“WHAT TIME IS IT? WHAT TIME IS IT? WHAT TIME IS IT?!?”
It’s time for another installment of What The Funny!
-No, I’m not the usual guy for this. Jason did the first set of What The Funnies, which I enjoyed. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I decided to take a stab at a WTF miniseries myself. (This is my first time, so bear with me.) The show we’ll be spotlighting in this WTF is….Steven Spielberg Presents Freakazoid!
For those who don’t know, here’s how WTF typically goes: I’ll be showcasing an assortment of my personal favorite episodes of Freakazoid!, listing my favorite moments from them, and rating them accordingly. I won’t be going through every single scene and line blow by blow, I’ll just be listing my favorite and funniest moments from each story. I won’t be covering entire episodes, just shorts and segments from various episodes. Also, I won’t be going through every single episode (as that would take a while) and these won’t be in any particular order. Feel free to disagree or have your own personal pics, but these are my personal favorites, and since I’m the one doing the segment, there ya go.
Now, on with the Funny!
The first Freakazoid! episode we’ll be looking at is in fact the first episode, Dance of Doom.
SYNOPSIS: Super villain Cave Guy, a ‘Primordial American’, a big hulking blue skinned caveman who’s actually very erudite and refined…
…is fresh from a crime spree and is unable to hide out at his usual digs in the Hamptons, so instead he holds Harry Connick Jr. High School hostage during a dance celebrating Daylight Savings Time. Nerdy Dexter Douglas is home, having been unable to obtain a date; however, upon learning of the hostage situation, he turns into Freakazoid and saves the day.
It’s worth mentioning that Paul Rugg auditioned for the role of Freakazoid by recording this entire segment. Tom Ruegger encouraged him to improvise extensively around McCann’s written lines. Most of Rugg’s dialogue in this short was improvised entirely in one take.
We first see Freak’s alter ego Dexter Douglas at home, toiling away on his computer. Dex’s mom Debbie looks in and asks him why he’s not at the Daylight Savings Time Dance. We are then treated to the following exchange:
Cut to a montage of Dexter receiving one rejection after another. First, from hot chick Valerie (voiced by Tress MacNeille)…
Then nice girl Steff (voiced by Tracey Rowe)…
And finally, from tough girl Jill (voiced by Cree Summer).
Utterly defeated, Dexter is spending the evening typing out his retirement plans.
When Dexter replies that computers are “his whole life”, Debbie responds with:
Line of the episode, right there. (Well, one of them anyway.) Tress MacNeille’s reading of the line knocks it right out of the park.
We briefly follow a man named Jeepers, a creepy, giggling little weirdo who owns a magic watch that can turn beavers into gold and was kicked out of California for being too strange, which should tell you something. Only to realize that Jeepers has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Shortly thereafter, we get our first glimpse of announcer Joe Leahy, here depicted as a marionette being operated by Freakazoid himself (!), who then says:
This line, incidentally, is a quote from Bela Lugosi in the Ed Wood directed “classic” Glen or Glenda?. Before writing this segment, the Freakazoid! writers had just seen the Tim Burton-directed biopic Ed Wood, which recounts the making of this scene. Rugg is playing Freak impersonating Martin Landau impersonating Lugosi.
In due time, Freakazoid arrives at the school gymnasium, where Cave Guy is holding the students hostage and leaps into battle…but first he does this:
Then it’s time for a little retribution.
However, Freak can’t bring himself to dress down Val, because, you know, teh hotness. (Incidentally, in this short the writers seemed to be setting up a sort of Betty and Veronica dynamic with good girl Steff and bad girl Valerie, but apparently those plans were scrapped since neither Val nor Jill appeared again after this episode, though Steff refers to them in “Mission: Freakazoid” and Val regularly appeared in the opening titles, during the part of theme where the singers sing “He’s here to save the nation/so stay tuned to this station”.)
After some more cyber-babble with Cave Guy (Freakazoid: “I love you.” Cave Guy: “Oh, my.” Freakazoid: “Not just ’cause you’re Cave Guy, no, but because you’re part of the whole cosmic mankind-whale-tree thing!”), plus a basketball net to the head, Freak wins the day, but even as things wrap up, the jokes just keep on coming.
Freak finally tries to get some love as Dexter, only to be immediately get rejected by Val, who wants “the guy with the lightning in his hair.” Freak changes back into superhero mode and lands a kiss.
Freakazoid: That was shallow and based solely on hormones. Works for me!
“Dance of Doom” doesn’t offer much in the way of plot, but the jokes and gags are fast and furious in this short. Initially the show was going to be more or less a straight superhero show with some comedic overtones, and one can see traces of that here. Personally, I’m glad the producers went the wacky-zany-nutty route.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Next up is “Mission: Freakazoid”. Freak out!
I’ll keep things brief. This will be my final What Up? post before I resume production here, I promise.
First, I’d like to thank you guys for sticking with us and being patient. I know the level of productivity here has been kind of an elevator ride lately (as in up and down), so we appreciate your patience as we continue to evolve and refine this thing that we call Twinsanity. The reason I’m posting this is because we’re FINALLY about ready to resume putting up actual posts here again. I’m compiling images and information and writing jokes and stuff even as I type here; I don’t want to reveal what specifically we’ll be putting up right here and now, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but those who have been keeping up with us may have some vague idea as to what to expect. I hope to get at least 1 of these new posts up sometime this month.
I will say that the upcoming posts and new segments that we’re working on will be slightly different than what we’ve been doing in recent years; the What the Funny, Pop Dream and Neat Stuff entries (more of which are coming) are an indication of what to expect from us in the upcoming weeks and months. Like WTF and Pop Dream, these new bits will focus on a specific franchise, cast or concept and will extend across multiple posts as opposed to random one-and-done posts like the average Ad Nausea or Talkin’ Nerdy. I’ve been looking for something that’ll stretch my writing chops and contain more detail and finesse.
Does this mean that we’re done producing entries for the established segments? No. It’s just that Twinsanity is a variety blog, it’s always been a variety blog; we try to do a variety of things here to keep things interesting; I’ve never wanted to cover just one thing over and over, I’d just get bored and burned out doing that. The only things I’m actively avoiding here are Highly Opinionated, 2 Funny, anything involving comic book superheroes and the posts which consist of nothing but video embeds with a brief description of them. The former I’ve admittedly grown tired of and would like to move on from, as they represent a period of the blog’s history (and a time in my life) that I wish to put in the past and distance myself from, the other (superhero stuff) I feel like I’ve devoted too much time here to and that just isn’t where my head’s at creatively right now (presently I’m on more of a kick for the 70’s through 90’s Saturday Morning experience, toons–as in the Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Tom & Jerry and Roger Rabbit variety–nuclear families and animals. I don’t ask questions, I go where the muse leads me), and the latter just aren’t as creative or imaginative as I’d like (I try to put my own creativity and effort into everything I do, and just embedding a video didn’t really accomplish that), plus I feel like I’d become too dependent on those, especially in the past 2 years or so. Nerdvana and Toons & Tunes are still OK, provided they contain actual context like the Cooking with Toons, Driving with Toons, Down on the Toon Farm, Wild Cartoon Kingdom and The Future Rocks! Nerdvana installments and the Ewoks/Droids Adventure Hour, ChalkZone and Fantastic Four show openings Toons & Tunes posts. The other segments are still fair game, especially Cartoon Country, since it’s very versatile and covers a lot of ground (Cartoon Country is probably the closest thing we have to a general segment); if I come up with an idea for a new Retro Bin or Cartoon Couch or Beyond the Background or whatever, I’ll most certainly do one, but as of this writing I haven’t been inspired to do a new entry for any of those yet and I’m past the point where I feel like I have to just put something, anything up for the sake of keeping post counts high; Twinsanity just turned 7 as of February (we first launched Twinsainty in February 2010), so after 7 years I think we’ve accrued a comfortable enough backlog of entries in those segments that we can take time off to explore new and different stuff. I’d rather take the necessary time to make just 1 really good, detailed post than grind out a bunch of cheapies; like I’m always saying: quality over quantity.
So while the other segments won’t be going away, right now the stuff from our current mindset, hereinafter referred to as the ‘New Groove’ (e.g. Neat Stuff, Pop Dream, What the Funny and the new segments which will be revealed in time) will be taking precedent; they’re what’s currently in our heads right now, and we’re itching to get those started.
Despite the slight change in style and delivery, the focus of Twinsanity will remain the same: cartoons, comedy, pop-culture stuff, fun stuff and geek stuff. That’s never going to change.
Well, I’m done rambling now. The next post you get from me will be a real post with actual content, images and funny stuff in it, I promise. New posts are coming up very shortly, so stay tooned, but now it’s time for me to….
Have you ever actually looked at the logo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, man?
You’ve probably noticed that one of the animal silhouettes is a dragon.
But why is that when there aren’t any dragons in Animal Kingdom? Well, at one time there actually were going to be dragons. Thus the subject of today’s Neat Stuff, Beastly Kingdom, the Disney World attraction that never was.
Beastly Kingdom was a section that was to be built in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The Animal Kingdom park focuses on three types of animals:
Today’s existing animals…
…And animals that don’t exist.
The latter has not been featured in the park (with the exception of Expedition Everest), but plans for a section of their own were made during the creation of the park. The area was to feature such animals as dragons, unicorns and sea monsters.
The section was to feature realms surrounding “good” and “evil” creatures. (I personally find the ‘good and evil’ tropes to be kind of cliched and boring, but whatever.) The good realm would have been home to an attraction called Quest of the Unicorn, which would have been a mythological maze leading to the grotto where the unicorn lived. The good realm would also have featured Fantasia Gardens, an attraction based on the movie Fantasia, that would have been a musical boat ride that takes you the animal scenes of the movie. The idea, similar to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, would have featured hippos and crocodiles from “Dance of the Hours” along with pegasi, fauns, and centaurs from “Pastoral”.
On the evil side would be feature an attraction called Dragon’s Tower ruled by a greedy fire-breathing dragon that housed a treasure in the tower’s chamber.
The attraction would also involve a group of bats threatening to take the dragon’s throne and riches. The bats would enlist the guests help and take them on a wild roller coaster to do so. The climax, similar to other Disney rides, would involve an encounter with the dragon himself, resulting in a near-charred train of guests.
The section never came to fruition mostly due to budget cuts.
It was soon replaced by Camp Minnie-Mickey, a section mostly filled with character meet-and-greet areas.
Remnants of the never-made land can still be found in the park. Though, as with Hidden Mickeys, you have to look close. For example, there is a section in the parking lot labeled “Unicorn”.
As previously stated, the Animal Kingdom logo also features a silhouette of a dragon. Inside the park, a dragon-shaped stone fountain can be found in Camp Minnie-Mickey.
A detailed dragon head statue is found atop one of the ticket booths at the park’s entrance. By far, the biggest examples of Remnants would be a cave in Camp Minnie-Mickey that exhorts blasts of fire. Guests are often told that a fire-breathing dragon lives there. Outside the cave, suits of armor are displayed.
The section that would’ve been Beastly Kingdom was later designated for the upcoming Pandora: The World of Avatar.
So let me get this straight: we could’ve gotten a cool fantasy land full of unicorns, dragons and stuff, but we can’t have that ’cause it’s not in the budget…yet it IS in the budget to throw away millions on an entire land based on a movie which no one’s talked about for years?
-Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Usually I like to start these segments with a clever little intro that segue ways into the main point, but this time I can’t think of any way to sugar-coat this particular thesis, so I’m just going to come right out and say it…
The Jetsons is boring.
There, I said it.
I know that it’s considered a classic cartoon. I know that it’s a staple of Hanna-Barbera. I know that many people regard it as iconic. But it’s still as dull as dishwater. The stories are dull. The characters are dull. The jokes are dull. And the depiction of the World of Tomorrow (TM) is really, really dull. The latter is particularly puzzling, since distant future settings are usually cool. We here at Twinsanity love the Utopian future setting (as referenced in “The Future Rocks!”) but on The Jetsons there’s absolutely nothing you’d find fun to watch.
Where are the cool aliens?
Where are the hoverboards?
Where’s the cool future tech?
Where’s the mind-boggling science fiction stuff? The only remotely cool thing on The Jetsons is the flying cars. That’s it. You can’t even fall back on the appeal of the show’s main cast, since the titular characters are likewise as dull as a plain dry piece of toast. Sure, Elroy’s smart and Judy’s nice to look at, but the show didn’t even mine those elements for all they could.
Yeah, when HB brought the show back in syndication in the 80’s, they added a new character, Orbitty…
…And what did he add to the show? I’ll tell you:
-It should probably be mentioned that like it’s predecessor The Flintstones, which was basically just The Honeymooners in animated form, cross-pollinated with the Tex Avery MGM short The First Bad Man, The Jetsons is similarly based on an existing fictional staple, Blondie.
More accurately, the Blondie radio show and theatrical films starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake (Fun Fact: Singleton was the original voice of Jane Jetson).
So the show was basically Blondie in the future. Fair enough, but here’s the thing…
I thought Blondie was like watching paint dry as well! Who at HB thought that would be a good franchise to co-opt? You know your show is boring when even putting it in the Space Age can’t make it interesting.
How can you have a show set in the distant future without anything fun in it? Other shows and movies have done cool stuff with that setting:
We only got brief glimpses of the future society in Meet the Robinsons (in fact the book the movie was loosely based on, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, didn’t even involve the future or time travel), but what we saw of it, with its’ colorful architecture (including Insta-Buildings), transportation bubbles and flying time machines, was more interesting than anything we saw on The Jetsons.
A lot of the things depicted on Futurama didn’t make sense (and the show’s writers have openly admitted that a lot of it didn’t make sense), but Futurama was still cool, fun and interesting.
Heck, even the late CBS Saturday morning cartoon Project G.eeK.eR. was more interesting than The Jetsons, and that show only lasted a single season. Project G.eeK.eR. gave us a really odd, wild, wacky and cool future setting with a dazzlingly quirky mix of human, alien, animal and robotic worlds: THAT show had a future city straight out of Blade Runner. It had artificially created super men with amazing powers. It had cyborgs. It had cool aliens. It had genetically modified humanoid dragon gangsters. It had mutated monsters. It had a space station. It had evolved talking dinosaurs who lived in a hidden dinosaur city (it turns out the dinos didn’t go extinct, they were merely hiding). It had a sentient super-intelligent strain of the common cold. It had a mad scientist mastodon voiced by Charlie Adler who floated around via an anti-gravity belt! Now THAT is interesting!
Even The Partridge Family: 2200 A.D. had a couple of alien characters with quirky shticks and the family’s dog was a robot, which was kind of interesting.
Speaking of, did you know that The Partridge Family: 2200 A.D. was originally going to be a Jetsons sequel series? T’is true. It was originally planned by HB as a follow-up to the original Jetsons series a la Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, featuring Elroy as a teenager and Judy as an adult reporter, but when the idea was pitched to then CBS president Fred Silverman, he opted to swap out the Jestons for animated versions of the Partridge Family instead. Why?
-Personally, I’m guessing Silvy found The Jetsons as boring as I do!
Welcome to a new segment here in Twinsanity (we told you things were starting to happen here) called Neat Stuff–where we look at toys, products, novelties and other assorted merch; not specifically animation, per se, but connected to cartoon culture or at least in a related field, so it’s sort of cartoon-adjacent. On Neat Stuff we’ll be pulling out those kitschy things that make you smile and say…
Before we start, I have to give credit where credit is due: the Neat Stuff segment was the brain child of my brother Jason (Goldstar), so once again Jason has saved this blog from the abyss. Let’s give him a big hand.
Now, on with the show!
-Today’s Neat Stuff looks at Funny Face.
If you were a kid in the 60’s or 70’s, you probably know about these Technicolor Fruities. If you don’t, lend me your ears: Funny Face was a kids’ drink product introduced by Pillsbury in 1964, coming in an assortment of 6 flavors, each sporting a different kooky anthropomorphic fruit character with a catchy gimmick and correpsonding name. They were originally created by Hal Silverman at Campbell Mithun Advertising for his daughter; Silverman’s nickname for his daughter was Freckle Face, then the rest of the Funny Face characters just fell into place after that. Four of them, Goofy Grape, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Loud Mouth Lime and Freckle Face Strawberry, were innocuously innocent enough, but the other 2, well…..
Yes, the other 2 Funny Face flavor characters were named Injun Orange and Chinese Cherry. They were funny, because they were ethnic. Hee-larious, right?
To be fair, Silverman meant no harm; remember this was 1964, and such ethnic caricatures were the norm at the time, but not surprisingly, the Native American and Asian communities weren’t too thrilled with their very cultures being characterized as shtick, so Pillsbury smartly complied and changed those characters to Jolly Olly Orange and Choo-Choo Cherry.
There was also the matter of Funny Face’s artificial sweeteners: The company originally chose a substance called cyclamate, which was deemed dangerous by the FDA (it was discovered to have caused cancer in laboratory rats). Scientists were quoted as saying:
So after a few years, Funny Face was pulled from store shelves. After a bit of reformulation, the product returned with harmless saccharin in its place, and also offered an unsweetened version so consumers could add their sweetener of choice. Eventually, larger packages of Funny Face were made available that contained sugar.
For a while, the Funny Face crew were riding strong, even rivaling Kool-Aid in popularity for kids’ drinks. They even spawned merchandise, such as toys…
…And even storybooks.
Eventually, the Funny Face roster expanded to include such colorful personalities as Lefty Lemon…
…Captain Black Cherry…
…With-It (or Way-Out) Watermelon…
…And Rah-Rah Root Beer.
Peep out these Funny spots from the ancient 1970’s.
Well, those ads were…boring. For a product called Funny Face, you would think their ads would be, you know, funny. The image of a giant anthropomorphic pitcher of juice with a face, arms and legs smashing through a brick wall is something you’ll never forget if you’ve seen it, but these spots were just bland, plus it was weird seeing characters like Goofy Grape and Lefty Lemon speaking with normal voices and acting like regular folks. Where were the antics? Where was the shtick? Where was the FUNNY? I expected a commercial for a product called Funny Face to be more like this:
Evidently, 70’s kids felt the same way: ultimately, Funny Face just couldn’t compete with Kool-Aid, and by the time the 70’s were over, so was Funny Face. Only Kool-Aid remained.
For a brief period in the 80’s Pillsbury tried launching a product called Moo Juice, but it just wasn’t the same. Recently, I came across something interesting: a series of animated shorts starring the Funny Face gang, produced by Renegade Studios.
Now, that’s more like what I would expect from a product called Funny Face. Why couldn’t the 70’s commercials have been more like that? They might still be around now. Plus, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry had a John Wayne sound-alike voice. Nice touch.
(Sidebar: I’m guessing the writers of these weren’t too fond of With-it Watermelon; they just had him get splattered by a truck and he never turned up again. A tad harsh, I think. With-It Watermelon wasn’t that bad a character; he was definitely a better idea than Rah Rah Root Beer. He’s not even a fruit!)
I don’t know what these animated shorts were for, but who knows? Maybe Funny Face can resurface one day. There’s nothing wrong with free enterprise, and if the characters would actually be portrayed as humorous, not bland and boring like in those 70’s commercials, I’d be down.