The last issue of TV Guide--the one with The Simpsons in groovy, ghoulie
green on the cover--hints on a dark secret of the animation world. When it
comes to the holidays, us 'toon heads really don't give a damn about
Christmas, Hanukkah or Thanksgiving. The big one's Halloween.
There's just something about putting your fave cartoon character through
them spooky paces, whether it's Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo or the
current kings of the creepy, Homer and family. Animators just love scaring
the daylights out of the characters, and Halloween is the perfect excuse to
do just that. To top it, you get to play with all the B-movie cliches we've
all grown to know and love such as aliens, werewolves, the mandatory
vampires and let's not forget those oversized apes and experiments that
just go wrong. The Simpsons will air their ninth annual Treehouse of Terror
this weekend. It's just this time Bart better be ready -- he's in for some
competition from the Angry Beavers.
"It all started out as a regular episode with the Beavers being big fans of
B movies," says series creator and executive producer Mitch Schauer, "but I
kept pushing and pushing to do a special. Finally, Nickelodeon was nice
enough to let me do it. So what started out as a regular show has now ended
up as a tribute to Hammer horror films. In fact, next year we already have
a commitment to do another special called I Was A Teenaged Beaver."
That's right, on Monday, October 26, Nickelodeon has graciously let Schauer
and company put Norbert and Daggett--aka the Beaver Brothers--into a
haunted house. Also, true to animation form, the Beavers are going to be
assaulted by all things big and creepy, most notably B-movie actors.
One might even say this is Schauer's way of doing his own Treehouse of
"Yes," Schauer acknowledges, a tad sheepishly for being caught when the
Treehouse reference is brought up. "It's a lot of fun. It's something I
have a lot of love for, even as a kid. Now I have an opportunity to express
myself about it."
The basic scenario of the half-hour special is Norbert and Daggett do what
every cartoon character in their right mind should be doing on Halloween
night, be out trick or treating. For some reason, they decide to hit up the
big haunted house that just happens to be part of the local color. Quite to
their shock, they find the house is populated by no less than Oxnard
Montalvo, their favorite B-movie actor of all time.
What do you mean, you never heard of Montalvo?
"He's a cross-section of a lot of B movie heroes," says Schauer. "Jeff
Morrow, John Agar, Peter Graves, the honest-to-god heroes who had their
hair drenched in Vitalis with the mandatory curl in the front. They were
always in the big suits with the great ties and all had girl friends who
wanted to marry them but for unspoken reasons never wanted to or just plain
ignored these B movie starlets. In other words, they were all very heroic,
but really buffoons. After all, the hero is the only one who takes his job
seriously. No one else does."
"Well, the Beavers love him. He's their favorite B movie actor. They're big
fans of him. They have all his movies on video tape but one. By the end of
the show, they know where he's coming from and appreciate him because they
get to experience something they never get to see."
So, does that mean the Beavers get to take on upside-down ice cream cones
with fangs and tentacles like It Came From Outer Space? You better believe
"There's a couple of them in there," says Schauer. "We also have a golem and
a flying demon called Keilor. We got plenty of monsters rampaging through
the house. Oxnard also has a lot of girl friends who all look alike. Alan
King did the voice of Oxnard and we even got Peter Graves to do the voice
of the cynical, typical army general. John Byner did the voice of the mandatory alien. We also had William Shallett, who played Patty Duke's dad in
her TV series. What most people don't know was he also played a lot of mad
scientists in those movies. He even came to the rehearsals in a lab coat."
Then again, this special shows why Nickelodeon has been having a lot of
success with the Beavers.
"We've been doing very well," says Schauer. "We're in our second year and
not only are we getting kids, but we're crossing over to college students
and adults due to the Beavers' love of everything retro. The adults get the
references such as the Tijuana Brass that we use to underscore the sound-
track while the kids are into the silliness."
If you notice a touch of Rocky & Bullwinkle in the Beavers approach, you
wouldn't be too far off. Sure, Schauer had paid his dues doing some of the
lowest dreck that would ever be created in the animation world, ranging
from the likes of the old Pac Man, Star Fairies, Pound Puppies and Superfriends cartoons, but his resume shows that whenever he got a shot at a
decent series such as Danger Mouse spin-off Quackula, he was there as well.
The man worked with Friz Freling on the Pink Panther, so he's got some good
blood in his veins.
But things really took off for Schauer in the early 90's. At that time he
was working at Film Roman, where he was put in charge of design for their
new series, Bobby's World. In fact, the character of Bobby is actually
based on Schauer's then four year-old son, not series co-creator Howie
Mandel. From there, Schauer jumped to Gunther-Wahl where he produced the
still respected Red Planet miniseries. It was during this time he came up
with the idea for the Beavers. While it took Gunther Wahl some time to get
that series off the ground--in fact Schauer did the first season of Steven
Spielberg's Freakazoid! while waiting--Nickelodeon finally bit and the
series made its debut on April 19, 1997.
From the looks of things, Schauer will be working on the Beavers for a
while to come.
"Well, we just pitched a movie to the execs in New York," he says. "We were
told that if the Rugrats movie does well, then we'll get the green light.
So I'm wishing them well and keeping our fingers crossed.
"As for the series, we're planning to do a pompous rock opera called The
Golden 8-Track. What happens is they find this 8-track and put it on their
headset because they are both so small they can both wear it. From there,
we get to do takeoffs on Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues,
Jethro Tull and even a little King Crimson. All the most pompous stuff the
70's ever produced. So the 8-track takes them to this world very much out
of Fantasia where they have to deal with a King--King Crimson, of course--
and a court jester and everything else. Oh god! Just the scratch track we
have is a lot of fun and we haven't even produced the lyrics for it yet."
If anything, The Golden 8-Track could end up being one of the biggest cult
cartoons ever produced. You see, for this one Schauer is calling in every
favor and getting out his big guns.
"We submitted some material to Jeff Lynne of ELO and he's very excited
about doing it," Schauer gloats. "He's even called up some of his friends
such as Roger Daltry to sing on it. He's not promising anything yet, but he
says he's going to try to get Ringo Starr to do a bit. We don't know if
that's going to happen, but you keep your finger crossed."
Let's hope it does. Heck, if the Golden 8-Track ends up anywhere near what
Schauer is dreaming about, it could end up being more scary than all the
best B movies rolled up in one.
Now wouldn't that be a heck of a way to spend a Halloween night?
MAINFRAME SIGNS DEAL WITH RODDENBERRY: Mainframe Entertainment--home of
such shows as Beast Wars, War Planets and the upcoming Weird-Ohs--is at it
again. They've just signed a deal to produce a CGI-animated series based on
another Gene Roddenberry project, called Starship. As anybody who reads
this webzine knows, Roddenberry was the creator of Star Trek. His properties are now being developed by his widow, Majel Barrett Roddenberry. One of
these ideas is now the syndicated series Earth: Final Conflict. Starship
promises to be something entirely different.
"The fertile imagination of Gene Roddenberry was without doubt as vast and
diverse as the galaxy in which he set Star Trek," says Mainframe CEO and
Vice Chairman Brough. "Within that one historic television show, and the
subsequent motion pictures that were spun off from it, Roddenberry created
many concepts that have become permanently ingrained in the popular cultural consciousness of the world. It is our intention to use the production
magic of 3D CGI animation to breathe life into Starship and to give audiences that special kind of entertainment experience they expect from a
project that bears the Roddenberry imprimatur."
In commenting on their new venture with Mainframe, Roddenberry and Semper
noted, "Gene is no longer with us, but if he was, there is no doubt that he
would be using the latest technological tools of the cinema to continue his
exploration and celebration of his Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations philosophy. Gene Roddenberry's Starship is to be that celebration.
Based upon his concept of a vast starship built and launched to explore
scientifically the reaches of the galaxy. It is, at its very core, the
latest evolution of Gene's imagination in which once again the fortunate
viewer will be taken where no one has gone before."
The treatment for Starship was developed by Majel Barrett Roddenberry and
John Semper and was written by Semper. Both will serve as executive
producers along with Brough and Mainframe President Ian Pearson.
Pre-production activities including animation tests, character modeling and
production design have begun at Mainframe's animation studios. It is anticipated that the series will begin production in mid-1999.
previous animated shorts
|Animated Shorts, Oct. 16, 1998
|Animated Shorts, Oct. 9, 1998
|Animated Shorts, Sept. 18, 1998
||Oggy and the Cockroaches: animation a la Francais!|
|Animated Shorts, Sept. 4, 1998
||Kids WB fall lineup!|
|Animated Shorts, August 28, 1998
This site is part of the AnotherUniverse.com Network.
AnotherUniverse.com, Mania Magazine, etc. is TM & © 1997 American Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All promotional art, characters, logos and other depictions are TM & © their respective owners. All Rights Reserved.
back to top