Cartoon Country: Littlest Pet Shop Update – From "Aaah!" to "Eh"

This is an addendum to Pets Over Ponies, an article I did back in January 2013. As is the new custom for Reviews on the Run, I’m gonna keep this short and sweet (OK, short).

It is often said that the true test of a cartoon’s (or any piece of artistic work, for that matter)’s quality is if it’s still as good to you upon a re-watching as it was when you first peeped it out. Sadly, for me this doesn’t seem to be entirely the case with The Channel Formerly Known as The Hub’s Littlest Pet Shop, which is reported to be resuming new episode airings this winter. During this extended hiatus for new eps of LPS (after The Hub sank like a lead balloon covered in fat people, Hasbro seems to be focusing primarily on features as opposed to their near-former TV network) I’ve taken some time off to sober up and re-watch the odd episode here and there, and it looks the runner’s high I was on back when LPS first hit the scene seems to have worn off.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not as though Littlest Pet Shop is terribly bad, the problem is that it’s not terribly good either. It’s falling very firmly into “meh” territory for me. In retrospect, I think I was more enamored of the idea of there being another Hasbro show that wasn’t My Little Pony to glom onto more than the show itself. There are still some specific characters and elements that I’m still into: I still like Blythe and her ever-changing hairstyles and outfits, I still like Youmgmee (I am kind of curious to see what antics these 2 will get into now that Youngmee is in on Blythe’s big secret), I still love Aunt Christie and Sweet Delights, really hope to see more of them (but I’ve already geeked out on that in a Nerdvana so no need to repeat myself here), I still kind of like Emma and Stephanie, wouldn’t mind seeing more of them, Roger is OK in small doses, though I still would like his character more if he had a wife to play off of; you can’t have the Odd Couple with only Oscar, with no contrast to balance things out, it’s just not as funny, Mrs. Twombly, Sue and Jasper have their moments (though it seems like the latter 2 are really only there to fill up the numbers), and the pets’ antics are OK once in a while, though I admit I like the aforementioned human characters more. The Biskit Twins are still my least favorite characters by far. Not a fan of them. At all. I tried to find something redeemable about them, but they just don’t do it for me. I’m just not down with glorifying villains. I like that they’re twins and that they’re rich and I kind of like their designs, but that’s as far as my enthusiasm for them goes.
Am I done with Littlest Pet Shop? Not entirely. I may still check out some of the new episodes when they debut, assuming there’s a premise that sounds interesting to me, but in all honesty I can’t say how much longer I’ll be riding the LPS bandwagon. It’s a short ride, save some money.

The Hub: What Could Have Been

Well, folks, we’re approaching the final week of The Hub network being called The Hub. Next Monday (October 13) will mark the beginning of The Hub’s rebrand as Discovery Family.

Disc Fam logo

Hasbro will still be in control of the channel from 5 AM to 5 PM, but the rest of the hours will be programmed by Discovery. Yesterday, I came across one of the promos for Discovery Family. Take a look:

That’s it? Just a bunch of educational science, nature and animal documentaries?? Color me underwhelmed. So let’s examine this, shall we? Going by the above promo, Discovery Family’s lineup will have no animated shows (except for the established Hasbro properties such My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Transformers Rescue Bots), no scripted shows and no movies. It’s almost as though Discovery wants this channel to fail. DiscFam is probably going to be an even bigger bomb than the XFL. Yeah, The Hub’s airing old sitcom reruns in prime time was a phenomenally stupid programming decision, but does Discovery honestly believe that they can gain a substantial following by running a bunch of educational documentaries and reality programs in their place? What kind of network that wants to attract kids doesn’t have any cartoons on it’s lineup? That’s just dumb! And yes, I know that live action shows are cheaper to produce than animated shows, but even if DiscFam brought back some of their old Discovery Kids shows in reruns, that would be better than having no cartoons on the lineup at all. After I first saw this promo, my initial thought for the future of Discovery Family was this:

I predict that this new schedule is going to go over like a lead balloon covered with fat people. Even the DiscFam logo looks dull, generic and uninspired. Admittedly, I kind of like the tagline “Let’s Go!”, but it’s wasted on this snooze fest of a lineup. It makes me wish that Hasbro had partnered with some other company to launch it’s family oriented family cable channel and Discovery wasn’t involved at all. This leads me to ponder what things may have been like had Hasbro hitched it’s wagon to another company besides Discovery. Here are a few choices. Before I start, I’m going to say that the Big 3 (Disney, Warner Brothers and Viacom) are already off of the table, since they already have active family oriented cable channels, so we don’t have to imagine what their family channels would be like. That said, to borrow DiscFam’s tagline, Let’s go!


Dreamworks wouldn’t want to do this, and they have no reason to do it, but imagine if Hasbro and DreamWorks had partnered up and launched a family oriented cable channel. Not only would said channel be able to air all of the movies from the Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda franchises as well as How To Train Your Dragon, but they’d also be able to air the DreamWorks series such as Monsters VS Aliens, Penguins of Madagascar, Dragons: Riders/Defenders of Berk, Kung-Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and the upcoming animated series based on The Croods. Also Dreamworks currently owns the Classic Media library, which  includes the UPA TV catalogue, Harvey Entertainment, Big Idea Productions, Filmation and the license rights to Gumby, Voltron and the Jay Ward productions. This means that this hypothetical channel could also air reruns of Rocky & Bullwinkle and Felix the Cat, as well as any new adaptations of said projects.  Add to that My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic, Transformers and Littlest Pet Shop, and it sounds like a winner to me.

ADDENDUM: As it happens, a Hasbro/Dreamworks partnership almost happened, but Dreamworks’ president Jeffry Katzenberg wanted too much money and power, so Hasbro backed out of the deal. And the Greek chorus moans “More’s the pity.”


I know that FOX wouldn’t be interested in doing this, since their last attempt at a family friendly cable channel (Fox Family) didn’t end well and they already have a couple of cable channels under their belt, but it would be pretty cool if FOX had a showcase for their Fox Kids library of shows, as well as any new series that the studio would want to produce. Furthermore, there wouldn’t be the issue of what the channel would air at night after the kids have gone to bed, since this channel could air the FOX prime time shows and/or some of the FX or FXX programs. Plus, FOX owns The Simpsons lock, stock and barrel, so there wouldn’t be any issues if they wanted to air reruns of that on this channel.


I think that Hasbro and Universal would get along pretty well. Partnered with Universal, this hypothetical channel could air the likes of Woody Woodpecker and some of Universal Studios movies. Plus, Universal owns Qubo and Sprout. ‘ Nuff said.


Under this partnership, we would have a channel that had access to all of the Hasbro properties as well of all of the shows on Cookie Jar TV and KEWLopolis.

Honestly, any of these partnerships sounds better than what we’re getting. Now, it’s possible that Discovery may surprise us all by pulling something really special out of their collective sleeves, but I’m not counting on that. After seeing that Discovery Family promo and reading what Discovery’s master plan for the channel is, I have only this to say to all of them.

Happy Trails to The Hub

Stick The Hub with a fork, ’cause it’s done.

Hub Network logo

For months now, there have been rumors circulating that the network was in trouble and its’ future murky, well, apparently those weren’t just rumors. Deadline reports:
“The long-rumored takeover and rebranding of the children’s network is about to take place, The Wall Street Journal reports. Discovery  would acquire some of Hasbro’s share in the struggling joint venture — but still leave the toymaker with a sizable stake —  and then likely rename it Discovery Family. It would target parents as well as kids, and still enable Hasbro to program the channel from 9 AM to 3 PM.
While the deal isn’t complete yet, it’s being reported that the channel likely will become part of Group President Henry Schleiff’s growing fiefdom — which includes Investigation Discovery, Destination America, and the American Heroes Channel. The joint venture has had little success taking share in a crowded market dominated by Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, while kids advertising has declined, HUB had already expanded into family-oriented programming, airing movies in primetime and adding older-skewing fare like popular 1990s teen comedy series Blossom.”
So that would seem to be it for The Hub. Shame too, because the channel had so much potential. It takes most cable networks at least a decade or so to hit their decline, The Hub did it in just 4 years. That’s gotta be a record. The channel had much more diversity when it first hit the scene 4 years ago than it has now. Back when the Hub first launched in 2010, audience’s reaction was this:
…Now in 2014, it’s this:
Hasbro had big dreams for this network: they wanted to run with the Big Dogs and turn the Trinity of Kids and Family Networks, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, into a quartet, but while the Big 3 kids networks typically attract millions of viewers in a given broadcasting day, The Hub was lucky to score 100,000 viewers.
The Hub used to offer a variety of programs. There was at one time a preschool block called Hub-Bub and an action cartoon block called HuBoom!, but those shows were mishandled and lacking in premiere shows, so they were soon gone. However, while we’re a tad nonplussed by this news, we can’t say we’re too disappointed, seeing as how the only shows that we’re currently watching on The Hub (Now that The Aquabats Super Show! was given the boot) are My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Littlest Pet Shop, and even then, that’s only when it’s a new episode. Really, this was to be expected. The channel was hemorrhaging money, and yes, the kids’ entertainment market is indeed crowded right now with the Big Three (Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network) but they still could’ve managed to cut a swath or at least carved a niche for themselves had they not chosen to rely solely on My Little Pony and 80’s nostalgia to carry them along.
Over the past few years, Hasbro had become complacent, thinking that the success of MLP and the moderate success of LPS alone was enough to carry the network, and they allowed The Hub to essentially become the Ponies, Pets and Nostalgia Network, not a wise move considering Hasbro’s plan was for the Hub to join the ranks of Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. We can’t sum it up better than this post from the MLP forums:
“I knew Hasbro’s expectations for the Hub’s performance were unrealistically high from the start. After launch, they said that their goal was to become “half as big as Cartoon Network” in 5 years.
This is obviously not the case, and this is because Hasbro has failed on multiple fronts. They failed to adequately promote the network on a large scale since its launch, and they failed to distribute it wide enough where it would be on a level ground with Nick, Disney, and CN. Additionally, they expected to be able to do this with a relatively weak lineup. Besides the success of MLP and the moderate success of LPS, they tried to help themselves with only a short slate of original programming, most of it based on established franchises, while pinning the rest of their hopes on a full slate of reruns and imports. In the mature industry of today as opposed to the past, with all the competition, reruns and imports won’t really do you the best.”
Basically, Hasbro wanted to conquer the Seven Seas without leaving the comfort of their own bathtub. The Hub’s failings can be summed up by 2 main bullet points:
  1. Over-Reliance on Nostalgia, and
  2. Over-Reliance on Ponies and Pets.
A prime example of The Hub’s relying far too much on nostalgia is embodied by this promo:

This spot immediately got under my craw from the very first time I saw it, but I couldn’t figure out why it bugged me so much. I don’t fault Rob Paulsen and Jess Harnell for doing it, those guys are awesome and they’ve still got it, but something about this just left a burr under my saddle. Then, in the wake of recent events, it hit me: The Hub shouldn’t have been kissing up to Animaniacs (and later Tiny Toons) like this, touting them as their latest and greatest stars and having the stars of their other shows shining the Warners’ collective asses, because A! is 1) old and 2) over. If A! was being revived on The Hub and these were new, never before seen episodes, then the network could rightfully make a spot like this, since then they’d have something legitimate to brag about, but these were same old repeats which have previously aired on numerous other cable networks and currently are on DVD.  A! and TTA simply didn’t deserve this level of hype, especially not over their original programs. The spot just came off as a thinly veiled attempt by Hasbro to expand their Brony audience and attract more older viewers. There’s nothing wrong with lightly sprinkling some older nostalgic favorites around the schedule here and there, but too much nostalgia is just overkill, and it does very little to attract and gain viewers. A! and TTA went on to receive as much as 5 airings in a day, only for the nostalgia balloon to burst and for them to go back to just a single airing a day, which they should have been doing all along. To put it simply, nostalgia just doesn’t work when it’s overused. A network can’t, and shouldn’t rely solely on the classics to get by. Older acquisitions should be lightly peppered around non-peak viewing hours to fill those little gaps in the schedule; you don’t treat an older canceled acquisition like the Next Big Thing and the network’s savior. The notion that canceled reruns of A! would or could become The Hub’s next Brony phenomenon was quite frankly, stupid of The Hub. When Cartoon Network would occasionally bring back an older show, it will just air during the day for a little while and then disappear when something newer is available to air, and Nick doesn’t even bother digging up older shows for their main network since they have offshoot channels like TeeNick and Nicktoons for that. A show like A! is OK to show for a little while, but it should have only been treated as filler, not embraced by the network as the Holy Grail.

This brings us to the second bullet point. They let the monster success of MLP and the moderate success of LPS become their crutches, and rather than developing other new and diverse shows based on their other toy properties as well as new originals and unique 3rd party acquisitions, they instead chose to simply repeat MLP 5 times a day and LPS another 4 days a day (to be fair, this is a common network practice: when a show proves successful, fill every available space with it; I’m looking at you, Simpsons, Family Guy and Spongebob), and in the process they tossed their other original series like Pound Puppies, Dan VS, The Aquabats Super Show, Kaijuto et all under the bus and eventually stopped developing new shows altogether outside of cheap-to-produce stuff like Kid President and Parents Just Don’t Understand. Come on, Hasbro. You’re the 3rd or 4th largest toy company in the world; you have dozens of toys and games at your disposal that you could have made shows out of, too many for you to only capitalize on MLP, LPS and Transformers. Where’s the new MASK cartoon? Where’s the new Jem show? (Though a Jem movie is said to be in the works.) Where’s the new C.O.P.S. show? Where’s the new Candy Land cartoon? Where’s the new Mr. Potato Head show? Where’s the new Play-Doh cartoon? Where’s the new Clue show or Monopoly show? I’m not saying shows based on those properties would all be masterpieces, but that would at least be a variety. Though personally I think a Monopoly show has the potential to be epic:
And Hub’s nighttime schedule was a joke: they just looped the same 10 B and C grade level movies again and again every night then cap off their evenings with a bunch of reruns of 1970’s and 1980’s sitcoms like some dime store Nick @ Nite. Running a bunch of old sitcoms during prime time was a PHENOMENALLY, HILARIOUSLY stupid idea, as that does little to nothing as far as attracting and keeping viewers for the simple fact that nostalgia is fleeting. No one is going to switch off the latest episode of True Blood or Arrow or The Walking Dead or Once Upon a Time for a 40-year-old rerun of Happy Days. Silly Hasbro, nobody wants another TV Land, not even TV Land wants to be TV Land anymore.
The statement that “in the mature industry of today as opposed to the past, with all the competition, reruns and imports won’t really do you the best” is quoted for truth, and to paraphrase Yoda, this is why Hub failed. They expected MLP, LPS and nostalgia to carry the entire network, which was a HUGE mistake, and they let their few first-run productions like Dan VS and Aquabats slip through their fingers in favor of the more “cost efficient” reruns and imports, another huge mistake. News flash, Hasbro: it’s not the 1980’s-1990’s anymore; a channel that consists mostly of repeats isn’t going to cut the mustard in today’s cutthroat industry. No one is going to rush home to watch a bunch of cancelled broadcast TV shows that they just as easily buy as entire series DVD sets at their local Wal-Mart or Best Buy for $20. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Hub needed a TGIF. It needed a SNICK. It needed a Cartoon-Cartoon Fridays. It needed a Miguzi. It needed a Funny For Your Face (and yeah, I know they had Animaniacs and Tiny Toons for a while, but acquisition rights don’t last forever and nostalgia is fleeting; what they needed were NEW shows done in the vein of those shows). Heck, it could have even stood a Secret Slumber Party/KEWLopolis. It needed some other new and original shows besides MLP that could appeal to multiple age groups across multiple platforms. While they did it as an effort to save money, dropping The Aquabats Super Show! was one of the single stupidest moves The Hub could make. It was a potential breakout hit which was watched equally by kids and parents alike. One major factor that did Aquabats and Dan VS in (aside from The Hub’s poor scheduling of the shows–seriously, who premieres new episodes to run on the middle of Saturday afternoons?) was that there weren’t any other shows like them on the network. For a while Hasbro tried to lump Dan in alongside of their action cartoons on the now-defunct HuBoom! block, but it really didn’t belong there; Dan stuck out just as badly alongside superhero cartoons as it did alongside MLP and the like. The only show Hub had that kind of clicked with Dan was Aquabats, since both shows were zany comedies which skewed slightly older than the rest of The Hub’s fare and were popular among adults, perhaps more so than with kids. Dan VS might have fared better premiering at night on a prime time block with similar skewing shows.If Hasbro had invested in some other older-skewing scripted comedies and put them all together on a premiere block, then both Dan VS and Aquabats might have found a sizable audience. As it was, those shows were all alone and badly scheduled and promoted.
So now, Hasbro will be divesting in their share of the channel and Discovery will be taking over. The Ponies will still be around, at least for now, since there’s another 26-episode season coming in due time. Plus, MLP is currently The Hub’s biggest cash cow, so I doubt that Discovery would want to get rid of it. Of course, if Hasbro chooses to take the show to another network or make it an online exclusive like Mattel currently does with some of their current properties, that’s another story. I guess it’s a good thing that The Hub will still exist in some way, shape or form, but I have to say, I’m really not getting a savior vibe from Discovery. They’re the network that let Discovery Kids go to turd to begin with. Yes, Hasbro dropped the ball big time on this channel, but lets’ face it: Hasbro’s stepping in was the best thing to happen to Discovery Kids. Hasbro made a lot of wrong moves, but they did manage to get some decent shows and properties out of the channel that people like(d) to watch and talk(ed) about. When was the last time you heard anybody talk about Discovery Kids? While it’s true that The Hub as of late hasn’t been that great, I really have a hard time believing that Discovery can make the channel any better. If Discovery knew how to run a family oriented cable channel in the first place then Hasbro wouldn’t have had to bail them out in the second place. If Discovery’s idea of saving this channel is polluting the airwaves with more reality shows about junkyard pickers, Amish mafiosos and bacon enthusiasts, then this re-branded channel is dead before it’s even started. I cringe at the thought of this channel becoming another TLC; one TLC is more than enough. And if this channel is really going to undergo a rebrand, I really hope they can come up with a better name than Discovery Family. For one thing, DiscFam sounds too similar to Discovery Kids, and NO ONE is begging for the return of that channel. For another, “Discovery Family” is 7 syllables, the name takes too long to say. Channel names have to be short and memorable. For yet another, placing the word “family” in a channel’s name can often result in the channel being DOA, as many viewers equate “family friendly entertainment” with “transmitting bland garbage that’s so tame, watered down and homogenized that only Quakers and heart patients can enjoy it”. Of course it’s possible that Discovery has something amazing in store for The Hub and they’re just keeping it under wraps, but frankly, I’m not getting that feeling.
Personally, we discussed what we would do with Hub Network. We would place the channel’s emphasis on comedy and fun and aim it towards kids and teens during the daylight hours and adults during the nighttime hours. Basically it would be Nickelodeon during the day and HA! at night. There’s be a block of original and 3rd party edutainment shows for younger kids and preschoolers in the mornings, blocks of acquired cartoon favorites and teen sitcoms in the afternoons, a block of girl-centric shows such as Ladybug and LoliRock, an block of action cartoons and superhero shows such as Max Steel and Super Sentai, music videos and shows about video games, extreme sports, comic books and manga/anime, at night we’d air reruns of Mystery Science Theater 3000 every night from 8 PM to 10 PM except on Friday and Saturday nights, which would be devoted to original premiere programming blocks and on Sunday nights we’d run an “art house” animated short show, a show spotlighting memorable cartoons, the making of them and giants of the animation industry (think Cartoon Network’s Toon Heads meets G4’s Icons), nights would consist of an original parody newscast, a riff show, a sketch comedy show, a hidden camera prank show, a mini-block of “edgier” adult cartoons both Western and anime (sort of an Adult Swim lite), a show featuring stand-up routines accompanied by visualizations and comedy clips from around the world (think Turkey Television meets Mash-Up), a block of British comedies, a classic sitcom block and a block of classic cartoons from the baby boomer era. We’d call this channel POP or KABOOM TV, but you don’t have to. Not saying this is the best way or the only way, but it is a way.
So for now, that would seem to a wrap for The Hub. No date has been announced for the rebrand yet, (EDIT: Hub Network officially switches to Discovery Family on October 13, 2014.) but for all intents and purposes, The Hub is just running on fumes now, waiting to be snapped up and recycled into something else. Hasbro had a potentially pretty decent thing going for a while, pity that shortsightedness and a lack of imagination killed it. So we at Twinsanity say…..

Bad Show, Jolly Bad Show!

Well, folks. It looks like we at Twinsanity have been dealt another blow.  The latest news is that at the San Diego Comic Con, the Aquabats revealed that The Hub has cancelled The Aquabats! Super Show!.

What do we think of this?

In my opinion, this news royally sucks, as The Aquabats Super Show was one of the few shows that we watched regularly on The Hub. The Aquabats was an acquired taste, I’ll give you that, but at the same time I have to question the logic of The Hub pushing the series so far back into the early afternoon hours of Saturdays. Anytime after 11:30 AM is generally considered to be a loser time slot for a SatAM show, as kids are usually forced to relinquish control of the TV sets to the adults in the house around 11:30 or noon. The Hub had The Aquabats! airing as late as 2 PM at one point. They push the channel back to a time slot when many kids have left the TV and gone outside to play because they want the early hours for 3 more airings of MLP and then they wonder why the show is getting low ratings. Did that come off as snarky? Well, maybe a little.
First Dan VS bites the dust, then Kaijuo: Rise of the Duel Masters is kaput, then Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot gets canceled and now this. It’s getting so that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Littlest Pet Shop and Transformers Rescue Bots are pretty much the only things airing on The Hub during the day now, while the channel’s night time hours are still being devoted solely to nostalgic sitcoms from the past. The Hub just doesn’t seem to care about airing any other type of programming. They honestly seem to believe that Kid President has what it takes to save the channel, despite the fact that last weekend, KP brought in less than 10,000 viewers. For those who don’t feel like doing the math, that’s not good.
I’ve always thought that moving Dan VS to Saturday afternoons was a bad idea. Dan VS was an Adult Swim-lite type of show that belonged on Prime Time. here should have been an entire block of this type of programming airing at night and shows such as Dan and The Aquabats could have headlined this block. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I still don’t understand why (aside from money, of course) why The Hub doesn’t have a weekend evening premiere block. The Hub needs a T.G.I.F. They need a SNICK. They need a Cartoon-Cartoon Fridays.
My chief concern is that the cancellations of The Aquabats Super Show! and Dan VS will lead the heads of the network to believe that shows about ponies, pets and transforming robots and nostalgic sitcoms are the only types of shows that can succeed on the channel, and so that’s all that the network will be giving it’s viewers from now on. I’m going to be brutally frank here; the only chance that I see of The Hub surviving another 4 years is if they learn to go outside of their comfort zone and start allowing some different types of programming (and no, I don’t mean TV MA rated adult humor or trashy reality TV), and they truly need to stop using Friendship is Magic and Littlest Pet Shop as a crutch to lean on. The more dependent that The Hub is on these shows, the weaker their schedule gets. Hasbro isn’t doing much to dissuade the belief that The Hub is basically the My Little Pony channel. In fact, they seem to be going out of their to promote this misconception. These shows are fine. I’m glad that they’re gaining attention and that the’re getting high ratings, but if The Hub is to succeed in today’s market, it can’t live solely on Ponies, Pets and nostalgia.

“I pity this channel! I don’t hate the channel, but i pity it!”

ADDENDUM: I was mistaken. The Aquabats Super Show! was not canceled due to low ratings. In fact, it was doing well with both kids and parents and it actually helped the band find a new audience and also helped the Aquabats celebrate it’s 20th anniversary as a band. Rather, the show was terminated due to the network’s downsizing and abandoning it’s kid-friendly schedule in favor of more cost effective programming. The future of the series is unknown as of this point. Christian Jacobs (the band’s leader and The MC Bat Commander) is optimistic for the show’s future, but it still sucks that we won’t be seeing the series again until ????.

The Couch: Cosmic Quantum Ray

It’s time for another installment of The Couch. Today we look at one of the first shows to air on The Hub, the science themed animated sci-fi comedy Cosmic Quantum Ray.

Cosmic Quantum Ray premiered on October 10, 2010 on Hub Network, and ended on December 9, 2010 with 26 episodes. It was produced by Moonscoop, Mike Young Productions, Method Films, and Telegael Torenta. The series had reruns on The Hub until November 4, 2013.
Although produced by Germany’s KI.KA and France’s M6, the show was written in English, the writing supervised by Head Writers/Co-producers and Emmy winners Pamela Hickey and Dennys McCoy. In 2009, the series beat out Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network to win the Pulcinella Award for BEST TV SERIES. The series was created by cosmologist Dr. Mani Bhaumik. Hickey and McCoy based all their stories on principles and theories from quantum physics, with Dr. Bhaumik literally providing the math.
Cosmic Quantum Ray was billed as a bizarre comedy/sci-fi adventure (emphasis on “bizarre comedy”) that, at the end of each episode, explained the quantum physics associated with a story and/or physical gags found within the series.
CQR centered on Everyteen Robbie Shipton, an average kid with an average life and a fairly hot seemingly single real estate agent mom, who through means which were never explained, possessed a shoe box leading to the 9th Dimension (the point in space-time of uncertainty, probability, possibility and chaos wherein we can compare all the possible universes’ histories starting with all the different possible laws of physics and initial conditions, according to some string theorists). Sound weird? Well, Dexter has a super-advanced high-tech science laboratory with TARDIS-like diemsnions within the bowels of his ordinary suburban home, and Lydia Deetz is best friends with a gross con-artist ghost from the Neitherworld. So why not a shoe box leading to the 9th Dimension? Said shoe box is also the home of intergalactic superhero Quantum Ray, leader of a band of sci-fi weirdo do-gooders known as Team Quantum, dedicated to upholding Natural Law throughout the cosmos or something similar, with Robbie in tow as the Eager Young Space Cadet, fighting such space and science themed baddies as a body-snatching spore, a haughty space worm who would make portable wormholes (get it?), a purple skinned mad scientist and his nagging mother who was trapped in the body of a hamster, an indestructible surfer dude who rode a gamma ray powered surfboard and a pair of militant military squirrels. Team Quantum consisted of:
  • Quantum Ray himself is the leader of Team Quantum, but in truth he’s captain of the team in the same manner that Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson was in charge of the radio station on WKRP in Cincinnati. Ray is a big muscular man-child of a superhero, sort of a cross between The Tick and SpongeBob Squarepants. (The latter comparison in particularly ironic, since Ray was also voiced by Tom Kenny). Ray was a cosmic being from the 9th Dimension. He is brave, determined and occasionally clever, though he sometimes comes off as a bit “flaky” or “weird” – but he’s just thinking “differently” than we 3-dimensional creatures, as his mind occupies 6 additional dimensions. He possessed a uniquely bizarre but still kind of kick-ass super power set: As a being from the 9th dimension, not all of Ray’s body can be seen – his elbows, knees and midriff are all in “higher” dimensions (we can’t see them, but Ray can). Ray’s body parts can also be detached at times when called for; he is held together by a cosmic essence of unknown origin that only Ray or other higher dimensional beings can see. As a 9th dimensional man, Ray can also see celestial objects and scientific phenomena that 3-dimensional beings cannot, like P-branes and tesseracts. Ray was also super-strong, able to fly and he could also control and change his atoms into any inorganic material he wants: he can turn to titanium, diamond, rubber, brick, iron, gold, and silver – anything he needs to get the “hero job” done. As a higher dimensional being, Quantum Ray sometimes forgets that not everyone occupies several planes of time, space and reality simultaneously, not everybody’s appendages are modular, and that most people have to obey the basic laws of physics. He referred to Robbie as his “young sidekick” and his tagline was “Halt! In the name of Natural Law!”
  • Atee and Geecee are a pair of super-cute pint-sized, green-skinned, pointy-eared, hovering teenage twin alien honeys from the planet Tooferwun –a planet where everyone is a twin (and you used to wonder where we came from) therefore they count as a single member of Team Quantum. Identical in appearance, the only way to tell them apart was by their costumes and demeanor: Atee, who wore a pink costume, was sweet-voiced and dainty, whereas Geecee, who wore a baby blue costume, was gravelly voiced and scrappy. The twins were the lead-footed pilots of the ship, knowing only 2 speeds: fast and faster. They were also lazy, declining to perform any other duties with their line, “We’re pilots. We don’t do (whatever additional task they were asked to perform).” In addition to the ability to hover and fly (the twins are seen floating more often than walking), the twins have a superpower that only works when they combine their bodies together to form “Double Helix” – a large band of super-strong, super-elastic DNA that can catch, launch or catapult villains, dangerous objects (like out of control meteorites) – or even their fellow teammates. The twins generate their “Double Helix” ability through the soles of their feet as a sort of contrail, and they control the helixes by flying around. The twins’ “Double Helix” power is activated when they touch each other and speak the phrase, “Two for one, we’re double fun! We’re Double Helix!” (It was unclear if this phrase was necessary or just a habit of theirs. Physical contact, however, is required. If the two are out of reach of each other, they are unable to activate their power.) Their one weakness is separation. They are “connected” on a quantum level…should they be separated they would be powerless. And if they are separated for a very long period of time… they could cease to exist as we know them (but being quantum, we’re not quite sure what they would become). Being teenagers, Atee and Geecee seemed to have a mild crush on Robbie, they were definitely ga-ga over his hair, as they tried to touch it, snip it or sample it in just about every episode. Their names didn’t just sound science fiction-y, they were also a reference to the components of a DNA molecule: Adenine Thymine (Atee) and Guanine Cytosine (Geecee).
  • Bucketworth was a bronze plated sentient robot and the brains of the team. Luminously intelligent, educated and refined, he was designed with a mustache, bow tie and a monocle from which he could project holographic images. Bucketworth acted as the sarcastic Mr. Spock to Ray’s clueless captain Kirk. While he possessed no super powers (beyond being a self-aware robot) he possessed a genius level IQ, and could invent handy devices and impeccable strategies to win the day. Bucketworth also delivered the science lessons at the conclusion of each episode. Ever the refined gentleman, he always referred to Robbie as ‘Robert’ and Ray as ‘Raymond’.
  • Robbie Shipton himself acted as Ray’s protege and the show’s audience avatar. He had no super powers, but provided common sense and oasis of calm within the group. While in ‘space hero’ mode, Robbie’s outfit switched to a snazzy navy blue and gold space suit with pointed shoulder blades and his glasses would mysteriously disappear.
Robbie had another distinction: he was the only member of Team Quantum who had a secret identity. Robbie led the obligatory double life on Earth, and all of the episodes would somehow involve his high school and the usual string of colorful high-school characters: Lucas, the uptight overachieving nerd, Allison, the cute but annoyingly preachy vegan/animal rights activist, Scott Stotz, the jock jerk, Scott’s hulking goonish cronies Dustin and Justin, who never spoke but whose ‘dialogue’ usually consisted of them giggling like Beavis and Butthead, and Chip Monohan, the school mascot who never took off his squirrel costume (the show’s producers seemed to have a “thing” for squirrels, since a pair of squirrels were also among the show’s recurring villains). Chip also holds the distinction of being the only cast member outside of Team Quantum to have appeared in every episode of the series. So Robbie and crew had to spend many an episode making up hee-larious excuses for all of the bizarre events that went on around them, and the other kids just thought Robbie was a weirdo geek who made up loony space stories.
Cosmic Quantum Ray wasn’t a bad show by any means; it was pretty fun, and I did learn some cool science stuff from it (it was from CQR that I learned what a quantum computer is, what qubits are and it’s what got me interested in string theory), but in short order, it did become a bit repetitive, what with the heroes facing the same revolving door of villains every time, and how each episode had to somehow involve Robbie’s school, invariably leading to another character discovering the truth about Robbie’s outer space escapades and exclaiming, “My gosh! Those stories you tell! They’re TRUE!!” only to get their memories erased (usually by Bucketworth) again and again and again. This happened so frequently that one episode even turned it into an in-universe joke. I would’ve liked to have seen a few episodes in which Robbie’s school chums were altogether missing, which took place completely in space and where they dealt with no villains at all; surely there were enough scienctific and astronomical themed disasters and anomalies which would’ve made for interesting stories without the constant need of a costumed antagonist and adherence to the standard “wash, rinse, repeat” formula. And I REALLY would’ve liked to have seen another character learn the truth about Team Quantum and NOT get their minds wiped at the end. I’ve never liked that “I am/have/can do something really cool, but have to keep it a secret from everybody” trope, especially when no reason is given for why everything must be a big secret. I can understand keeping the existence of aliens a secret from the feds; you don’t want your homies getting locked up and dissected (indeed, the gang did go to Area 51 in one episode and nearly met with such a fate), but I think you can at least let family and close friends in on it. I especially didn’t see why Robbie’s mom Debbie couldn’t have known about it; she actually found out about Team Quantum in 2 episodes, “What’s Up with Gravity?” and “Unreal Estate”, and each time she found out, she seemed okay with it, in fact at the end of the former episode she confides in her son that she really liked Team Quantum, so she obviously wasn’t going to blow the whistle on them, so why did she have to get her mind erased? You’d think having a parent in your corner would work to your advantage; she could cover for you when people start to ask why you keeping missing class or whatever. Not to mention Debbie got her Crowning Moment of Awesome in her first appearance by stating that she’d totally mess up any villain who screwed with her kid, and later does it! any lady who can pull a villain’s lower lip up over her head–literally!–is A-OK in my book.
You go, Mom.