Well, the year 2019 is winding to a close and the year 2020 looms over the horizon, so as always, we’re going to our Year In Review and inform you about what to expect here at Twinsanity in the following year.
As you’ll recall, back in August we mentioned that we were beginning the process of transforming Twinsanity from a blog to a full blown website with video content. That’s still our main goal that we’re working towards doing. One main reason for this is because we want to be seen on camera. Our type of entertainment is largely a visual medium and we feel that videos are the best way to gain viewership, as many people would rather look at a video than read. Well, thankfully, those plans haven’t been scrapped; we’re still in the process of producing videos. We just have to get some more up to date equipment and so forth. However, while that’s still our main goal, we’re not content with just doing nothing creatively until we’re ready to make the jump to videos. Therefore, one of our goals for 2020 is to write at least 1 regular size blog post and 1 micro blog post (which you can find on our Tumblr account – twinsanitycomedy.tumblr.com in case you forgot) each month.
So we will indeed start putting blog posts here again come next year (albeit in a slightly smaller quantity), at least until we’re fully ready to start video production.
And yes, I will most certainly try to continue with the What The Funny mini series for Regular Show that I started back in June. I was hoping that I’d be able to do that one as a video series, but that will have to wait, at least for now. I don’t know what the next series that we’ll be doing for WTF after that one yet.
Similarly, Damon will be continuing his Pop Dream mini series for Animal Jam. As always, the mini series individual parts won’t be posted in a row, as we prefer to space them out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to finish them both by the end of next year.
Aside from that, there are no major changes in the planning. I’d like to write more Toon Adjacent segments, as I enjoy doing those, but there aren’t a great deal many of those yet. To myself, the Toon Adjacent segments are split into two subdivisions: Cool-lectibles, where we talk about toys and other merchandising based on cartoons, and Sweet Spots, where we talk about theme park and tourist attractions. I wanted to call the later Theme Snark, but that name’s already being used by YouTuber Charlie Callahan. In any case, I hope that we’ll be able to write more Toon Adjacent segments in 2020. We’re working for one for Warner Brothers World in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It’s about 50% written as of today.
Cartoon Country and Brain Candy (formerly Highly Opinionated) will continue as they have been. I have to admit that CC is one of my favorite segments to work on, and Brain Candy seems to be working out well, so there’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken. Pretty much all of the segments will eventually make the jump from blog to video. I know that we haven’t written a Talkin’ Nerdy or Beyond the Background segment in a while, but we write these things as we’re inspired to do them.
We also hope to write more TV Special Showdown segments, as those are enjoyable to do. Same deal with The Retro Bin and especially The Cartoon Couch.
Since we joined Tumblr, we’ve been seeing some cool comics and cartoons posted there, which has re-ignited that itch to start drawing regularly again and to start posting our cartoons online; we may start doing that as soon as we learn how. (I know earlier we considered possibly starting a second blog devoted to fiction, but I think since then we agree that we’d rather do comic strips, since that gives us an excuse to draw, something we each want to get back into anyway.) We’ll either post them here after this blog gets remade into a video site, or we could just put them on our Tumblr account, or possibly both. (Which is another incentive to do comics as opposed to fiction; we wouldn’t need to create a separate blog for comics. The ‘fiction’ we were planning to do was just going to be short skits and vignettes anyway.)
Overall, there’s not a whole lot of new stuff to report. We plan to just keep doing what we’ve been doing until we’re finally able to start uploading video content. When that happens, this site will get a revamp with a new look and theme, so keep reading and watch out for updates which will be seen as we report them. We’ll see you next year!
OK, we haven’t done this in a while, but it’s high time to address the elephant in the room.
Lately there’s been very little going on here and a lot going on behind the scenes, and it’s time to address that, and what shape Twinsanity is going to be taking in the months to come.
As you may have noticed, neither of us have put up any blog posts in July, and this is the first one either of us have done in August. After returning from a self-imposed vacation early in the year, I thought I could resume blogging until we were ready to start video production (this past week we began comparing prices for green screens and back lights, and I we have to upgrade from the ‘starter’ camera we have to a more high-end one, just to keep you guys abreast of where we are on that), but no, I find that the longer I stay away from blogging, the harder it is to get back into it. I never want production here to lapse (Jason and I usually try to put up at least 1 post a month) but at the same time, the desire to move on to a different medium is just getting too hard to ignore. Not only do I no longer possess the desire to blog as of late, but I don’t even think in terms of blog posts anymore. I can’t force myself to do something that I really don’t want to do; when your enthusiasm isn’t there, your work reflects it, and I just have to face facts and be honest with not just you guys, but with myself: I don’t want to blog anymore. The spark just isn’t there.
This is not the end of Twinsanity, not by a long shot, but Twinsanity’s days of being a blog are indeed numbered. I can’t even pretend to want to continue making stuff in the blog format anymore. We started Twinsanity back in 2010, so we’ve been at this for nearly a decade. I still want to express myself creatively and share my ideas and opinions with others online, but I can’t do it this way anymore. After 9 years, I really feel like I’ve done all I can do on a blog; the blog format just doesn’t accommodate my visions and ideas anymore.
Jason and I have discussed this numerous times, and we agree that one of our biggest regrets this year was starting the Regular Show What the Funny and the Animal Jam Pop Dream, and it’s not because they’re bad, but we like to finish what we start and there are/were 6 entries planned for each of them. Right now I can’t imagine doing 1 more full-blown blog entry, let alone 5. We want to continue doing both of these miniseries, just not in blog form.
After our second or third year, we’ve wanted Twinsanity to be a visual experience, and now our desires have gotten too big for mere text with still pictures. I want to do stuff like this:
Or even this:
…And I just can’t do things like this on a blog. The format has become too confining and too limited.
The other reason we really want to move on from blogging is…
We want to be SEEN! From the get-go, Twinsanity has been manned by 2 people. It’s always been the 2 of us, Jason and myself. That’s why this site is called Twinsanity. From the day we first began posting stuff online, people have always suspected that we’re just one person; if they see us on-screen together, that’ll squash that notion once and for all. Going back to above videos I cited, Jason and I want to appear on screen together, we want to interact with one another, trade jokes, barbs, perform skits, etc., kind of like the Hudson Brothers (or the Lucas Brothers or the Sklar Brothers if you need a more modern reference), and again that just isn’t possible on a blog. On a blog it’s just the blogger talking to the readers. You can’t bounce lines and jokes off of another person on a blog. And as egotistical as it may sound, I want people to see me. I have a personality and a style that I’d like to share, and that just can’t be expressed with text on a page. I’m tired of being a faceless entity.
Finally, my desire to move to a more visual medium goes back to something we tried years ago. Back when we were still on Blogger, we had considered doing a fiction blog, but at the time we had nothing but the desire to do it. I have from time to time made some attempts at original fiction here, stuff like ‘Superhero City: A Visitor’s Guide’, ‘Hero: 108: Fast Forward’ and the Cyber City Nerdvanas, and they can be seen as first attempts, but again, that’s something like, but not exactly like what I want to do on that front; I’d like to make original cartoons and artwork. In addition to writing, I also like to draw, though I’ve never posted any of my drawings online. As of right now, I don’t quite know how to post original artwork online or make digital drawings or art, but I’d like to learn. I no longer wish to just post random images on to the screen and force people to use their imaginations as to what they’re supposed to be looking at; I want to display my own artwork. At least now unlike before I have some ideas of what kind of stories and cartoons I could post. Over the past 2 years or so, Jason and I have been toying around with an idea for a cartoon show that’s been steadily growing over the past several months. I won’t go into huge detail, but the basic premise of the show is that it’s about these young twins who live with their family and their exotic talking pets on a tropical resort island in a fully automated mansion (did I mention that the family is crazy rich?), and adjacent to the mansion is this vast, savage untamed jungle land similar to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, only with Beastly Kingdom in it (’cause there are creatures like dinosaurs, dragons, unicorns, pegasi and sea monsters in it as well) that the kids sometimes play, explore and frolic in. Think The Loud House meets Lilo & Stitch meets Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse meets Johnny Test meets those early ’00’s Danimals ads meets Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs, if that makes any sense (and I know it doesn’t). If we do indeed opt to actually make a fiction blog/site, it’ll be its’ own separate site, as we don’t want this one to get too cluttered.
Long story short: don’t expect another full-blown blog post with a ton of embedded images and clips from either of us anytime soon; I don’t want to neglect this site, but I can’t continue doing what I’ve been doing, at least not this way, the spark just isn’t there. I’ll try to keep you guys up to date on our progress, most likely via micro-blogs on Tumblr and site updates here (I’m not a social media person; I got tired of the endless bric-a-brac on message boards and I don’t go anywhere near Twitter or Facebook for a number of reasons, the least of which being how toxic the atmosphere is on those sites), but I can’t just go back to making blog posts, not even as we begin the process of overhauling things here. Not only do I just not want to continue the blog format, but while we have a lot of things planned, they either don’t accommodate the blogging format or we simply don’t wish to waste our best material on blog posts. As I said, we’ll keep you posted on what happens as it happens; you’ll know we’re ready to roll when you come here and notice Twinsanity sporting a new look and a new theme; we’ll be upgrading the site once the new format and new material are presentable. The blog posts we’ve already made will be archived for those who want to revisit them.
I know how annoying this roller coaster trip has been, but I assure you, it’s going to be worth it; when Twinsanity returns in its’ new format, it will be bigger and better than it’s ever been.
Back in 2008, Tom Ruegger (producer of such Warner Brothers hit series as Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs!) pitched an idea for a potential new series that would feature the Looney Tunes characters interacting with classic characters from the Hanna Barbera studio (this became possible due to WB absorbing H-B studios in 1999). The series, had it happened, would have been called Mixed Nutz.
This is just a sample of the fun that might have been.
This idea is certainly an interesting one, and it’s almost a shame that WB ultimately passed on it. However, despite the novelty of seeing the Looney Tunes interacting with H-B’s stars, I can’t get too excited about such a prospect. While I wouldn’t turn my nose up at this particular idea, I’m not sad that it didn’t happen.
The both of us are HUGE Looney Tunes fans, and unless you’re visiting this site for the very first time, you already know that. And while I like Hanna-Barbera cartoons OK, for the most part, I’ve never felt like H-B was ever on par with Looney Tunes. When I initially read about this series prospect, all it did was make me think about how much more awesome a Looney Tunes/Disney syngery would have been.
This is the cartoon collaboration that everyone wants to see! You want a WB/Disney show. I want a WB/Disney show. He wants a WB/Disney show. She wants a WB/Disney show. They want a WB/Disney show. EVERYONE wants to see a WB/Disney collabo!
TV Executive: We’re making a cartoon where Bugs teams up with Yogi Bear.
TV Executive: We’re making a cartoon where Bugs Bunny teams up with Mickey Mouse.
Bugs, Daffy and Porky teaming up with Mickey, Donald and Goofy? You’ve got my attention! Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck hanging out with Lola Bunny? Yes, please! Pete teaming up with Yosemite Sam? When and where? Chip ‘n’ Dale and Humphrey the Bear fleeing from Taz? I’m listening! Daffy Duck hanging out in Duckberg? Sign me up!
Imagine an entire series (or series of shorts like this):
Listen, I’m OK with Hanna-Barbera. Some of their cartoons have been entertaining. I won’t deny that. But Looney Tunes are in a different class entirely. It’s like the video game Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe.
Sure, it was a cool idea, and the game at least had the potential to be awesome (DC putting unnecessary restrictions on their heroes aside), but the game mostly just made me long for the fighting game team-ups that fans really want: Marvel VS DC, or Mortal Kombat VS Street Fighter, neither of which will likely ever happen outside of M.U.G.E.N.
The only thing that the prospect of Mixed Nutz did for me was make me want to see WB team up with Disney for a comedy cartoon series. I’d watch the heck out of that. Unfortunately, getting rival companies to work together is like pulling teeth: very hard. Such a series would likely be stuck in development hell for several years.
Back in March, Jason did a Peeks for Disney’s new British/Canadian animated series, 101 Dalmatian Street.
Well, now that we’ve since seen some episodes via clips on the internet (since we still have no frelling idea when this show is coming to the U.S. !), we’re able to cover it on Cartoon Country!
If you read Jason’s Peeks (or are lucky enough to live in one of the countries that’s actually started airing the show), you know the premise: set some 50 or 60 or so years after the 101 Dalmatians book/movie, this series focuses on a new Dalmatian family: A London dog named Delilah (who’s a descendant of Pongo and Perdita from the original 101 Dalmatians) who marries an American dog named Doug. Each of them have a litter of pups from their previous marriages (don’t ask how dog marital issues work), making a total of…wait for it…101 Dalmatians in total, all of whom live together in a rowdy house in swingin’ Camden town. However, the lead characters of the show are not the parents, but rather the 2 eldest pups, teen Dalmatians uptight, pedantic Dylan (Delilah’s biological son) and free-spirited, fun-loving, mischievous Dolly (Doug’s biological daughter) who look after the house and their 97 younger siblings while their folks are at work during the day (Doug works as a fire dog while Delilah works as a nurse, respectively).
Now, you’re probably wondering:
Well, yes, but don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t some alternate reality where animals are just stand-ins for humans.
The animals still live alongside humans on the show, and the domestic ones are still pets. You see, the Dalmatians’ owner is an eccentric billionaire named Dodie (after the original book’s author, Dodie Smith) who left the house to the family after retiring to live on an island. The house is technologically advanced and full of gadgets and gizmos designed to give these dogs whatever they need (given how the animals’ speech only sounds like animal noises to people on this show, I imagine the Dalmatians ordering takeout on the phone must be an interesting experience). As you can imagine, a house full of rowdy dogs with no live-in master is a mailman’s nightmare.
One touch that I like is how all of the Dalmatians in the family have ‘D’ names, and that’s not just because that’s the first letter of my name. Not only that, but Disney managed to come up with a ‘D’ name for each and every member of the family. All 101 of them.
Oh yes they di-id! Here’s a little ditty someone came up with listing all of their names, so I don’t have to. (Warning: this song is an earworm. It’ll be stuck in your head for days.)
Wow, just wow. Now that’s dedication. I doubt Peyo Culliford ever sat down and said “I’m going to come up with a name for all 100 Smurfs.” Disney can be quite meticulous when they want to be. I marvel at the fact they still chose to go with 101 dalmatians when they didn’t have to. They could’ve easily taken the lazy route and said: “101 refers to the street number on the show, not the number of dogs.” Heck, that’s what I would’ve done, but I’ve been declared legally lazy by a doctor.
Another cool thing about this show is its’ aesthetics, especially when it comes to the Dalmatians themselves. Instead of all the dogs being uniform, like androids, each of the main characters have physical distinctions which makes them stand out design-wise and gives you a little insight to their personalities. I’ll give a brief (?) run-through of all of the named Dalmatians who are actual characters on the show; I can imagine what sort of characters some of the background puppies have, going by some of the names, but I’ll leave that to the inevitable string of fan fiction writers.
Likable nerd Dylan is voiced by Josh Brener, whom you may know as Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Dylan loves astronomy and aspires to be the first Dalmatian in space, as evidenced by the star tag on his collar and how the spots on his left ear are in the shape of the constellation Canis Major, aka the Dog Star.
Dolly is voiced Michaela Dietz, perhaps best known to cartoon fans as the voice of Amethyst from Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. She loves to skateboard (among other things), as noted by her Sk8er style ring-shaped collars and sock-like marking on her front paws. She also really wants to make “Bow-Whocka-Wow!” into a catchphrase.
As previously stated, dad Doug is a fire dog, note how his tag resembles a fireman’s uniform shield. Personality-wise, Doug is a big, loving, sensitive teddy bear of a guy…
Delilah the organized, orderly mom of the family (or should I say ‘mum’, since she’s British and the show is set in London?) shares Dylan’s black left ear and white right ear. As previously stated, she works as a nurse, note how her tag resembles a nurse’s badge.
Dante (named after the title character in Dante’s Inferno) is the life of the party, if said party were being held inside a Doomsday bunker. His constantly on-edge personality is further illustrated by his spiked collar. I like how he’s a reverse Dalmatian (black with white spots instead of the usual opposite, save for the blue spots on his right ear), however, his voice and personality aren’t exactly what I was expecting. Dante’s very paranoid and gloomy (surprise, surprise!), which is to be expected, but I thought he’d be calmer and more aloof…
DEEDEE & DIZZY
Deedee & Dizzy are hyper, excitable twin pups (FTR, Dizzy is the one with the bandit mask style marking around her eyes, while Deedee wears a Dolly-esque set of ring-like collars and black sock-like marking on the toe tips of her paws). They are irremediably cute and desperate to please, though they hinder things as often as they help. So they’re like actual younger siblings.
Dawkins is the brains of the house (named after English ethologist Richard Dawkins), able to operate most of the house’s tech as well as inventing some of his own. You can tell he’s really smart because he owns a laptop and by the atom design on his collar. Dawkins must be one of Delilah’s pups since he refers to Doug by his first name rather than “Dad” for reasons unknown. I guess as an intellectual, he doesn’t have time for such sentiments.
Not the sharpest pencil in the box, Diesel has a mania for dirt and digging, as is evident by the chunks or dirt which adorn his body. He’s also distinguishable by his monobrow and blank expression, which I’ve only ever seen on one other character.
DESTINY, DALLAS & DEJA VU aka TRIPLE D
These hyper-adorable, high-end, full-on diva triplets have “Future Plush Toys” stamped all over them. They’re the only family members aside from the parents who have jobs: they work as models for magazines and in commercials. This makes them a little vain and high-maintenance, but they’re bringing home some bacon, so if they have a bit of attitude (which they do) it’s understandable. Their dialogue typically consists of the 3 of them saying a single line which each of them sharing in the sentence; one will start, another will say the middle and the third will finish it up. The Disney Wiki claims that each of them has a distinct personality–with Destiny being the “woke” member of the trio, avidly aware of trendy celebrity causes and the like, Dallas being the fashionista who loves dressing up and being pampered, the full-tilt diva with a heart of gold and Deja Vu being the quirky ditz, as evidenced by such episodes as “It’s My Party” and the micro-short Diva Pups. FTR, you can tell which is which by their jewel-encrusted collars: Destiny’s is decorated with hearts, Dallas’ with diamonds and Deja Vu with circles.
Deepak is named after author and existential philosopher Deepak Chopra. Note how the markings on his head and his collar make the shape of a Yin-Yang symbol. He’s very New Agey but a bit of a Nervous Norvus, often slipping into panic mode when things go awry and having to meditate hard to calm himself down, or tending to try and embrace his inner cat, despite his being a dog.
Yup, his name is D.J., and he’s an aspiring DJ. They don’t all have to be complicated.
Your eyes don’t deceive you; Delgado’s got no hind legs, he rolls around in a makeshift wheelchair (’cause progressiveness and representation are kewl!). If he has any grievances about his condition, he has yet to be shown voicing them; rather he seems to enjoy his situation as it allows him to zip around at high speeds, his passion. He tries to impress Dolly with his speed prowess; his idolization of her is further represented by him having the same black sock markings on his front legs as her.
Despite the name, DaVinci is a girl. No prizes for guessing, she’s an artist, as evidenced by the spots on her pelt in other colors besides just black. According to Dylan, her colored spots are the results of paint blobs permanently drying on her fur, not because she’s a mutant who’s half clown.
Dorothy is the youngest pup, as such, she appears to behave in a very toddler-like manner. She has not yet learned how to communicate verbally but is able to understand what others are saying, usually giving non-verbal responses if they ask her something. Dorothy enjoys gnawing on things (most likely because she is still teething), and her basket is surrounded by chewed-up toys and sticks. Appearance-wise, she has no spots and a pink collar with a bone tag on it. She’s also the only character in the main cast whom I’m not really crazy about. She’s basically a baby, great. But unfortunately, she embodies all the reasons why I usually don’t like baby characters on shows. Mainly because they’re not funny! The original incarnations of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm weren’t funny. Baby Smurf wasn’t funny. Jack-Jack from The Incredibles isn’t funny (no, being ridiculously over-powered and annoying does not equal comedy) and sorry, but Dorothy is not funny! There are of course some notable exceptions, such as Stewie Griffin or Lily Loud, but for the most part, baby characters are not funny.
Now I know some of you are going to say to me: “Come on, Damon. How can you be so down on Dorothy? She’s so cute!”
-Yeah, but she’s not funny.
“She has such a cute little laugh!”
-She’s not funny.
“She’s so precious and adorable!”
-She. Isn’t. Funny.
Look, I have nothing against cute characters or little characters, but they have to be more than just cloyingly cute. An example of a ‘youngest kid’ character done correctly is Chelsea from Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.
Yes, a lot of Chelsea’s shtick revolves around her being the youngest and aggressively cutesy, but the difference is that Chelsea has a personality and does things. She’s not just there to make the audience go “Aaaaawww” and send the other characters into a blind panic when she goes missing. I challenge anyone to describe Dorothy using an adjective besides ‘cute’, ‘adorable’ or ‘precious’; you can’t, because she doesn’t do anything.
One viewer thought that Dorothy was supposed to be Oddball from the movie 102 Dalmatians because she has no spots (though–spoilers!–she gets spots at the end). I actually think that would’ve been a better idea for a character; they could’ve exploited her oddness beyond just having no spots to an all-around eccentricity, like female version of Gonzo from the Muppets. Now that would’ve been a character I could get behind.
There are also a set of wacky neighbors, including a snooty neighbor dog named Clarissa who looks down on the ‘ruff-raff’ for not having an owner, even though they do, she just doesn’t live with them, a police officer horse, a fox, a squirrel and a rat who live life on the streets and a husky whom Dolly has a crush on (though he might be more interested in Dylan–yeah it looks like they’re going there!). And we get treated to scenes like this:
Aack! Cute puppy overload!
-Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.
The question many fans are asking (though not me personally, for reason I’ll get into)…
Well, keep in mind that this show takes place about 50 years after the movie, so Cruella would have to be pushing 100 by the time of this series…but the producers haven’t forgotten about the DeVil legacy; for the 2-part season finale, we get an appearance by a descendant of Cruella’s, one Hunter DeVil, who is, well, a hunter. Fair enough, it is the brand and that’s what the audience will/would be expecting, but (and I know this is an unpopular opinion) I personally like that there is no real villain on the show. One of the things I like about 101 Dalmatian Street is how it’s not an adventure show, just a pure comedy; no villain-dodging, just wacky shenanigans. I figured we’d get a DeVil, but I hope this character is just someone they encounter every so often and not a regular foe to defeat. There are other things I’d like to see the writers do on this show first…
On today’s Cartoon Couch, we look back at the forgotten series from the old days of Cartoon Network. A little gem known as Cartoon Planet.
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:
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”).
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.
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.
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!