Monday, October 31, 2011

The Scooby-Doo Show - The Headless Horseman of Halloween

Time to conclude Halloween special month with the most famous "spooky" cartoon in the history of spooky cartoons. Scooby Doo. Or rather, Scooby-Doo, because according to the title cards, his name actually has a hyphen. I just learned today that I've been spelling a cartoon dog's name wrong all my life.

See? Hyphen.
I really don't think there's a person alive who would seek out a cartoon blog such as this one and just doesn't know who the hell Scooby-Doo is, but in case you didn't know, it's a talking great dane that goes on mysteries with his stoner friends and they end up running into jerkwads who feel that dressing up like ghosts or monsters will scare people off of property or give them an edge in the diamond theft industry. That's really it. I'm not going to explain something that has been such a huge part of our animation culture for so very long, if only because anyone and everyone has cracked at least one Scooby-Doo joke.

As for me, I grew up in a period of time where 50% of Cartoon Network's programming was constant Scooby-Doo reruns, so of course, I'm very familiar with Scooby-Doo. It was a sad, barren period before the Cartoon Cartoons were born, but hey, at least it gave me the knowledge of which Scooby-Doo show is which. Maybe if I ever make it onto Jeopardy, that can help me win the bonus question.

And this Scooby-Doo show I'm covering happens to be the third incantation of that ever-famous canine, following the original Scooby-Doo show and The New Scooby-Doo Movies which were almost an hour long and included guest stars. Arguably, this could be considered when Scooby-Doo hit his prime. He had already gained an audience with his original show and worked out his formula, the second run was a brief experiment that showed that the formula could still work, and now he was back doing what he did best. And best of all, this was before Scrappy-Doo was added. Truly this dog was at the top of his game in this show.

...except for Scooby-Dum. Why the hell does this character exist. Why did this show introduce this character.

It's a testament to how bad Scrappy-Doo is when THIS guy is considered more bearable.
Buuuut I'm getting ahead of myself. Time to dig into one of the most famous cartoons of all time and conclude my Halloween month with possibly the most fitting topic ever, Scooby-Doo tackling a ghost on Halloween! So kick back, fondly remember the times when Cartoon Network would air 12 hour marathons of the Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo to celebrate Halloween, and let's see how a talking great dane and his grey, mentally challenged cousin take on...

The Headless Horseman of Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - Witch's Brew

With Halloween month drifting to a close like a thin wisp-like fog that fades away with the morning sun, I've decided I'm going to talk Jim Carrey, since I always found the actual actor scary as hell. I talked about The Mask: The Animated Series and I've let everyone know that Dumb and Dumber: The Animated Series actually exists (I wish it didn't), so I might as well bring myself to talk about Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Ace Ventura was released around the same time as The Mask: The Animated Series, but was handled by a completely different animation studio. While the glorious green-faced mask-wearing crimefighter was being animated by the geniuses at Film Roman, this idea was passed off to Nelvana. Therefore, save for the one time where the shows had a crossover (called "Have Mask, Will Travel"), these shows really don't have much in common other than the fact that Jim Carrey starred in both movies. The humor is written a lot differently, the animation is done a lot differently, and basically we're dealing with two different products here. Hell, considering the animation company, Ace Ventura's show has way more in common with the Beetlejuice cartoon than anything.

I'll be quick to sum this whole thing up. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective takes off right where the movies left off, and involve Jim Carrey's character, Ace Ventura, solving animal-themed cases with his pet monkey Mr. Watson. It's a really straightforward premise that was incredibly easy to adapt into an animated adaptation, because if there's one thing animators can draw, it's cuddly animals. I actually really like the Ace Ventura movies so that might be a plus. Hey, don't give me that look; I can like crude humor too!

While not as well-remembered or loved as The Mask: The Animated Series (opinions of this show fluctuate more wildly than it's better animated brother), Ace Ventura earns itself the distinction of being the only one out of the trio of Jim Carry cartoons to be revived by another network. After the show ended its first run in 1997, Nickelodeon actually brought it back for a third season that lasted from 1999 to the year 2000. But, like most zombies, it quickly decomposed and fell apart, and couldn't gain any audience after rising up from its grave. I personally blame the fact that Nick never bothered to advertise the damn thing. I clearly remember watching Nickelodeon during that time period and not once did Ace Ventura premieres become any sort of priority with that station.

But let's ignore that. And what's the first episode I'll be dealing with?

Well, since it's Halloween and Buttons and Rusty had completely failed me in their Halloween special, I'm going with another episode dealing with witches. I was going to go with the weremoose episode because the concept was too tempting to pass up, but then I saw Which Witch was Which and now I'm irrationally angry that I didn't get to see some real witchcraft. Hopefully Ace Ventura isn't as big of a liar as Ranger Jones.

I will warn everybody. Copies of this show are hard to find, there's no DVD out of this show, I'm Internet-retarded in that I can't figure out torrents and never will, and the one copy I did find...has a very annoying watermark where the uploader was kind enough to write his name in big fat letters on the actual movie. Incredibly annoying, and I apologize in advance for it, but I can't fault him for trying to advertise the fact that he's the go-to guy for Ace Ventura episodes. This probably won't be the last time this happens, so just letting everybody know before people send me e-mails.

That being said, let's boil up some...

Witch's Brew

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Buttons and Rusty in Which Witch is Which

While I'm on the topic of Halloween specials, it's time for me to talk about a movie that somehow was a big part of my childhood even though it took me a lot of google-fu in order to remember the name of the stupid thing, partly because the VHS isn't even correctly labelled. Buttons and Rusty, everyone!

Fun fact: There are no ghosts in this movie. This cover is a big fat lie.
Everyone has one of these films. An obscure film that just makes it into your video library when you're a kid even though you have no idea how the hell it got there. Maybe a relative gave it to you when you were little, maybe your parents spotted it in the bargain bin and mistook it for a Disney film, or maybe your VCR recorded it because your house is haunted and the ghosts in your house happen to be hipsters and hate everything with a recognizable brand name. These movies are never really well-known, but they're everywhere, just waiting to be talked about, waiting to be brought to our attention after they've been passed off in favor of something by Fox Entertainment or Warner Brothers.

But yeah, long story short, I think this blog post is going to be something my parents dug up from a bargain bin. Hooray!

Anyways, like Fluppy Dogs, I watched this a couple times as a kid, the VHS wore out, and a good portion of my life was spent recalling weird images of a bear cub and a fox kit having appropriately cute woodland fun even though I couldn't recall the name or much of the plot points. It's that feeling you get where you watch something, you remember liking it, but all you can dreg up is just that vague feeling that you watched something alright. It's sort of like recalling elevator music, really.

But unlike Fluppy Dogs, which was a standalone film, not only did this film exist, but there were multiple films and there was a TV series in the late 90's based off of this concept, with this entire franchise branded as "The Chucklewood Critters". I don't know about you, but when the Internet told me this, my jaw hit the floor and I spent a good ten minutes going "Holy crap! That thing! That thing that I watched! It had sequels!". It took all of my willpower to avoid just running out and buying the other VHSes, but mostly because Youtube happens to still exist at the time I write this.

...that being said, it's actually rather sad that even though Buttons and Rusty starred in like six specials and an entire cartoon that lasted two seasons, the only time I had even heard of any of these things is because I happened to punch in the name into an Internet search engine. Considering I frequent quite a few cartoon sites and talk to people who were raised on 90's cartoons, that's saying a lot. I mean, geez, even Project GeeKeR is mentioned more than the Chucklewood Critters. I have to wonder what the hell the animators did in order to earn such bad luck on their product.

With the introduction out of the way, I'm going to dive right into a giant lake of obscurity and fish up some animation that I'm sure only a handful of people has ever seen. If I don't make any blog posts after this one, it's probably because the VHS of this thing happened to be haunted and I was devoured by the creepy fox corpse that came out of my television screen.

Buttons and Rusty in Which Witch is Which

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WordGirl -Tobey's Tricks and Treats

Since I'm playing catchup with my blog, I'm going to cover a Halloween special that's short and sweet, which is appropriate considering those descriptors also apply to most pieces of Halloween candy.

So I figure, why not do something different and cover a recent Flash cartoon that's not in my age group but somehow manages to have a pretty sizable adult fanbase, a show that's considered just as fun to watch as a kid and as an adult. And before any bronies can get all excited and think I'm talking about THAT show, here is a show that people really overlook too much, WordGirl.

Oh no, the TV's trying to educate me! Quick, change the channel!
I discovered this show entirely by accident, because I happened to be babysitting a four-year old and the four-year old happened to love PBS. Before I was enlightened, I figured that PBS plays the game similar to how Nick Jr. does it, where the shows feel about as engaging as a drill to the eye and the characters expect you to do the thinking for them. Long story short, I was wrong, and not once did I run into a show where a character was standing still for five seconds because they couldn't locate the red ball behind them. Instead, Dinosaur Train showed me species I never knew before, Cyberchase has Christopher Lloyd as the main villain, and WordGirl actually has a character with full-blown schizophrenia. Truly this is the channel Nick Jr. wishes it was.

WordGirl basically answers the question of whether it's possible to have a superhero show aimed at little kids considering the inevitable violence and crime associated with that genre. Long story short, it is. Because come on, there was a generation of little kids that watched Batman: The Animated Series and they turned out okay. It's still educational, but it's also fun to watch. WordGirl doesn't just teach the children new words; she also thwarts world domination plans and fights various themed villains.

I consider WordGirl to be Dora the Explorer's alternate universe self on steroids. They share the same ethnicity and have a monkey companion, but while Dora thinks that saying "go" in Spanish is an achievement worthy of a traveling mariachi band consisting of frogs and snails, WordGirl will teach you the meaning of the word "immaculate" while tying a streetlight around a half-mouse mutant with an exposed brain. Also, Huggyface? I'm pretty sure if he fought Boots, Dora would have to rename her talking monkey companion "Bucket of Unidentifiable Monkey Organs".

Since I'm getting into the holiday spirit, the first episode I cover of this wondrous slice of educational television tells a haunting tale of a boy who uses his massive intelligence and his abilities to build giant robots for evil. A boy who has a thirst for destruction just as much as he has a thirst for caramel. I'm talking about Tobey, and this is his story.

Tobey's Tricks and Treats

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly - Part 2 (Final Part)

Part 1

Time to talk about The Joker's wealthy businessman brother again. I hate leaving fast food meals unfinished, because I know that if I don't polish it off now, this movie will end up getting shoved in the back of my refrigerator where it will stay until I pull it out five months later and find that literally nothing in the meal has rotted and, if left untouched, a McDonalds Big Mac could probably outlive me if it wanted to.

For those of you who read the first part and wondering just what was so scary about just camping in the woods, hold on tight. Because you haven't seen nothing yet. The worst has yet to come, and readers beware, because you're in for a scare.

The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly - Part 2

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Darkwing Duck - Night of the Living Spud

Halloween month continues and it's time to revisit an old friend of mine, one that helped me form this blog in the first place. Time for the terror that flaps in the night!

He's a very happy, child-friendly terror, but still a terror.
This is one of those shows where you can pick practically any episode and have loads to talk about, but you have no idea how excited I am to talk about this episode in particular. This is one of those episodes I just have to cover because it's just so insane, so unbelievably out there that I'm getting giddy just talking about it.

For you see, this episode is a Bushroot episode, which instantly makes it one of my favorite episodes on account Bushroot is as awesome as he is whiny and pantless, and it involves giant vampire potatoes that turn people into zombies. That idea alone, the fact that there are blood-sucking spuds that spread some weird plant-like infection around like a Left 4 Dead/Plants Vs. Zombies crossover instantly brightens up any Halloween. In fact, ever since I bought my DVD box set, I've made it my life's mission to never go through an October without watching this episode at least once, it's that magical.

That is why I went with this episode as opposed to say, any of Morgana's episodes. Sorry Morgana. I know you're supernatural and more traditionally Halloween-y than a hideous abomination that makes roots sprout out of people's brains, but I had to go with my gut and choose the episode that has used the "Night of the Living Dead" pun that every single 90's entity has to make at least once.

Also, some people will be quick to note that this episode, "Night of the Living Spud", comes right after "Getting Antsy", effectively making my three Darkwing Duck reviews in show run order and therefore making me look like a huge Darkwing Duck geek. I assure you, I didn't intend for that to happen. So don't expect the next Darkwing Duck post to be about "Apes of Wrath" because it's not. Probably because I intend my next episode of this show to cover one of the OTHER main villains lest this blog looks like it has a Bushroot bias. does, but I'd rather not have it appear that I do.

Anyways, remove your pants and imitate your favorite duck as we dive into the spectacle of horrors that is...

Night of the Living Spud

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly - Part 1

Okay, chances are if you're aware of the concept of "fast food" (and if you're not aware, congratulations for crawling out from your rock long enough to read my blog!), then you know about McDonald's. McDonald's is like the undisputed Lord and Master above all other forms of fast food, the crowning father of fatty hamburgers and cheap plastic toys shoved into mini meals to coerce children to start clogging their arteries early. Whether you love them, hate them, find them a world-destroying scourge or a delight that you visit every other week, you are aware of their existence and their ability to be absolutely anywhere. Starbucks wishes they were like McDonald's multibillion empire. Sadly, in this universe, scary clowns will always beat sirens in hand-to-hand combat.

But I'm not here to talk about cheeseburgers. I'm here to talk about cartoons. And one day in the 90's, McDonald's came up with this great idea. Oh sure, their mascots are portrayed well enough in the commercials, but what if they were in a cartoon? Kids love cartoons, and if Ronald was a cartoon star, that meant even more Happy Meals will be devoured on a daily basis! It's a win-win situation. Unfortunately, McDonald's didn't go the whole gambit and greenlight a 13 episode TV series; instead they chose to make a series of short films.

So they teamed up with Klasky-Csupo (aka the people behind Rugrats) and made a direct-to-video movie about Ronald McDonald and his hideously deformed food friends frolicking through the strange, cholesterol-filled lands of McDonaldland.

And it was a hit.

Man, remember when you actually had to rewind your movies?
It's hard to say just how popular these things were if you didn't live through it first-hand, but I remember when these VHSes first came out in McDonald's. For just a couple bucks more on your combo meal, you could get an exclusive Ronald McDonald cartoon where he pals around with his equally soulless partners designed purely to hypnotize the young'uns into buying more McDonald's food. This sounds stupid, the thought of bringing a cartoon clown and his giant rotten chicken nugget pal (what the hell is Grimace anyways?) into your home, but I remember McDonald's places all over the tri-county area selling out of these things. And, when they sold out, people would hop in their minivans and drive 45 minutes into another city in hopes that maybe one of their McDonald's has one.

What's really sad is that I'm not surprised people would sink this low. After all, I lived through the Beanie Baby craze and remembered when McDonald's places would have these huge lines of people getting their hands on shapeless cows or shapeless inch worms stuffed with beans.

Now, my family actually owned a copy of one of these things. My mom was lucky enough to buy the film before the popularity rush snatched them all up, and my family and I would actually sit down and watch this thing more than once, and mostly when it was October and getting close to Halloween. Because this movie was one of our "Halloween movies". Like Buttons and Rusty in Which Witch was Which, it was one of those odd VHSes that we didn't really acknowledge its existence until the right holiday came up. We'd watch it, not because we were compelled to, but because it was in season.

That being said, does this still hold up? Is there something to be redeemed in this fantasy world where a man can dress up his dog in clown makeup and get away with it, or is this movie as bad as a movie about freaking' McDonaldland characters could possibly be? Grab some McNuggets, mourn the loss of the triple cheeseburger and the Supersize combo option, take some anti-heart attack pills, and inhale this delicious portion of...

The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly - Part 1

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Mask: The Animated Series - Shadow of a Skillit

I was going to continue Halloween special month with another Disney cartoon, but then I noticed that three out of the four previous posts were Disney-related, so the episode I was going to do (a Darkwing Duck ep, and I'm not saying which one) got postponed.

But that doesn't mean I don't have another show in mind when I think "creepy Halloween episode from an awesome 90's cartoon in the superhero genre". And today, I am going to revisit a green-faced old friend of mine. The Mask! Because I found out that not enough sites talk about this show (even 90's nostalgia fans seem oblivious to this show, meaning they're not doing their jobs) and I can't abide it going unnoticed.

Masks are Halloween related, right? This counts!
First, I have a small confession to make. This is NOT the series' Halloween special. The episode I should be reviewing is the one helpfully titled "All Hallow's Eve", which has everything to Halloween parties to trick-or-treating to actual zombies.

The reason I chose this episode instead is because of several different reasons. The first reason is that All Hallow's Eve is a sequel to this episode, and the second reason is that, in my mind, this fits the mood and tone of Halloween better than the sequel ever did. The Mask's Halloween special is the side of Halloween that everybody loves, the one filled with costumes and candy. This episode deals with the more sinister side of Halloween, the fact that there are creatures lurking in the shadows, boogeymen that won't think twice about stealing your soul just for a cheap thrill.

Now, if you remember my last post about this show (which dealt with "Convention of Evil", the first episode I myself ever watched of this show), the villains were pretty amicable fellows who loved to hang out and swap stories about The Mask while drinking cups of coffee and talking about how nice the weather was. Even Satan and the horrifying bug mutant were friendly. A lot of them felt like, if they weren't criminally insane and found total city domination to be a great career move, they'd be your bestest pals.

Skillit? He's not friendly. He's the opposite of friendly. Skillit's the kind of villain that the other villains stay away from, just because he's the guy in every group that finds human suffering to be gutroaringly hilarious. He's seen civilizations fall, wars kill countless numbers of people, and horrible atrocities wreaked upon mankind, and he enjoyed every minute of it. I'd like to imagine if, say, The Stinger or Kablamus had caller ID and saw Skillit's name pop up on their cellphone, they'd chuck the phone in the fireplace and hide under the couch for several weeks.

But I'm hyping this up a bit too much, especially when I know a good number of you probably scroll right past my intros. I should probably stop flapping my gums and dive right into the scary, mentally-scarring horrorfest that is charmingly named...

Shadow of a Skillit

Monday, October 3, 2011

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command - Wirewolf

Why look, it's October. You know what this calls for? An entire month filled with nothing but Halloween specials! Those who are allergic to vampires and werewolves should probably avoid this blog for the next month on account the episodes I do are going to be all about the things that go bump in the night (and I don't mean that claymation show) and the strange, hostile creatures that celebrate the witching hour.

Now, while you enjoy your candy corn and chocolate bars shaped like pumpkins, consider the following. Suppose they made an animated series of a character in a Pixar movie without any of the original voice actors, with a completely new cast of characters, and in a completely different style to said Pixar movie. Sounds like it'd be pretty stupid and unwatchable right?

Allow me to prove you wrong by introducing you to Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

This show sounds like one of those things that could've been terrible, could've been a horrible blemish on the face of Disney, and could've been considered another cash-in franchise like the many direct-to-video sequels that were coming out at this time. I mean, even the premise sounds dumb. It's supposedly the TV show that Buzz Lightyear the toy was based off of, which means we're dealing with sort of a different Buzz Lightyear but not really. And he's in a crimefighting team that includes a token chick, a talking robot comic relief, and a fat janitor alien. Bound to be crap, right?

Pictured: Not crap.
Instead, it was actually a decent show, probably because they actually had Tad Stones, the man behind Darkwing Duck, working on it. The people that do remember it remember it fondly, but unfortunately, since it wasn't a Disney afternoon show, therefore that means that it doesn't have the fanbase that say, Darkwing Duck or Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. And that's a real big shame, because in the years that have passed, they managed to tighten up the writing and animation in Disney shows. This was probably one of Disney's last great shows with the spirit of the 90's coursing through its veins before Disney decided that kids really want to see live-action pop stars in sitcoms.

Yeah, Disney. I'm a tiny bit pissed that you feel that having only two animated shows running at a time does the trick. It really doesn't. One of the reasons why the 90's was so great for you is because you had variety. Come back to school, get bombarded with like six different shows. Now, if you don't like Phineas and Ferb, you're pretty much out of luck.

Also unfortunately, since Disney afternoon show DVDs apparently didn't sell as well as Disney would've hoped (well, gee, Disney, maybe if you included the uncut episodes instead of porting the cut-for-TV cuts from Toon Disney and maybe if you had just a couple of extras...), this show never got a DVD release. If I sound a little bitter, that's probably because I am, on account Disney is usually really good at releasing DVDs and Blu-Rays with all of the bells and whistles...provided that they're well-known animated films. Come on, Disney. Warner Bros. was embarrassed by Loonatics Unleashed and they gave that show a full DVD release! The entire show of Loonatics Unleashed is on DVD and yet we can't get Season 3 of Darkwing Duck.

But I'm getting off-topic and ranting about cartoon politics instead of the actual episode. Buzz Lightyear! The first episode I'm going to do of this show was going to be, as expected, one of the first episodes in the series, but then October happened and I tossed that out in favor of a Halloween episode. I went with this one first because, like a lot of my posts, I chose it because the villain and the premise sounded neat.

Allow me to introduce you to an episode named after the villain, because this is...