Joseph K. Bevilacqua highlights what's new in animation for the U.S. 1998/99 television season, from CBS to Cartoon Network.
One year after the United States federal government began enforcing its requirements for television stations to air three hours per week of educational programming, only a handful of cartoon shows can actually claim they are meeting the mandate. The best is Science Court, which is now transforming into "Squigglevision." However, there are plenty of high quality shows. Stalwarts such as The Simpsons, Rugrats and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist have been joined by equally well-written shows such as King of the Hill, Daria and Bob and Margaret. CBS is filling their animated Saturday morning lineup with shows based on children's books and Nickelodeon's first ever half-hour animated series The Wild Thornberrys will debut as part of the network's new prime-time block for kids, the Nickel-0-Zone.
More cartoon shows than ever before will soon be gracing your TV screens. The 1998 fall season features animation of nearly every conceivable genre from subtle to broad comedy, from experimental shorts to derivative action-adventure half-hours. The only style that seems to be still missing is serious drama. But why complain? The so-called "animation boom" of the early 1990s has finally arrived eight years after it was reported to have occurred. Here are the highlights of what we can expect!
Last season, CBS switched to news and live-action "FCC-friendly" shows. Their ratings went into the basement. This season they are taking their cue from ratings leader ABC's Saturday morning line-up by creating an animation block of 30-minute shows aimed at young viewers and produced entirely by Canada's Nelvana Limited. All but one show is based on popular children's books. As you will see as you read on, Nelvana is responsible for more TV animation than any other company today. CBS's new Saturday morning season premieres Saturday, October 3rd at 8:00 a.m. (ET), 7:00 a.m. (PT).
Flying Rhino Junior High is based on the books written and illustrated by Ray Nelson and Douglas Kelly and revolves around the antics of Earl P. Sidebottom (a.k.a The Phantom of the Auditorium). Birdz is an original comic adventure series about a family of birds, which centers around their mischievous ten-year-old Eddie Storkowitz. Franklin is a turtle learning how he fits into the world and how the world fits him. It is based on books by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. Anatole,based on the book series by Eve Titus, centers on a dignified mouse who's a loving husband and father to six charming children. Dumb Bunnies is based on Dav Pilkey's Scholastic books and centers on a family of lovable, fun loving, and extremely naïve bunnies. Mythic Warriors: Guardians Of The Legend is from the paperback series, "Myth Men," by Laura Geringer, illustrated by Peter Bolinger and published by Scholastic. It is about a modernized Mt. Olympus where Perseus is a master kickboxer and Iole dons a punk haircut.
Disney's ratings powerhouse "One Saturday Morning" block premieres September 12 at 8:00 a.m. (ET), 7:00 a.m. (PT). The schedule starts off with their highest profile show, Disney's Hercules, an outgrowth of Disney's 1997 animated feature film, which chronicled the lifelong exploits of the mythical hero. The series expands upon the Greek demigod's feats during his formative, hero-in-training, "high school" years. The voice cast includes the film's Tate Donovan, James Woods, French Stewart, Sandra Bernhard, and Diedrich Bader, along with an amazing roster of guest stars including Jason Alexander, Jennifer Aniston, Lou Gossett Jr., Merv Griffin, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Harvey Korman, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), Lisa Kudrow, Heather Locklear, Wayne Newton, David Hyde Pierce, Charles Nelson Reilly, Carl Reiner, William Shatner and Betty White. Fifty-two episodes will also premiere in syndication, Monday-Friday, beginning August 31. (Check local listings.)
"Squigglevision," referring to the trademark animation style of creator and executive producer Tom Snyder, will take the wit and appeal of Science Court and expand upon it by adding math and vocabulary elements to the series. With the help of two new animated characters, Fizz and Martina, viewers will now be guided through the half-hour program from the Squigglevision TV studio. If the show is as well-written and funny as Science Court this show should be a winner.
Disney's Doug, Recess, Pepper Ann, and 101 Dalmatians: The Series all return with13 new episodes each. Disney's Doug will also be seen in syndication Monday through Friday beginning August 31. (Check local listings.) Reruns of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will continue for the new season as well. Some of the vintage shorts onThe Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show include Homeless Hare, Ain't She Tweet, Bunny Hugged, and Trick or Tweet. Schoolhouse Rock, the Emmy Award-winning, three-minute, animated vignettes, rounds out ABC's children's programming lineup.
Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Springer, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ed McMahon, Mark Hamill, George Carlin, Martin Mull, Fred Willard, the musical group the Moody Blues and sports casters John Madden and Pat Summerall are among the guest voices on the 10th season of The Simpsons.The season premiere is scheduled for Sunday, September 20 at 8:00 p.m.. Fox moved King of the Hill to Tuesday nights in July hoping to use it to anchor the evening. Since the end of last season Fox has been ending each show with a "The Hills are moving to Hollywood" teaser. Some fans thinking it is real have been outraged. Will the Hills really move to Hollywood or is it just a publicity stunt? I'm not telling. Both The Simpsons and King of the Hill are some of the best written and acted animation on TV today. Fox is adding three prime-time animated shows to its mid-season, early 1999 schedule. The first of these is The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening's Futurama, which has been picked up for 13 episodes. The comedy series will be produced by Twentieth Century Fox in association with Groening's Curiosity Company. Groening will be executive producer. Rough Draft Animation, a studio based in Los Angeles and Korea, which does Simpsons production work has been selected as the sole production company. Newcomer Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, is a surprise entry into the marketplace. While Futurama and The PJs were planned and in production, Family Guy is a relatively unplanned pilot by MacFarlane, a 24-year-old graduate of Rhode Island School of Design who was recently discovered by Fox executives. MacFarlane's student film first brought him to Hanna-Barbera's attention where he made Larry and Steve, a What A Cartoon! short for Cartoon Network in 1995. Then what was started as a short for MAD TV blossomed into a 13-episode, prime-time pick-up. David Zuckerman has been hired as an executive producer along with MacFarlane. Zuckerman was previously an executive producer on King of the Hill. Roy Smith, formerly of Saban, and Peter Shin, formerly of Klasky Csupo, will be co-animation producers, and John Bush, formerly of Hyperion, will be line producer.
Another new show is The PJs (time TBA) with Eddie Murphy as the voice of the super of the Projects (the PJs.) The show is a satirical look at urban family values in a big-city housing project that will attempt to skewer "cultural stereotypes, sacred cows and notions of political correctness." The PJs is the first prime-time series to be created in "foamation"--the technique used by Will Vinton Studios (California Raisins, Nissan commercials). Murphy is producing the series, with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer as executive producers. Let's hope all three of these new series live up to Fox's tradition of prime-time success.
Fox Kids Network, which runs weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings on Fox, has a vamped-up 1998-99 schedule which includes eight new animated series starting in the fall. New to the Fox Kids Saturday morning lineup will be Mr. Potato Head (Film Roman/Chiodo Bros.) which combines computer generated imagery (CGI), puppetry and live-action production technology; Godzilla: The Series(Columbia TriStar) which picks upwhere the blockbuster movie ended; Woody Woodpecker (a new remake from Universal), Mad Jack (Saban), Silver Surfer (Saban) and Captain America (Saban). New to weekday afternoons will be Scholastic's The Magic School Bus (Scholastic/Nelvana), Spy Dogs (Saban) and Oggy and the Cockroaches (Gaumont) which will be combined with Space Goofs (also Gaumont) as The Space Goofs and Oggy Show. Current shows being renewed for 1998-99 include Steven Spielberg Presents Toonsylvania (DreamWorks), Life With Louie (Hyperion), Spider-Man (Saban), Ned's Newt (Nelvana) and Sam & Max (Nelvana). NBC Testing out this prime-time fad, NBC began airing the animated series Stressed Eric in their Wednesday night prime time line-up starting on August 12. This is the first time NBC has aired a regular prime-time animated series since The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo aired on Saturday nights during the 1965/65 TV season. Stressed Eric, a co-production of Absolutely Productions, the BBC and Klasky Csupo, stars a British main character with a strong accent, so NBC has re-dubbed the track with an American voice actor (Hank Azaria) to make the dialogue more comprehensible to its American viewers.
Kids' WB! "Batman, Batman, everywhere!" This should be Kid's WB's new slogan. First there is The New Batman/Superman Adventures which will air Saturdays from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. and Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.. The Caped Crusader will be featured in all new adventures for the Saturday morning show but will rotate repeats of Batman: The Animated Series and The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the weekday version. The characters in the new Batman have a distinct look in order to differentiate the show from the series' two previous incarnations in an attempt to make it clear that each of these three series is set in a different time frame. The Superman half of the show follows the legendary "man of steel" in all-new episodes set in present-day Metropolis. But hold on to your batbelts! There's even more "caped confusion" with an entirely separate Batman series set in the early part of the 21st century. Batman Beyond is an all-new futuristic chapter in the world-renowned legend of Batman. The new millennium has dawned and Gotham City has embraced the future, becoming an enormous megalopolis etched in neon with sleek futuristic vehicles and behemoth people movers. It's a city molded by corporate master plans, corporate wealth, and occasionally, corporate greed. In an environment such as this, corruption lurks just below the surface of order, waiting for the opportunity to break through and get a toehold from which to flourish. Monday through Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 11:00 a.m., WB presents Warner Bros.' Histeria! which presents historical subject matter in an amusing way while trying to fulfill the FCC educational programming requirement. Crazy characters such as Father Time, Big Fat Baby, Loud Kid, Mr. Smartypants, and Lydia Karaoke visit with such figures from the past as Joan of Arc, William Shakespeare, or Abraham Lincoln. Brats of The Lost Nebula is a new sci-fi adventure series from The Jim Henson Company and combines puppetry and computer-generated imagery supposedly in a way never before done for television. It's yet another show about good versus evil, as if there weren't enough of those on the air already. Brats will air Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Columbia TriStar's "aliens live among us" comic adventure Men In Black: The Series(based on the hit movie)begins its second season,airing Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. Warner Bros. classic characters, Sylvester and Tweety, return for all-new escapades of The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries (Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.). Just as Disney is compelled to slap its moniker on nearly every cartoon show it owns, so does Steven Spielberg. What name value the great director of Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan brings to children's cartoon shows is a mystery. Some "Steven Spielberg Presents" shows have come and gone (Freakazoid, for example) butSteven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs continues toairMonday through Friday at 7:30 a.m. and Steven Spielberg Presents Pinky & The Brain,Monday through Friday at 3:00 p.m. Now WB adds Steven Spielberg Presents Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain (Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.). After ACME labs is destroyed Pinky and The Brain seek refuge in a pet store where they are bought by the overzealous pet-lover Elmyra, of Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures fame. It's kind of sad that the perfect duo formula of Pinky and the Brain will be spoiled by this loud-mouthed, rehashed character. The WB Network (prime-time) will also try out a pilot based on the syndicated comic strip Baby Blues during the `98 holiday season, testing it out for a possible series. PBS
After taking home an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program, Arthur kicks off the series' third season on PBS, with 15 new programs and 50 encore broadcasts of favorite episodes from previous seasons. The daily, animated half-hour programs are based on Marc Brown's popular children's books about an aardvark. Arthur is brought to public television by WGBH Boston and CINAR Films and will premiere Monday, November 16, 1998.
Cartoon Network Ed, Edd n' Eddy premieresNovember 16 at 8:00 p.m. The half-hour series tells the story of three best friends who band together to tackle life's most daunting challenge--puberty. Ed, Edd n' Eddy was created by Danny Antonucci, creator of Lupo the Butcher and director of a.k.a. CARTOON inc., located in Vancouver, Canada. The Powerpuff Girls,premiering November 18 at 8:00 p.m., is based on animator Craig McCracken's two original cartoon shorts produced for Cartoon Network and Hanna-Barbera's World Premiere Toons project. The series is produced by the same animation team behind Dexter's Laboratory.
Space Ghost Coast to Coast kicked off its fifth season on Friday, August 7 at 11:30 p.m. (EST/PST). Some of the guests interviewed for this season include supermodels Tyra Banks and Rebecca Romijn, actor/director Ben Stiller, directors Jim Jarmusch and Kevin Smith,comedian Garrett Morris and a lot more.
Dexter's Laboratory,Genndy Tartakovsky's story of a boy genius who creates fantastic inventions in his beloved laboratory will air new episodes Monday through Friday at 7:30 p.m. beginning August 31. Dexter's Laboratory was Cartoon Network's highest-rated series of both 1996 and 1997. Twenty-six new episodes of Cow and Chicken, from veteran animator David Feiss, will follow the further misadventures of the surreal pair of siblings. Cow and Chicken airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. starting September 1. The new season of Johnny Bravo will be broadcast on Mondays and Fridays beginning August 31.
Beginning this fall, a west coast U.S. feed of Toon Disney will be made available to cable affiliates in both the pacific and mountain time zones. Currently available in more than six million homes, Toon Disney's fall programming slate will include seven additional series. 101 Dalmatians, Quack Pack, Mighty Ducks, Gargoyles, The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Hello Kitty and Friends will join the Toon Disney schedule in September while Care Bears will be added in October.
Disney Channel makes its first foray into completely computer-generated animation with its new series for young children, Rolie Polie Olie, debuting October 4. Renowned children's book author and illustrator William Joyce created this 13-episode weekly series, produced by Nelvana Limited. Joyce was recently named one of the 100 people to watch in the next millennium by Newsweek magazine. Rolie Polie Olie follows the touching, tumultuous and sometimes hilarious world of Olie, a simple robotic "everyboy" who lives in a magical, mechanical world.
Nickelodeon's first ever half-hour animated series The Wild Thornberrys will debut as part of the network's new prime-time block for kids the Nickel-0-Zone. From Rugrats creators Klasky Csupo, the series follows the adventures of girl hero Eliza and her quirky family who travel the world from Africa to the Amazon in search of exotic, endangered and mysterious animals to star in their nature documentaries. The show will air Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) starting September 1.
Catdog,which chronicles the comical misadventures of a unique creature with two heads, one body and no trace of a tail, will premiere on Monday, October 5 at 5:00 p.m. (ET/PT). A guest appearance by country singing legend Randy Travis and Helga's admission of her undying love for Arnold, kick-off the third season of Hey Arnold! airing Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) beginning August 31. Kablam!, the alternative animation anthology series, returns for a third season with a new segment and three specials. The new episodes debut on Friday, September 4, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT). One of the new segments this season, JetCat!, is based on Jay Stephens' Dark Horse comic book trilogy Land of Neil, which was recently nominated for an Eisner award, the comic book industry's highest honor. The three specials are Life with Loopy Birthday Galabration on October 23, a Valentine's Day special with The Off-Beats in February 1999 and a special with Henry & June in March 1999.
Punctuating the new season of Rugrats episodes is the addition of a new Pickle to the fold. The Rugrats' lives change forever in an episode entitled "The Family Tree," which premieres Monday, September 21 at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT). The episode will repeat on Saturday, September 26 at 8:00 p.m. in SNICK and Sunday, September 27 at 10 a.m.. "The Family Tree" is the cliffhanger episode to The Rugrats Movie which will be released Thanksgiving 1998. Rugrats, created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain, was the highest-rated children's program on television for the 1997-1998 season.
The Angry Beavers kick-off all new episodes with an "Angry Beavers Halloween" special airing on Monday, October 26 (Time TBA). Angry Beavers will also premiere with new episodes in SNICK (Saturday nights) throughout November. Steve Burns and the gang return for all new episodes of Nick Jr.'s, Blue's Clues beginning Monday, October 12 at 9:30 a.m. (ET/PT) as well.
Launched in July 1998, Oh Yeah! Cartoons Sundays at noon- ET/PT) is a unique cartoon laboratory that introduces three new characters every week. Created by Fred Seibert, the series is meant as a place where new animation talent and seasoned veterans can create something new and exciting. Similar in concept to his `What A Cartoon!/World Premiere Toons' series on Cartoon Network, "Oh Yeah!" is aimed at younger children. The result is a series less annoyingly loud and "in your face." Most of the shorts are subtle and well executed. Some, such as Max & His Special Problem, are brilliant. The idea of trying out "one shot" cartoon shorts before committing to a series was inspired by the old Warner Bross days. Like the early Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, Oh Yeah! has more misses than hits, but if Nickelodeon can commit to the show for the long haul and let these animators develop their craft, they may just have a hit on their hands.
Little Bear is based on the children's books by Else Holmelund Minarik with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. Little Bear tells the story of a young cub taking his first steps of independence, always under the gentle guidance of his caring mother. The 30-minute series airs four times per week on Nickelodeon. Rupert first appeared in Britain in the pages of Express Newspapers, over 75 years ago. The white bear, known by his red sweater and yellow checkered trousers and scarf, has generations of fans and is loved by children everywhere for his values of courage, kindness, honesty and loyalty. The 30-minute series airs four times per week on Nickelodeon.
Fox Family Channel
News Corp./Saban co-venture Fox Kids Worldwide has very animated plans for its newly-acquired cable network, The Fox Family Channel which launched on August 15 with a kids' daytime schedule that includes 50% original, first-run programming. Following the lead of competitor's success with program packaging, Fox Family Channel will debut with a slate of four themed, "branded" daytime blocks. "Morning Scramble" for kids of all ages, will include the animated series Wowser (Saban), Bit the Cupid (Saban), Little Mouse on the Prairie (Saban), Eek!Stravaganza (Nelvana), All Dogs Go to Heaven (MGM Animation) and the live-action series Pee-Wee's Playhouse (Don't miss those great animated "Penny" sequences!). The second block, "The Captain's Treasure House," is aimed at pre-schoolers with animated shows like The Magic Adventures of Mumfie (Britt Allcroft Productions) and Tabaluga (EM-TV). "Tic Tac Toons," an all-animation block, will feature Bobby's World (Film Roman), Saban's Oliver Twist (Saban), Heathcliff (Saban), The Real Ghostbusters (Columbia Tri-Star), and Classic Harvey Toons (Harvey Entertainment). The last kids block of the day before family-oriented prime-time programming starts is "The Basement," which will premiere the animated series Bad Dog (Saban), Monster Farm (Saban), Water Melon (Saban) and Badaboom (in development at Saban), a compilation of outrageous animation.
A recent addition is Donkey Kong Country, a real-time, 30-minute animated series based on the successful Nintendo game, premieres on the revamped cable channel, Sunday, August 16. Medialab puppeteers worked with 3-D animation motion-capture technology to create Donkey Kong Country's unique look. Donkey Kong is an easy-going, peace loving ape who has a big heart but a small brain--a bit of a boob-in-the-woods. Fox Family Channel also has a lot of new shows in development, so expect additions to their program throughout the season.
Pippi Longstocking is the story of the rambunctious nine-year-old with the active imagination and pigtails that defy gravity based on the cult classic children's books and movies from Sweden. Pippi Longstocking premiered Saturday, July 4 and airs Saturday and Sunday mornings at 7:00 a.m. HBO is also expected to launch a 25-part animated series called A Little Curious in January 1999. Produced by Curious Pictures, the show will feature mixed-media, CG, cel and stop-motion animation.
Bob and Margaret is based on the 1995 Academy Award winning short film Bob's Birthday, created by husband and wife team David Fine and Alison Snowden. The show focuses on the ordinary lives of a middle class dentist and his foot-doctor wife. Although some might be challenged by the British dialect, Bob and Margaret is a brilliantly subtle and funny show. The middle-class story lines transcends any country's border. The series premiered June 22, 1998. Only 13 shows have been produced so far but they will be stretched out, with frequent repeats, for the entire season.
Bob and Margaret is paired with the CableACE Award-winning series Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist, now in its fifth season, to form a Monday night programming block. Bob and Margaret airs Mondays at 10:00-10:30 p.m., Saturdays at 6:00-6:30 p.m. and 2:30-3:00 a.m., and Sundays at 12:30-1:00 a.m. (ET/PT). Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist airs Mondays at 10:00-10:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00-3:30 a.m., Sundays at 12:30-1:00 p.m. and Monday through Friday at 8:00-8:30 a.m. and 1:30-2:00 p.m. (ET/PT).
It's the return of a "fecal icon" and more, as six new episodes of South Park began August 19. Episode topics include: an independent film festival comes to South Park; Kenny contracts chicken pox; the kids build rival clubhouses; Mr. Garrison takes his class to the new planetarium; South Park citizens begin spontaneously combusting; and the annual rodeo pulls into town. This series offers the worst that television can spoon out. It is nasty and badly produced. The creators have confused mean-spiritedness and sarcasm for genuine humor, and the acting is amateurish and nearly inarticulate. However, it remains amazingly popular. South Park airs Wednesdays at 10:00-10:30 p.m. and 1:00-1:30 a.m., Saturdays at 10:00-10:30 p.m. and 2:00-2:30 a.m., and Sundays at 12:00-12:30 a.m. (ET/PT).
MTV: Music Television
MTV will continue mixing new and old episodes of Celebrity Deathmatch, Eric Fogel's outrageously violent claymation series where clay figure renderings of today's biggest stars are pitted against each other in a ring. Although the show is meant to comment satirically on the icons of contemporary culture and the claymation is fun to watch, it is difficult to recommend any television that, show after show, constantly bombards the viewer with the idea that conflicts should be solved through aggression and violence. Celebrity Deathmatch airs weeknights at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT).
It is hard to believe that such charming and well-written shows as Daria and King of the Hill would have started life as spin-offs of something as awful as Beavis and Butt-head, but it is true. Daria chronicles the experiences of 16-year-old Daria Morgendorffer, who lives in a new town, Lawndale, with her stressed-out, career-fixated parents and her relentlessly cute and popular younger sister. MTV will continue to air repeats of Daria and plans new episodes soon. It airs Monday nights at 10:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Cartoon Sushi, the showcase for acquired animated shorts from the U.S. and abroad, as well as pilots created in MTV's own New York-based animation studio, airs Thursdays, 10:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
There are several syndicated shows returning with new episodes including 3-D computer generated Beast Wars (premieres the week of September 14) from Claster Television and Sachs Family Entertainment's Zorro (premieres the weekend of September 19). New traditionally-animated syndicated shows include Claster Television's The Lionhearts (premieres the weekend of September 19), which revolves around the domestic life of Leo the Lion and his lion family and Sachs Family Entertainment's Monkey Magic (also premieres the weekend of September 19), which is based on one of the most beloved Chinese classic masterpieces.
Another new show from Mainframe Entertainment (Beast Wars) is War Planet which is being syndicated by The Summit Media Group. With a budget of $18 million for 13 new episodes this innovative CGI series looks like a hit and a success with the toy manufacturers as well. Summit is also bringing to U.S. syndication Robocop Alpha Commando, The New Adventures of Voltron: Defender of the Universe, and Japan's popular Pokémon.
Syndication leader Bohbot Kids Network's weekday schedule features a mix of old and new shows: Jumanji, based on the Robin Williams movie; Extreme Dinosaurs, about annoyingly hip dinosaurs; Mummies Alive! where the spirit of an ancient Egyptian resides in an ordinary 12 year-old boy; Pocket Dragon Adventures, "where wizards, magic and mischief abound;" Action Man, centering on an international top secret agent; Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys with super intelligent monkeys battling the evil NEBULA for a second season; Extreme Ghostbusters, the second season of yet another Ghostbusters rip-off; Street Sharks featuring four brothers who have been mutated into half-shark, half-human creatures; Highlander - The Animated Series, based on the original Highlander movie; Mighty Max, the curious 11-year-old boy who has been chosen to rescue the world; The Mask - The Animated Series based on the Jim Carrey movie; and Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog, featuring that hip, irreverent and impetuous creature.
Sundays from 8:00-10:00 a.m., Bohbot Kids Network presents: Princess Gwenevere And The Jewel Riders which returns for a third season; Double Dragon, featuring masked twin super heroes who defend Metro City; Ultraforce, a futuristic, science-fiction series; and Skysurfer Strike Force, another action cartoon that returns for a third season.
For the first time in 40 years, Mickey Mouse will be animated in new cartoons by Walt Disney Television Animation in a show called Mouse Works. The show will package new cartoons featuring Mickey, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, into 13, weekly 22-minute episodes scheduled for release in early 1999. In the development of the show, Roy Disney, currently vice chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Company, has been working closely with Disney TV's L.A.-based senior vice president Barry Blumberg and executive producers Roberts Gannaway and Tony Craig. As in the early Mickey Mouse "Silly Symphony" cartoons, music is established as the driving force to provide reference for character motion and movements. At present Disney has not decided which of its many outlets will air this new show.
Last year, the "What a Cartoon!" anthology on Cartoon Network promised two cartoons by John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy, starring Ranger Smith of Jellystone Park. Yogi and Boo Boo are also coming along for the ride. At press time Spumco is still producing these cartoons for broadcast later this year. If they turn out as good as the storyboards I've seen, it will be worth the wait.
Dilbert, the corporate everyman and cartoon hero of the workplace, makes his television series debut in the animated prime-time comedy Dilbert. (January 1999). The television series is based on the comic strip created by Scott Adams that makes it seem funny and okay for the corporate world to keep the little guy down. Voices for the series include: Daniel Stern, Chris Elliott, Kathy Griffin, Gordon Hunt, Larry Miller and Jackie Hoffman.
The WB Network has ordered 13 episodes of The Downtowners, an animated series developed by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein for Castle Rock Television. It is slated to air as a prime-time show in fall 1999. The show is described by WB as "the first prime-time animated comedy to focus on the lives of twentysomethings and teens." It will star four roomates living in a downtown loft in a fictional big city, and their assortment of colorful friends and neighbors. This is the first animated series to be developed by Castle Rock's Television unit, whose live-action credits include Seinfeld.
Bill Cosby will team up with Nickelodeon to produce an animated preschool series called Little Bill, based on a book series authored by Cosby. Little Bill will premiere in the fall of 1999 on Nick Jr. Cosby's series will investigate life through the eyes of a five-year-old boy who is on a quest to understand the world.
As part of a multi-year deal, Fat Dog Mendoza will be the first of two original series co-produced by Sunbow Entertainment and Cartoon Network Europe for air in 1999. The series is described as a hilarious blend of the bizarre and familiar but at press time, no further details were available about the show.
Joseph K. Bevilacqua, a protege of Daws Butler (the voice of Yogi Bear), is a veteran radio comedy writer, producer, actor, as well as cartoonist. His programs have aired on public radio stations nationwide since 1980 and have been honored by The Museum of Television and Radio as part of their "Contemporary Radio Humor" exhibits. He is currently developing animation scripts with his wife and creative partner, Lorie B. Kellogg. Their comedy can be heard in RealAudio and seen in comic strips on their web site, "Joe & Lorie's Comedy-O-Rama.