Animated Series That Never Were. You can’t make this stuff up. In 1987, Filmation was actively promoting a new animated series called “Bravo!” According to the publicity release: “It is a fast-paced, high spirited stunt filled comedy adventure overflowing with love, laughs, thrown pies and characters falling off cliffs at the drop of an anvil. Our stars often slip out of character and make wisecracks directly to the viewing audience.
“Our stars are a group of round and furry characters called THE FUZZY FOLKS who are led by our hero, Bravo. He’s upstanding and brave…a furry good guy who happens to be able to fly…sort of…when he flaps his feet. But he hasn’t made a three point landing yet. In other words, he’s somewhat of a klutz.
“Bravo and his group have one goal. They must journey to the distant past to stop a mean and evil (and, when it comes right down to it, wacky and incompetent) plant person named BitterRoot from changing the course of history.
“But Bravo’s quest, which takes his group back to the Fuzzy Folk Stone Age, is not quite as serious as it sounds. The villainous BitterRoot with his high voice, short fuse and fussy mannerisms has qualities far more colorful and amusing than the traditional villains, nit-picking, noisy and nasty he may be, effective he is not.
“Yes, this is a show packed with laughs and fun galore. But, as always in Filmation programming, special care has been taken to provide “Bravo!” with high social moral values that will be both entertaining and instructive to our young audience.”
Actually, this was a spin-off of the Filmation BraveStarr series and the pilot made it on to DVD as a bonus feature on Volume one of the BraveStarr DVD. It was entitled “Quest of the Prairie People” and it is embed below – submitted for your approval:
Walt Disses Hanna-Barbera. With his move to NBC and color in 1961, Walt Disney was feeling a little irritated when he discussed the new challengers of television animation in the May 27-June 2, 1961 issue of TV Guide. When asked about Hanna-Barbera’s success, Walt responded, “(The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, etc.) use a technique which we tried and discarded many years ago. We cartoonists call it ‘cheating’ –and that’s a technical not a derogatory term. Instead of the painstaking process in which we use hundreds of frames of film to portray a single sequence of motion – say, Donald Duck running into a stone wall – they give the illusion of motion with just a few frames.
“They move only the character’s feet and not the rest of the body. Also, instead of showing the details of their character’s crash into the wall, they’ll give you the sound of the crash off screen and then cut to the character at the base of the wall.
“With our full action once more becoming seen by the public, their techniques might not be able to stand the comparison. They’re bright boys with good ideas, but we’ve got a lot of bright boys with good ideas, too. Not only that, our characters are better known to the public – and they’ll be in color besides.”
No Ads! Lillian Friedman (Astor) who began her career as an inbetweener in 1930 on Cy Young’s independent short Spring Song and then moved to the Fleischer Studio in 1931, worked briefly with Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) on some early advertising films using animation, including one for Listerine. However, for the most part, they were never shown because theater owners didn’t want to screen product advertising as part of their show. Lillian had become an animator, after some time as Shamus Culhane’s assistant, in 1933 on Betty in Blunderland.
Disney Animation Day. On June 9, 1984, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared the day as “Donald Duck Day” in the city in honor of the duck’s birthday. On November 21, 1981, Mayor Bradley declared the day “Disney Animation Day” in “recognition of past and future accomplishments of the Disney animators”. The proclamation cited the Disney animators “for their pioneering efforts in the use of sound and color and for their devotion to quality entertainment”.
Cartoon Favorites in Roger Rabbit. The original plans for Who Framed Roger Rabbit was not to use any animated characters created after 1947 (the penguin waiters in the Ink and Paint Club are supposedly actual penguin waiters and not the ones from Mary Poppins). One exception was the Road Runner who debuted in 1948 because it was one of director Robert Zemeckis’ favorites. “He’s just so great we had to have him,” rationalized Zemeckis who put the bird in the crowd scene. He did resist including Rocky and Bullwinkle.
One of Spielberg’s favorite characters is Disney’s Thumper the rabbit so he was made Roger’s uncle and Spielberg suggested the animators to give both characters the same mouth but that suggestion was ignored. Actor Bob Hoskins’ favorites were Heckle and Jeckle and a scene was scripted with the pair but dropped before filming.
Hoskins on Roger Rabbit. Los Angeles Herald Examiner for June 23, 1988 quoted actor Bob Hoskins about his experience working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). “It was like hallucinating, bouncing off the walls,” said Hoskins. “the whole thing was the craziest experience – all wired up by puppeteers. I do parts because there’s a risk. The risk here was you can fall flat on your arse and that’s why I took this part.”
Bakshi Speaks. Animator and director Ralph Bakshi in the November 1982 issue of American Premiere magazine said, “Animation is a way to look at subject matter that’s already ‘tried’ in live action. People are basically disarmed by animation, so you can reach them on far more levels.”
Pee-wee Playhouse Animation. From the Los Angeles Times June 29,1988, Dave Daniels, who invented “Strata-Cut” animation that was used in the “History Lesson” sequences on Pee-wee’s Playhouse television series, said, “Pee-wee is the only chance anyone gets to do this kind of experimental work for a network audience. Most children’s animation has its form limited and you can’t expand beyond what’s already known. Here, we were given that chance and the economics were right. There was enough money to do it, but not enough to pay for a lot of backtracking and reshooting that would make things sterile.” Oskar Fischinger used a similar slicing technique to make films but Daniels said he developed his systerm inspired by the layers of a multi-colored clay cake his sister made when they were children.