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What Happened to The Terrible Thunderlizards?

Animato #27 Fall/Winter 1993 Pg 25

by Joseph A. Reboy. Reprinted with permission of the author. Thanks Joe!

    When the second season of EEK! The Cat premiered on Saturday Sept. 25, 1993, the long-awaited sub-series, The Terrible Thunderlizards failed to materialize. Also absent were the shorts described in the previous issue by Savage Steve and Bill Kopp which were to have featured the Squishy Bearz and the supporting cast of players in the EEK! Universe.
    Cutter1.jpg (6288 bytes)What happened? Where did the title EEK! and the Terrible Thunderlizards get to? Where indeed did the Thunderlizards themselves get to? The answers are an interesting look at the way an animated series evolves.
    The change in direction for EEK! occurred from an animation glitch. In the interim between the first and second interviews, changes happened which altered the format of the series.
    "There was a time when the series was supposed to be EEK! and The Terrible Thunderlizards, so that's why we were going to do two fifteen minute shows per half hour, so we could introduce a spin-off called the Thunderlizards," explained Holland.
    "Then EEK's numbers were really high, and Margaret Loesch, who runs the Fox Kid's Network said, ‘Well, why should we screw around with EEK! which is doing well, so let's make Thunderlizards specials and introduce them next year as their own show,' and I was even more upset about that with my huge head (read 'Ego') I'd rather have two shows than split up EEK!.
    "So then,Thunderlizards came back (from Nelvana Animation Studios), and one of the characters was the wrong color. You know how these things go away for like six months, we have model sheets, but we hadn't seen them moving, and once it moved it was totally wrong."
    "So we have to re-do six of our Thunderlizards shows, and that can take a long time, and now we're behind schedule on Thunderlizards. So, Margaret said since we're going to get them back during November during Sweeps Weeks, EEK! will introduce his new friends, The Terrible Thunderlizards. Then next year, they'll split up into EEK! The Cat and the Terrible Thunderlizards. Does that make any sense to you?" concluded Holland.
    Holland's remarks suggest that EEK! is facing a third season. "EEK! did very well last year, and a couple of times was even Number One rated for all of Saturday morning. We were really darn happy about that."
    This however failed to address the issue of the one or two minute shorts featuring the EEK! supporting characters, such as the "Squishy Bearz Rainbow of Enchanted Fun Minute," which was to have been a weekly cliff-hanger.
    "I think we thought we had more time than we did. To put in that Squishy Bearz minute was going to cut into the EEK! humor, and so we didn't want to give that up. We actually did a couple of those, and we intercut them into the show, so it's like EEK! is watching them on the TV. It's just like last year where the Squishy Bearz get into some really ridiculous situation," said Holland "For instance, this year we really had this Squishy Bearz minute that was really great. It was originally called 'There Are Spiders All Over Me,' but they wouldn't let us do thal We [did] make one where Pierre just had to go to the bathroom real bad, and it sounds really gross, but it's not that at all. We incorporated that into the beginning of the episode, where Eek! ends up in their world. And you'll just have to see it to believe it. But we got a great Squishy Bearz that we really worker hard on that we got to cut into the whole EEK! show, and it worked really well. You gotta love those Squishy Bearz. We put them in a lot. We have this one called ‘Night on Squishy Mountain' in which they have their own Squishy Bearz Theme Park where they have rides like 'The Giant Hole' and 'The Lake of Dirt,' and 'The Lawsuit Waiting to Happen Roller Coaster.' It's all very silly, and I think you're going to like it."
    The EEK! merchandising blitz that was promised months ago has so far only produced a stuffed EEK! the Cat, and that has not been supported by any advertising of any sort. Savage Steve speaks highly of the EEK! plush. "The EEK! doll is really great. There are some T-shirts coming out soon that are really neat. He's sort of hard guy to grasp into, and we don't want to be accused being Ren and Stimpy or Beavis and Butthead, or anything like that. Eek's thing is really just being nice, and how do I you translate it into a t-shirt? It's not easy."
   doc2.jpg (8120 bytes) The delay in merchandising was the result of a strange catch-22 scenario for a Saturday morning cartoon. You aren't on prime time, so not enough people watch you, therefore, it doesn't benefit the network to okay deep merchandising. So how does a show such as EEK! get around that situation? Simple. Find a holiday, and do a prime time special. Savage, who already had made a Halloween special for the Mars Candy Company, had made a Christmas episode in the first season of EEK!, which was something of a standout since it featured the entire episode done in rhyming verse. This year, he was given the task of doing yet another heart-warming story.
    "The prime time special is so cool. It's going to be on some time around December 5th. We get to do a few more jokes. On Saturday morning, you can't get away with much. We have Bobcat Goldthwaite in it, and William Shatner is playing Santa Claus, which is pretty funny because you know how dramatic he is. 'Look-Elmo-We-Can't-Get-Christmas-Out-Of-The-Way [is the title]. It's just great. The Barbie Twins are in it. It's a hilarious cast of characters, I think you'll be pleased. This one is very very funny. Sharky the shark dog (who appears to be a major player this season) is heart-broken because he wants to be with his family of evil shark dogs at Christmas. EEK! decides to see if he can find Santa to see if he can find out where Shark's family is, and they go on a little journey."
    The Savage Studios has altered in a major way. Bill Kopp, the marvelous talented cocreator of EEK! and Savage's long-time co-worker is no longer officially a part of the studio.
    "Bill is trying to make his own show. He's done this really great show for Disney called 'Shnookums and Meat.’ He wants his own show, which I don't blame him. He and I have worked together on like 6,000 different things, and a lot of it always ends up where I get it started so my name is first, but Bill is the much more talented animator, and the guy deserves his own show .... he's won two Academy Awards. Somehow I've lucked into these things and so when it has animation involved, my first phone call is to Bill. So, I think Bill sees all this stuff he does in my stuff becomes very successful.squat.jpg (9046 bytes)
    "It's sort of like Paul [McCartney] and John [Lennon]. If you ever said Paul McCartney was the genius, and we all know John Lennon had a lot to do with it too, and that's what made the Beatles great. I think people get frustrated. But it's incredibly amicable, and he's still going to voice EEK!. He's my best friend. We still hang out. I have a deal at Fox, and he doesn't have a deal at Fox, he has a deal at Disney. It's not going to be competing with EEK!, it's going to be part of the Marsupilami half-hour."
    Changed character colors and with held merchandising haven't seemed to affect Savage Steve Holland. His enthusiasm for his work is just as strong, and his success at Fox means we can look forward to at least another two seasons of Savage humor.