June 26, 2018
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the title sequence. Open on NC sleeping on the couch, snoring and all, surrounded by various pop culture memorabilia of all kinds. Lying on the floor, Tamara and Malcolm are wide awake, unable to sleep because of NC's snoring; from their perspective, it sounds like all kinds of loud noises: a jackhammer, an elephant trumpet, a Tarzan yell, a Howie Long scream, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex roar. Suddenly, outside, the moon explodes, turning into a sun, looking like the one from Teletubbies, and NC is wide awake and smiling; he puts on his glasses)
NC: MORNING! (brushes his hand in front of his friends' faces, to their annoyance) Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, it's Saturday morning!
Tamara: (groggily) Critic, we didn't get much sleep.
NC: Too excited for your bowl of (takes two bowls of...) Lucky Frosted Cocoa Trix! (gives them to his friends) It's part of a complete breakfast!
Malcolm: (disgusted) From where, Dairy Queen's dumpster?
NC: Now, don't be like that. I poured you each a bowl of that last Saturday in preparation for this!
Tamara: You mean this has been out for a week?!
NC: It helps open up the flavors.
(Malcolm looks toward his bowl, looking rather sick; the cereal is a very moldy green)
Tamara: (giving NC her bowl) I had a big dinner.
Malcolm: (doing likewise) And I'm vegetarian. I'm pretty sure that used to be alive.
NC: (shrugs) Suit yourself. (eats the cereal himself)
Tamara: Okay, Critic, can you explain why we're up at dick o'clock in the morning?
NC: (laughs with his mouth full) I forgot at your humble age, you know of the ritual of Saturday morning.
(Shots of kids watching TV are shown)
NC (vo): You see, Saturday morning used to be a special time for kids, we often have friends sleepover the night before and then wake up to the majesty of television: (A collage of Saturday morning cartoon shows is shown) Saturday morning cartoons, each one filled with brain-rotting material coaxing us to buy teeth-rotting material. Unfortunately, TV did its job too well, and the following generation said, (Cut to a shot of 24/7 kids' channels: HBO Family, Starz Kids & Family, Nicktoons, Boomerang, etc.) "Let's just have this shit raise our kids 24/7." Thus, every second of every goddamn day was already Saturday morning cartoons, and they got rid of them years later. Society sucks!
Malcolm: Okay, we're not ten years old; we had Saturday morning cartoons, too.
Tamara: We're just wondering why we're here this Saturday morning?
NC: Oh, well, that's because we're paying homage of the best in Saturday morning awesomeness, "Fox Kids"!
(A montage of clips of various Fox Kids shows is shown)
NC (vo): In 1990, the then-still-young Fox Network aired its Saturday Morning lineup of shows called "Fox Kids". It included bumpers, PSAs, catchy songs, and, of course, some of the best kids shows to ever aired on TV. Eventually branching out to Monday through Friday as well, Fox Kids lasted twelve years, an unbelievable run when you consider its counterpart, (image of...) the Disney Afternoon, lasted only seven years. While half of these shows can still be viewed today, some of them have sadly never gotten a DVD release or were never aired again. So keep in mind, we're not going to look at every single show that aired on Fox Kids, because, like I said, this is twelve years of material. We're just going to look at the most unique, inspired, and... (hesitates slightly) memorable parts of the greatest Saturday morning line up there was.
NC: So, with our sugar-coated poison in hand...
Tamara: (pointing to her right) ...younger kids wanting to watch what the older kids are watching...
Heather: Hey, guys!
Walter: Can we watch the show, too?
Malcolm: ...and an overprotective parent who thinks if it's not Sesame Street, it's bad for them...
(Barney Walker walks in and speaks to Walter and Heather)
Barney: I'm sorry, kids, but you're too young to see this kind of stuff.
Heather: (disappointed) I'm older than half of them over there!
Barney: Shoo, shoo.
(NC, Malcolm and Tamara wave good-bye as Walter and Heather leave in disappointment)
Walter: I hate you! You're not even my real father!
Barney: (to NC and his friends) Kids, are you enjoying Saturday morning?
NC, Malcolm and Tamara: (in unison) Yes, Dad. (Malcolm and Tamara roll their eyes as they say this)
Barney: That's good, I'm going to make some waffles on the stove just for you.
(He leaves. NC, Tamara, and Malcolm look puzzled)
Malcolm: Do...do we have a stove?
(They jump by the sound of an explosion of the stove and hear Barney scream)
NC: We'll...figure out how that happened later. This is Fox Kids!
(As he eats the cereal, the intro to Fox Kids plays; NC, Malcolm and Tamara dance and sing along)
Singer: ♫ Sit back, chill out, see what all the talk's about, everybody knows... ♫
Plucky Duck: (Singing) ♫ It's on FOX! ♫
Singer: ♫ There's Tiny Toons and Dynamo, Plucky Duck with his own show! ♫
Malcolm: What was that?
NC: I-I, it was complicated, we'll get to it when we get to it.
Singer: ♫ Everybody knows it's on FOX! Now Batman's gonna show you, he's the greatest superhero! Eek! the Cat, Taz and Bobby, Super Dave, Tom and Jerry... ♫
Tamara: That doesn't rhyme.
NC: Keep going, keep going!
Singer: ♫ Dog City, X-Men, too, Merrie Melodies, Beetlejuice, everybody kno-o-o-ows (Everybody knows...) they're on FOX!
Bugs Bunny: It's on FOX!
Plucky: It's on FOX!
Joker: It's on FOX!
Platypus Brothers: It's on FOX!
Singer: ♫ Oh! Big surprises, fresh new faces, now you know the cool places, everybody kno-o-o-ows, everybody knows... ♫
NC, Malcolm and Tamara: IT'S ON FOX!
(An explosion occurs as we transition into the list of shows to come)
(The opening titles for this are shown)
NC (vo): Let's start with one of their earliest staples, Bobby's World.
Malcolm: Oh, I've seen this. It's like if Calvin and Hobbes were made by Ned Flanders.
NC: Hey, it's a lot more than that.
Tamara: It sounds pretty accurate.
NC: Yeah, okay, it's pretty accurate.
NC (vo): Bobby's World was based off of a little boy voice that comedian Howie Mandel did for his popular stand-up.
(Cut to a clip of Howie at stand-up)
Howie: (doing the exact voice) If my parrot friend can't sing... I'm gonna kill that one, too!
Bobby: That's my name! (giggles)
NC (vo): And because the 90s were a strange time where crude comedians got kid-friendly shows, (posters of Waynehead, Life with Louie, Camp Candy, Little Rosey and Rick Moranis in Gravedale High are shown) he was given one of his own. Just look at how awkward he is in the live-action openings.
Howie: Hi, everyone, I'm Howie, welcome to Bobby's World! And you know what I really hate? Of course you don't, because you don't know me. You know what I hate?
NC: (as Howie) GERMS! God, I hate germs!
NC (vo): While certainly aimed at a younger demographic than the other Fox Kids shows, Bobby's World showcased the imagination of a little boy misinterpreting what adults say. Either that, or he swallowed all his mother's NyQuil. Either way, neat. The characters included Howie as his father, with the Jew-fro, rat-tail haircut...
NC (vo): The cast of Fargo as his mother...
Martha: Now you need to go upstairs and wash your face and hands before we leave for aunt Ruth, don't ya know.
NC (vo): His older brother representing the 90s trying to kill the 80s, and his older sister representing the 80s refusing to die. Along with Uncle Ted, who gives an obligatory fart joke...
Bobby: How come you can make bubbles without putting your face in the water?
Uncle Ted: Tell ya what, Bobbo, let's just keep that our little secret, okay?
NC: (smiling widley) POOP!
NC (vo): Bobby had children's fantasies often based on movies a kid his age wouldn't see yet. Looks like somebody read the kid-friendly version of Die Hard. (The book A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic is shown)
Tamara: So, was it any good?
NC: It was... hypnotizingly unoffensive.
NC (vo): It's for little kids, so it's simple, but imaginative. It even had possibly the first Saturday morning character get pregnant, and we actually see her progression throughout the season. Little touches like that make it stand out just enough. And I guess kids thought the same thing, because it was surprisingly one of Fox's longest-running shows. Add a catchy-as-hell theme song, and you have a decent start to the Fox Kids lineup.
(The show's title is shown)
Tom and Jerry Kids
Tamara: That's cool and all, but how about some more violent stuff?
NC: Well, you're in luck, 'cause this network also had Tom and Jerry...
Tamara: I retract that "yes".
Singer: ♫ Talkin' bout the Tom and Jerry Kids ♫
(Clips from the show are shown)
NC (vo): Yeah, another strange trend in kid shows for a while (Pictures of Muppet Babies, The Flintstone Kids, Yo, Yogi, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo are shown) was just making famous characters younger. Because if there's anything better than seeing someone brutally dismembered and maimed, it's...seeing it happen to them as children?
Malcolm: (grins) Finally, somebody gets it!
(NC and Tamara turn and stare at him strangely)
Malcolm: (still grinning) I have issues!
NC (vo): It was pretty much the same thing as the regular Tom and Jerry cartoons, except it was done with kids, so the slapstick wasn't nearly as violent, and therefore, not nearly as funny. Granted, it had other characters, too, like Spike and his son Tyke, Droopy and his son Dripple...in fact, how are Tom and Jerry younger if their counterparts are the same age? And how is (Picture of James Bond and M from Skyfall) Skyfall a prequel if M is in Goldeneye? Also, how did (Picture of Minions on a dinosaur from the 2015 movie is shown) Minions exist with dinosaurs millions of years ago?!
Tamara: (puts her hand on NC's shoulder) This is a road you don't want to go down on.
(Malcolm puts his hand on NC's other shoulder. Both start shaking their heads on him while he looks around with a worried look with ominous music playing. Cut to Barney shaking his head at him as well. He soon snaps out of his worried state)
NC: (confused) Okay, I'll never bring it up again-
(Clips from the show are played again)
NC (vo): Much like Bobby's World, this was obviously meant for smaller children, so it was tamer and more gentle than previous versions.
Malcolm: So, not good.
NC (vo): But for little kids, it gets the job done, I guess. I mean, it is better than other outings Tom and Jerry have had recently. (The poster for Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is shown, and then various faces of the cartoon Willy Wonka while speaking ominously) Never forget those faces. It lasted a few seasons, though, so it obviously had its fans. It's not the cat and mouse team we remember, but it's not obnoxious either. It wasn't harmful enough to be Tom and Jerry, but it was harmless enough to be a decent distraction for little kids.
Singer: ♫ Tom and Jerry Kids! ♫
Chorus: ♫ The Tom and Jerry Kids New Show! ♫
Peter Pan and the Pirates
NC: But let's get to something more grisly and adult: Peter Pan and the Pirates. Let me explain!
(Opening intro is shown with the theme music playing)
NC (vo): We all know the classic book, play, Disney film and childhood scarring, but few adaptations of Peter Pan ever captured the darker and surprisingly more adult take of the original J.M. Barrie story than this one. I know that sounds strange, but this was actually a really great show. There were ideas that took concepts from the original book and pushed them even further. For example, Peter steals the pirates' shadows, and what happens? They walk upside down because they've lost their anchor to the ground. That's so creatively strange, but it weirdly makes sense. In another episode, Peter is gone for too long and forgets about everybody because he's distracted by Wendy's future daughter in the real world, who he brings back to Neverland to meet her future mother, despite them being roughly the same age.
Jane: Bye, Uncle Michael, Uncle John. (to Wendy who is crying) Why are you sad?
Wendy: Because I learned today that I shall have to leave Neverland sometime. But I'm happy, 'cause when I do, I'm going to have a daughter as wonderful as you.
NC (vo): It's super surreal, but it's also surprisingly adult. It's kind of like the ending of Return to Neverland (Picture of Peter and adult Wendy from this animated movie is shown) where young Peter meets older Wendy. That's a lot of people's favorite part in that movie, and this show is mostly comprised of scenes like that. The characters all have fleshed-out personalities, with Peter always hungry for mischief, the Lost Boys and pirates all having distinct character traits, and in my opinion, the best Captain Hook ever portrayed played by the only actor who could perfectly portray him.
NC: Literally, the first perfect thought that comes into your head is who plays him!
Malcolm and Tamara: Tim Curry.
NC: You're goddamn RIGHT, Tim Curry!
Captain Hook: If I must die, I will encounter darkness as a bride and hug it in my arms.
NC (vo): This is the first Captain Hook that has dimension to him. Yes, he's an angry screamer and a scoundrel, but he prides himself on being a gentleman and a sophisticate. One minute, he's ready to stab your heart, but the next, he might let you go if you make him laugh with a reading of Shakespeare.
Captain Hook: Ugh, dear Bard, they give you death by inches. Oh, Shakespeare, give thanks that you aren't here to witness this atrocity.
NC (vo): He was an egotist, but still valued his bizarre ethics. It made him both funny and intimidating at the exact same time. And nowhere is the series' complexity shown best than in its series finale, where Peter decides he does want to grow up, and he starts to wither away into an old man, unaware that he's actually taking Neverland with him. So you could argue Hook was portrayed even before Hook was doing it. It's surprisingly intense and unbelievably well done. It lasted for only one season, but it resulted in a ton of episodes and had a pretty good life in reruns. Criminally, though, there is no DVD release of it. If you're able to find it on YouTube or anywhere else, definitely watch as many of them as you can. It's a cannonball of imagination waiting for you.
(The show's title is shown again)
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Malcolm: That's all fine and good, but what about the poor people who demand a series about demonic fruit? (NC and Tamara stare at him) I had no segue into the show.
Singers: ♫ Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! ♫
(Attack of the Killer Tomatoes clips are shown)
NC (vo): So, um, because we apparently demanded it, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was given its own cartoon series. Based on the B-movie comedies, it did have some of the original characters like Igor, Tara, that parachute guy (Wilbur), and even John Astin reprising his role as the mad scientist who made the evil vegetables.
NC: It's 2018, nobody uses that term anymore.
NC (vo): It certainly had the strangeness of the films down, but it didn't have much more beyond that. The plot is similar to the movies. In that, a mad scientist wants to take over the world with the tomatoes and his failed experiments, Tara and F.T., and Tomato War veteran, Wilbur, tries to stop them. He gets help from the main lead, a boy who was not in the movies (Chad), and you can clearly see why. He's pretty bland and forgettable, and the animation doesn't do him or any of the other characters any favors.
Chad: (is talking with Tara and for some reason she keeps turning her head back and forth) You know you're supposed to stay away from salt! If someone sees you-
NC (vo): What is up with this girl? Is the binary code on her neck being hacked? (as Tara, in a robotic voice) Must blackmail George Clooney with Return of the Killer Tomatoes footage.
(Clip of said movie)
Matt Stevens (Clooney): Yo! Zucchini!
NC (vo): Look at this scene: she has to lean over to talk to F.T., but look how she does it.
Tara: (it looks like she's almost upside down when she talks to F.T.) It's Igor! Dr. Gangreen-
NC (vo): What the hell? Is this part of the joke, or is it just poorly animated? The whole show is kind of like this, leaving you with no idea what's intentional and what isn't. Even the dialogue you can't figure out what they're aware of and what they're not.
Tara: Being a luscious, ripe tomato can be hard on a girl.
(Everyone looks uncomfortable with what she just said)
NC: Whatever you're thinking, erase it from your heads.
Tamara: I had a line about her being saucy, but never mind.
NC (vo): I guess on a level of bizarre awkwardness, I can see this entertaining a few, but for many kids, the most memorable part of the show was the theme song, but, goddamn, that's a catchy theme song.
Singers: ♫ Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes! ♫
NC: But not all of the Fox Kids shows started off on Fox Kids.
(Opening title is shown with Danny Elfman's theme music)
NC (vo): A charming story about a dead man who befriends an underage girl he was going to marry... (A still from the live action movie is shown)
Malcolm: (cheerfully) Finally, somebody who gets it!
NC: Do I have to worry about you?
Malcolm: You might.
(Clips from the show play)
NC (vo): Beetlejuice had only the slightest connection to the movie, which was surprisingly welcomed as it allowed for a lot of wild and inventive designs. Granted, in the movie, everybody looks the way they do because they died that way, here... well, I don't know how the shit they were supposed to die to look like this. Tim Burton himself helped design the show, and it certainly shows in all the strange people and creatures. It had little in terms of plot, but it had a lot in terms of visual and gross-out humor. At the time especially when there wasn't much in terms of dark or macabre cartoons, this one gave us a small, but still memorable taste of the enjoyably morbid. It was a waste of time, but it was a fun waste of time.
(End of the theme is shown)
NC: But I know what you're thinking, "If Beetlejuice got a cartoon, why not Little Shop of Horrors?"
Tamara: Because no one was thinking that.
NC: Just for that, the plant raps!
NC: (while Tamara is still yelling) YEEEEEEEE-
(Cue the cartoon opening and title card)
Singers: ♫ Little Shop, Little Shop. Take me to the-- ♫
NC (vo): Little Shop is based on the musical interpretation about the man-eating plant, except Seymour is now a little boy, the plant raps instead of sings, and absolutely none of it looks completed.
(A clip from the episode Bad Seed is shown)
Junior: (Rapping) ♫ You got boxes on rubber that skid on snow! / If this place weren’t so sorry, it’d be a big joke! / That's why I'm outta here! You know what I'm sayin'? ♫
Malcolm: This looks more like the bumpers you see before they go to commercial.
NC: You don't give those bumpers enough credit.
NC (vo): The focus of the show is the plant (Junior) is trying to get Seymour to win the girl (Audrey) and defeat the bully (Paine Driller), while also running a plant shop that's constantly infested with bad musical numbers.
Mr. Mushnik: (singing) ♫ My business is a bust. Business, what a joke. ♫
Other flowers in the shop: (singing) ♫ Shooby-doo-ba ♫
NC: God, I wish this had the original cinematic ending.
NC (vo): Why's he even shocked the plant is talking? The flowers act as backup singers all the time! Not even sure if the plant is talking, his lips move so rarely.
Junior: (his lip movements are exactly how NC stated) "C" is for "commuter train." Many parts are edible.
NC (vo): I guess I can give credit that for a show that had a budget of monkey feces, the backgrounds are at least creatively simple. I mean, I'm sure the layout artist had two minutes to color these on Mario Paint, but there is at least a little structure in between the poorly animated sections. Oh, God, he's having a stroke...nope, it's just a bad show.
Junior: (rapping) ♫ Now something's gone bad, it's a crime and disgrace / You got stones for ground, walls in your face ♫
NC (vo): The writing doesn't make any sense either. The girl in the show is obsessed with a refrigerator. I'm going to repeat that. The girl in the show is obsessed with a refrigerator. And they never explain why.
Audrey: It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen! (She hugs the fridge) I think it's really cool.
(NC and Malcolm awkwardly turn to Tamara)
Tamara: Hey, my love of refrigerators has nothing to do with my gender! Now, if you'll excuse me...
(She gets up and hugs the fridge while crying)
Tamara: (sobbing) Oh, I love you so much! Oh, you're so good to me. I love you so much...
Malcolm: Clearly, Little Shop of Horrors was ahead of its time.
NC (vo): Like I said, this has little redeeming value, but I'm sorry, I have to reference a Little Shop of Horrors cartoon show in the 90s where the plant raps! I know you think it's a crime it exists, but it's an even bigger crime to act like it doesn't exist. The show lasted only 13 episodes before it was yanked, and you can see why this fertilizer didn't get far.
Junior: (rapping) ♫ Word! Little Shop! ♫
Malcolm: I'm noticing a pattern of characters that most likely wouldn't make a good show...
NC: Not making a good show?
Tamara: Were there any existing characters that would allow for clever writing or intelligent dialogue?
(After a beat, we're shown to a clip of, of all things, the Tasmanian Devil, making his signature unintelligible noises and raspberrying at the viewer. Malcolm and Tamara, understandably, look confused)
NC: ...Yes, really.
Singers: ♫ Taz in Taz-Mania! Down in Taz-Mania! Come to Taz-Mania! ♫
(Cut to clips of Taz-Mania)
NC (vo): Warner Bros. was given the task of turning one of their most profitable Looney Tunes, the Tazmanian Devil, into a hit show. How do you do that, though, when his dialogue is mostly...
(In another clip, Taz once again makes his signature noises as he destroys a box)
NC (vo): Well, they ingeniously make everyone else very well-spoken, even to the point of it being ridiculously overwritten.
Man: Accumulate a portfolio, start with a net yield no less that 36 percent per annum...
Hugh: There's nothing like a paper in a recliner craft chair for a man after a tough day of doing whatever it is I do for a living.
Molly: To rekindle the lost flame that connects our souls with the true harmony of the universe.
Daniel Platypus: Now I am in a quandary.
Timothy Platypus: Technology's the culprit here.
Daniel: Science be blamed.
NC (vo): Because of this, not only did Taz-Mania have a distinct sense of humor, but its writing was surprisingly ahead of its time, along with other shows like Duckman and Simpsons.
(Cut to Malcolm and Tamara with more baffled looks on their faces)
NC: ...Yes, really.
NC (vo): Based in the land down under where Wakko Warner sings the theme song...
Singer (Jess Harnell): ♫ Welcome to the land that's way under, down under ♫
NC (vo): ...Taz lives with his talkative family, interacting with his talkative friends and partaking in the conversations as little as possible. Much like the other Warner Bros. shows, there's a lot of fourth wall breaking, a lot of slapstick and like I said, surprisingly a lot of talking, again, from a show where the main character talks like this.
(Taz makes his unintelligible noises again)
NC (vo): Though not talked about by many, Taz-Mania still had an impressive four-year run. It had good animation, good timing and actors who had to talk a surprising mouthful for a show about a Tasmanian Devil.
Daniel: Ferociously intense, not that he's likely to make much progress, given his choice of methodology.
(Cut to a scene where Taz tries to hide his pet turtle Dog from his mom)
Jean: Got a house to show, a career seminar to attend, some charity work to do and a dinner party to prepare, so my schedule's pretty much open.
NC (vo): It's so strange this would be both as funny and as worthy as it is, but maybe that's part of a bigger joke in general; that the most dialogue-focused slapstick children's show was around this guy.
Timothy: Shall we pause to consider this irony?
Daniel: Maybe later.
NC (vo): Sadly, there's only a few DVD releases of this show; it honestly deserves a lot more. The episodes you can find, though, are a ton of laughs and had a lot more work put into them than they probably deserved. To put it short, Taz-Mania is a heck of a spin.
Chorus: ♫ Come to Taz-Mania! We mean you! ♫
(Taz makes his signature noises for a final time before the theme ends)
Tiny Toon Adventures (and The Plucky Duck Show)
(Cut to a clip from Seinfeld where Jerry is watching TV)
Jerry: (talking on the phone) Nothing, I'm, uh, watching, uh, Tiny Toons here on Nickelodeon.
(Cut to Kramer looking out the window)
Jerry: (off-screen) Very innocent wholesome quality. (Singing) ♫ The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round ♫
(Cut to NC, Malcolm and Tamara with blank looks on their faces)
Tamara: What was that about?
NC: Oh, well, Tiny Toons is up next.
Malcolm: But what did that have to do with it?
NC: Because that scene always bothered me; it wasn't on Nickelodeon, it was on Fox Kids, and they didn't do stuff like sing The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, it had good writing, it was a good show! SHAME ON YOU, SEINFELD, SHAME ON YOU!
Tamara: Oh, my God, okay!
NC: I'm sorry, I just...I...never had an outlet to talk about that clip, it always bothered me, i-it always got so many things wrong about that clip, it was a good, decent show, it just has been building it up for a while, it's-!
Malcolm: Critic. Critic, it's not your fault.
NC: I know.
Malcolm: It's not your fault.
NC: (confused) I know.
Malcolm: It's not your fault.
NC: (looking distressed) Don't do this to me, man.
Malcolm: It's not your fault.
NC: (getting even more distressed) Don't do this to me, man! Not you, not you, man!
Malcolm: It's not your fault.
NC: Stop it! Not you! Not-!
Malcolm: It's not your fault...
(NC finally breaks down and cries on Malcolm's shoulder, with Malcolm comforting him)
Tamara: Tiny Toons!
(NC keeps crying loudly while the theme for Tiny Toons begins)
Buster Bunny: ♫ We're tiny! ♫
Babs Bunny: ♫ We're toony! ♫
All: ♫ We're all a little loony! ♫
(Clips from the show are followed)
NC (vo): So having a very successful run in syndication, Fox Kids bought Tiny Toons and ran it from its third season on. It was one of the few shows based on the younger versions of popular characters that branched out not only to be successful and funny, but also obtained its own identity over time. Characters like Elmyra, Montana Max and Furrball were all very different from their counterparts, Elmer, Yosemite Sam and Sylvester. The nice thing is while in syndication, there was definitely a lean towards being more kid-friendly, but when it went to Fox, they broke out more of the classic Looney Tunes humor with celebrity jokes, in-jokes, satire, a...Buster that sounded eerily close to the Cryptkeeper.
Buster (Charlie Adler): (as the Cryptkeeper) Toons from the Crypt! (laughs maniacally, sounding accurately like the Cryptkeeper)
NC (vo): It played well, so well that one of the most popular characters, Plucky Duck, was given his own show that same year.
Tamara: Yeah, so what was that?
(Clips from The Plucky Duck Show follow)
NC (vo): You see, the first episode of the spin-off was...actually hilarious. They're acknowledging he's getting his own show, but he abandons it to try and be Batman in Tim Burton's next movie. It's amazing how funny it is. The violence, the satire, the celebrity in-jokes.
Sean Young: (pops out of the litterbox) Tim, I should be Catwoman! You know it! Look at me! Roar, roar!
NC (vo): It had a ton of viewers rolling on the floor with laughter, it was so good!
Malcolm: That sounds great, what happened?
NC: ...That was the only new episode!
NC (vo): They weirdly just started showing clips from other Tiny Toons episodes where Plucky Duck was the focus, so what was supposed to be The Plucky Duck Show just became the best of Plucky Duck, a clip show. Maybe this was filler for a show they didn't make in time, maybe they only animated the pilot, but pulled the plug like what they did with The Elymra Show? Whatever they did, it faded quickly, resulting in only 13 episodes. Regardless, we still got a pretty funny first episode and a ton of great material from the original Tiny Toons, giving it a memorable and hilarious run.
Buster and Babs: ♫ It's Tiny Toon Adventures, come and join the fun! And now, our song is done! ♫
Eek! The Cat (and Eek! Stravaganza)
NC: But not every show gets the attention it deserves.
Tamara: I know what you mean. (The sad music plays as she looks at a DVD cover of Homeboys in Outer Space)
NC: (puts his hand on her shoulder) That masterful work will have its day... But I was talking about Eek! The Cat.
(Theme* and title card play)
NC (vo): In a world filled with Ren & Stimpy knockoffs, (As he says that, images of Rocko's Modern Life, Cow and Chicken and SpongeBob SquarePants are shown) Eek! The Cat was arguably one of the first. But just like those other shows, it had a similar style, but still, its own hilarious identity. The opening sums it up perfectly: he has a dream about helping someone, wakes up to reality, and everything tries to kill him.
(Cut to clip of Eek parachuting when an airplane flies toward him; the title appears for a brief second before we see Eek on fire)
NC (vo): That's basically the plot of every episode: The world is trying to punish him for all the good deeds he does. But, nevertheless, Eek is always kind and optimistic, always helping people no matter what's thrown at him.
Eek: (to an alien) It never hurts to help!
NC (vo): And indeed, a lot of strange things are thrown at him. It's a world where snacks can blow up in your head...
TV Announcer: The cereal that pops in your head, not in your hand! (Head explodes)
NC (vo): Cuddly bears are greeted with machine guns...
Squishy Bears: ♫ We're the Squishy Bears, and we're right over here-♫
(The bears run and scream while a woman shoots at them)
NC (vo): And Ross Perot was commander-in-chief.
NC: Back when THAT was the craziest person who could be President.
NC (vo): There was a mean-spirited creativity to it that was held together by just how gentle and helping Eek is.
Eek: (to a school of fish) Hey, no swimming for an hour after you eat, you don't wanna get a cramp! (snickers)
NC (vo): No matter what, he always wanted to help, even if it meant getting pummeled.
(Cut to Eek stranded on the moon with a broken rocket)
Eek: Well, at least the beautiful planet of Earth has been spared and those bad aliens will never do such bad things again, and someone will be here to get me soon, I'm...I'm just sure of it.
NC (vo): Hell, the biggest curse word he ever used was "kumbaya".
Eek: Kumbaya, wait!
NC (vo): Granted, as the show went on, they seem to run out of ideas, so they started putting him in several movie parodies. They were fine, I guess, but it was a little odd, even for this show. To make things even stranger, the timeslot was suddenly being shared with another show. Suddenly, it was called Eek! Stravaganza and half the running time was dedicated to (The Terrible) Thunderlizards, a series about dinosaurs who were trying to wipe out a new species called Man. At the moment, there's only two of them, and they're constantly screwing up trying to evolve.
Scooter: I invented this. I call it a washing machine. I figured it out. The fire washes things, okay? Watch.
NC (vo): These guys are like the prototype for SpongeBob and Squidward, except the sexual tension might be a little greater with them.
Bill: (distorted by glass) When does the hurting stop?
NC (vo): The show was pretty funny, but not as good as Eek! Nobody minded too much that the shows were cut in half, as we still got our daily dose of strange, and the show had a good run of five seasons. Sadly, again, though, there's no DVD release, hence the watermark. (Jetix Play logo is pointed at with an arrow) With the rise of even more surreal humor and Internet culture, this really should be more available to the public. It was mean, violent, cruel, relentless, yet, funny enough, had a good heart at the center of it. Eek! definitely needs to make a comeback, and hopefully, somebody out there can make it happen in the future.
(End of theme transitions to...)
NC (vo): But there's stuff for dog lovers, too. Jim Henson's Dog City, for example, lasted for three seasons. Based on Henson's short film from another TV series, the show opened in the puppet world where an animator created a private eye show about a detective named Ace Hart. It then jumps into animation, as Ace constantly battles the gangster Bugsy Vile, with the help of chief Rosie O'Gravy and paper pup named Eddie. As you'd imagine, there's a lot of dog puns in this, which is usually annoying, but after a while, there's so many of them, you're kind of floored so many could exist.
Ace: (narrating) I did some sniffing around trying to get a leg up in the case.
Radio Announcer: Pavlov Brand Beef Biscuits!
Ace: (narrating) Bernard St. Bernard.
Radio Announcer: (Shaking Ace's paw) Shake paws!
Ace: (narrating) Not much bark, but what about her bite?
Radio announcer: Station WFIDO...
Ace: (narrating) Sometimes, he's one table scrap short of a full doggy bag.
(Cut to NC, Malcolm and Tamara looking perplexed)
Tamara: I'm...annoyingly intrigued.
NC (vo): Like many Jim Henson projects, there's a charm in how kid-friendly it wants to be. For example, the animator hates violence, so guns are usually replaced with rolled-up newspapers, and when guns do eventually make their way in, he switches it out for a senseless showdown. It's... kind of adorable.
(Cuts to Bugsy's henchman diving off a diving board into a glass of water with Bugsy walking around with scissors)
Bugsy Vile: Diving into unknown waters is senseless, but is it as senseless as running with scissors? I think not!
(Clips from Droopy: Master Detective are shown)
NC (vo): The strange thing is, Fox would do another dog detective show called Droopy: Master Detective. What was up with this concept?! They had the same obsession Disney Afternoon had over ducks! Did they just think this would be the next big thing? Did they even watch this show?
(The poster for the TV series Tequila and Bonetti is shown)
NC (vo): While Droopy was canned pretty quickly, Dog City had a pretty decent run. So, I guess if you're a dog detective person...
NC: (adjusts glasses) I'm a cat detective person myself. (A title card for The Cinema Snob Presents Lloyd is shown)
NC (vo): ...Dog City is cute enough to give a viewing.
(The end of the intro is shown. Cut back to NC, Malcolm and Tamara)
Malcolm: You know, Critic, I gotta admit, these shows are fine, but they're not really mind-blowing.
Tamara: Yeah, where's the really cool stuff?
NC: Well, over the next three years, Fox Kids would have their highlights. They would give us the most incredible, awesome, badass shows any kid's ever seen at the time!
(A black cape blows over them while the music for Batman: The Animated Series plays, but it turns out to be Barney fluffing up a black shirt)
NC: DAAAAD! Stop butting in!
Barney: I'm just trying to help.
NC: You're embarrassing me in front of my friends! Go away!
Barney: Okay. (Begins to walk away, but stops to look at NC) I love you, son.
NC: (mumbling) ...m'love you, too.
Barney: I didn't quite hear that.
NC: (mumbling again) ...m'love you, too.
Barney: (singsong) I can't hear you!
NC: (annoyed) I love you, too!
Malcolm and Tamara: Oooooooh! (singsong) Critic loves his dad! Critic loves his dad! (squeal and giggle)
NC: (crying, overlapping Malcolm and Tamara) Get out of here, Dad! You ruin everything!
(Barney walks out of the room, looking satisfied. Malcolm and Tamara keep teasing a completely-humiliated NC, squealing and giggling and playfully touching him, while it fades to commercial)
NC: (crying) STOP IT, I DO NOT! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! I'M SUPPOSED TO BE BADASS! I'M BADASS, STOP IT! STOP IT, ALL OF YOU, I HATE YOU ALL! I'M NEVER HAVING YOU BACK! OKAY, seriously, stop, stop.
Tamara: (quietly) I'm sorry.
Batman: The Animated Series
(We return from commercial)
NC (vo): So, even though Fox Kids was growing, it still wasn't the dominant force in Saturday morning or kid shows. But year 3 is when all that started to change. Fox Kids expanded from Saturday morning to weekday afternoons, which was a risky and expensive move. If they wanted kids to constantly be watching, they needed some kick-ass shows to keep them hooked. Thankfully, they had little gems like this... (X-Men) and this... (Animaniacs) and this (Batman: The Animated Series).
NC: Now, I've talked to death about these shows in the past, so I'll do my best to talk about something different about the impact that they had.
(Starts with clips of Batman: The Animated Series)
NC (vo): First, Batman: The Animated Series. After two wonderfully dark Batman movies, an animated version of the Dark Knight not only won both kids and adults over, but it served as a game-changer for Batman in general. A lot of writers went on to several other Batman canon projects, several characters and backstories created for the show made their way to the official Batman lore, and even to this day, when most people read Batman comics, the voices that pop in their heads are always Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. It's hard to read them without making that connection.
Batman: (to Penguin) Wherever you go, I'll be right behind you.
Joker: (ending the court session as a judge) A-dee-ba-dee-ba-deep, that's all, folks!
NC (vo): Unlike other kids shows at the time, Batman took years to develop, resulting in a unique style not often seen in many animated series. The backgrounds always started off on black paper to keep the dark environment of the show consistent. The characters and buildings had an Art Deco style as opposed to pulp comic style like all the other shows. And the atmosphere in general was more adult, allowing for quieter moments, slower pacing, and more realistic acting. There was no other animated action series that looked like this at the time. And now, every animated action series is trying to look like this. (As he says that, the pictures from Ben 10, G.I. Joe Renegades and Young Justice are shown) It walked the perfect tightrope between too playful and funny between too dark and gritty. (The Adam West take on Batman from the 1960s and the poster for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are shown) It seemed like it incorporated everything. It felt true to the comic roots, worked in the adult side of the movies, had a good laugh at the campiness of the situations, and yet somehow also felt like its own unique vision. It's just as good today as it was when it first premiered, and no other Batman show has ever topped it. Think about it, after all these years and all the other incarnations that have come out, no other show has done Batman as well. It's just as clear today as it was years ago why this was a huge game-changer.
NC: But Warner Bros. was breaking new ground with another game-changer... (Malcolm and Tamara groan in annoyance) What? I was just talking about Animaniacs. (Malcolm and Tamara groan louder) Oh, I see. You guys think I talked about it too much, huh?
Tamara: If Animaniacs was a prostitute, you'd have paid off five of her house loans.
Malcolm: Yeah, what? Do they save your cat or something?
NC: No. But through the magic of wishful delusions... (Thinks about something as a harp is heard, then a cat's meow) Now they have! (Malcolm and Tamara groan once more) Fine, fine! I'll keep it short.
(We see various clips of Animaniacs)
NC (vo): Seen as the follow-up to Tiny Toons, Animaniacs was a variety show that stepped up its game. Every episode had a plethora of great songs, memorable characters, hilarious animation, but most important of all: brilliant writing. It was truly the closest we ever came to experience the fresh comedy of the original Looney Tunes. They have the great comebacks, the violent slapstick, the imaginative take on the world we all wanted to experience. This must have been similar to when people saw a Bugs Bunny cartoon for the first time on the big screen. There was just an excitement that you were gonna see something clever, funny, and filled with so much energy, they felt alive. Along with Batman and Tiny Toons, it was one of the few shows that had an entire orchestra providing the music. And speaking of which, the brilliant songs are still being used by kids today to pass countless school exams. In fact, they even keep updating the songs to coincide with the constantly changing world. In fact, these songs even went on tour, (A poster of Animaniacs in Concert is shown) with songwriter Randy Rogel and actor Rob Paulsen singing their infectious earworms. They're still that popular. It seems the show was so popular, that it's even being rebooted. In 2020, these characters are coming back to give their take on modern day insanity. Imagine the shots they could take with the Internet, trends, politics. It's crazy exciting to see where this can go. Will it be as good as the original? I guess only time will tell. But one thing's for sure, we'll always have these timeless, classic, hilarious characters to look back on.
Yakko, Wakko and Dot: (singing) ♫ Animaniacs! Those are the facts! ♫
NC: Now, on to a show I know I've barely talked about: X-Men!
(Malcolm and Tamara groan again)
NC: Will you two knock it off?!
NC: Oh, yeah? I bet I can find something new to talk about!
Malcolm: Prove it!
NC: Fine! (pauses and pulls up a book entitled Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series, and reads from it to find something new to talk about) ...Apparently, it was the passion project of the head of Fox Kids.
(Clips of the show play, followed by pictures of the shows Muppet Babies, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Transformers, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk (1982) and Fantastic Four (1994))
NC (vo): Margaret Loesch, ironically, used to be the head of Marvel television, producing hit after hit except in one category: funny enough, the Marvel characters never caught on in TV. Every attempt seemed to bomb, including an early version of X-Men where Wolverine was Australian.
Wolverine: (with said Australian accent) Wait, she's not joinin' the X-Men, is she? She's just a kid!
Malcolm: (as a picture of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is shown) That's almost too ironic.
NC (vo): She went from studio to studio trying to get X-Men made, but they all said the same thing: it was too adult and nobody would watch it. Margaret then went on to be the president of Fox Kids and cared so passionately about getting X-Men a TV series, that she put her job on the line. They knew if this was gonna be good, a lot of money had to be thrown at it, so she took the gamble, but picked the right producers, writers and actors to make it work. The only downside is, there was not much time to make it work. In fact, the tone and animation were so campy and off-key in the first season, that they only had two episodes for the big October premiere, that being the two-part pilot. What the hell do you do when you need months and months to rework your show? You present the first two episodes as a preview. Yeah, it pissed off the advertisers and cost a fortune, but Margaret and showrunner, Eric Lewald, knew they had to get this right if they were gonna have a hit. The preview, thankfully, went over incredibly well and left people wanting more. So, after a redo of the show with better animation and more adult atmosphere, it finally premiered with no other new shows being put on. That's right, because they waited until spring, it got more attention because everything else was reruns. As you'd imagine, the numbers were through the roof. X-Men was suddenly Fox's biggest hit. It represented more than cool heroes with powers, it grasped the prejudice and torture character arcs, as well as the all-around badass nature people loved from the comics. After being told no over and over from several studios and even ignoring advice from Stan Lee to make it more kid-friendly, the creators stuck to their guns and turned in a huge payday. Much like the X-Men who had to fight for human dignity, so did the creators who wanted to see their timeless characters done right. X-Men would go on for five seasons, one of Marvel's longest running series. It launched them into the mainstream more than before, leading to several reboot series, (The poster for Wolverine and the X-Men is shown) comic spin-offs, and, of course, (The pictures of X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse are shown) a beautifully inconsistent movie franchise. This was a gamble that paid all the way to the X bank.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
NC: So, with those three gigantic hits, Fox Kids was moving on to their next-
Malcolm: Um...aren't you forgetting another hit show?
NC: (Knows what he's talking about and is trying to deny it) No. Don't think so.
Tamara: Yeah, yeah, one that makes like a butt-ton of money, even today.
NC: (Still trying to weasel out of this) No, no, no, there were no other hit shows at that time.
Walter: (off-screen) Ahem!
(Cut to Walter and Heather pointing and gesturing to the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers shirt Walter's wearing)
NC: (sighs in defeat) Fine. There might have been another teeny-insy-winsy hit of a show called... Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
(The theme song plays)
Singers: ♫ Go, go, Power Rangers! ♫
(Malcolm and Tamara dance to the theme song as NC looks extremely displeased and annoyed)
NC (vo): It's no secret I never got into this show, even as a kid. It was just... (sighs and speaks in a whiny tone) So dumb! The same time Batman and X-Men were on, we had...
Bulk: About that double date we talked about?
Skull: Yeah! (Does a goofy laugh)
NC (vo; in a whiny tone): So dumb! (Speaks normally) But, okay, let's talk about it. Because, on the one hand, it is a brilliant marketing strategy. Five teenagers-
Malcolm and Tamara: (smile and cross their arms) With attitude!
NC (vo): ...are summoned by Jabba the fuzzy mouth (Zordon) to stop a space witch named Rita for her crimes of bad lip syncing. They first do a martial arts fight against the monster of the week, and then they grow in size and use giant robots in a fight against Los Angeles Japanese mountains. So, yeah, the setup was pretty obvious: shoot American actors for dirt cheap, and then cut to Japanese stock footage from another hit show in Japan. Power Rangers, of course, turned into a huge hit, which meant as long as they were still making shows in Japan- (The pictures of future Power Rangers shows are shown) Oh, God, they'll never stop! ...they could keep making shows here. Power Rangers was not only the longest-running series on Fox Kids, but it surpassed it. Even after Fox Kids shut down, the show still continues to have an impressively long lasting life. It had many spin-offs, storylines, reunions, callbacks, and tons of B-movie monsters to fight. On the one hand, I really wanted to like this show. Because, hey, martial arts, giant robots, killer monsters, that could be some fun shit. But...
(A clip of Kimberly doing backflips as Bulk and Skull see her is shown)
Skull: Guess you finally flipped over me!
NC (vo; whining): So dumb! (Speaks normally) It was clearly past my time and not for me, but that doesn't mean they didn't tap into something that excited a shit-ton of kids...
NC: (glares at Malcolm and Tamara) And some very disturbed adults years later.
NC (vo): Power Rangers, whether you liked it or not, was, and still is, an impressive spectacle.
Singers: ♫ Power Rangers! ♫
Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
NC (vo): But it wouldn't be the 90s unless we forcibly had to teach you shit!
(Title and theme to Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?)
Singers: ♫ Where is Carmen Sandiego? Carmen Sandiego-- ♫
NC (vo): Thankfully, some shows were better at it than others. Like Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
Malcolm and Tamara: (singing) ♫ Rockapella- ♫
NC (vo): This was a different kind of Carmen Sandiego, one that was on a kids' computer game that tried to educate you.
Tamara: That's exactly what Carmen Sandiego is.
NC: Okay, maybe not that different.
NC (vo): The onscreen player always had to pick two characters to go after Carmen, and he always picked the sister and brother duo, Ivy and Zack.
Malcolm: Oh, God! Tell me he didn't... ship them?
NC: It's a kid who's always at his computer!
Malcolm: ...So probably.
Ivy: Hello, player. Thanks for picking me.
NC (vo): Yeah, that sounds weird. There's a freaky-ass chief who seemed to be a mix between Max Headroom and the Genie.
Chief: Ivy, Ivy, Ivy, you simply must learn to accessorize!
NC (vo): Regrettably so. And the duo had to chase Carmen around the world to get back the famous monuments that they'll inevitably home school us about.
Chief: Okay, listen up, gumshoes, you'll be heading to Holland! It's the home of wooden shoes, tulips and the world-famous windmills!
NC (vo): On the one hand, it doesn't work as well as the game show [Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?], because the investment came from having to know the information to get further. Here, the show just kind of comes to a halt to teach you something.
Chief: (talking about Vincent Van Gogh) He used bold colors and violent brushstrokes, often slashing at the canvas as he painted.
NC (vo): On the other hand, though, it did have a story to each one, and Carmen herself was just as stylish and cool a villain as you would want her to be. In fact, a lot of the time, she would leave the clues on purpose, because she loved the thrill of the chase. At first I thought this was kind of lame, but then the more I thought about it, how clumsy is Carmen in the other versions to always leave something behind? Here, she's at least owning up to her stupidity. The show lasted a good while with four seasons, and even though the education stuff did feel a little forced, it was still cool seeing the queen of thieves do what she does and I guess help us get a little smarter watching it, too. It was decent enough for what it was.
Singers: ♫ Where on Earth can she be? ♫
NC: Hey, kids! What's more awkward than (A picture of Spider-Man 3 is shown) movie Spider-Man?
Malcolm: (a picture of The Amazing Spider-Man is shown) Other movie Spider-Man?
NC: (turns to Tamara) Aaaand?
Tamara: (a picture of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon is shown) Cartoon Spider-Man?
NC: (turns to Malcolm) Aaaand?
Malcolm: (A picture of the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon is shown) Other cartoon Spider-Man?
(The theme song and into clips play)
Singers: ♫ Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Radioactive-- ♫
NC (vo): Riding the tails of X-Men, heck, even doing a crossover with them later, Spider-Man tried capturing the same complex characters and ideas their other hit Marvel show had.
Tamara: Did they?
NC: It’s complicate-
NC (vo): Spider-Man was great if you wanted the experience of the comic, but it didn't segue into an emotional TV series. It might have been surprisingly over-ambitious, as every second, it's either explaining what's going on, explaining the emotions, explaining the inner monologue, it could never take a break.
Black Marvel: Then we have to assemble those of use who are left and go protect the site of the Doomsday complex.
(As he's saying this, he pushes his ring and activates the signal for the Six American Warriors. And as NC says, there's little to no pause or beat between each line)
Spider-Man: (off-screen) I feel like I'm witnessing a part of this country's history!
Black Marvel: After seeing the beacon, we always assembled here.
(As he's speaking, Miss Marvel flies in)
Miss Marvel: I had to crack open a map to remember where this building was.
Destroyer: How have you been, Madeline?
NC (vo): Oh, my God, breathe! You guys are going faster than the dialogue in The Social Network! The CG city wasn't a bad idea at the time, but now, it just sticks out like a sore thumb. In other instances, the CG background (The Cave of Wonders from Aladdin is shown) matches the look of the painted background. This just looks like he's swinging into a screensaver. But those are just little details. Maybe it could still work if the writing was sharp-
Spider-Man: Anyway, this lizard thing is probably just an urban myth... (sees giant lizard-shaped footprints) Wait a minute! Looks like I was mythtaken.
(NC, Tamara, and Malcolm groan)
NC (vo): But again, to its credit, it did take a lot from the comics, trying to cram in as much as you can in a kid show. I just think it did it too damn much. It wasn't Power Rangers silly, but it wasn't X-Men serious either, it was something in-between. But it seemed to be enough, as this Marvel show lasted five seasons, so I guess it must have made a big connection with a lot of fans. And, granted, there were some really cool things to see, like Tony Jay as the Kingpin*, Mark Hamill as the Hobgoblin, Not Topher Grace (Hank Azaria) as Venom...
(The footage from the Spider-Man/X-Men crossover episode, The Mutant Agenda, is shown)
NC (vo): And to think, we thought this would be the greatest Marvel team-up we would ever see on any screen.
Storm: Power of lightning, strike again!
Spider-Man: Uh, power of web-shooters, get real sticky!
Whizzer: Sure, these days, it sounds a little corny.
NC (vo): Looking back, it's not as bad as I remember, but its pacing is still way too fast for us to absorb every adventure. It's got its fans, though, and I can see why. It was a huge hit, and anything that makes this (The poster of Spider-Man 3 is shown) a little less awkward must be doing something right.
(The end of the intro is shown)
NC: But for my money, the best superheroes always shouted-
Malcolm: Oh! Can I say it? I've always wanted to say it.
NC: (shrugs and decides to let him) Go ahead.
Malcolm: (clears his throat) Fork!
NC: It was one word. It was one goddamn word! With five letters! YOU COULDN'T EVEN SAY FIVE LETTERS!!! (He starts hitting Malcolm with his hat)
Tamara: (points at them and smiles) This is nice.
(The show's title is displayed and the theme song plays)
NC (vo): While there were comedic takes on superheroes in the past, none were quite as funny or odd as The Tick. Again, leaning its writings towards the adults rather than kids, The Tick told the story of a nigh-invulnerable, absent-minded superhero and his voice of reason sidekick, Arthur.
Arthur: You can't fight evil with a macaroni duck!
Tick: I'll be the judge of that. (He walks away and the top of his head and his antennae break the wall)
NC (vo): While the idea for the cult comic (The cover of The Tick comic book is shown) went through several different incarnations in the future, most people agree this is the one that was the most faithful to the source. They did what many superhero parodies do: adding a big slice of reality to our comic book fantasy, but the biggest-punching lampoon is just how many damn superheroes there are. Particularly now, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Tick addressed what happened if so many of these side characters and spinoffs really did exist in the same universe.
American Maid: This is all the superheroes you could find?
Die Fledermaus: Well, it's such short notice! These people have lives, too, you know.
NC (vo): Though sometimes, the animation could be a little choppy and the timing a hint off, The Tick still had original writing with very enthusiastic characters.
Tick: But what really pursued us? Where were we really trapped? Come on, Arthur, get meta with me!
NC (vo): Tick himself is infectiously positive; he just loves being the hero, but he never came across as egotistical. He really believes his corny speeches and one-liners, thinking they inspire people just as much as they inspire him.
Tick: What pursued us were our own obsessions! I'm good, you're evil. I'm a woman, you're a man! What does it all mean? Nothing.
NC (vo): He never felt cynical or mean-spirited. He doesn't think much about what he's saying, but rather the way he's saying it, to a point where even silverware can serve as a battle cry.
Tick: SPOON! (Lightning crashes in the sky)
NC (vo): It had a modest run of three seasons and continued to run in syndication, only increasing its cult following.
(The posters of the 2001 and 2016 Tick series are shown)
NC (vo): Though there would be many different variations on this crazy idea, by far the one who came the closest in strangeness and comedy was the one on Fox Kids.
Malcolm: That's cool, but...can I have a series based on a book series where the scariest part was the cover?
NC: ...But you can have a show that's less scary than Are You Afraid of the Dark?
(Cue the show's title and theme song)
NC (vo): Goosebumps was based on the hugely successful book series by R.L. Stine. It was wild, imaginative, and not the least bit scary.
NC: You know I'm right. You ALL KNOW I’M RIGHT!!!
NC (vo): When I was younger, I was always pissed off that all the scary shows I watched were never scary. Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, even Tales from the Crypt I never found frightening. But, as I got older, I realized that's not really what they were about. The intent wasn't to scare you, the intent was to have fun in a classically spooky setup. One of these episodes is about a killer sponge, for God's sake! The hokey acting, the over-the-top writing only add to the B-movie quality that, honestly, kinda gets better every time I see it. That doesn't mean they weren't trying, it just means it should be enjoyed on a different level than you might expect. It's like getting angry if a Scooby-Doo episode isn't scary, it's just not what you're supposed to be looking for. Every show had a new monster or a new scenario that would tie into the characters' persona or fears, similar to The Twilight Zone. Except, you know, laughably stupid. It took me a while to warm up to this series, but now, watching it with the intent of having a good time, that's exactly what I get out of it: a good time. It's one of those kooky kids shows I, weirdly enough, like even more as an adult than I do as a kid. Just for entirely different reasons.
(The title is shown again)
Fox Kids' Decline
NC: Sadly, though, this is when Fox Kids began their downward spiral.
Tamara: Aw, geez, how long did they last after that?
NC: Just a mere six years.
Tamara: That's...stupid long.
NC: I know, but here's the thing.
(Clips from Kids WB! are shown as well as Animaniacs, Looney Tunes, and Batman: The Animated Series)
NC (vo): Warner Bros. was starting their own network with their own kids programming called Kids WB, and when they started up, guess what they took with them? Animaniacs, Looney Tunes, and Batman.
(Clips from Superman: The Animated Series and Pinky and the Brain along with a photo from Pokémon are shown)
NC (vo): They even did spin-off shows like Superman, Pinky and the Brain and their own little Japanese import that was dirt cheap to make and would run for years and years (Pokémon).
(Clip from Animaniacs episode, Super Strong Warner Siblings, is shown)
NC (vo): In fact, even the first Animaniacs episode on Kids WB was a parody of Fox's biggest show, Power Rangers.
Wakko: (to Dr. Scratchansniff who's parodying Zordon) Hey, what's wrong with your mouth?
Dr. Scratchansniff: (out of sync) It's all fuzzy.
NC: Fox would still do well, but this was a big bite for them.
(Pictures from Life with Louie and Casper are shown)
NC (vo): And many of their upcoming shows did well, but not nearly as well as before.
(Footage from Toonsylvania is shown)
NC (vo): Another Spielberg show called Toonsylvania tried capturing a darker tone on the Animaniacs formula, but sadly, the writing wasn't on point, and it didn't last very long.
(Footage from Sam and Max: Freelance Police is shown)
NC (vo): I talked in great detail about Sam and Max in another episode. It was creative, but a little too unfocused, earning only one season. And then, of course, there's this. (The photo of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is shown)
NC: (struggling to speak) That's like summing up the Titanic in one sentence. I need a full episode to go into what's wrong with that.
Tamara: Good call.
(Clips from Digimon are shown)
NC (vo): After that, Fox Kids went the same route Kids WB went: importing more and more Japanese shows after seeing not only how easier they are to put out, but also how cheap they are to do.
NC: And sadly...I stopped watching after that. If we were gonna go into this in more detail, we would need people that actually grew up watching this.
(Loud throat clearing is heard, and NC, Malcolm and Tamara turn to see Walter and Heather around the corner with excited, almost creepy looks on their faces while "Fur Elise" plays in the background)
NC: (annoyed) Okay, go ahead.
(Walter and Heather cheer and rush to sit in front and push the others away onto the couch while they argue)
Godzilla: The Series
Walter: Hey, kids, remember this incredible writing?
(Clip of Godzilla (1998))
Nick Tatopoulos: That's a lot of fish.
Heather: They made a show out of it!
NC: OH, GOD!
(Everyone angrily shushes him and turns back slowly as the title is shown and the theme song plays)
Walter (vo): Godzilla: The Series was a direct continuation of the 1998 Godzilla movie. It featured some actors from the film lending their voices to reprise their roles.
NC: Including Bart Simpson?
(Everyone shushes him again and turns back to camera slowly again)
Heather (vo): Thankfully, Matthew Broderick wasn't one of them, but his character...what? Nick...
Walter: Nick Tatopoulos.
(Walter and Heather try to pronounce his name)
Walter (vo): It's Greek, ha-ha!
Heather (vo): Ha. ...did return. The only surviving offspring of the Godzilla that attacked New York in the movie imprinted onto Nick as its parent, and thus, they used him as a government sponsored Pokémon to fight other giant monsters.
NC: That's so stupid, I'm surprised it wasn't in the '98 film.
(Everyone turns to him about to shush him, but don't and think about what he said or agree with him)
Heather: So am I.
Walter (vo): The series was received pretty well by fans of Godzilla, but honestly, following the '98 film, there was nowhere to go but up. We did get some great kaiju fights in the show, though. So I guess I can look past Godzilla's Dick Tracy chin.
Power Rangers in Space (and Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy)
NC: I guess it's better than any of the Power Rangers shows-
Walter: And then there's Power Rangers in Space and Lost Galaxy! (NC groans)
Singer: ♫ Set controls to outer space, now-- ♫
(Power Rangers in Space opening clip plays)
Walter (vo): Power Rangers in Space wrapped up the series' initial run and was supposed to be the series finale. As we know, that didn't happen.
NC: Much to our regret.
(Tamara takes NC's hat and slaps the back of his head)
NC: (pause) I don't like it back here.
Walter (vo): What on the surface seemed like Star Trek Lite actually became one of the most popular and well-received seasons in the show's history. They went much further with character development than they did in most of the previous seasons. There were decently deep arcs for a kids show that featured the Red Ranger's long lost sister being brainwashed as the Power Rangers' main enemy, and even more multidimensional villains. There's plenty more to talk about with this season, which finished the Zordon era and ended up saving the franchise. But some of you may just know it for their crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Cowabunga...I guess.
Malcolm: Hey, we have a deal: no Next Mutation unless (points to NC) he's fully being tortured.
NC: (rubbing his head) It's okay, just the mention of the idea hurts me.
(Clips of Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy is shown)
Walter (vo): The next season, Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, kept the outer space theme, but began a new phase in the PR legacy. Starting here, every season introduced a new cast with new powers, Zords, etc., and that became the status quo for the series moving forward. Saban's big plan to get this phase going? Sword in the Stone in space! (Beat) Whoo? Actually, this season's pretty good, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Heather: But I know what you're thinking, "Those shows needed a lot more Ryan Gosling as young Hercules."
Tamara: It's actually amazing how much we weren't thinking that.
Heather: Well, Fox Kids was!
Malcolm: (pause) I was thinking that.
(Everyone slowly turns their heads towards Malcolm and looks at him as if he's demented as the theme song and clips of the show play)
Heather (vo): Yup. There was a spin-off of the Kevin Sorbo show starring a young Ryan Gosling. I always speculated this was just another Goosebumps episode he was in.
Walter (vo): It is scary enough.
Heather (vo): What else do you need to know about this show? Well, I think this clip says it all.
(Cut to a clip of an interview between Ryan Gosling and interviewer Jake Hamilton for the movie Gangster Squad)
Jake Hamilton: What is a performance that you've given? Something that you're insanely proud of?
Ryan Gosling: My work on Young Hercules.
Jake Hamilton: Really?
Ryan Gosling: I had a fake tan. Leather pants. Was fighting imaginary monsters, they weren't really there, but I was acting like they were there.
Tamara: My God! I think we're all in a Goosebumps episode!
Beast Wars: Transformers (and Beast Machines: Transformers)
(Cut to clips of Beast Wars: Transformers)
Walter (vo): We also can't forget about Beast Wars. This was one of my favorite childhood shows. It traded in cool cars, trucks and jets for animals, like rats and ants!
(Walter smiles as everyone else stares at him awkwardly)
Walter: Believe me, it's way cooler than it sounds.
Walter (vo): This was my generation's Transformers show, and I absolutely loved it. Beast Wars, along with ReBoot, was among the first all-CG animated series. The early computerized look doesn't hold up all that well, but for the time, it was revolutionary and set the show apart from most other things on TV. The stories were great, the characters were great, it was just a really solid animated series. That being said, YOU STAY AWAY FROM THIS, MICHAEL BAY! YOU HEAR ME?! DON'T YOU DARE DEFILE RATTRAP, TIGATRON OR OPTIMUS PRIMAL!! For more on this series, you can check out my top 5 best episodes, right here on the channel.
NC: If my face isn't on it, I don't watch it.
Walter: Like I haven't heard that before.
(Clips of Beast Machines: Transformers plays)
Walter (vo): Beast Machines: Transformers was the less popular sequel series to Beast Wars. It took place almost immediately after and was dark, sobering and kind of depressing at times. You know, for the kids. The change in tone and design wasn't something anyone was asking for, but it did end all the stories that started in Beast Wars and has gained a small, dedicated following over the years.
Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot
NC: Blah-blah-blah, get to the more hardcore stuff!
Heather: Oh, you mean like...Frank Miller?
NC, Tamara, Malcolm and Walter: (in unison) YEA- wait, what?
Heather: Yeah, there was a show based on a Frank Miller comic.
Singers: ♫ Watch the skies, coming at you. A hero-- ♫
(The show's title is shown and the theme song plays)
Heather (vo): Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot was a show based on a short comic written by Frank Miller. There really isn't too much crossover between the show and the comic, with the show actually being more fleshed out than the comic.
Tamara: Is Samuel L. Jackson in a Nazi uniform?
Tamara: It's a good start.
Heather (vo): Rusty is the most advanced robot ever made, with a complicated A.I. and the ability to feel emotions. He was meant to be the successor to Big Guy, an advanced robot that protects Earth. However, Rusty's emotional circuits and A.I. are young, and he, therefore, acts like a child. Rusty needs to learn how to be the protector of Earth. Big Guy is recommissioned so he can teach Rusty. Big Guy and Rusty was one of the more complex and mature shows in the year 10 lineup. It was pretty interesting and unique. Although it was never my favorite show, I do remember being engaged by it and wanting to see what happened next.
Singers: ♫ The Big Guy and Rusty! ♫
Digimon (and Monster Rancher)
NC: Well, it's good to know not everything was a Japanese import-
Heather: And then there was Digimon!
NC: Yeah, okay. (He sits back down as Malcolm smiles with joy)
(Clips of the intro and the theme song play)
Singers: ♫ Digimon. Digital Monsters. Digimon are the champions. ♫
Heather (vo): When Pokémon became a smash hit, Fox Kids tried to capitalize on that market and trend by introducing the world of Digimon. Seven kids at a summer camp are transported to a digital world, creatively called the "DigiWorld." There, they discover they are the DigiDestined, who must save the digital and real world with the help of their partner digital monsters or "Digimon." They are also given DigiDevices, which transport them between the real and digital worlds and can help their Digimon digivolve into other forms.
NC: (pulls out a gun on Heather) Say "digi" again! I dare ya! I double dare ya!
Heather: (doesn't look at him and is not intimidated) Digi.
NC: (doesn't do anything and looks around, not knowing know what to do now, and talks in a more discouraged tone) Now I'm mad!
Heather (vo): The show was actually a lot of fun. Although it never really reached the fever pitch of Pokémon, it was received well by audiences. Although there was fan demand that the anime be shown in its entirety as the Fox Kids version was edited and changed to fit a more humorous tone than the original Japanese show. And who could ever forget that theme song?
Singers: ♫ Digimon. Digital Monsters. Digimon are the champions. ♫
NC: You know, I just got that damn song out of my head and you put it right back in there!
Malcolm: Oh, I thought you were still humming, "DuckTales! Woo-" (NC smacks Malcolm with his gun)
(Clips of Monster Rancher are shown)
Heather (vo): Because of Digimon's success, we also got Monster Rancher. Another monster show that was meant to compete with the success of Pokémon. Monster Rancher was first a video game before being made into an anime that Fox Kids picked up. In the game, you used discs to unlock monsters that the player trains to compete in tournaments. In the show, a boy named Genki receives a disc to use while playing. The disc ends up transporting him to a different world where monsters are real and created by scanning stone discs in temples. Like Digimon, Monster Rancher was edited to make it more suitable for audiences, removing more dramatic elements from the series. I remember loving this show as a kid, but honestly, it was a bit bland and basically an overglorified commercial.
Tamara: So...an anime? (Everyone glares at Tamara and she immediately regrets what she said) Oh, Christ, I hit a nerve. (Heather hisses at Tamara and Tamara looks away in fear and shame)
(Clips of Spider-Man Unlimited begins playing)
Walter (vo): Fox did give Spider-Man another go with Spider-Man Unlimited, a loose sequel to the '94 series, while having a strange and somewhat confusing plot that sends Spider-Man to a duplicate world on the far side of the sun called "Counter-Earth." Normally, this would be like a parallel dimension or something, but apparently, that's not exactly what Unlimited was going for. Instead, we got a really weird futuristic planet for Spider-Man to fight Venom and Carnage on, while freeing humans from oppression.
Malcolm: Wow, this is making his deal with the devil almost sound credible.
Walter (vo): Due to legal issues, this series couldn't draw from any of the decades of source material that came before it or even use the standard Spider-Man suit for most of its run. There have been some awesome designs for alternate spider suits made over the years, but a web cape? Unique, to say the least. The opening theme sounds like it's trying to be Batman Beyond, but comes off like its goofy, clubbing cousin.
Tamara: Like clubbing a seal, I think you mean.
Walter (vo): I get that Spider-Man: The Animated Series is an insanely tough act to follow, but Spider-Man Unlimited was a mess from the beginning, both behind and on the screen, that is best skipped over by fans of the web head.
Heather: And then there's Angela Anaconda.
(The opening theme song plays and the show's art style looks like pictures of children's faces from black and white newspapers pasted onto a kindergartner's first Microsoft Paint project)
Angela: (singing) ♫ My name is Angela, hey, hello, welcome to my very own show. ♫
(Cut back to everyone looking horrified by how the animation looks)
Heather: Did any of us actually watch this show?
NC, Tamara, Malcolm and Walter: (in unison) No!
Heather: I can see why! (She points the remote at the screen and turns the TV off)
(The classic Fox Kids logo zooms out in the dark)
NC (vo): By year 12, Fox Kids was losing momentum, and pulled back weekday scheduling to only Saturday mornings. By then, the writing must have been on the wall, because the following year, Fox Kids stopped airing programs and never returned.
(The intro to this programming block is played again)
NC (vo): Though many of these shows would exist in reruns and there's more than enough kid shows everywhere now, that magic collection of the right talent for the right age group at the right time never seemed as prominent. Every Saturday morning built an anticipation like no other. Every visit home from school revved up excitement every kid could feel. For a pretty awesome time in our childhoods, we had a cool clubhouse that lived in our TV. And they told us great jokes, classic stories, the latest comics, and even taught us a thing or two. It was everything you thought of when you heard the word "Saturday morning". It was a perfect experience so much of us were so happy to have. And we couldn't be more thankful to the awesome people who gave us some absolutely wonderful Saturday mornings on Fox Kids.
Malcolm: Speaking of which, we should probably start getting ready for bed.
(All five look aside to see a moon glowing in the night sky)
NC: Oh, yeah. I guess we have been watching well over twelve hours of shows.
Walter: So what do we do now?
NC: Well, protocol says we should be playing video games past our bedtime....
Heather: Laugh and scream at basically nothing...
Tamara: And have deep philosophical talks while trying to go to sleep.
Walter: Sounds good.
(Cut to Malcolm playing a video game with a light gun on the TV excitedly, with the rest cheering to him)
Malcolm: Oh, my God, Duck Season is the best.
Tamara: Shoot the dog! Shoot the dog!
Malcolm: Oh, yeah!
(Then we cut to the five gathered in circle like they're having a slumber party, and Heather is the lead)
Heather: ...Will Smith!
(They squeal and giggle like teenage girls...and then cut to everyone lying (NC and Walter on the couch, Malcolm, Tamara and Heather on the floor) with their eyes open, in total silence)
NC: Do you believe in God?
Malcolm: Believe... (raises arms) or see?
NC: (stammers after a beat) D-do you see God?
Malcolm: Well, yeah. I was thinking about that, and it had me thinking. What if Bowser's the good guy?
Tamara: Oh, my God...
(As the credits roll, the gang is still thinking aloud in voiceover)
Malcolm: You know, yeah.
Heather: And Mario's really the bad guy?
Malcolm: (overlapping) Exactly.
Tamara: (overlapping) Okay, okay, okay, okay...
Heather: And Goomba?
Tamara: But if, then... If Satan, then Luigi?
Doug and Malcolm: No.
Walter: No. That's just not true. That's a dirty lie.
Heather: Well, if Mario is the bad guy, then Luigi is Satan.
Malcolm: Oh. Wait-
NC: I'm totally lost. How do we go from God to Bowser? I missed that.
Tamara: Video games are...
Walter: ...our God.
Heather: It's my religion, actually. Thanks.
NC: Yeah. So, like, if video games equal God...
Walter: There's all different, you know, denominations...
Tamara and Heather: Yeah, right, right.
Malcolm: ...Like sex.
Heather: Like, Tamara believes in the denomination of... of PlayStation, but, like, Walter and I are Nintendo-ites...
Walter: Yeah, yeah.
Heather: ...So, like, it can be awkward sometimes. I have a PlayStation, like... Don't... don't tell Nintendo, but I, like, I have a PlayStation because, like sometimes, just... Get explore things, man.
Walter: Yeah, you gotta do stuff, well, while you're young. You know what I mean?
NC: I think I'm an atheist, 'cause I have a Dreamcast.
Malcolm: (overlapping) Oh, Dreamcast... Oh, man...
Tamara: (overlapping) No way.
Heather: I started with the Dreamcast, man. It's fine.
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown)
Heather: Everything's gonna be okay.
Walter: It's okay.
Tamara: I don't know, man. I don't think my mom's gonna let me sleep over here anymore.
- Some viewers have stated there are audio issues when playing the theme song for the Eek! The Cat segment.
- Although the Critic is correct in stating that Batman: The Animated Series would later move to Kids' WB!, it actually stayed in reruns on Fox Kids for two more years after Kids' WB! began its run (a fact that was even lampshaded in Freakazoid's first episode).
- In the 1994 Spider-Man animated series, it wasn't Tony Jay who voiced the Kingpin. It was Roscoe Lee Browne. The mistake was later addressed in The Evolution of the Purge Movies editorial.