Beyond the Background: Rick Raccoon, The Forgotten Shirt Tale

Welcome to a new segment on Twinsanity titled Beyond the Background, where we give obscure, forgotten or less celebrated characters a moment in the spotlight. In this edition, we’ll be going back to Saturday mornings in the 1980s. Do you remember the Shirt Tales? In case you don’t, the Shirt Tales was a SatAM cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera that ran from 1982 to 1984 and was based on characters from a line of popular greeting cards, not unlike the Care Bears. In fact, the Shirt Tales were quite a bit like the Care Bears, except that the Shirt Tales all wore T-shirts with cutesy messages on them instead of having symbols on their stomachs and the Shirt Tales used high tech to right wrongs and help kids and animals with their personal problems instead of using magic and sappy songs. Fans of the Shirt Tales cartoon undoubtedly remember the main team’s various members: Pammy Panda, Bogey the Orangutan, Tyg Tiger (with his signature “TOING!”- Seriously, what was up with that anyway?) and Digger Mole, but there’s 1 member of the team who seems to have slipped from some fans’ memories. I’m talking about the one time leader of the main Shirt Tales Rick Raccoon.

“Remember me? The creators of Robot Chicken obviously don’t!”
 
During the shows’ first season, the Shirt Tales were like a well oiled machine. Tyg provided the muscle. Digger had his talent for, well, digging. Bogey provided the Humphrey Bogart impression shtick and Pammy provided the femininity. Rick, meanwhile, was the brains. The team leader, and also the only one permitted to drive the Shirt Tales Super Sonic Transport (STSST).

But between season 1 and season 2,something happened. In the shows’ 2nd (and last) season, Rick suddenly went from being the acknowledged leader of the team to having almost nothing to do. He was even forced to hand over the keys to the STSST. The leadership position was given to Pammy, while Tyg now drove the STSST. They would have let Pammy drive, but, you know, women drivers.

No official reason was ever given for Rick’s demotion. One source claims that between seasons, Rick was seen selling secrets to the Critter Sitters, but this is as yet unconfirmed.

During Shirt Tales’ season 2 episodes, Rick would usually have a very small role or be altogether missing. Rick’s friends, in an attempt to justify Rick’s still earning a paycheck to the higher-ups, tried to find things for him to do him to do, such as monitoring the team’s  missions, but Rick spent most of his time chillaxing in the team’s tree house HQ watching that hot new cutting edge MTV channel (this was 1984, you have to remember) and getting fat off of walnuts.  The Shirt Tales were even forced to bring in a 6th member, Kip Kangaroo, claiming that they wanted a new member to train and to pave the way for future generations, but actually, they just need someone else to chip in for the rent.

“Rent?!? Hey, man, no one told me about this! I’m just an intern!”
 
After the series ended, Rick tried to go freelance and head his own team, The Short Tales, just like the Shirt Tales, only they wore shorts, but this venture wasn’t nearly as successful. Somehow, people just weren’t keen on the idea of cute animals displaying messages across their asses. Of course, there’s always the chance that Rick can get his old job back if the Shirt Tales series is ever revived or rebooted. Hey, if Biker Mice From Mars can a reboot, anything’s possible!
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2 Comments

  1. In all seriousness, a change in writers might have had something to do with it.

    Rick was, IIRC, voiced by actor Ronnie Schell, whose only other VA gig of note was as Jason on Battle of the Planets. Schell, though, is better known for his work on Gomer Pyle, USMC, back in the 60's.

    I think Kip (a female kangaroo) was added for better gender balance and have Pammy be more of a big sister. However, that's what killed the show.

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  2. “Hey, if Biker Mice From Mars can a reboot, anything's possible!”

    If there ever is a Shirt Tales reboot or revival, and assuming that whomever produces it would be allowed to use the names and identities of the HB show's characters, producers: just make Rick the leader again. That's pretty much his whole deal; he's not much without the position of command. For a short while during the second season, the writers tried to carve a niche for Rick as “the rock & roll Shirt Tale”, no doubt inspired by a single season 1 episode where Rick was a fan of a rock band called The Patriots, but it just came off as forced and it was too little, too late. The Shirt Tales without Rick in charge was like Leonardo not being the leader of the Ninja Turtles or the Powerpuff Girls with someone other than Blossom in charge. Alpha Dog is just their jobs, man. You don't go messin' with the order.

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