Cartoon Country: Flip the Script – Phineas and Ferb

Earlier this year, the animated series Phineas and Ferb concluded it’s 8 year run run on The Disney Channel and on Disney X-D. Phineas and Ferb Wallpaper

For those who don’t know, Phineas and Ferb was created by Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (who previously worked on Nickelodeon’s Rocko’s Modern Life) about a pair of step brothers who would regularly find fun things to do while on Summer vacation, all the while avoiding being told on by their teenage sister Candace and also featured the adventures the boys’ intelligent pet platypus Perry, who was a secret agent perpetually foiling an inept wanna be super villain named Dr. Doofenshmurtz.

Now, honestly, I could take or leave this show. There were some things that I liked about P&F and some things that I didn’t. Did the characters really have to sing in every single episode? I’d be OK with the occasional musical number now and again, but having a song in every episode was grating on the ol’ nerves!

The following isn’t going to be a retrospective on the show, but rather, this is a brief look at how we personally would have handled the premise of P&F, since we both feel that the idea behind P&F was better than the show itself. One thing that I liked about P&F was how the series was perpetually set during Summer vacation, as Dan and Swampy felt that the school setting had fallen into redundancy, so with that, let’s start by rejoicing in the endless summer…in October. Hit it, kiddies!

All right-y! Now then, time to flip that script!

Let’s start with the shows’ title characters, Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher, I have nothing against these guys, but let’s face it; boy protagonists are a dime a dozen and there are already plenty of cartoons with boy protagonists. Also, while I do find the idea of a happy blended family with no drama attached to it to be a charming one, I have a slightly different idea in mind for these 2. We would….

...Make them a pair of twins! Everyone who regular visits this sites knows that we love our twins here. For the record, we could have made them identical twins as well, but just so we won't have to keep switching back and fourth throughout this thing (keep in mind that we are lazy!), let's just go with this setup.

…Make them a pair of twins! Everyone who regularly visits this site knows that we love our twins here. For the record, we could have made them identical twins as well, but just so we won’t have to keep switching back and fourth throughout this thing (keep in mind that we are lazy!), let’s just go with this setup.

Just to keep things rolling along smoothly, let’s name our titular duo Jelly and Jam, so we won’t have to keep calling them “This One” and “That One” throughout this article. It’s certainly more complimentary than Thing 1 and Thing 2. (FTR, Jelly is the girl and Jam is the boy. Got it? Good). Moving on…

Jelly and Jam are child prodigies, kid geniuses with a combined I.Q. of 400 (200 for each twin). They get bored easily and as such, they’re always looking for something fun to do while home from school during the summer. In fact, they could have a Summer Fun list, which they would look through and check off in many episodes.

Jelly typically holds on to the list, though she has an idetic memory. Jam's not crazy about writing things down, feeling that's

Jelly typically holds on to the list, though she has an eidetic memory. She just loves doodling and checking things off; she draws the checks in fancy fonts and colors. Jam’s not crazy about writing things down, feeling that’s “so analog”. He prefers texting.

Just to keep things interesting, here are some interesting factoids about each twin:

JELLY: Residing in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Jelly loves cartoons (the loonier, the better), tank tops, sunny days, sweet treats, standing on her head, going barefoot and advanced mathematics (Yeah, you heard right!). Favorite Color: Poppy Red. She's obsessed with her awesome hair and dislikes cold weather and baked beans!

JELLY: Residing in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Jelly loves tank tops, sunny days, sparkles, rainbows, martial arts, standing on her head, going barefoot and advanced mathematics (yeah, you heard right!) Favorite color: berry pink. She’s obsessed with having fun and dislikes cold weather and beaked beans!

Also, Jelly regularly wears colorful tops (sports a different one in nearly every episode) each with a different cutesy decal on it. Can you guess that I just plain like that idea?

 

Mabel Pines sweater closet 2

JAM - Hails from his bedroom in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Sk8s and shreds every free moment he gets. Loves snack cakes, techie toys, skateboarding, lanyards, duckies and Jam shorts. Favorite color: baby blue. Favorite music: techno. He takes his skateboard to bed with him, can tie a knot with his toes and wants to get braces so he can have bling-bling on his teeth!

JAM – Hails from his bedroom in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Sk8s every free moment he gets. Loves to try out the latest techie toys when he’s not Gleaming the Cube, shredding waves, playing soccer or just being dirty and stinky. His favorite possession is his skateboard which has a Turbo Jet and Hover Mode–Awesome!

True to his name, one of Jam’s shticks is that he’s almost always seen wearing Jam shorts.

Jam Shorts

“Hey. Nice pants!”

Moving on to the supporting cast: Jelly and Jam are brilliant children, but they’re still and still prone to impulsive, immature behavior. As such, they need to be supervised. The last time they were left at home alone, they filled their entire bathroom with whipped cream and then teleported the house to planet Saturn! Keeping a watchful eye on the twins are their quirky but likable parents. Once again, I’m going to list both of them together in order to prevent either one of them become more prominent than the other.

stock-photo-businesswoman-and-stay-in-home-father-137711705

Let’s go with the “businesswoman and stay-at-home father” shtick. It’s cute and it’ll be good for the whole “female empowerment” thing.

 

As for the Candace character, she isn’t necessarily a needed character. However, we could keep such a character around, although she wouldn’t be trying to bust her younger siblings in every episode, nor would there be any shipper drama with her and Jeremy. She could mention a boyfriend, but said boyfriend would be mostly off screen. Basically, she’d mostly just be there to roll her eyes, snark on little brother and sister and provide some of that good old fashioned fan service.

Aisha2

BOM-CHIKA-WOW-WOW!

What about Perry the Platypus? We’re glad we pretended you asked.

Perry_the_platypus_by_sarrel-d3gvo02

You probably thought we were going to drop Perry, right? But no. He’s popular with fans, and he’s such a uniquely bizarre idea that he’s earned his place on the show. The alterations we’d make to Perry are really only tweaks. He’d still do the Agent P shtick, just not in every episode, and he wouldn’t face off against the same guy every time, ’cause that’s repetitive and kind of weak. When Perry isn’t saving the free world, he spends his time getting dressed up by the twins (and Jam enjoys doing this too–yay, progression!) or being used as a guinea pig in their kooky experiments.

So we keep the twins (obviously!). We keep the parents. We keep the pet and (maybe) keep the teenage sister, but the rest of the P&F cast – gone! P&F has an pluarity of unnecessary characters and we’d definitely like to thin out the herd. No more Fireside Girls (if one of the twins is a girl, there’s our girl quotient right there). No more Buford. No more Bajeet, and definitely lose Jeremy’s little sister, (obnoxious brat). the twins will have friends when they need to have friends, but they don’t need to have a gang, per se.

However, just for laughs, lets throw in a grouchy, creepy, easily annoyed neighbor character to serve as a foilf for the twins?

“Get off my @#!!! lawn!”

This guy could be annoyed by the twins antics and would often complain about having to live near them. You blow up someone’s car a couple of times and suddenly they have a problem with you!

The basic premise of the show wouldn’t be all that different: our 2 leads pick a “super fun, super cool” activity to do from their Summer Fun list (ex: transforming their wading pool into water park/island resort, traveling into space, creating the latest summer blockbuster movie, making a burger the size of a parking lot, etc.) and put their plan into action. The difference would be that things don’t always go smoothly for our kid duo; they sometimes overestimate the scale of their plans or they’ll struggle or squabble or get distracted by something else. They also wouldn’t succeed every time, which would keep them relatable.

To assist in the ventures, each twin would be armed with their own super high-tech tablet, each with a ton of improbable apps on them.

These apps would be capable of such feats as: f=emitting fireballs, lightning blasts, sonic booms, GPS, enabling flight, super speed and oh, yeah, email.

These apps would be capable of such feats as: emitting fireballs, lightning blasts, sonic booms, creating 3-dimensional holographic illusions, enabling flight, super speed, bringing video game power-ups to life for use in the real word…and oh, yeah, email.

The twins would hatch their crazy schemes from their tree house, which they have dubbed Treehouse Awesome.

Said tree house would house the twins science lab, a skateboard ramp, a hard light rainbow slide, and would even be capable of travel, including through space and underwater. It would house numerous dimensions; despite its' small exterior, it would have an implausibly massive interior. Think the TARDIS meets Snoopy's dog house.

Said tree house would house the twins science lab, a skateboard ramp, a teleporter, a hard light rainbow slide, and would even be capable of travel, including through space and underwater. It would house numerous dimensions; despite its’ small exterior, it would have an implausibly massive interior. Think the TARDIS meets Snoopy’s dog house.

In a nutshell, that would be our take on Phineas & Ferb. There’s nothing else to say, so let’s celebrate the summer…in October. KICK IT!

The Cartoon Couch: Wake, Rattle and Roll

It’s time for another segment of The Cartoon Couch. In this installment, we’ll be looking back at the Hanna-Barbera syndicated series Wake, Rattle and Roll.

Some people may feel that discussing this series here is a cheat, since it’s not technically a cartoon, but Wake, Rattle and Roll did have regular animated segments in every episode but with live action host segments, so WR&R is a live action/animation hybrid, not unlike The Super Mario Brothers Super Show!, so it still counts. In any case, Wake Rattle and Roll was a series produced by Hanna-Barbera Studios which ran on weekday mornings for only a single season (1990) in first run syndication.
Wake, Rattle and Roll focused on a boy named Sam Baxter (played by then child actor R.J. Williams, who previously voiced the title character on NBC’s Kissyfur and who also voiced the character of Kid Cloudkicker on Disney’s Tale Spin. This kid has a knack for voicing cartoon bears.) and his robot DECKS (which was an acronym for Digital Electronic Cassette-Headed Kinetic System). DECKS was built from old audio-video equipment and was voiced by none other than Rob Paulsen. Mr.Paulsen also voiced Dickie Dastardly on H-B’s Yo, Yogi! that same year, but we like Rob, so we’ll forgive him. Sam and DECKS would have random misadventures in their basement, which was full of impossibly sci-fi high inspired tech, such as a People Processor -a teleporter used to send or retrieve people to and from anywhere in the world. Sometimes, it could even send people through time,  a supercomputer called Mondo View that was used for several reasons on the show, for example, Sam is able to talk to Grandpa Quirk anywhere in the world, and a Debbie Detector, which was a video monitor used by Sam and DECKS to communicate with Sam’s older sister Debbie (played by Terri Ivens) which lessens the amount of time Debbie spends in the basement. It often makes an alarm sound when she approaches. Interestingly, Terri Irvens previously appeared in the short lived FOX teen sitcom Boys Will Be Boys (1987-1988) starring the pre-Friends Matthew Perry as “Chazz”. Other supporting characters included Sam’s wacky-but-brilliant inventor grandfather Lester T. Quirk (played by Avery Schreiber), who constantly supplied Sam & DECKS with sci-fi technology to add to their basement, Sam’s platonic girl friend K.C. – but not the Sunshine Band – (played by Ebonie Smith, who’s perhaps best known for playing Danny Glover’s youngest daughter in the Lethal Weapon movies) and Sam and Debbie’s mother, Mrs. Baxter, voiced by Adrienne Barbeau. Ms. Barbeau never appeared on screen. We only heard her voice, like Orson on Mork and Mindy. Not even a cheesy leg shot. Sorry, guys.
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Here’s the shows’ opening:
In a typical episode, Sam and DECKS would do some shtick, and then DECKS would activate the television screen on his torso and display an animated short. There were 2 shorts which were created specifically for the series: Monster Tails and The Fender Bender 500. Monster Tails focused on the pets of the famous movie monsters who all lived together in a castle in Transylvania, which was maintained by Igor’s son, Iggy Jr. (voiced by Charles Adler) while their famous owners were making movies in Hollywood. The main cast consisted of:
  • Frankenmutt (voiced by Frank Welker) – The pet dog of Frankenstien’s monster, who unlike his master, possessed the brain of a genius.
  • Elsa (voiced by Pat Musick) – The pet dog of the Bride of Frankenstien, who has the brain of a parrot.
  • Catula (voiced like Iggy Jr. by Charlie Adler) – The pet cat of Count Dracula, who like his master is pretty arrogant, but has a mastery of magic and transformations.
  • Mumphrey (Frank Welker again, doing his best Woody Allen impression) – The pet dog of The Mummy.
  • Dr. Veenie (voiced by Jonathan Winters) – The pet dog of Dr. Jekyll. Normally a brilliant scientist but who like his famous master, had a mindlessly monstrous destructive alter ego named Mr. Snyde, which manifested every time the good doctor sneezed.
  • Angel (Pat Musick again) – The pet goldfish of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. She floated around the castle without the need of water because she was a ghost, a fate which befell her after being eaten by a shark some time before the first episode.
The other regular animated segment was The Fender Bender 500, basically an update of H-B’s Wacky Races, only this time with established H-B characters as the competitors. The racers and cars consisted of:
  • 00 – Dick Dastardly and Muttley in the Dirty Truckster (Design wise, it was the Mean Machine with monster truck wheels)
  • 1 – Yogi and Boo-Boo in the Jellystone Jammer (Which looked like a picnic basket on wheels)
  • 2 – Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss in the Half Dog, Half Cat Half Track (Try saying that 3 times fast!)
  • 3- Wally Gator and Magilla Gorilla in the Swamp Stomper (A swamp buggy on wheels. Gorillas don’t generally live in swamps, but let’s not nitpick here.)
  • 4 – Top Cat and Choo-Choo in the Alley Cat (Which looked like a trash can on wheels)
  • 5 – Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey in Texas Twister (Which resembled a motorized covered wagon. Not to be confused with the song by Little Feat or the obscure Marvel Comics character)
  • 6 – Pixie & Dixie in the Cheddar Shredder (Which looked like a wedge of cheddar cheese on wheels)
  • 7 – Auggie Doggie and Doggy Daddy in the Lucky Trucky (which I swear sounds like the title of a preschool show to me)
  • 13 – Winsome Witch with her cat Lucky in the Sonic Broom (It was a cauldron on wheels with a pair of broomsticks for the exhaust pipes)
Those familiar with the Wacky Races already know what to expect from this show. Fender Bender 500 didn’t win any points for originality, but it did have a couple of strong points: For one, the announcer was disc jockey Shadoe Stevens. For another, it brought the character of Winsome Witch back to television.

“Seriously? It took Hanna-Barbera this long to remember that I exist? I have a cool gimmick, so what’s the deal? Do you have to be a talking animal to get a part on one of these shows?”

 Trivia Time: The series’ title was a play on the title of the song “Shake Rattle and Roll”, written in 1954 by Jesse Stone and most famously performed by Bill Haley and His Comets.
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After WR&R ended its run in syndication after 1 season, the reruns were acquired by the Disney Channel from October 1991 to 1994. Because TDC aired the series in the afternoons, the title was changed to Jump, Rattle and Roll. Also, because Disney Channel was commercial free at the time, an additional cartoon (referred to as a “Secret Cartoon”) was added after the live action segments as a time filler. This “secret cartoon” would either be reruns of the “Dino and Cavemouse” (basically a prehistoric Tom & Jerry retread) segments from The Flintstones Comedy Show or reruns of “Undercover Elephant” from H-B’s CB Bears show. I didn’t have the Disney Channel at the time (TDC wouldn’t become part of any basic cable package until a few years later), so I only caught the Disney Channel airings sporadically. Every time that I tuned in to Jump, Rattle and Roll, the “secret cartoon” would always be “Dino and Cavemouse” Lucky me.
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Wake, Rattle and Roll wasn’t a great show by any means. The jokes were corny. The plots were predictable, but of course, this was a kids’ show, so I wasn’t expecting the writing to be on the level of Yes, Minister or anything. However, I can’t bring myself to disliking the show. There was something about the shows’ premise that I found to be somewhat appealing. The live action segments had a certain campy charm to them, similar to the live action host wraparounds on The Super Mario Brothers Super Show! (which have aged significantly better than that series’ cartoon segments, in my honest opinion). It could by my inner geek speaking here, but I can’t dislike a series that has wacky sci-fi inspired inventions as part of it’s premise. I actually had an idea for an animated series which was loosely inspired by the live action segments of WR&R; about a pair of fun-loving young kid siblings who would spend the day playing around with goofy science in their high-tech suburban home, driving their parents and neighbors crazy. Kind of like Johnny Test, only good.
So here’s to you, Wake, Rattle & Roll. You weren’t on the air for very long, but your presence at least made an impact on this geek.

Building a Better Mouse House

There’s a thread on the Toon Zone Forums (specifically, in the Disney Animation Forum) titled “How Would You Improve Disney?”, and since I can’t respond to the thread on TZ, I’ll instead say what I would do here. In order to improve the Disney Studios’ productions, I would:

1. Re-re-invent the Disney Channel – And I don’t just mean the logo. I have no problem with the DC logo looking like this
But I do have an issue with TDC’s current programming. I don’t really care about the tween sitcoms. I think that most of them are stupid and a waste of space, not only because they’re not funny, but also because they’re all pretty much interchangeable, and running them all in the same block makes them look like endless carbon copies of one another, like Dawn of the Stepford Shows. But they aren’t made for me nor for my age demographic, so I just ignore them. Plus, as insipid as those shows are, they do bring in ratings and put butts in seats, so I know they aren’t going anywhere. Like Hot Topics in the mall, they’re here to stay. However, I don’t think that TDC should cater to teens and tweens exclusively. I preferred it when DC actually had a variety to it’s lineup and provided entertainment for the entire family, not just the teens, which brings me to the next thing that I would do…
2. Put the old theatrical shorts back on TV. – I hate to sound like a nostalgia person, but for once I agree with them. It’s whicketty-whack that we can no longer see classic Disney shorts on the Disney Channel. Back in the ancient 1970s, the Disney studio didn’t loan out it’s properties to syndicated markets and network affiliates. There was never a “Bugs and Mickey Show” or a “Daffy & Donald” or a “Goofy & Popeye” half hour. The only time we got to see the Disney shorts on TV was on Sunday evenings during NBC’s The Wonderful World of Disney, and even then, I’d be hoping that they would show cartoons that week and not something like Lefty, the Ding-a-ling Lynx. Then the Disney Channel was invented and suddenly, we could see old Disney shorts everyday on the umbrella titles like Good Morning, Mickey!Donald Duck Presents and Mousterpiece Theater. Sure, most of the Disney shorts paled in comparison to Looney Tunes and the MGM shorts, but it was still pretty cool that we could see them regularly. But now, the shorts hardly ever air on TDC anymore. Pretty much the only time that ever see Mickey, Donald or Goofy on TDC is in the mornings during DC’s Playhouse Disney block. Occasionally, and edited-for-time Disney theatrical short will air between shows on TDC under the title Have a Laugh, but that only once in a blue moon. Sure, many of the Disney theatrical shorts are available on DVD and some are floating around on YouTube, but still, it’s kind of stupid that one place you can’t see the old Disney shorts is on the flipping Disney Channel.
3. Revive The Disney Afternoon – And no, I don’t mean to just bring back shows DuckTales, Chip ‘N’ Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck and Goof Troop (although it wouldn’t be a bad thing for Disney to air those shows somewhere). Rather, I’d like for Disney to produce some new and original shows that are made in the same vein and creative spirit as those shows aforementioned. More specifically, I’d like to see Disney produce some more animated series built around the studio’s established characters which aren’t strictly geared to tiny tots (which doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want there to be any more series starring original characters such as Phineas & Ferb and Gravity Falls, because those shows have their place also). In the 1990s, the Disney studio actually took risks. The carried the attitude of “Yeah, the old Disney shorts were good, but this new stuff with Donald Duck, Goofy, Baloo and the like are good too”. Unlike now, when the Disney studio execs seem to have this idee fixee that the only thing that Mickey and the gang are good for is for entertaining preschoolers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Mickey and the gang are still around, but I think that he and the other shorts characters deserve better.
4. Either kill Disney X-D, or remake the channel into something else. – Why, exactly, do we need to have a Disney Channel for boys and a separate Disney Channel for girls? Why can’t there just be 1 Disney channel that airs good and entertaining programs? Disney X-D was apparently created to be a Disney Channel for boys, but when did TDC become exclusively a girls’ channel? There’s no reason for this channel to exist at all. Hey, Disney. You want to have programming for the boys? Fine, create a program block for them, but you don’t need an entire channel just for “dude bro” shows.  At least Toon Disney offered something of an alternative to TDC; it showed nothing but cartoons, and everything was fine until the Jetix action cartoon block was added and then the block spread throughout TD like a virus, eventually devouring the entire channel. i’m not really sure what I’d with Disney X-D. An old-school Disney Channel wouldn’t work, since most people don’t want to just watch old stuff 24/7, but a Vault Disney block could conceivably work. I’d probably just merge TDC and DXD into one and possibly revive Toon Disney.
5. Kill ABC Family – Just kill it. Kill it with fire. It’s a wasteland for reality TV and trashy teen dramas. The ONLY thing on ABC Family that’s worth watching is “The 25 Days of Christmas”, and that’s only once a year.
Overall, I think that The Disney Channel should go back to being a channel for everybody, not just teenyboppers. This doesn’t mean that I think there shouldn’t be any teen pop stuff on TDC at all, mind you, just that the tweenybopper stuff shouldn’t be the only things on the channel. Surely there are enough hours in the day for TDC to designate certain times for certain types of shows.