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Eekstravaganza Update

Animato #35 Summer 1996 Pg 13 Judith Reboy

Reprinted with permission of the author. Thanks Judy!

    A new cast of characters were added to Savage Steve Holland's Eekstravaganza this season. Klutter, a segment about the misadventures of a pile of junk brought to life by static electricity and the kids who own the junk, was added to the show in the 1995-96 season.
    Fans may have noticed that it looks to have as much in common with The Critic than Eek! The Cat or The Terrible Thunderlizards. According to creator/executive producer/writer Savage Steve Holland, that's no coincidence. The show is a collaboration between Film Roman. "When The Critic was canceled, I inherited every single crew member for Klutter, including the director, Brian Sheesley. Hence any similarity. The one extra Film Roman person is, of course David Silverman of The Simpsons who's really a big part of the show. As a matter of fact, I've left most of the design, timing, boarding, etc. to David and Brian, and I couldn't be happier with the results."
   Tar and Away.JPG (52325 bytes) While the animation style may be Film Roman, the scripts and characters are pure Savage Steve Holland, a perfect mixture of madness and sweetness. There's Mr. and Mrs. Heap, the loving but clueless parents of Klutter's owners. Dad is a newspaper reporter who constantly bemoans that he lives in the most boring town in the world ... while an explosion, a flock of escaped zoo animals, a car crash and an alien invasion surround him. Then there's that sign on the road construction site that reads, "Your tax dollars annoying you."
    Klutter himself is a MacGuffin. The real stars of the show are the kids, who blessedly talk and act like real kids. Ryan, the oldest, whose hair color changes every other episode like Dobie Gillis, earnestly tries to be a reporter like his dad. Fortunately, he's much too innocent to see that when Dad only gives him his newspaper's "dead files" in an attempt to get rid of him. Naturally, these wild, tabloid type stories inevitably turn out to be true, but also naturally, the kids can't convince anybody that they are. Quiet middle kid Wade speaks with the bluntly honest deadpan tones that only a small child can use.
    Their preschool age sister Sandee sometimes feels isolated by being the youngest and the only girl. Before Klutter comes into their lives, the poor kid, unable to find anyone to play with, tries to pull herself in her little red wagon, dejectedly saying, "Whee." Next door neighbor Vanna is bright, a little bossy, and usually exasperated when things go awry because the other kids failed to heed her advice.
Tne early episodes deal primarily with the kids' attempts to take Klutter along on outings without the grown ups, particularly Dad, who would probably develop an allergy to Klutter by virtue of the fact that he can be classified as a pet. Later segments have gone on somewhat stranger tangents, which Holland describes as "Scooby Doo-esque mystery elements."
    However, unlike Scooby Doo and his pals, if Klutter and the Heap kids find a ghost or an alien, or an angry brain sucking mutant potato creature, they won't find out later that it's really some guy in a suit trying to scare them. It's really a ghost, alien or killer spud.
One name that would not be associated with Klutter, at least on the creative end, is Savage's longtime friend and collaborator, Bill Kopp. At the time that Klutter began production, Kopp had an exclusive contract with Disney to create, write and produce The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show. elmo02.jpg (42806 bytes)
    It seems almost unbelievable, since Kopp had been such an integral part of the show's other two segments. He is co-creator of both Eek! The Cat and The Terrible Thunderlizards, as well as supervising producer on the early shows, and the voice artist behind several major characters, including Eek himself.
    Fortunately for all concerned, the prospect was just as inconceivable to Holland and Silverman. (Kopp, Silverman and Tim Berglund, director of Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat provided the animated segments for Holland's live action feature, One Crazy Summer.) So they decided that if Kopp could not participate as animator or voice artist, they would include him as a character.
    "When David Silverman, myself and any of our friends get together, we spend most of our time talking about, laughing at, and drawing Bill Kopp behind his back," cracks Holland. "We spend so much time doing this we figured we might as well make 'Kopp' a cartoon character that highlights the real Bill Kopp's motto for life, 'Get those women and children out of the way! I have to live!"'
    The animated Kopp is a pre-adolescent pal of the Heap kids. Not to imply that the real Kopp's image takes its usual beating at his pal's hands, but in the first eight episodes, he's been forced to surf across the Heaps' front lawn (in drag), gnawed upon by giant slugs in a tank at the aquarium, and kidnapped by a mad scientist with intent to experiment, to name just a few dilemmas.
    He's portrayed as (ahem) not terribly bright. In the pilot, he tries to sell lemonade at a roadside stand for $100 a glass so that he only has to sell one to turn over a tidy profit.
    The real life Bill Kopp has had a reversal of fortunes since his somewhat downbeat interview in ANIMATO #33. As he predicted at that time, Shnookums and Meat was not picked up for a second season by Disney, and was taken out of rotation on The Disney, Afternoon.
But happily, he recently signed a deal with Fox, according to Holland. This prompts yet another typical Savage Steve response, "They are threatening to put him right next to me. L have no idea what he's doing here but I am very afraid." He'll also continue to do voices for the Eek and Thunderlizards segments because, in Holland's words, "the shows would suck without him."
    Kopp has had some heavy duty company in the sound booth for Eekstravaganza. One of the show's trademarks is some high powered guest voices. Among the familiar voices that have graced the show are: Kathy Ireland as Huggy, a possessed "Precious Moments" type statue; Heather Locklear as Eek's obsessed (as in Fatal Attraction) new neighbor; Phil Hartman and Gary Owens as a cast of thousands; and Mr. T as the Thunderlizards' occasional field commander, Mr. T-Rex (ouch!).
    Holland stresses the importance of a strong voice cast. "I think these guest stars are what help differentiate Eek from the other zany, kooky (see: loud and annoying) cartoon voices."
    While he speaks well of virtually everyone who has worked on the show, he clearly has a particular fondness for William Shatner, who was Santa on the 1993 prime time Eek! Christmas Special and, more recently, the strangely familiar Captain Berzerk in Eek Space 9. "Mr. Shatner has us on the floor when he comes in to record because he REALLY wants to make his character exceptional. He literally gets red in the face trying to give us the best character voice he can muster. It's incredible to watch,"
    EekSpace 9 also featured Gillian Anderson and David Duchovney in character as Scully and Mulder, a casting coup that predated more celebrated appearances on ReBoot and The Simpsons. (Scully has a change of heart when she encounters the Zoltarians, the slimy aliens who have been trying to blow up the Earth since season one's Eek Vs. the Flying Saucers)
    Strangely enough, this is only the latest in a series of crossovers between the two shows. A major X Files fan, Holland was both surprised and pleased when Eek and Annabelle appeared in the first season X-Files Episode Eve. He wrote an X Files parody called Eex Files as a thank you. (On a personal note, this episode also features the return of Shardy the Magical Dancing Piece of Glass in direct response to this writer's request while Savage and Bill interviewed with my husband for Animato #26. Thanks again, guys!)
    Effective with the February sweeps, Eekstravaganza has left its longtime Saturday morning home in favor of a weekday afternoon slot. Here's hoping that the change expands the show from beloved cult hit to the mainstream popularity it deserves.