Nerdvana: The Miguzi Gang
Today, Nerdvana looks back at Miguzi.
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.
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.)
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.)
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…
…SARA and the Absolution…
…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:
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:
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: 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-OK, the second coolest.