What The Funny #7: Mission: Freakazoid

Anubis Markets

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Anubis Market, a division of Osiris Foods. Food so good, you can eat it!

As you may have already deduced by now, it’s time for another installment of What The Funny, spotlighting Freakazoid!

Freakazoid_and_Friends

Where the insanity never ends!

Today we’ll be looking at episode 16, the third episode of season 2, Mission Freakazoid.

Mission_freakazoid

Premise: While on vacation in Vukanova, Freakazoid/Dexter’s family, the Douglases (mom Debbie, dad Douglas–yes, his name is Douglas Douglas–and Dex’s jerky brother Duncan) are captured by the tyrannical Vukanovan minister of state security, Janos Ivenovowels…

Philip_J__Fry

“I get it!”

…to trade to the U.S. for captured Vukanovan spies. Freakazoid’s mentor Roddy MacStew and the Announcer task Freakazoid with the mission of saving his family, and he assembles the crack team of Cosgrove, Steff, and his new butler, Professor Jones.

Gag Credit: Who has a biscuit for me? Who does? Huh? Sound off, if you have a biscuit for me, ’cause I really want one now. No one, huh? I’ll remember this.

No prizes for guessing, this episode parodies the 1966-73 TV series Mission: Impossible (which, only four months before this episode aired, had been revived as a Tom Cruise film which alienated the fan base of the series by turning the show’s protagonist Jim Phelps into a mass-murdering double agent). The intro (with the burning fuse and clips from the upcoming episode) is taken directly from that show.

While most of the “Mission: Freakazoid!” intro is composed of clips from the episode, several shots are unique to the intro. Some of these are likely outtakes/deleted scenes from the main body of the episode, or more likely they were just thrown in for laughs. The unique shots are: the Douglases in their cell looking frightened; Freakazoid drawing a mustache on his face while in the Vukanovan base; Roddy fighting the “master chip” (which stands upright like a giant monster); live action footage of an Anubis employee peering into a vast hot dog oven; Freakazoid being electrocuted (this is footage from the subsequent episode “Heroboy”); black and white animated footage of a fuel-leaking rocket falling off a launchpad and exploding; a shot of Emmitt Nervend; a still caricature of Henry Kissinger; live action footage of a man fighting a bear (from Grizzly Adams; last seen in “The Chip, Part II”); an extreme close-up on Freakazoid’s eyes watching the fuse on the screen; and live action black and white footage of a nuclear explosion (the same footage used in “Dexter’s Date” when Freakazoid and Lobe crash into the wall while riding dessert carts). As in “Dance of Doom”, “Hot Rods from Heck!” and “The Cloud” from season, 1, The Mission: Freakazoid! opening credits list “Weena Mercator as The Hopping Woman.”

Highlights:

Upon first receiving word that the Douglases have been captured, Freak laments because as Dexter, he opted to bail on his family’s vacation plans (“Why didn’t I go on vacation with my family?!? WHY???”) Then, via flashback, he remembers why:

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“Someday, Dexter will leave the nest and become a man.”

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“But not Duncan. (to Duncan) You’ll be a big, strong man-child, still lifting weights in your room when you’re 40!”

Duncan

“Cool! Then I can really buff up, and save some money!”

Freakazoid

“Now I remember, they’re a bunch of loons!”

Yeah, I don’t think anybody blames you for ditching that trip, Freak.

 

To make matters worse, Freakazoid’s mute butler Ingmar…

Ingmar

He’s mute, you know!

…chooses this moment to quit in order to pursue his dream of being a rodeo clown! Fortunately (or not so fortunately) someone conveniently steps in to take Ingmar’s place…

Prof Jones 3

THIS GUY.

This episode introduces the character of Professor Jones, Freakazoid’s new butler and manservant. I have to call him that in order to remind myself what his job actually is, since we almost never see him doing any butlering.

For those who don’t know, Professor Jones is a full-on homage/parody of Doctor Smith, the character made famous by the late comic actor Jonathan Harris from the old science fiction series Lost in Space, who also provides Jonesy’s voice.

dr smith

Yeah, that’s the one.

Like Smith, Professor Jones is prissy, insecure, easily frightened, and constantly scheming. He is at first horrified when he learns the details of the job: he expects to be supervising a large staff, and (when Freakazoid mentions that Ingmar built the entire Freakalair by hand) refuses to personally construct anything more complicated than a jelly sandwich. However, Freakazoid’s offer to double his pay persuades him. He repeatedly complains that his back is too delicate to do even the most undemanding tasks, such as placing a videotape into a VCR. Despite being mostly useless, since he was recommended by Ingmar, Freakazoid gladly accepts him. Jones’ relationship with Cosgrove isn’t quite as rosy; when Jonesy prepares a dish for the crew which includes croutons with melted brie and bottle Pelliguano water from the island of Bim, and muffins made entirely of dill weed, this is Cosgrove’s reaction:

One running gag I like from this episode is how when everyone first meets Prof. Jones, they ask him “Weren’t you on a TV show with a robot?”

Prof Jones 2

“Silence, you impertinent whelp!”

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The crack team assembled for this rescue mission (Freakazoid, Cosgrove, Jonesy and Steff for some reason) travel to Vukanova via plane, where we’re treated to the following exchange:

Freakazoid: (relaying the mission) We’ll sneak in and rescue the…uh, Pontoon family. Any questions?

Cosgrove: Hey Freakazoid, we’re gonna rescue your family, right? I mean, it’s not like anyone here doesn’t know you’re Dexter Douglas.

Freakazoid: COSGROVE!! That’s my secret identity and you just blurted it out!

Cosgrove: Sorry kid, I thought Steff knew. She is your girlfriend and all.

Steff: You’re Dexter Douglas? Dexter ‘Creepy’ Douglas is Freakazoid?? I gotta go tell Val and Jill! (*Give yourself a gold Geek Star if you remember these 2 from “Dance of Doom”)

Freakazoid: No! You can’t tell anybody!

Steff: Then how does Cosgrove know?

Freakazoid: He wasn’t supposed to tell anybody!!

(Prof. Jones enters, carrying a tray of food.)

Professor Jones: So you’re Dexter Douglas. Interesting.

-When the gang is discovered by Vukanovan prison guards, they sing a suspenseful “Bum! Bum! Bum!”, just like in the previous episode, “The Freakazoid”.

Surprise cameo: The Douglases’ cellmate is the hapless Mime from Animaniacs, who was imprisoned after the bad guys “couldn’t make him talk”.

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Debbie: There’s a mime in here making happy gestures!

Duncan: And he’s really stupid looking!

Thankfully, Freakazoid and company come to the rescue, with Freak himself bursting from a tank (!)…

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…Jonesy getting electrocuted by pressure-sensitive mines and earning the team’s respect (except for Cosgrove, who once again makes his request for a can of hash and some coffee), the Douglases getting sprung (they forget to scoop up the Mime, but thankfully, he does manage to escape), and Freakazoid taking on Janos himself, with Janos telling Freak “Only America could produce an imbecile of your caliber!”

Freakazoid Shiny Teeth

“That’s because we make lots of things bigger and better than everybody else!”

And the day is saved. After the mission, the gang kicks back at a diner, and make an on-air commercial for Anubis Market.

Freakazoid

“Hey, it got me a second season!”

Thoughts:

-Generally speaking, I found Freakazoid!‘s second season to be a mixed bag, since the producers decided to ditch the free-for-all shorts format in favor of single 22-minute episodes. While there were still some gems and it was still funny overall, I generally didn’t think Freakazoid! really lent itself to 20-minute stories; it was just too fast-paced and frenetic for that. “Mission: Freakazoid”, however, worked. There were enough jokes and absurdity to keep things moving at a brisk pace (though admittedly you have to be a fan/follower of 60’s kitsch television to get a lot of the references, but that’s true of the show in general) and Professor Jones, whether you liked the character or not, was used well here.

My rating: 3 out of 5.

Next up is a short from of F!’s added attractions: Lord Bravery in “Office Visit”. Stay tooned.

 

What The Funny #6: Dance of Doom

Finn-the-Human

“WHAT TIME IS IT? WHAT TIME IS IT? WHAT TIME IS IT?!?”

It’s time for another installment of What The Funny!

-No, I’m not the usual guy for this. Jason did the first set of What The Funnies, which I enjoyed. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I decided to take a stab at a WTF miniseries myself. (This is my first time, so bear with me.) The show we’ll be spotlighting in this WTF is….Steven Spielberg Presents Freakazoid!

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Freak-a-me! Freak-a-you!

For those who don’t know, here’s how WTF typically goes: I’ll be showcasing an assortment of my personal favorite episodes of Freakazoid!, listing my favorite moments from them, and rating them accordingly. I won’t be going through every single scene and line blow by blow, I’ll just be listing my favorite and funniest moments from each story. I won’t be covering entire episodes, just shorts and segments from various episodes. Also, I won’t be going through every single episode (as that would take a while) and these won’t be in any particular order. Feel free to disagree or have your own personal pics, but these are my personal favorites, and since I’m the one doing the segment, there ya go.

Now, on with the Funny!

The first Freakazoid! episode we’ll be looking at is in fact the first episode, Dance of Doom.

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Starring Leonard Rhombus, Kipton Tang and Weena Mercator as the Hopping Woman.

Premise: Super villain Cave Guy, a ‘Primordial American’, a big hulking blue skinned caveman who’s actually very erudite and refined…

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“I subscribe to the New Yorker!”

…is fresh from a crime spree and is unable to hide out at his usual digs in the Hamptons, so instead he holds Harry Connick Jr. High School hostage during a dance celebrating Daylight Saving Time. Nerdy Dexter Douglas is home, having been unable to obtain a date; however, upon learning of the hostage situation, he turns into Freakazoid and saves the day.

It’s worth mentioning that Paul Rugg auditioned for the role of Freakazoid by recording this entire segment. Tom Ruegger encouraged him to improvise extensively around McCann’s written lines. Most of Rugg’s dialogue in this short was improvised entirely in one take.

Gag Credits:

Weird Guy: Emmitt Nervend

Find Emmitt Nervend: Six Times in this Episode

Tag: “Wake up your folks and tell ’em you’re hungry. Go!”

Highlights:

We first see Freak’s alter ego Dexter Douglas at home, toiling away on his computer. Dex’s mom Debbie looks in and asks him why he’s not at the Daylight Savings Time Dance. We are then treated to the following exchange:

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Cut to a montage of Dexter receiving one rejection after another. First, from hot chick Valerie (voiced by Tress MacNeille)…

DoD 1

“Sure, I’d love to go to the dance with you…if I were ugly and dead!”

Then nice girl Steff (voiced by Tracey Rowe)…

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“Sorry Dexter, I think that night I’m, uh, washing my hair!”

And finally, from tough girl Jill (voiced by Cree Summer).

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“Nah, can’t do it, Dex. I’m gettin’ something removed!”

Utterly defeated, Dexter is spending the evening typing out his retirement plans.

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When Dexter replies that computers are “his whole life”, Debbie responds with:

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Line of the episode, right there. (Well, one of them anyway.) Tress MacNeille’s reading of the line knocks it right out of the park.

MEANWHILE…

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We briefly follow a man named Jeepers, a creepy, giggling little weirdo who owns a magic watch that can turn beavers into gold and was kicked out of California for being too strange, which should tell you something. Only to realize that Jeepers has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Shortly thereafter, we get our first glimpse of announcer Joe Leahy, here depicted as a marionette being operated by Freakazoid himself (!), who then says:

This line, incidentally, is a quote from Bela Lugosi in the Ed Wood directed “classic” Glen or Glenda?. Before writing this segment, the Freakazoid! writers had just seen the Tim Burton-directed biopic Ed Wood, which recounts the making of this scene. Rugg is playing Freak impersonating Martin Landau impersonating Lugosi.

In due time, Freakazoid arrives at the school gymnasium, where Cave Guy is holding the students hostage and leaps into battle…but first he does this:

Then it’s time for a little retribution.

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“Steff, you fibbed to Dex about washing your hair. If this were an afterschool special, oh, you would pay a bitter price for your dishonesty, like getting big oily zits or eating from the same plate as David Lee Roth!!”

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“OH!! It’s food on a plate! And HE’S been EATING off of it!! Don’t you see?!? DON’T YOU GET IT????? OOOH!OH!OOOOOH!”

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POINGGG! “Hi, Mom!” And Jill, you said you were having something removed! Maybe that something was YOUR HEART!! Just kidding. It’s probably a mole or something! Pfffft!”

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However, Freak can’t bring himself to dress down Val, because, you know, teh hotness. (Incidentally, in this short the writers seemed to be setting up a sort of Betty and Veronica dynamic with good girl Steff and bad girl Valerie, but apparently those plans were scrapped since neither Val nor Jill appeared again after this episode, though Steff refers to them in “Mission: Freakazoid” and Val regularly appeared in the opening titles, during the part of theme where the singers sing “He’s here to save the nation/so stay tuned to this station”.)

After some more cyber-babble with Cave Guy (Freakazoid: “I love you.” Cave Guy: “Oh, my.” Freakazoid: “Not just ’cause you’re Cave Guy, no, but because you’re part of the whole cosmic mankind-whale-tree thing!”), plus a basketball net to the head, Freak wins the day, but even as things wrap up, the jokes just keep on coming.

Freak finally tries to get some love as Dexter, only to be immediately get rejected by Val, who wants “the guy with the lightning in his hair.” Freak changes back into superhero mode and lands a kiss.

Freakazoid: That was shallow and based solely on hormones. Works for me!

Thoughts:

“Dance of Doom” doesn’t offer much in the way of plot, but the jokes and gags are fast and furious in this short. Initially the show was going to be more or less a straight superhero show with some comedic overtones, and one can see traces of that here. Personally, I’m glad the producers went the wacky-zany-nutty route.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Next up is “Mission: Freakazoid”. Don’t forget to Freak out!

Emmitt

FIND EMMIT NERVIND ONCE IN THIS BLOG POST

What The Funny #5: Popcorn Pandemonium

howdy-doody

“Hey, kids! What time is it?”

Time for more What The Funny!

Well, this is it, folks. The last of my Rocko’s Modern Life favorite short breakdowns.

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Yeah, I know that there are many more Rocko shorts that I could cover here, but as I said back at the very first segment, I don’t want to get bogged down with doing every single episode of RML; I’m only doing my absolute favorite shorts. I’m about ready to move on to another show or franchise to cover, and I think that 5 is a good round number to stop on. Now just so we’re clear, this isn’t the last WTF; it’s just the last one that I’ll be doing for this particular series. We don’t know what the next one will be just yet, although we have some ideas. And it may be myself, or Damon or even both of us doing the next crop of WTFs.

Anyway….on with the merriment. Here’s Popcorn Pandemonium

POPCORN PANDEMONIUM

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Synopsis: In this episode Rocko dreams of going to a drive-in movie, but he and Heffer settle on the local movie theater.

Highlights:

The short starts with Rocko and Heffer in the car watching TV through Ed Bighead’s window. Rocko is annoyed because this is not tantamount to watching a movie at a real drive-in. Heffer uses a remote control to change the channel to a scary movie and Bighead changes the channel back to his program. Soon, Heffer and Bighead continuously flicker the TV channels back and forth, which cause Bighead’s TV to explode.

Heffer suggests that he and Rocko should go to Googa Plex Cinemas, a local movie theater that offers numerous amount of movies. The two pay roughly $100 for two tickets and buy their refreshments (while waiting hours in a long line). Heffer is caught sneaking his own snacks into the theater.

The Googa Plex Cinema has many theaters, all of them showing the same movie: “Lethal Odor IX”.

rml-popcorn-pandemonium

They enter a movie theater, only to find that they mistakenly entered a restroom. I hate it when that happens!

One running gag that I like is that the staff at Googa Plex are all wearing shirts identical to Rocko’s, and because of this, Rocko is continually mistaken for an employee.

Rocko: (to the cashier) Might I say, that’s a very dapper shirt you’re wearing!

Cashier: Yeah, management makes us wear these stupid things!

Rocko and Heffer go to theater #42, where we’re treated to this exchange:

Rocko (to an employee): Excuse me, where’s theater #42?

Employee: You should know, man. You work here!

Rocko: I don’t work here.

Employee: Me neither, unless the boss is watching.

Rocko and Heffer see the a preview of the family movie “The Cuddly Little Poots” Guest starring the super hero Really, Really Big Man.

RML - Really, Really Big Man.gif

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Then there’s a preview withing the preview telling the audience to watch for the Cuddly Little Poots on a World War II submarine, in the feature “Das Poot”! This pun is so bad that even the characters in the theater collectively groan at it.

Next, we get a trailer for “Garbage Strike: The Musical”, which is a parody of the Disney feature, Newsies, a 1992 musical about striking paperboys.

There’s also a preview for the movie “Lang Chow: Gerbil of Death” complete with bad dubbing. We also see Lang Chow eating breakfast.

fei-long

“For a Shaolin monk, you’re Kung-Fu is really lousy!”

After a preview of a movie about Dracula’s demise, the movie blurs out before it shows the feature presentation. Filburt, the movie director, listens to the guests’ complaining and hit his head on the top of the opening of the window, causing his glasses to fall off his face and reflect the light of the movie projector to start a fire, which trails through the carpet and into the popcorn storage room. This causes the popcorn to overflow through the building and Rocko and Heffer run out just in time to make it to the car. But when they find that the overflowing popcorn has caused the building to collapse, they find that it has become a drive-in and stay to watch the film. As the popcorn continues to overflow, the Garbage Rats from the film appear and sing their strike song.

Popcorn Pandemonium wasn’t a complicated plot. Rather, it was mostly a series is spot gags with a continuing theme. This short had an old-school Looney Tunes feel to it, and I’m a big enough Looney Tunes nerd to appreciate that.

My Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next time: A completely different show! Stay funny.

What The Funny #4: Who’s For Dinner?

It’s that time again! Time for another breakdown of one of my favorite Rocko’s Modern Life shorts!

Before we start, let me once again apologize for the loooooong wait. I planned to do this one last month (December), but I never got the time and space to sit down and work on it. Also, I wasn’t able to find a ton of images for this one. Even GIFs for this particular short are scarce, so I’m just going to have to make my descriptions of certain scenes as entertaining as possible.

Now that’s out of the way, on with the fun!

Who’s For Dinner?

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This short’s title is a play on the title of the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? starring Sidney Portier.

sidney-portier

“Been there, done that.”

Synopsis: In this episode Heffer invites Rocko to have dinner with his family. Rocko accepts, much to Heffer’s relief. When he arrives Rocko is stunned to find out Heffer lives with a family of Wolves.

Highlights:

Heffer: My grandfather hates wallabes, but don’t worry, because he’s really nearsighted.

That should have been a red flag right there.

When Rocko meets Heffer’s family, he (along with us, the audience) is surprised to discover that Heff’s family are a pack of wolves, and they’re a colorful pack, to say the least. The Wolfe family consists of…

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Heffer’s grumpy father George…

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…his perpetually upbeat mother (with a nervous tick) Virginia…

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Trivia Tine: Heffer’s parents get their names from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” – a 1962 play by Edward Albee, examining the breakdown of a marriage of a middle aged couple, Martha & George.

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…Heff’s teenage siblings; sardonic, rebellious brother Peter and over sensitive drama queen sister Cindy…

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…and his cantankerous, racist (or would be “speciesist”) grandfather, who we learn in a later episode that his first name is Hiram.

Rocko, expecting Heffer’s family to be bovine rather than lupine, gets a gift for Virginia, an udder warmer, which Virginia puts on her head and is seen wearing it for the remainder of the short.

Initially, Heff tries to pass off Rocko as a coyote, but Grandpa Wolfe insists that Rocko must be a beaver, which he goes on believing for the remainder of the series.

Virginia initially continually calls Rocko by the wrong name, referring to him as “Jocko”, “Crocko”, etc.

Inside, we get a glimpse of the Wolfe family’s home life, such as the following exchange:

George (to Peter): So, son, how was school?

Peter: I quit school two years ago.

George: What?!? VIRGINIA!!

Virginia: We were afraid to tell you.

Peter: See? I told you he’d get mad.

Cindy: Stop fighting! I…can’t…TAKE IT!!!!!

Virginia: No one’s fighting, dear.

Grandpa: Eh, sounds like fighting to me!

George (to Peter): You’re a loser! Why can’t you be more like Heffer?

Peter: What? a 500 pound cow?

George: He’s a steer!

bundys

Putting the “fun” in dysfunctional! Yahoo!

Grandpa: I hope you’re not lettin’ the beaver eat off’n the good china, otherwise we’ll have to smash the plates!

Evidently, He’s not crazy about beavers either.

The wolf jokes continue as Rocko excuses himself to go the bathroom, where he opens the closet door and notices a group of Little Red Riding Hoods being kept there. Then he discovers the Three Little Pigs bound and gagged in the family’s medicine cabinet!

While the family chows down on their meal (a dead moose), Virginia asks Rocko (finally getting his name right) if he and Heffer have known each other for a long time. Rocko responds with…

Rocko: Yes, and it’s quite interesting. In all the years that I’ve known Heffer, he never once told me that he was adopted.

We then hear the sound of a record scratching and everything goes grimly silent.

Heffer: Is that true???

Virginia: Well, yes. We found you under a tree in Brandwynn Farm. You were skinny, so we decided to fatten you up, but then we grew to love you!

rocko6

But what about my birthmark?

Peter: Dad used to call you “steak”.

Basically, the Wolfes were originally going to eat Heffer before they grew fond of him and later adopted him. What’s really funny is that Heffer never knew that he was adopted until Rocko inadvertently spilled the beans at that particular moment.

Confused and hysterical with emotion, Heffer runs out of the house to parts unknown. The family (plus Rocko) set out to find Heffer.

I’ve always liked the following line:

Rocko (on the phone): The Bigheads haven’t seen him (Heffer) either. What’s that? And they don’t care!

Heffer is seen drowning is sorrows in a bar that looks suspiciously like the one the Nighthawks painting. Eventually, he comes across what he believes to be his biological father’s tombstone (in actuality, it belongs to a big wet cat). Heff gets a vision of his real father over the tombstone.

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How he’s able to astral project like this when still alive is anyone’s guess.

Heff’s Real Dad: That’s not my tombstone! I’m not even dead! I’m living in Canoga with Joyce here.

Joyce (who looks and talks like Heffer in drag): Hi! You should visit some time!

Heffer: Mom??

Heff’s Dad: That’s not your mom! Your mom’s a car seat in Illinois! Listen, I’m sick of you kids coming around here looking for your daddy! I’ve had a million kids that look just like you, UGLY! Joyce come here and clean up after me!

It seems as though Heffer’s real dad is crankier than George and Grandpa Wolfe combined. A farmer notices Heffer “Hey, aren’t you that guy on the milk cartons? There was a family of Wolves lookin’ for you. Seemed real upset. Matter of fact, they had a beaver with ’em!”

Eventually, Heffer comes back to the Wolfe’s house. The short ends with a shot of the Wolfe family on top of their roof howling (or in Heffer’s case, mooing) at the moon in silhouette.

“Who’s For Dinner?” is one of Joe Murray’s favorite episodes, and one of mine too. In addition to delivering a lot of laughs, this short actually manages to be pretty touching, albeit in a sick, twisted way. Murray said that he partially based Heffer on an adopted friend and used his friend’s emotions to sculpt Heffer’s role and actions.  I liked how the premise of Heffer being adopted by a family of wolves was never altered throughout the course of the series. You don’t get too many adopted children in cartoons, and I like how this premise was handled here.

My Rating: 5 out of 5.

Next Time: We wrap up our Rocko’s Modern Life celebration with Popcorn Pandemonium. Stay funny.

What The Funny #3: Skid Marks

It’s that time again! Time for the next installment of What The Funny with another breakdown one of my favorite Rocko’s Modern Life shorts.

filburt

“I’m nauseous. I’m nauseous. I’m nauseous…”

Before we begin, I’d like to once again apologize for the wait. I know that the gaps between these segments tend to get kind of long, but that’s mainly because 1) there are other things that demand my attention, and 2) I’m a ruthless perfectionist when it comes to my own work. Some of you out there may (understandably) be a little annoyed by the wait, but if I churned out the WTF segments in an assembly line fashion in order to get them out daily or even weekly, they’d be really half-assed, I wouldn’t like them, and I don’t think that you would either. No, the more detailed stuff takes longer. I know that I’m not fast, but I like to think that the quality of my work speaks for itself. Plus, like I said earlier, I’m only doing a select few of these, and so I’d prefer to space them out.

Having said all of that, on with the fun!

Skid Marks

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Synopsis: Rocko is pulled over by the police because of a missing gas cap and a squirrel hiding inside his car. With Rocko’s car impounded, he has to suffer the unspeakable torment of the Department of Motor Vehicles to retrieve it.

Highlights:

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A police standoff turns into a tasteful soft shoe shuffle.

Brace yourself, for you are now entering a place where even the most rational person can be driven insane…the Department of Motor Vehicles!!

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The horror….the horror…

Rocko and Spunky walk to the DMV and Rocko asks Spunky to wait outside as he walks in the building. As he waits in a long line, the police officer announces through the loudspeaker that Spunky should be picked up at the security desk. Rocko picks up the dog and ties him up outside; though he reassures Spunky that he will be back for him, and immediately afterwards, we see another dog’s skeleton tied to a leash!

Rocko runs into Filburt (his first appearance in the series, btw) who says that the computers give off harmful radiation and that the metal plate in his head is vibrating. Filburt sounds a bit like Sol from the Jerky Boys here. Filburt then advises Rocko “When you take your driver’s test, don’t get the fat guy!”

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Rocko makes his way to the eye exams room and sits on the chair to read the chart in front of him. When he reads the last line (“The doctor is sneaking behind you. He’s a Madman. Get out while you still can.”), he finds that the chair is really the doctor, a creepy guy with four wheels for feet. He becomes startled and stops in midair with his eyes enormously protruding. As he remains in his exaggerated display of fright, the doctor immediately gets him to hold his position; the scare tactic is revealed to be a rather efficient way of allowing him check his patient’s eyeballs.

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After the doctor finishes Rocko’s eye exam, the doc warns Rocko “Don’t get the fat guy! (evil laugh)”.

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Pig Driving Instructor: Don’t step on the white ones….Hhhhhhot lllaaaaaaaaavvaaaaaaaa….PINEAPPLES!!

Rocko then goes to room 101 to attend a driving class, which is being taught by a very loud German soldier cat (voiced by Tom Kenny)

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The class is made to watch a drivers’ education film “Red Concrete” (a classic!) Where they learn the RULES OF THE ROAD! I love how even the instructional film warns “Don’t get the fat guy!”.

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When Rocko falls asleep, he wakes up to find a diploma of traffic school taped to his face. He later waits outside for the driving instructor, who turns out to be a chubby elephant.He tests Rocko into driving vicariously through an obstacle course. When it doesn’t go as well, the instructor finally gives in and gives Rocko a form for his license. Rocko takes the form to the front desk to Chuck and Leon. He tells them that he had the fat guy, and then we get the payoff for this running gag:

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The perfect payoff to a perfect gag.

Near the end of the short, we get this exchange between a young boy cat and his father, which parodies the conclusion of Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life:

Boy: Daddy, Daddy, teacher tells me every time someone drives with a gas cap on, an angel gets its wings!
Father: Your teacher’s full of snot!

Heh. You know that if this weren’t on Nickelodeon, he wouldn’t have said “snot”.

Thoughts:

This is another one of the great Rocko shorts. A short about the DMV is an unusual subject for a kids’ cartoon, as Nick’s target audience isn’t old enough to drive, but anyone who’s ever had to go to the DMV for any reason knows what a madhouse that building is and what a frustrating experience it can be. This short takes the drudgery and frustration of that experience and ramps it up to a comical level, which is what Rocko’s Modern Life does best.

My rating: 4 out of 5.

Next time: Who’s For Dinner? Stay funny.