The Birth of Disney Afternoon. Executive vice president of Disney television animation since 1985 at that time Gary Randolph Krisel told Broadcasting and Cable magazine in its November 15, 1993 issue: “Everyone was telling us not to do (Disney Afternoon cartoon block), that we were crazy if we thought we could reshape the viewing habits of the marketplace. The conventional wisdom during the early 1990s was that it was a boys action marketplace, with such shows as G.I. Joe and Transformers dominating the ratings. Our belief and experience with the Disney library product has been that it holds a timeless and universal appeal with both boys and girls, the latter of which had been almost completely ignored in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“It all pretty much started when I was sitting in (Michael) Eisner’s living room with a dish of Gummi Bears sitting on the coffee table. Eisner remarked that his kids couldn’t stop eating the candy. We started making up this whole myth and legend about this funny-looking candy. The show that developed scored healthy demographic ratings among boys and girls and went on to a four year run (1985-1988) before going into syndication.
“It gave us the confidence to swing for the fences in the potentially lucrative syndication market with DuckTales (1986) with the then-unheard of production cost of $350,000 to $400,000 per episode. The show ranked atop all kids programming, with 7-9 rating averages among key boys and girls demos. By the time we got to our second show with Chip’n’Dale, there was no doubt we could do it in an hour block with DuckTales.”
Breaking Glass. Batman – The Animated Series story editor Paul Dini told interviewer Bob Miller for the Comics Buyer’s Guide #990 (November 6, 1992) “I know, for instance, that they’re (Fox’s Standards and Practices) not going to allow Batman to shove someone’s head through a plate glass window and rub his neck on the broken glass. On the other hand, that may not be something that I want to show, anyway.
“There’s always another way of doing it. He doesn’t have to make every appearance by smashing through a window. We did that in earlier shows, and they asked us to curtail it. But in a later show, I have two characters talking, and offscreen you hear a smash, and they run into the living room, and there’s Batman and there’s a broken plate glass window. So, you know he didn’t open the door and slam it. It’s implied. You learn what they really won’t allow and you write around it.”
Animated Proposals. In US Magazine in January 1994, Abby Terkuhle, executive producer of Liquid Television, MTV’s half hour animation showcase stated, “The success of Beavis and Butt-head has been a driving force for underground animation, and we’re trying to find out what else might work.”
Potential series that he was considering included: The Dangwoods (“your typical white trash trailer-park family”), Grunt Brothers from Danny Antonucci (friendly aliens who don’t quite understand earthly ways “Our hero might fall in love with a lamp. People thought we couldn’t get dumber than Beavis and Butt-head. They were wrong.”), Genie and Junkie (a 1990s slacker who meets a charismatic specter), Big City (a modern rap opera about the adventures of a woman who moves from African to an American metropolis by Ed Bell. “It’s all about family and how you gotta have it and how the African-American community sorely lacks it”), and Rico and Klein (a “beatnik” version of Beavis and Butt-Head). “We like to think that we’ve created a living laboratory for animation,” said Terkuhle. “It’s going to be a huge part of the information stream we keep hearing about – a superhighway to the imagination.”
In development was John R. Dilworth’s Smart Talk with Raisin featuring a creepy snaggle-toothed little girl, her ogreish little brother and her orphaned dog with low self-esteem. “My goal was to take all those unpleasant experiences you remember from childhood and make them really funny,” said Dilworth.
Role Models. When singer Anthony Kiedis (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers musical group) was asked in US Magazine November 1993 who his role models were, he didn’t hesitate to reply, “Beavis and Butt-head because there is no one that I know with a more focused philosophy.”
Where Are the Kids? “It’s Saturday morning: do you know where your children are? According to Nielsen ratings, 600,00 fewer children watch network TV on Saturday mornings this season than last. About 300,000 now watch cable. The rest are unaccounted for,” stated TV Guide in its December 12, 1992 issue.
Disney Legal. “Old Igor Stravinksy, back around 1937, found himself approached by the Disney Studio about using his composition The Rite of Spring in Fantasia (1940). ‘The request was accompanied,’ he wrote in a letter I recently came across, ‘by a gentle warning that if permission were withheld the music would be used anyway (as it was) not copyrighted in the United States’.” Wrote Celia Bardy in SPY magazine November 1992.
Stravinksy did officially grant a right to use the music in 1939. However, in 1947, the composer sold Booney & Hawkes all remaining rights to the music. In 1993, the company sued Disney for use of the music on videotape (released in 1991) claiming that the 1939 license was explicit and that Disney could only use the music in the motion picture theatrical releases. It was “a use neither authorized nor even contemplated by the 1939 license”. Jody Pope, the lawyer for the London based publisher told the press, “(Stravinksy) abhorred what Disney did to this work. The public is deluded into thinking it is a fair rendition of ‘The Rite of Spring’.”
Over 14.2 million copies of the cassette were purchased making it the biggest selling “sell through” VHS up to that time. The United States district court ruled in favor of Boosey & Hawkes in 1996 but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in 1998.
Comic Book Beck. One of Cartoon Research editor Jerry Beck’s teenage friends (they met in class at John Bowne High School in Flushing, NY) was Murad Gumen, son of Cracked “Mazagine” artist Sururi Gumen.
This led young Murad to using Jerry Beck’s name (and likeness) in various pieces as he began his career as a writer and cartoonist (he later became a staff artist for Disney licensing in New York). Murad first included Beck’s name in a Cracked parody (in Cracked #156, December 1978) of the television series Three’s Company (as “Three’s Crummier”). (“I have a good friend down at the police station! Just ask for Jerry Beck.” “Oh, he’s a detective?” “No, he’s a convict.”)
Murad later used Beck’s name, likeness (at the time, sans glasses), referenced his hobbies (comics and old movies) and named his employer (at the time, United Artists) in a spoof of Battlestar Galactica (the original version). This appeared in Marvel’s Crazy magazine #48, from March 1979, as “Battlestar Galacluster” – where Jerry’s caricature is assigned to explore a nearby planet some “Cyloons” may be occupying.
To further embarrass Jerry – I’m reprinting the entire story below (scans courtesy of Mark Arnold – author of Think Pink: The Depatie-Freleng Story). Click pages to enlarge:
Danny Antonucci also created the hit series Ed Edd and Eddy about three neighborhood pals Ed (who’s the scam artist of the trio) Edd (aka Double D a total neat freak) and Eddy (a total dimbulb who’s into horror and sci fi flicks and has a younger sister named Sarah who’s angry attitude make Lucy Van Pelt of Peanuts looks like a angel) along with the rest of the gang Jimmy (the paranoid kid who Sarah protects like a rabid mother hen) Johnny 2×4 (whose best friend is a plank of wood named Plank), Kenny (the tough kid in the Cul-De-Sac) and the creepy Kanker Sisters (who is always chasing Ed,Edd and Eddy.
Out of the four original Disney Afternoon cartoons Ducktales and Chip n Dale’s Rescue Rangers (not to be confused with Lassie’s Rescue Rangers animated by Filmation) were the longest running of the entire foursome of the series..
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears were replace with the Ducktales spinoff Darkwing Duck in season 2 of TDA.
Goof Troop replaced Ducktales in season 3 and in season 4 Bonkers replaced Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers. Season 5 seen the arrival of The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show (which was the first “Sick and Twisted” cartoon ever produced by Disney) who shared duties with Gargoyles and Aladdin (with Dan Castellaneta taking over the role of the Genie from Robin Williams)
Season 6Goof Troop,Bonkers,Aladdin and Sharing the final half hour slot was The Lion King’s Timon and Pumba. filling the slots and in the final season (season 7) the TDA Darkwing Duck,Aladdin and Gargoyles (and again sharing the last half hour of the block) The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa,Quack Pack and The Mighty Ducks were shown.
You got Ed and Eddy mixed up. ED is the tall dimwit with an unusual obsession with chickens and gravy, while EDDY is the small greedy brat who is always coming up with scams.
Ironically at the same time Disney had a comic strip version of The Adventures of the Gummi Bears which ( in almost everyone’s including my opinion ) was funnier than the tv series that first aired on The Disney Afternoon and later on NBC.
Sometimes that happens. Don’t suppose any newspaper in my neck of the woods carried that. Having a Disney strip seemed like such a nice luxury once up on a time.
While I’m know The Disney Afternoon was a great success, no station in my town would commit to giving a whole afternoon to it (Toledo, OH), so I ended up seeing some of these cartoons either during the morning or afternoon hours on two separate channels. That sort of familiarity was lost on me simply due to scheduling, so it always felt odd to me when someone calls it “The Disney Afternoon” since that’s not how I saw them. I wouldn’t be alone in that dept. since I’m sure that’s how most viewers outside the US had saw it too, or had seen it in another format.
Most of these MTV pilots cited were seen during the last season of Liquid TV (except for The Brothers Grunt which was first aired as part of an animation weekend block on MTV around ’94), it certainly felt like the after effects of Beavis & Butt-head’s success had rubbed off on the series and suddenly the usual fare of indie/student works and other film festival gems were pushed aside for these newcomers. I rememember watching these quite well, wondering if The Dangwoods or Rico & Klein would actually make series at all, but I guess that wasn’t to be. Genie Junkie was an unusual premise for a cartoon. Didn’t think Big City was a pilot personally, certainly not in the same mold as the rest narrative-wise.
To save some people the trouble later (though these could get yanked at any moment, couldn’t find Rico & Klein, sadly, MTV didn’t consider it worthy enough to stick that on VHS back when they released some of these shorts on home video)!
Big City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc3EJIDtgXk
Genie Junkie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MM4Plma33M
The Dangwoods: https://youtu.be/jKc2_QIO0Yo?t=5m44s
Smart Talk with Raisin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5vGJEJwIWE
The Brothers Grunt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILD3qiPO_D0
Speaking of The Dagwoods, around the same time that was developed, John Lamb and Russ Mooney put together a pilot involving a trailer park of their own called “Flamingo Court”, and I’m only linking to this since I wish this had been picked up anyway!
*waits to see Jerry’s reaction to Jim posting the Battlestar parody from the Magazine that Dares to be Dumb.
Jerry has an incredibly good sense of humor about himself or else he wouldn’t have allowed this to have seen print. We often forget what a celebrity Jerry is and how often he has been on television.
Maybe in the future, I will run the Jim Korkis in the Comics. In Groo the Wanderer #7 from Pacific Comics in 1984 Mark Evanier had my name as an unfortunate village where there was so much looting, pillaging and devastation that even Groo wouldn’t go there. Mark also had me (with my caricature by Dan Spiegle) mistaken as a possible secret identity of the Blue Falcon in Dynomutt #2 (Marvel 1977). Mark was kind enough to give me the page of original art as my wedding gift and I was able to retain it after the divorce. Writer Mark Verheiden had me as a briefly seen villainous first mate in The Phantom #6 (DC Comics 1989) delivering toxic chemicals to the jungle.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Each week I learn something new from Jim Korkis’ Animation Anecdotes. Only Jim could have dug up this footnote from my sorted past. (And thanks to co-conspirator Mark Arnold for un-earthing these comic masterpieces). Perhaps Jim can now help me locate my high school report cards, birth certificate and health records. 😉
Thanks Jim – and count me in, as one who would like to see your caricature as the Blue Falcon in Dynomutt #2.
Murad Gumen certainly seemed to be channeling Mort Drucker in that Galactica spoof. I recall he wrote a CBG article where he was promoting a movie he was making, casting himself as a sort of superhero.
And his dad toiled for years as Alfred Andriola’s assistant/ghost on the “Kerry Drake” comic strip, getting no credit till very late in its run.
Outside of The Brothers Grunt, none of those other MTV proposals got greenlit, did they? Or am I wrong?
No, but Smart Talk with Raisin somewhat morphed into Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Nope, none at all.
The best MTV could do was release most of these pilots on VHS as part of a 2 volume release of Liquid TV material. The Dangwoods, Big City and Smart Talk With Raisin were on Volume 1, while Genie Junkie was placed on the second volume.
Strangely, Rico & Klein was nowhere to be seen, either it slipped through the cracks or limit on how much material they could release on those tapes prevented it from getting a second home. I do remember the plot a little. Klein was some down-and-out beatnik who was getting ready for a poetry reading at the Hiroshima Club (whose neon signage is obviously a mushroom cloud). He meets up with Rico, who taught an ESL class, trying desperately to get his students to learn the proper lingo (“Please to lay some java on me?” is the correct way to ask for coffee). They both visit a laundromat only to find his clothes for the night were gone, replaced with a woman’s skirt and bra, and an owner who was pissed at Klein for not taking his stuff out of the dryer that weren’t even dried since he didn’t have the money at the time, resulting in him doing his poetry in drag while the owner kept his clothes until he could cough up the dough.
Noticed someone uploaded the episode that has it in, though sadly it’s pretty terrible quality, but if you don’t mind, skip to the first minute and check it out!
I see Daria’s producer (and possible co-creator) Glenn Eichler was behind Rico & Klein’s writing, no wonder I liked it!
No, but Smart Talk with Raisin somewhat morphed into Courage the Cowardly Dog.
That dog pretty much was a proto-Courage at that! In some way John R. Dilworth was able to bounce back, much like Danny Antonucci did with Ed. Edd & Eddy for another network. Another Dilworth effort for MTV that also saw an airing at least one time was “Angry Cabaret”.
BTW, the voices in Smart Talk with Raisin, though left uncredited, perhaps for legal/union reasons included Cheryl Chase and June Foray. I forgot who else at the moment, though sadly you can’t even find these names on IMDB anyway (and for a long time, I wonder how played the incidental characters in Disney’s Robin Hood before I noticed those names showed up there). You can thank Jerry Beck for having a part here!
In some way, the pilots were an early start in what was the first years of MTVs animation unit, obviously set up pretty half-assed while Beavis & Butt-Head was getting off the ground and continued for at least a decade to come.
Sadly a lot of the networks who had Saturday morning cartoon programming decided to elimated them from thier networks (with the exception of NBC/Telemundo who’s airing animated programming from PBS Sprout, Univision airing as part of thier Planeta U block Pocoyo from Spain Sesame Amigos (a combination of Seasme Street and Mexico’s Plaza Sesamo and Disney Junior’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny and FNX (a station dedicated to Native American/First People programming) airing The Lakota Berenstain Bears and Wapos Bay to make room for infomercials and local and national news programs. And the weekday (both morning and afternoon) cartoon programming that aired on the local channels are now extinct including the shows that once aired on Kids WB (later The CW) and FOX. What I miss the most was “The Saturday Morning Preview Extravaganza” that aired the night before the new season which shows the new Saturday Morning cartoon and live action shows that are set to premiere on the networks that year and the returning shows that are renewed for broadcast for that season.
Sadly a lot of the networks who had Saturday morning cartoon programming decided to elimated them from thier networks (with the exception of NBC/Telemundo who’s airing animated programming from PBS Sprout, Univision airing as part of thier Planeta U block Pocoyo from Spain Sesame Amigos (a combination of Seasme Street and Mexico’s Plaza Sesamo and Disney Junior’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny and FNX (a station dedicated to Native American/First People programming) airing The Lakota Berenstain Bears and Wapos Bay to make room for infomercials and local and national news programs.
Speaking of minority/ethnic language stations, I recall at time in the late 90’s when Univision had a block called “De Cabeza” that featured Spanish-dubbed versions of mostly anime titles like Tenchi Muyo and Lost Universe. I recall Telemundo aired the Mexican dub of Dragonball Z, though apparently didn’t get all the episodes necessary and kept repeating the Cell arc too many times.
And the weekday (both morning and afternoon) cartoon programming that aired on the local channels are now extinct including the shows that once aired on Kids WB (later The CW) and FOX. What I miss the most was “The Saturday Morning Preview Extravaganza” that aired the night before the new season which shows the new Saturday Morning cartoon and live action shows that are set to premiere on the networks that year and the returning shows that are renewed for broadcast for that season.
Those are forgotten times these days. It made autumn a lot less depressing me when it came to the new Fall Season and getting that preview at the start.
“Wrote Celia Bardy in SPY magazine November 1992.”
That would actually be “Celia Brady”, Spy’s infamous pseudonymous entertainment industry reporter.
Return me my 12! I don’t want to go to work and pay damn bills. I want to watch all day Disney’s cartoons!!