Nerdvana: The Miguzi Gang

Today, Nerdvana looks back at Miguzi.

miguzilogo

For the uninformed, Miguzi was an afternoon comedy/action cartoon block that aired on Cartoon Network from April 19th, 2004 to June 1st, 2007, replacing Toonami after the latter got booted off weekday afternoons and relocated to Saturday nights due to parental outrage.

Oh Wont Somebody Please Think of the Children

Sves

Speaking of which, does anybody remember the Saturday Video Entertainment System (SVES) that CN did briefly in 2003? It was supposedly a ‘middle ground’ for action cartoons that didn’t quite fit on either Toonami or Adult Swim, but did you know that it also served as a testing ground to see how well a Saturday night Toonami would fare? Now you do.

Miguzi_Wheel_of_Gooz_Promo

So yeah, Miguzi was basically a lighter-toned, more family-friendly Toonami, basically Toonami‘s more innocent younger sister. Folks who grew up watching Miguzi are undoubtedly familiar with the block’s roster of shows; everyone has shows they liked better than others and some which were their personal favorites. However, today’s Nerdvana is not about the shows that aired on Miguzi; the focus of this Nerdvana is the set of wraparounds for the block. (Note: I had originally considered doing this as a Cartoon Couch, but since this is about the bumpers and not the shows, I decided to do it as a Nerdvana instead.)

ANYHWHO….

Erin

The animated hostess of the block was Erin, a young 13-year-old CGI girl with black hair, green eyes and a yellow jumpsuit (voiced by Jessica DiCicco; Miguzi was my first exposure to Ms. DiCicco as a voice actress; I think she also voiced the title character on a Disney show called The Buzz on Maggie around the same time, but I never saw that show and based on what folks on the net have told me about it, it doesn’t sound like I missed anything great) who, at the start of the block, was transported underwater and into a sunken alien spaceship by an enormous mutant red fish with multiple eyeballs. (More on this later.)

Miguzi Gang 2

There, she chills out and watches the shows along with a group of mutant sea creatures and robots, none of whom speak but all of whom have rudimentary personalities. Between the shows Erin and company would indulge in cute, goofy slapstick bits o’ business.

I enjoyed the shows on Miguzi enough, but I have to admit that these wraparounds were among the major selling points for me. Don’t get me wrong; no one’s denying the awesomeness of Tom…

toonamitom2

‘Sup?

…SARA and the Absolution…

SARA_v2.0

“On Toonami.”

…but the Miguzi bumps struck a chord with me, because they were closer to my tastes in entertainment and humor. Cool is definitely cool, but cute, funny and silly have their place too.

Trivia Time: I liked the Miguzi bumpers so much that when we were trying to come up with a name for this site, one of my suggestions was ‘Sunken Spaceship’ in honor of these bumps.

Granted, this premise posed numerous mind-bogglers, such as:

conspiracy_nut

How exactly did this kid come to know about this submerged alien spacecraft in the first place? How did she gain these aliens’ trust? And what was the aliens’ deal, anyway? What were they doing on Earth, why did they come here and how long have they been down there? Were the aliens stuck down there at the bottom of the ocean, or could they leave whenever they wanted? Was the ship damaged? Or was it just the propulsion mechanism that was busted, since other devices inside the ship seemed to work just fine? Were all the aliens from the same planet, or were they from different planets? Several of them were tricloptic (as in 3-eyed); did they mutate while underwater, or were they born that way? And what was the giant mutant fish’s deal? Didn’t Erin’s parents worry about her spending her afternoons at the bottom of the sea with a bunch of aliens? Did anybody else know about the sunken spaceship? Inquiring minds want to know!

-OK, enough over-thinking things. It’s probably best to just chalk everything up to ‘cartoon logic’ and not focus on the logistics too much. The point was to have fun watching the Miguzi gang do wacky stuff. Erin herself seemed to fall into the ‘spunky tomboy’ archetype, enjoying sports and the like, with a playful, mischievous side, while the extraterrestrial bunch she hung out with were colorful to say the least. Because I have too much time in my hands, I’ve categorized the Miguzi Gang into 2 columns: Organics and Robotics. The spaceship’s inhabitants consisted of:

ORGANICS

Big Stalks

Big Stalks: (or just Stalks for short) The big, lumpy green alien with 2 spoke-like antennae sprouting from his head. As his name implies, Big Stalks was the largest one of the group, and also the strongest. He wasn’t the brightest or most graceful creature in the galaxy, but he seemed to have kind of a swagger to him. He also tends to eat whatever’s not nailed down, such as Erin’s game controller, or in one case, her math homework.

Flip

Flip: The short purple alien with the flipper hands and feet (hence his name) who’s third eye stood at the end of his single antenna. He seemed friendly enough, if a tad slow on the uptake.

Miguzi Gang 1

Curly: a blue octopus-y thing with 2 long tentacles for arms and a third sprouting from his head who rode around in a small tank-like containment suit of some kind, with a bubble-shaped see-though helmet. (It’s unclear if he needed this to survive or if he could safely exist without it, as we never saw him not wearing it. In one ‘We’ll Be Right Back’ illustration we see Curly eating a sandwich with the helmet removed; that’s as close as he ever came to removing the suit.) Curly seemed to be a tad smarter than the other ship members, if a bit on the stiff side (though this could be attributed to his being stuck in a tank thingy), as such Curly was a frequent butt of the gang’s slapstick, such as one bit where Erin draws a mustache and glasses on Curly’s helmet with a marker.

Miguzi04

Tre: a small green, tentacled stump-like being with multiple stringy protrusions with an eyeball at the end of each. Tre seemed more like a pet than the more sapient creatures aboard the ship, as evidenced by one bump in which Erin is seen bathing Tre in a sink like a household dog or cat.

Miguzification_03a

Yoke: A later addition to the cast, Yoke was the result of a “Make a MonsterPiece” contest was held on cartoonnetwork.com from November 22, 2004 to January 15, 2005, in which viewers could enter for a chance to have their drawing appear on Miguzi. Hundreds of entries were submitted and a panel of judges selected the winning drawing that was then turned into an animated character. Yoke was the winning submission, drawn by Kyler Spears.

Yoke

Yoke himself was a small, green, slimy looking alien who was contained inside a egg-like flying mini-spacecraft type mechanism, where he sat in a pool of some unidentified green ooze.

TMNT

“Been there, done that!”

No on-air explanation was given about Yoke’s sudden arrival onto the ship, it just happened. One day he wasn’t there, the next day he was. It was like magic. In-universe, Yoke was revealed by Erin to be Curly’s younger brother (though how she figured this out was anybody’s guess, since the 2 looked nothing alike), and indeed, Yoke seemed more like a kid than the others. Yoke also possessed telekinetic powers (activated by a light on the antenna on his head), so a lot of the jokes involving him showed him levitating things around while the others stood agape. (Erin once asked Curly if he could do telekinesis, and he seemed miffed by the question.) My brother Jason said that he wasn’t too crazy about Yoke as he came off like a canon Marty Stu, as he had a super power and no one else did, and I see where he’s coming from, but I also counter with this:

Yoke 2

The dude had no limbs. If Yoke had arms or legs, they were buried under all that ooze and he couldn’t use them. Unlike Curly, no part of Yoke’s body was outside of his mini-ship device, so he couldn’t reach for, touch or grab anything; his t.k. powers were actually kind of a necessity for him.

ROBOTICS

Monitor

Monitor: a self-aware TV monitor who had the most important job of all: he showed the cartoons the gang sat down to watch. He would also sometimes communicate via words that appeared on his screen. He was usually stationery, but in a couple of bumps he was shown to have robotic arms and legs.

Miguzi05

Remo: a self-aware TV remote with a single antenna on his head as well as arms and legs. Since he could move around on his own, he would sometimes get lost, in one instance he was spotted floating around outside the ship.

Bass: a self-aware speaker, also with limbs and a pair of antennae. His most famous appearance was in bit in which Bass is playing corny elevator music (or alternatively corny country music) and Big Stalks comes along and kicks him on the butt, changing the music to something more funky.

Miguzi01

Tweet: A tiny robot (he’s pictured there at the top left), with a spherical black orb head. As his name implies, Tweet communicated by tweeting sounds. As the smallest thing on the ship, a lot of the gags involving Tweet dealt with the problems he encountered due to his diminutive size, such as the time he nearly got eaten by Big Stalks since he was sitting by a bowl of popcorn on the couch.

One thing I liked about the Miguzi Gang was how there was no caste system on the ship. Everyone, organic or robotic, had equal status among the group and no one was treated any different because of their color, or whether or not they have powers or how many eyes they had.

Hippie

“That’s beautiful, man!”

Of course it wasn’t all gravy; I did (and still do) have some minor gripes. It always bugged me how Erin was the only character capable of speaking English; it was like Larry and a whole crew of Darryls. And it really annoyed me how all of the spaceship’s various members were guys. Not one girl! Then CN has a contest for fans to draw a new character and the winner is yet another dude? What the actual what??

-But minor nitpicks aside, I still enjoyed the antics of Erin and the Miguzi Gang. They were probably the coolest gang of spaceship dwellers.

red-dwarf

-OK, the second coolest.

Nerdvana: Magical Island Groove

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Long time, no see!

Hey there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

-Before we begin, I just to keep you guys abreast of what’s been going on with us. As those who’ve been following us know, last year we planned to stop blogging and switch this site over to visual media (videos, online comics, etc.); those plans have not been abandoned (we’re writing up scripts, taking notes and saving up for the necessary equipment and tutorials even as I type this), but at the same time, we’re not content to just sit on our hands and do nothing while we prepare to make that jump. We’ve been fairly active on Tumblr (that’s twin-images.tumblr.com for those who are interested), but we’ve been compiling ideas since then and we still have a creative itch that needs scratching. So, while we in the process of transitioning, Jason and I will continue to make the occasional blog post here until then. It’s not going to be at the pace it has been years ago; our current schedule and priorities won’t accommodate that, but ideally we’d like to put up at least 1 or 2 blog posts per month until we’re ready to start making videos full time. Now, on with the silliness.

Donkey Kong Islands

One setting/oeuvre that I’ve been digging these past several months is the tropical island setting, in particular Magical Islands. Those tropical paradises where it’s always sunny and funny and exotic creatures and magical phenomena abound. Today’s Nerdvana will be spotlighting some of my favorite magical island settings/shows/stuff.

First, I’ll be giving an honorable mention to Jaama, the setting of Animal Jam.

Jamaa 2

While I’m indeed enthralled by Jaama, I won’t be covering it at great length here since I’m currently doing a Pop Dream on Animal Jam (which I do plan to continue this year, I promise!), so anything I’d say about Jaama here would be redundant. I’ll save my thoughts and feelings on Jaama for the upcoming Pop Dream installments. Also, like many of these Nerdvanas, these won’t be in any particular order, so I won’t be numbering them.

Let’s do this, people! Smiles, smiles!

FANTASY ISLAND, Ricardo Montalban, Herve Villechaize, 1978-1984

“Welcome to Silverstar’s Rambling, Pointless Fantasy Island!”

Kick it, gang!

I love that song. Now, on to the meat: some of my favorite enchanted island settings.

DONKEY KONG COUNTRY

DonkeyKongCountryReturns

Like many folks who played games in the late 90’s through early ’00’s, I loved the Donkey Kong Country series. Putting DK in a sprawling jungle island setting and giving him a ton of new friends, enemies and areas to explore was a stroke of genius.

Dk_island

Plus it’s shaped like DK’s head. Now that’s branding.

Donkey Kong Island 2

One thing I love about Donkey Kong Island (NOT Congo Bongo, BTW!) is how it houses several different and radically diverse areas and climates within it: forest, dessert, grassland, brambles, ocean, beach, frozen wasteland, bayou and of course rain forest.

Plus, the DKC games gave us the Brothers Bear. I love the idea of multiple siblings with names that begin with the same latter and each of them has their own personal quirks and shticks.

Brothers Bear

Hmm, I wonder if Banjo is related to these guys. Distant cousin, perhaps?

-You know, that could be a separate Nerdvana unto itself. Hmmm…..

YABBA DABBA DINOSAURS

Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs

Dino-Mite!

Jason already covered this show on Brain Candy, so I’ll keep it brief; I’ll just say that Warner Bros. Studios are fools for giving up on this idea so quickly.

YDD! 2

Yeah, the art style takes some getting used to (Mark Marek wouldn’t have been my first choice for the designs, and I’m definitely not feeling the long pants on Bamm-Bamm) but how could anyone not love the idea of a savage land filled with wild, dangerous dinosaurs existing just adjacent to Bedrock? If you ask me, YDD! was just the shot in the arm the franchise needed.

YDD! 3

People are free to disagree with me, but I thought the running gags involving Dino running for the hills at any given opportunity and the Wikipedia spoofs with Pebbles were funny.

Captain-Caveman-Hanna-Barbera

Plus after 2 failed attempts, the studio finally found a way to work Captain Caveman into the Flintstones mythos that actually made sense. Make Cavey the Tarzan of The Crags. Making him a jungle wild man would finally explain why he looks and acts so differently from the civilized citizens of Bedrock; obviously if he spent his entire life in The Crags he wouldn’t be straight-laced and civilized. Come on, guys, it’s right there!

CRAIG OF THE CREEK

Craig of the Creek

Yeah, I know I’m late to the party with this one; I’ve only recently discovered this show, but it’s good, despite not getting the press or attention of CN’s other current shows. No, it’s not a multi-layered, hyper-emotional, grand sprawling epic like Infinity Train or Steven Universe, but every show doesn’t have to be that. You don’t always need a 5-course turkey dinner, sometimes just a nice burger and fries will suffice.

Like Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs, one thing I like about Craig of the Creek is how there’s this crazy wilderness area just beyond the safe, peaceful, quiet suburbs that the kids all live in, and no matter how wild and crazy things get at the Creek, they can always just go home at any time. I like how the Creek boasts several different tribes and factions of kids of all types and colors, co-existing more or less harmoniously, such as:

Horse Girls

…The Horse Girls, a tribe of girls obsessed with horses (a tad sterotypical, but stereotypes have to come from somewhere…)

Tabitha & Courtney

The Creek Witches, Tabitha and Courtney (in actuality a same-sex couple of Goth teenagers, and no, that’s not a joke; they really are a couple.)

Sparkle Cadet 2

A black Magical Girl from’outer space’ named Sparkle Cadet (where’s it carved in stone that all magical girls have to be white or Asian?)

You know, Craig, as the Creek’s resident map-maker, has already compiled a detailed list of these Creek Kids, so I won’t have to:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Craig’s best buds: Kelsey,

Kelsey

I admit she’s already a favorite character of mine; she’s basically what I’d be like if I were a short, white, Jewish girl.

And JP:

JP

He’s hilarious. That’s all I need to say!

I only have one real nitpick about this show: I think, despite the premise, the show’s a tad too grounded in reality. If it were my show, I’d spice things up a little:

Why not toss in some actual monsters?

Forest Monster

“Say, um, are you white meat or dark meat??”

And while we’re at it, why not toss in some talking animal mascots a la Terry Dactyl from The Funny Company?

terry-dactyl-the-funny-company-4.65

I guess you can tell I really like this idea. Was my nonstop yakking about the animal people from Dragon Ball and Animal Jam a giveaway?

Craig-of-the-creek-family

-Side bar: another element of this show that needs to mentioned is how the titular character and his family are African-American without them being ethnic stereotypes. Yes, Craig’s family is black, but the producers didn’t set the show in the ‘hood, the family isn’t broke, mean or cheap, the slang and music on the show aren’t super-funkay, and the neighborhood the family lives in is ethnically diverse without race ever being an issue or the topic of conversation.

Alexis

Craig’s older brother Bernard has a white girlfriend (Alexis), and everybody’s cool with that! Nice legs, BTW.

I applaud this. Truly good mixed casting is something we could stand to see more of on kids’ shows (shows in general, actually). It’s more honest, more interesting and a positive example for the kiddos. It’s one thing to get up on a soapbox and preach about folks getting along and respecting people different from you and not treating them differently because of their skin color or ancestry, but it’s another to show your lead characters simply living this way as if it were the most normal and natural thing in the world. Example can teach just as well as any platitude, perhaps even better.

This is the kind of cartoon I’d like to make myself one day: the ‘ultimate kid-centered domestic comedy’ starring a family consisting of 2 parents, some kids and some pets, featuring people of color and a range of ethnicities without race ever being a big deal. There’d be a gimmick of course, but the characters’ skin color wouldn’t be it.

SUMMER CAMP ISLAND

Summer Camp Island

Another CN show that doesn’t get talked about very much, this one is a cute but odd little show about 2 best friends, an anthropomorphic elephant-y thing named Oscar and a  hedgehog-y thing named Hedgehog…

Oscar & Hedgehog

Wow. Must’ve been up all night dreaming up that name.

…Who are sent to stay at, you guessed it, a summer camp on a magical island.

Summer Camp Island Location

Say, did you know that in-universe this island became a haven/sanctuary for monsters and magical creatures in 1972, after they became distrusting of ‘normals’? Well, now you do.

Said island boasts such unique things as giant monsters, a moon and clouds with faces…

summer_camp_island witches 2

…3 counselors who look like cutie-pie “popular girls” but are actually witches, magic powers, pointy hats, flying broomsticks and all.

Summer Camp Island Witches 1

Generation Hex

Alice

My personal favorite of the 3 is Alice, she’s the cute one who likes to make everything around her cute….

Betsy

Second favorite is Betsy, the nice one who sleeps with a sentient tree…

Werewolf_Betsy

…And she’s also a werewolf. ‘Kay…

Also on the island are ice cream mountains, confetti mines…

Confetti Mines

Mine your own business

…Monsters…

Monsters

Rumor has it that they came to do the Monster Mash.

…an alien kid something-or-other named Puddle, who flies around in a tiny UFO and hails from unnamed alien planet that resembles a Lisa Frank illustration and is love with his alien king (no, that wasn’t a typo)…

Puddle

…And a living, talking set of Pajamas, aptly named Pajamas.

Pajamas

Cocaines a Hell of a Drug

Summer Camp Island 2

The show’s cute, and I like the concept of a magical island with a summer camp on it (otherwise I wouldn’t have listed it here), but I think it might be a little TOO ‘out there’. I don’t dig that all the characters are animals; heck, they don’t even look like animals; they look like lolicons with animal noses. Did the cast need to be anthros on a show with monsters, witches, aliens and assorted stuff? Given that, do we even need a distinction between the ‘normal’ world and the ‘strange’ island? The entire show is strange; it’s full of animal things with human anatomies! Plus, I can’t over-emphasize this, one of the characters is a sentient pair of pajamas!

zonker

“Gah! Head rush! I’m comin’ down too fast! I need some relaxing smooth jazz music and some orange slices, stat!”

TESCO BREKKIE SQUAD

Brekkie Squad 2

If you live in the UK, you’ve likely seen these. Originally created for the Summer Olympics (hence the sports motif), these characters are cute jungle animals who live on a jungle island and adorn the cereal boxes at Tesco. They don’t always have to be complicated.

TEM TEM

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“My blood, er, um…my SWEAT bubbles for battle! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Ah, no. Not Tam Tam, but TEMTEM. The new steam game that mimics Pokemon, but in a good way.

Temtem 1

Temtem 3

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Pokemon_Trainer_SSBU

“Gotta catch ’em all…no, wait…”

TemTem is set on a set of floating tropical islands (which is why it’s on this list) called the Aiborne Archipelago.

Airborne_Archipelago

Consisting of Deniz, the Floating Sea, Omninesea, Myrisles, Tucma, the End of All Things, Kisiwa, the desert jewels, Cipanku, misty hills and hypertech metropolis and Arbury, land of rain and book, in case anyone was wondering.

Temtem 5

The TemTem themselves, in addition to being super-cute…

Temtem 10

TemTem

…Come in a variety of types: Fire, Nature, Water, Electric, Mental, Earth, Wind, Crystal, Digital, Melee, Toxic and Neutral.

TemTem Type_wheel

Temtemexamples

So it’s a Pokemon clone…with a tropical island motif. I dig it.

Temtem 9

Plus, I just plain like the name: TemTem. It’s got that cool, native-sounding jungle island ring to it. Not unlike Jaama.

And there you have it. Some of my favorite magical tropical island imagery.

Gilligan

“Nah, hard pass. I’ve had my fill of island life. I spent years stuck on a deserted island, and when we finally managed to get off of it, we ended up stranded on a deserted planet! yeah, life’s fair!”

The Couch: Cartoon Planet

On today’s edition of The Couch, we look back at the forgotten series from the old days of Cartoon Network.  A little gem known as Cartoon Planet.

cartoonplanetlogo

If anyone had told me fifteen years ago that I’d be remembering this show fondly, I’d have told them that they were crazy. The thing is, much like The Banana Splits (which Damon already wrote about in an earlier post), I have a greater appreciation for this show now than I did when it was in production. When Cartoon Planet was on the air, I dismissed the show because it was goofy and ridiculous, but now I enjoy it…because it’s goofy and ridiculous.

Cartoon Planet began as an hour-long block of cartoons hosted by Space Ghost, Zorak, and Brak. They would introduce full cartoons from the Turner Entertainment library, such as old theatrical shorts and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including the original 1960s Space Ghost episodes. The host segments were often original songs and ad-libbed skits. New material ceased being made in 1997, and most of the songs and skits were re-packaged into 22 half-hour episodes without classic cartoon clips.

There’s no need to go into detail about the cartoons themselves, since they were the same shorts that from the Turner library that were airing on Cartoon Network the other 23 hours of the day. The cartoons weren’t bad, but since there were no original cartoons shorts made for the show, we don’t need to discuss them here. The real attraction was the host segments.  Here’s a taste of the intro:

If you’re like me, you were probably wondering “Why Brak and not Moltar?” It’s likely because Andy Merril (the voice of Brak) was one of the show’s producers, so it’s no surprise that he’d want to voice his character from Space Ghost: Coast To Coast on the show. Also, Moltar already had a gig as the original host of CN’s Toonami program block. However, this fact was joked about on an episode of Space Ghost: Coast To Coast; Moltar is flipping through channels in the studio’s control room. He comes across Cartoon Planet and says:

Moltar

“What’s this garbage? And why am I not in it?”

Each episode included segments such as “Brak’s School Daze,” “Zorak’s Horror Scopes,” “Poets’ Corner,” “Brak’s Monday Ratings Report,” “The Top 5 Cartoon Countdown” (discontinued in 1997 after the show’s Saturday-morning slot was shortened to a half-hour), “Vacation Spots Around the Universe” (pieced together from clips of Ultra 7 episodes), “Messages from Outer Space” (also from Ultra 7, featuring the Hot Dog Men), “Mailbag Day”, readings from “The Cartoon Planet Storybook,” messages from Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty’s local public-access television cable TV horror movie host from SCTV; the segments were originally shown on Hanna-Barbera’s The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley), “Learning to Talk Italian,” Nuggets of Joy from Zorak,” “Zorak’s Helpful Hints,” and “Cooking with Brak.”

The show also had short live-action segments featuring producer Andy Merrill wearing an ill-fitting Space Ghost costume doing various things like visiting a petting zoo, getting a haircut (although he kept his mask on), playing tennis, or visiting a gift shop. Intros of the show during the early years featured Merrill in the costume dancing (rather badly) to the mambo-style theme music, or sitting in a chair reading a newspaper, falling asleep to lullaby music.

You know that you’ve got good stuff when more people are tuning in more for the host segments and wraparounds than they are for cartoons that they’re hosting. You can tell that George Lowe, Clay Martin Croker and Andy Merrill were having a good time on the set. I can imagine them cracking each other up in the table reads. It’s nice having a job that you enjoy.

At the time, head writer/producer Pete Smith described Cartoon Planet “as a cross between The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Electric Company, and recess at the Richard M. Nixon School for Wayward Boys. …Cartoon Planet skillfully steers clear of any semblance of sophisticated humor. Forced by network muckity-mucks to air his dirty spandex in front of millions of impressionable young minds, Space Ghost dragged a reluctant Zorak and a confused Brak into the treacherous waters of sketch comedy.”

Unfortunately, due to licensing issues involving the clips used on the show, Cartoon Planet has yet get a DVD release.

Incidentally, Cartoon Planet was one of several names that we considered for this very website. We didn’t go with that because Cartoon Network legally owns the name.

In 2012, Cartoon Network attempted to revive Cartoon Planet (originally to commemorate CN’s 29th anniversary and was called “Best of CN”).

Cartoonplanet_2012_logo

However, this new version wasn’t as good as the original. For one thing, George Lowe was semi-retired from voice over work by this time and didn’t participate, leaving Brak and Zorak to host the show by themselves. It was like having a reunion tour with only 3 Beatles; you need all of the parts or it’s a different thing entirely. While it was good to see Brak and Zorak again, I missed Space Ghost. Without the show’s anchor, something was missing.

For another, soon afterwards Cartoon Network said “Screw tradition” and turned the show from a celebration of the network’s past into a dumping ground for the network’s then current shows such as Johnny Test, The Amazing World of Gumball, MAD and worst of all, The Annoying Orange.

emoticons_disgust-512

“In a word, Yuck!”

I already discussed this boneheaded decision made by CN’s execs in a post from a couple of years earlier titled Cartoon Planet In Crisis, so there’s no need to repeat myself here. This version quietly went away shortly afterward. No one misses it much.

Tragically, Clay Martin Croker (the voice of Zorak) unexpectedly passed away in 2015, so a revival of Cartoon Planet seems unlikely. Even if George Lowe were to come out of retirement to do it, they’d still be a man short. Sure, the producers could conceivably hire someone else to voice Zorak, but that should only happen if said replacement were someone who has a natural rapport with the other cast members and writers.

At least some of the skits and wraparounds are available for viewing on sites like YouTube and Dailymotion. I say we should just watch those and remember what we once had.

Mug of beer

Pourin’ one out for Cartoon Planet and for Clay Martin Croker. We miss ya, man!

So let’s end this on a high note. I give you one of the greatest things to come from Cartoon Network. Period. Kick it!

What The Funny: Free Cake

Ladies and Gentlemen…

What The Funny…

is…

BACK!

That’s right. I’m back in the driver’s seat (after Damon entertained us all with his Freakazoid! episode breakdown) with another WTF miniseries. This time around, the show that I’ll be spotlighting is Cartoon Network’s Regular Show!

True story; when I first got the idea to do What The Funny, I planned to start with Regular Show, but then I learned that Nickelodeon was planning to air a Rocko’s Modern Life revival special sometime this year, so I decided to start with Rocko instead. After that, I was so impressed with Damon’s Pop Dream miniseries for Barbie: Life In the Dreamhouse that I wanted to do a Pop Dream of my own, resulting with the one that I wrote for the family on The Loud House. This brings us to now. No more holding back. After being delayed twice, I’m finally going to embark on my favorite episode breakdown of one of my favorite Cartoon Network original shows.

Everyone who’s been following this site for the past two years already knows how this will work, but I just want to mention a couple more things: First, I’ll only be doing the standard episodes. I won’t be covering any of the half hour specials because we have a separate segment for TV specials. Second, I won’t be covering any of the episodes form RS’ final season in space. I know that the series finale was noteworthy, but there weren’t a wide abundance of laughs to be found there, and comedy is what this segment is all about.

Having said all of that, on with the fun!

The first episode that I’ll be covering here is episode 5: Free Cake.

RS - FreeCakeTitlecard

Synopsis: Mordecai and Rigby develop a craving for chocolate cake, and decide to throw a birthday party for Skips in order to get it.

chocolate cake

And who can blame them? Baby, what you tryin’ to do to me?

Highlights:

Rigby digs up a good-looking plate from the trash in the back of the house. ‘Cause he’s a raccoon and going through the garbage is what raccoons do. When they try to buy cake mix at the grocery store, they believe that the cake mix is too expensive ($1.50).

Free Cake Gif

Wait. $1.50 is too rich for their blood? Either these guys are really bad with money or Benson must pay them with game tokens.

Then they try to find a free cake, but all their attempts (they try to get some at a wedding and attempt to get a cake at a “free store”) fail.

One bit in the episode that I like is how whenever it looks like Mordecai and Rigby will have some cake, they do this chant:

Regular Show - Free Cake

“Free cake! Free cake!”

…And when their hopes are shattered, they go into this chant:

Regular Show - No Cake

“no cake. No cake,”

 

Finally, the duo see a chocolate cake at the snack bar, so they attempt to trick Benson into giving them the cake. Benson says they only get the cake if it is either of their birthdays (which it is not).

Enter Pops, the naive man from Lolliland. Also the son of the park’s owner. Pops likes Mordecai and Rigby, so he’s basically the only reason why these guys still have a job there.Regula Show Pops

Pops informs them that it’s Skips’ birthday, but that Skips always evades birthday parties by secluding himself in the woods. Mordecai believes that Skips deserves a party because he is always there to help. Benson agrees (egged on by Pops) and says to the two that they will throw a party for Skips if they can get him in on it.

Oh, yeah, let’s talk about Skips for a second.

Regular Show Skips

This is Skips. He works as the park’s groundskeeper. He’s also a centuries old yeti who’s gravely voice is provided by Mark Hamill.

Luke Skywalker

Yeah, that Mark Hamill.

In the house, Mordecai and Rigby wonder how they will involve Skips. Rigby suggests that they should ‘kidnap’ Skips, but that doesn’t work out. Finally, Mordecai gets the idea of throwing a surprise party. When they ask Skips to spend time with them that night, he refuses. Rigby and Mordecai decide to lie to Benson. Mordecai and Rigby tell Benson that Skips wants a surprise party at 8:00 at his house (as well as a chocolate cake). Benson gives them the key to the snack bar and tells them that he will punish them with a month’s worth of dish duties should he find out that they are not telling the truth.

After getting the cake, the guys walk into the woods in search of Skips. Rigby, being the unleashed id that he is, of course wants to nosh on the cake. Mordecai says not to touch the cake, but Rigby remains as eager as ever to have a bite. Also, I love this line from Rigby to Mordecai:

Free Cake Rigby

Meanwhile, back at Skips’ house, Benson says to turn off the light because it is almost time for the party to begin. In the darkness, Muscle Man eagerly undresses himself, but Benson reminds him that it is “not that kind of party”.

Back in the woods, it’s almost 8:00 and Skips is still nowhere in sight. Rigby starts thinking about eating the cake, but Mordecai argues against it. After a few minutes of squabbling over the cake, they hear an eerie noise.  The two stumble across Skips performing an ancient ritual around a mysterious blue bonfire in the middle of the woods. Rigby then startles Skips and thus interrupting the ritual. It turns out that Skips was actually performing an ancient eternal youth dance to sustain his immortality for another year. A figure named Gary descends in his car and takes Skips away, but Mordecai and Rigby manage to hitch a ride as well to see where they were going.

RS -Gary's_El_Camino

An El Camino. Nice!

Gary’s car eventually stops before The Guardians of Eternal Youth.

Regular Show - Immortals

Giant floating babies with old man voices. Freaky!

The Guardians are angry with Skips for failing to finish the spirit dance. Skips tries to explain, but the chief declares that once a decision is made, there’s no overturning it. The Guardians begin stripping Skips of his immortality by shaking their rattles, aging him and causing him to crumble to ashes.

Skips in ashes

That’s gotta hurt!

Mordecai steps forward, along with Rigby, and they explain the situation to them. Fortunately for them, the Guardian’s fondness of cake spared them. The chief would let Skips have his life for the chocolate cake.

RS - ChocoCake

That’s the power of chocolate cake!

Mordecai, Rigby, and Skips are sent back and Skips’ birthday party starts. They give Skips their plate as a birthday present. Benson finds out the duo can’t be trusted, but says that Pops was able to get a spare cake just in case. Then, Mordecai and Rigby each help themselves to a slice. It’s a happy ending….well, almost.

RS - Vanilla

“Aww……vanilla??”

Vanilla Cake

Hey, vanilla cake isn’t bad. You’ve just got to have plenty of toppings.

This was a good episode. There were plenty of laughs to be had here and the all of the characters played off of one another well. It was great seeing a simple desire for some chocolate evolve into all of the surreal lunacy involving ancient rituals, eternal youth and magic. Once I saw this episode, I knew that I had to keep watching.

My rating: 5 out of 5.

Next time, it’s Just Set Up the Chairs. Stay funny.

 

 

Cartoon Country: Funny Face

What’s this? A new Twinsanity blog post? Imagine that!

Just to keep you guys up to speed: we’re still planning to start implementing original videos onto the site, and those are still in the works. In the meantime, we still have a few more text posts on the back burner, so we’ll be dedicating the upcoming weeks and months to getting those out before we go full throttle on transforming Twinsanity to a predominantly video format. Now that that’s out of the way, on with the fun!

Today’s Cartoon Country takes another look inside the weird, weird world of Uncle Grandpa and friends.

Uncle Grandpa 3

Hang with the Gang!

Specifically, we’ll be looking at the short “Funny Face”, season 1, episode 4.

Funny Face 1

The short begins  with Uncle Grandpa, Pizza Steve, Belly Bag, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger having a “funny face party”, which involves them taking turns as they make silly faces at each other. Mr. Gus comes over and questions what they are doing. They all explain to Mr. Gus that they were having a funny face party and did not invite him because he is too serious and rarely laughs.

Really? This joy jockey almost never laughs??

Mr Gus

You Don't Say

 

Mr. Gus warns them to be careful with their funny face party before leaving them to do…things off-camera.

Pufnstuf1

You know…stuff and stuff.

After Mr. Gus leaves, Uncle Grandpa takes his turn by making the ultimate funny face. He makes the rest of the gang laugh into tears. Uncle Grandpa detaches the funny face from his body to see how funny it truly is. He ends up laughing as hard as the rest of the gang. After laughing for a while, they decide to end their funny face party and go about their day. Little do they know, the Funny Face Head follows them as they do.

Let the wackiness ensue.

 

Trivia Time: The Funny Face Head is actually that of the series’ creator, Peter Browngardt.

Agnes 2

“It’s so FUNNY!!!”

After exploding to get away from the Funny Face Head (as you do), Uncle Grandpa and Belly Bag end up hiding in a closet, where they find Pizza Steve and Tiger hiding as well. They all mutually agree that the funny face is making them laugh too much. The Funny Face Head ends up being in the closet with them, so they run out of the closet laughing. The Funny Face Head chases them all over the RV.

Fozzie2

“That guy’s always one step a-HEAD! Waka-waka-waka!”

Mr. Gus sees these shenanigans and thinks they are just simply having a good time without him.

Sadness

“That gets me right in the feels.”

Uncle Grandpa tells the others that they must destroy the Funny Face Head, so they put on some army gear ready to attack the Funny Face Head. Unfortunately for them, they can’t stay serious enough to destroy the Funny Face Head, and they decide to recruit Mr. Gus to help them because of his serious demeanor.

They make their way to Mr. Gus’s room, locking the door behind them so the Funny Face Head can’t come in. Uncle Grandpa knocks on Mr. Gus’s bedroom door. Mr. Gus opens it before Uncle Grandpa begins to explain everything that happened and why they need his help. Mr. Gus refuses to help due to the fact he was excluded from their party. Mr. Gus shuts the door on the rest of the gang, leaving them all very upset.

Sadness

“Ooh, those feels again!”

As they are discussing how bad they feel, the Funny Face Head begins to knock on the door. Tiger and Pizza Steve try to hold the door to the best of their ability as Uncle Grandpa creates an invitation for Mr. Gus to join their “Destroy the Funny Face” party.

Funny Face 2

“Um, I know we dissed you earlier, but could you, like, do us a solid?”

Uncle Grandpa knocks on the door again and gives Mr. Gus the invitation. Mr. Gus again refuses him, stating that they are no longer friends.

Sub-Zero

“Dat’s cold, bro!”

 

Funny Face 3

Every wrinkle etched in misery…

Uncle Grandpa and everyone else get very distraught by this news. They all begin to cry over the loss of their friendship as the Funny Face breaks in and tries to make them all laugh. Unfortunately for the Funny Face Head, they were all so upset that they were beyond being cheered up by a silly face. This made the Funny Face pop like a balloon and fly right out of the RV.

Funny Face 4

Though they destroyed the Funny Face, they were still very upset that they lost their friendship. Mr. Gus comes out of his room to inform them all that he’s actually still their friend and he said what he said because he knew that would help them become serious enough to destroy the Funny Face. The gang is happy to hear this, so Uncle Grandpa announces a “Cuddle with Mr. Gus” party as they all give Mr. Gus a big, warm group hug.

Uncle_Grandpa_and_Mr._Gus_in_UG_Christmas_Special_pt_II_04

Sweet, in a bizarre, twisted way.

And that was “Funny Face”. As Jason noted before, Uncle Grandpa isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. The biggest complaint I’ve heard about this show is that it’s too silly, to which I say, well, so effing what? Is that really a bad thing? Not every cartoon has to be Grave of the Fireflies. Sometimes, a little silly and surreal can be just what the doctor ordered. Some cartoons have to bring the zany, and that’s just what Uncle G and company do. My favorite animated shows have always been the ones which embrace the big, dopey silliness of the medium and just run with it.

Gonzo

“Weird. Is. Good!”