Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forgotten Toons: Freakazoid

I love this weird stuff!  Freakazoid was the third show produced under the supervision of Steven Spielberg.  It followed in the 'footsteps' of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.  To give you an idea of how little appreciation is thrown towards this show, the latter two are currently running in Syndication on the HUB Network, a Channel that runs new shows and older ones (like Batman and Superman).  Why no love for Dexter Douglas?!?  If you don't know about the show, I'll give you what-for...
Frekazoid is the alias of Dexter Douglas, your typical nerd.  Bad posture, glasses- the whole kitten caboodle.  Thanks to a freak accident, he gets sucked into the Internet and the combined data overwhelms his mind, turning him into Freakazoid.

Did that make any sense?  No.  Good- it's not really supposed to.  He has to have an origin story, so there.
The real meat of the show is the characters.  What they do and why is almost secondary.  They include...

1. Inspector Cosgrove: A Police Officer (voiced by Ed Asner) is a deep-voiced guy who is easily distracted.  It's a running joke that Freakazoid goes to him when danger is afoot and they go off somewhere else.  It could be The Jelly Museum, a Go-Kart Track, whatever.
2. The Douglas Family: They don't do much, but they play a nice Midwestern droll to Freakazoid's insanity.  His brother is a jerk, so he usually gets his comeuppance from Freakazoid aka The Blue Guy.
3. Steff: A classmate who's in love with Freakazoid, but can't stand Dexter.  As a parody of Superhero culture, they play with this Lois & Clark dynamic a lot early on.  As shown in 'The Island of Dr. Mystico,' this dynamic is even more confusingly-silly.
4. Roddy: He's a Scottish Computer Programmer (voiced by Craig Ferguson) who has ties to Freakazoid's origin.  He plays a bigger role in the second part of the show.
5. Ingmar: who's introduced as a mostly one-off bit.  The joke: he's a Mute Butler who Freakazoid doesn't watch.  All he can do is wave ineffectively in the background.
6. Professor Jones- Ingmar's replacement is a snooty, but loyal man who doesn't like indignity.  Voiced by the late Johnathan Harris, he's privy to a running joke about the Actor's most famous character- Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.
7. Your Announcer: Joe Leahy voices the show's Announcer.  He likes to chime in when he feels like it and actually acts as a Character in one Episode (I won't say which).  If you ever wanted to see an Animated Narrator playing a real (animated) person *playing a character,* this is your show.
Of course, no hero is complete without his villains.  Rather than having to make my own composite image like I did for The Monster Squad, someone already did...
The show's insanity is really highlighted by the villains it features.  Cave Guy is a super-strong Country Club snob who talks like Thurston Howell.  Candlejack is a spectral entity that appears when you say his name and likes to say 'boo.'  Longhorn is a criminal who got radical plastic surgery to look like a bull and wants revenge on Nashville for rejecting his demo.  Invisibo (who, sadly, only appears twice) is an Egyptian Noble who's invisible and talks like Vincent Price.
Sometimes even the one-off villains are wacky in origin alone.  Arms Akimbo, for example, is a former Male Model who's a criminal since his arms have locked in the 'Akimbo' position.  No, really.
There is something that has to be discussed as well.  There was a controversy when the show Debuted that it was a rip-off of the comic Madman.  I don't agree, but let me just put up this comparison shot all the same.
There are also some differences between Season 1 and 2.  In the first Season, Episodes were made up of three to four segments.  The reason for the multiple parts was to highlight Shorts for ancillary characters.  It's what they did for all of the other shows.

For Freakazoid, you'd get to see The Huntsman, The Lawn Gnomes (sadly, a one-off), Fatman & segments where Freakazoid teaches you Norwegian.  By now, you should realize that I'm not making that last one up.

In summary, Freakazoid is a weird, wacky piece of my childhood.  It has very little continuity, very little common sense and very little to complain about.  As an adult, the show still holds up.  If you can accept that it's not to be taken seriously, you can have a great time.  What other show features Cameos by the President of the MPAA?  What other show features a guy who looks like Lon Chaney Jr and actually transforms into the Wolfman (in fake time-lapse to boot!)?  What other show features a new car for its character, followed by a fake commercial for it (mocking the Cartoon As A Way To Sell Toys cliche)?  Hell, what show could combine a parody of Amadeus with a Guest Appearance by famous Home Repair Guru Norm Abrams?!?  If you haven't seen Freakazoid, you need to.  It's a work of ridiculous art that crazy people like me love.
Got a Cartoon that I haven't featured yet?  If so, shoot me a comment and I'll give it a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment