The Good, The Bad, The Butt-Ugly Martians

by Paul Younghusband

The year is 2053. I’m grey and old (or possibly bald…but definitely old) and enjoying my retirement. But my afternoons spent reminiscing of the "olden days" when 3D animation was all done by people (and not killer robots) are about to be interrupted. That’s right -- the Martians are coming!

2T, B-Bop and Do-Wah do the Butt-Ugly Martian salute. © Mike Young Productions.

The Evil Emperor Bog has decided to invade earth, and he has sent teenage aliens B. Bop-A-Luna, 2-T Fru-T, Doo-Wah-Diddy and their robot canine, Dog, to take over our humble little planet. Unfortunately, there’s a slight problem. The youthful Martians have no real intentions of enslaving the human race -- they have a far stronger desire to experience Earth's pop culture...things like root beer floats and Britney Spears CDs. And when they discover that Earth is even better than they thought, they decide to stay and protect our planet from the evil scum of the universe.

As you’ve probably guessed by now this isn’t a premonition of the future -- it’s a description of Just Entertainment, Mike Young Productions and DCDC Studios latest action/adventure/comedy 3D animated television show Butt-Ugly Martians. The first 26 episode series is a U.K./U.S. co-production, and it will air in the U.K. on CITV in January 2001. But as I discovered, the Butt-Ugly Martians aren’t just invading our television screens (oh yeah, and our planet), but they’re also taking over the World Wide Web too.

A New Twist
Most TV shows have promotional Websites -- they can play an integral role in attracting viewers and providing information about the show -- but the producers of Butt-Ugly Martians took a different approach. "From the beginning of the creative process, we developed the television series with a strong Internet component in mind," says Wilf Shorrocks, CEO and founder of Just Group. "Kids are far too savvy today to be satisfied with a traditional promotional Website. It’s easy to get their attention but producers must push the boundaries and explore new territory to ensure that we keep their attention -- and that’s exactly what we promise to do with Butt-Ugly Martians, both literally and figuratively speaking!"

So the producers of Butt-Ugly Martians developed their Website side-by-side with the television show. This means that the online presence is not just a promotion of the TV show, it’s an extension of it. And as Bill Schultz, producer of Butt-Ugly Martians explains: "Today’s kids’ familiarity, if not fascination, with the Web makes the reference points in the show that much more relatable. In addition, the series is very high-tech in look and feel, with numerous space-age characters, gadgets and vehicles -- all very consistent with the high-tech aspect of the Internet."

But how did the creators create a Web presence that raises the bar and truly is an extension of the TV show? We’re constantly being told that everything starts with the story, and in this case, that couldn’t be truer. "We write each show to integrate some kind of unique Web-related storyline into each episode," states Bill Schultz. "And we’re constantly traveling between outer space and cyber space in our minds in order to provide maximum entertainment value to both the viewing audience and the Web visitor," adds Wilf Shorrocks. This means that Web visitors will have a reason to watch the TV show, and TV viewers will have a reason to visit the Website. It isn’t TV show and Website integration, but more a mutually beneficial coexistence -- they work together in a fun and entertaining way.

Co-Habitation In Action
Take the television show, for example. When the Butt-Ugly Martians decide to stay on Earth they turn Zapz, an abandoned Laser tag emporium, into their home base on Earth. And in cyberspace, you’ll find that Zapz also represents the Web environment for the Butt-Ugly Martians Website. Web surfers can play a variety of arcade games similar to those on the TV show and in doing so can score "Martian points." Butt-Ugly Martians’ very own technical officer, 2-T Fru-T acts as Webmaster for the site, and also as a tour guide. 2-T gives commentary and advice as Web browsers plough through the site unscrambling words and definitions in the Gibberish Decoding System, playing cool games and solving puzzles.


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