Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday's (Very) Overlooked TV: No Man's Valley (1981)

This week's Tuesday's Overlooked is about as overlooked as you can get. I didn't know this program existed until today, and info about it on the Web is scarce. Of course, the scarcer it is, the more I want to know about it!

The program in question is the 1981 animated TV special No Man's Valley. Based on a children's book published that same year, Valley is about one Elliot Condor, whose habitat is threatened by human development. It's up to Elliot to find a place known as No Man's Valley, a land no human has ever inhabited and therefore a great new home for Elliot and his animal friends. The special was produced by Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, who of course created the legendary Peanuts specials.

What little information I can find lists the premiere date as November 23rd, 1981 on CBS, paired with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Here is a promo for the two specials that year.

It was in coming across this promo on YouTube that I learned about the special's existence. I have no recollection whatsoever of seeing this special ever, and as far as I can tell, 1981 may be the only year it aired. Voice actors for the special include Arnold Stang (whose voice is ubiquitous in 70s and 80s cartoons), Richard Deacon (The Dick Van Dyke Show), and Joe E. Ross (Car 54, Where Are You?).

There are no clips on YouTube or Dailymotion and no DVD release I could find. It was released on VHS in 1986, according to the library database of Case Western University (I had to dig deep for this info). It wouldn't surprise me if they have the only surviving copy!

Even Ebay came up empty. The only links I found were for the ad that appears at the top of this article and for the original storybook.

If anyone out there has any memory of this special at all, please let me know if the comments section. Thanks!

UPDATE AS OF 1/28/16: Reader Juan Aguirre notified me that he recently acquired an original cel from the special's production, for which he's graciously given permission for me to post above. Thanks Juan!


Bob Johns said...

I honestly think I remember this, in fact, I know we recorded it onto VHS with Charlie Brown.

Todd Mason said...

As far as WorldCat knows, you're not far wrong: only the LA County Library along with Case Western report having the tape. http://www.worldcat.org/title/no-mans-valley/oclc/12994329&referer=brief_results

No man's valley

Author: Frank Fehman's Publishing BV.; Mendelson-Howort Joint Venture.; Family Home Entertainment.
Publisher: [S.l.] : Family Home Entertainment, 1986.
Edition/Format: VHS video : VHS tape : Animation Visual material : English
Database: WorldCat
Elliot, a rare California condor, must find the elusive resort, "No Man's Valley," where every endangered species can live safely away from the dangers of man since he must save his dwindling species.
(not yet rated) 0 with reviews - Be the first.
Caricatures and cartoons.
Condors -- Fiction.

Genre/Form: Fiction
Material Type: Animation, Videorecording
Document Type: Visual material
All Authors / Contributors: Frank Fehman's Publishing BV.; Mendelson-Howort Joint Venture.; Family Home Entertainment.
OCLC Number: 12994329
Notes: "F2160."
Videocassette release of the 1981 cartoon by Frank Fehman's Publishing BV and Mendelson-Howort Joint Venture.
Credits: Producer-director, Bill Melendez Productions.
Description: 1 videocassette (30 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
Details: VHS format.
Responsibility: Frank Fehman's Publishing BV and Mendelson-Howort Joint Venture.

Todd Mason said...

FHE, or Family Home Entertainment, a division of IVE/LIVE that became Artisan before being bought out by LionsGate, apparently was the only hearty entity involved, aside from the Melendez/Mendelson partnership...perhaps LG still has some rights to it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Home_Entertainment

Caffeinated Joe said...

Never heard of it til you mentioned it.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Bob: nice! Maybe your family still has it!

Todd: FHE was the big children's home video distributor back in the 80s (aside from Disney, of course). Their logo seemed to be on every other kids VHS in the old video store we had membership with back then.

Joe: just when you think you've found everything there is to find on the 'Net, something like this comes along. I have to see this now!

Unknown said...

I have an original cell to this cartoon.

Anonymous said...

I remember watching this special as a child. The part I remember the mort strongly was toward the end where The condo had to decide between going to the safe land and staying there --as one of the last of his kind he could do that -- or staying in the world. He had a friend (another animal? A smaller bird? I recall a female voice and that it seemed blueish in Colorado) who was a sounding board for him to talk with and provide insight. In the end I think he choose to stay and took a majestic flight to remind the people of the beauty of his kind and of their responsibility to make things right and to do it soon as all hope was not lost.

GazThomas2011 said...

I have a toy of the rhino from no mans valley, I've never seen another one!

Unknown said...

I remember watching this special..and recording on vhs the show. I wish I could see it on youtube. Another favorite was animalympics, and that one is on youtube.

fnosaj1968 said...

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television just posted it on you tube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fuZP7m7u3o

Phillyradiogeek said...

Awesome, thanks fnosaj1968! I may feature the entire program this Thanksgiving!

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I do remember seeing this a few years back when it was up on YouTube anyway (from someone else's copy). I noticed the name Frank Fehmers Publishing involved in this, as it's founder, Frank Fehmers, later created a show called "The Bluffers" (collaborated with Gene Deitch), featuring a similar group of animals, though in a different setting, but often dealt with moral and environmental themes as well.

Recall being interested in seeing what the book was like, but sadly there's no scans of it available outside the cover I found in a Google image search, I'm sure it's quite a rarity to find these days.


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