What The Funny #7: Mission: Freakazoid
As you may have already deduced by now, it’s time for another installment of What The Funny, spotlighting Freakazoid!
Today we’ll be looking at episode 16, the third episode of season 2, 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…
…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.”
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:
Yeah, I don’t think anybody blames you for ditching that trip, Freak.
To make matters worse, Freakazoid’s mute butler Ingmar…
…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…
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.
Like Smith, Professor Jones is 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?”
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”.
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 (!)…
…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!”
And the day is saved. After the mission, the gang kicks back at a diner, and make an on-air commercial for Anubis Market.
-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.