den mother in a women's prison..than a housewife who solves mysteries. Maybe in a Cagney & Lacy, "lady cop" role, but then I realized that maybe Tyne Daly could play Mrs. Columbo better...than I recall the original argument against casting an actress in her late-20s to play the wife of a middle-aged man who - for this marriage to have happened - would've likely married her when she was 14...sticky situation. So it's no wonder Mrs. Columbo was eventually revamped into Kate Loves A Mystery, with her name changed to Kate Callahan, with any references to Columbo removed from existence as a ret-con. The show faded away, anyway. Coincidentally, "Kate Callahan" is the name of a detective Jennifer Love Hewitt played in the series Criminal Minds...and she didn't fare well on that series, either. Maybe the name "Kate" is jinxed; Leslie Easterbrook played a cop named "Callahan" in the Police Academy movies, which enjoyed a longer lifespan than anyone expected, so that surname isn't jinxed.

Could Mrs. Columbo have worked at all the way it was? I liked Lili Haydn as Jenny - you could imagine that this girl is the daughter of Peter Falk...the same way you could imagine her as Rodney Dangerfield's daughter in Easy Money. She's okay. I found out that in real life, she was a musical prodigy and is an accomplished violinist. That scene of her in Money playing scales on the violin was no goof; she can play that thing.

The real problem is with Kate. Take out Mulgrew...who would you replace her with? This might not be a whimsical exercise - there might be an executive saying "Hey, we could totally do this! Make it period piece set in the late-70s! We'll cast Victoria Principal or Dana Delany as Mrs. Columbo and air it on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel and watch the money pour in!"...

...OMG..they totally could do that today, couldn't they? Damn fidelity to an old TV series - they could totally do a retro spinoff series fit within the continuity of Columbo...and there would be no need to re-cast Columbo...whoa..

I'm going back to my original safer thought about who would've been better cast as Kate Columbo than Kate Mulgrew..William Link had suggested Maureen Stapleton, but I think the best choice would've been Elaine May. If you don't know who she is, look her up. She actually played Peter Falk's wife in a movie! They collaborated on 3 films together - one in which she directed! I don't feel like I need to work hard to sell this choice..I just wish NBC executives had thought of it...then we would've had a Columbo umbrella franchise that would rival the CSI franchise. Jenny Columbo would've had a Punky Brewster-esque spinoff..."Dog" would've starred in a Saturday Morning cartoon animated by Ruby-Spears or Hanna-Barbera...The Peugeot convertible would've probably become the new Speed Buggy or Herbie the Love Bug...and Peter Falk came back to do Columbo movies in the 80s and 90's, so this could've been a big branding machine of a thing...and they could totally do this now...