October 19, 2019

BUNNICULA

BUNNICULA
(Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boomerang SVOD, February 6, 2016-December 30, 2018)

Warner Bros. Animation


MAIN CAST:


             Bunnicula is a children’s book series created by Deborah and James Howe. The titular character was a rabbit found by the Monroe family—father Robert, mother Ann, and brothers Peter and Toby--in a theater during a screening of Dracula; leading to Ann coming up with his cute name. Bunnicula was an odd rabbit: possessing fangs instead of the normal buck teeth, able to get out of his cage without using the door and could also open the refrigerator on his own, and instead of eating vegetables he would use his fangs to suck their juices out of them leaving a white husk behind.

The first Bunnicula showing Bunnicula and Harold.


            Although Bunnicula is the title character, the series is actually told from the perspective of the Monroe’s dog, Harold, and follows his adventures as he unravels the mystery of the family’s strange new pet and eventually befriends him. In fact, the story attributed the writing of the actual books to him. He also had to put up with the paranoid antics of Chester, the family’s cat, who held onto the unwavering belief that Bunnicula was truly a vampire and would turn carnivorous one day and must be destroyed. However, Chester eventually decided to befriend Bunnicula and protect him from his own nature. Although often implied and hinted at, it was never explicitly stated if Bunnicula was actually a vampire or supernatural in nature.

The 40th anniversary edition.

            The first book in the series, Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery, was published by Atheneum Books in 1979; several months after the passing of Deborah. James continued writing the series for six more entries, during which time he introduced two spin-off titles: Tales from the House of Bunnicula, which were told from the perspective of the Monroe’s second dog, Howie, introduced in the main series, and Bunnicula and Friends: Ready to Read, a series of picture books targeted for younger readers. The last Bunnicula book was published in 2007.

The VHS cover to the Ruby-Spears version.

There have been two animated adaptations of the franchise. The first came in 1982, courtesy of Ruby-Spears Productions, as an installment of the ABC Weekend Special. The second was a full-fledged television series by Warner Bros. Animation. Although both were different in their presentations, the one thing they had in common was that they decided to fully embrace Bunnicula’s vampiric nature and make it front and center. However, the show strayed even farther from the original books than the special.

Promo image featuring Mina, Bunnicula, Harold and Chester.

Bunnicula followed all-new characters Mina Monroe (named for Mina Harker, voiced by Kari Wahlgren) and her father, Arthur (named for Arthur Holmwood, voiced by Chris Kattan), as they moved into a New Orleans apartment complex left to them by Mina’s Aunt Marie, called the Orlock Apartments. With them were their two pets (whose physical appearances differed from their descriptions in the books): the dim-witted but loyal dog Harold (Brian Kimmet), and the intelligent and easily frightened cat Chester (Sean Astin). A third pet entered the mix when Mina used the key Marie left her to open a door in the cellar, freeing Bunnicula (mostly unintelligibly voiced by Kattan).

Bunnicula feasting on some carrots.

Unlike in the books, Bunnicula was once the pet of Count Dracula. Like a typical vampire, he tended to avoid sunlight, slept in a coffin, and his ears could turn into bat wings that allowed him to fly. He also used his fangs to gain sustenance; however instead of blood, he drank the juice from vegetables. Not only that, but different vegetables interacted with his supernatural physiology and granted him different abilities; such as carrots giving him enhanced vision, garlic turning him into a skeleton, eggplants turning him into a huge and hideous monster, rotten yams making him invisible, rutabagas giving him telekinesis, and more.

Mina with best friends Marsha and Becky.

Other characters included Marsha (Monie Mon), Mina’s shy and unlucky best friend who contrasted Mina’s outgoing nature and often witnessed the supernatural happenings around Mina’s home; Becky (Kate Higgins), Mina’s other best friend who had a sarcastic personality; Scott Dingleman (Scott Menville), Mina’s crush who shared many of her interests; Madame Polidori (Grey Griffin), the owner of a shop that contained many supernatural objects and who doesn’t like children or pets; Lugosi (named for Dracula actor Bela Lugosi, voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz), a deformed and insane guinea pig obsessed with serving Bunnicula to the point he becomes an antagonist; Patches the Weredude (Eric Bauza), a stray cat cursed by another weredude that allowed him to assume human form in the moonlight; and Fluffy (Sumalee Montano), a Doberman Pinscher that hunted vampires (a parody of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Bunnicula falls for a veg monster.

After airing a preview in January, Bunnicula officially debuted on February 6, 2016 airing simultaneously on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. It was developed by Jessica Borutski, who also served as a writer, character designer and producer. The 11-minute episodes typically involved Chester and Harold getting into weird adventures with Bunnicula as they encountered various supernatural problems that Bunnicula ultimately ended up solving. Mina was oblivious to the goings on around the Orlock apartment complex and the escapades her pets got into (a running gag had her wishing she could experience something supernatural). The series was written by Maxwell Atoms, Robert F. Hughes, Matthew Whitlock, Karl Hadrika, Josie Campbell, Ian Wasseluk, Darrick Bachman, Erin Kavanagh (who also storyboarded), Lane Raichert, Edward Rivera, Ben Joseph, Matt Sullivan, H. Caldwell Tanner, Brandon Kruse, Steve Clemmons, Kyle Stafford, Jordan Gershowitz, John Bailey Owen, Jesse Porter, Bryan Condon, Merrill Hagan, Dick Grunert, Carlos Ramos, Dave Polsky, Ethan Nicolle, Nick Reczynski (who also served as an editor) and Brady Klosterman. Drew Neumann composed the music for five episodes, but it was Paul E. Francis who composed the remainder as well as the series’ theme. Snipple Animation Studios and Toon City Animation handled the series’ animation duties, while Jamie Gallant animated the intro which would conclude with Bunnicula scaring off the offending entities in different ways. James Howe served as a consulting producer.

Bunnicula the skeleton.

Bunnicula ran for three seasons on an erratic schedule. After the first eight episodes, the series went on a hiatus that lasted a year. Five new episodes aired on Boomerang in a graveyard timeslot before moving to the Boomerang streaming service. It would close out 2017 back on the Boomerang network. The second season would air between the two networks, but mostly on the streaming service, while the third would air just on Boomerang before becoming available on the streaming service the following year. There was some question as to whether or not the show would get a 4th season, but an Instagram post from Borutski commemorating the final voice-recording session confirmed that it would end after the third season.

Ghostly encounters.


          Warner Home Video released the first 20 episodes of season 1 onto DVD in the 2-disc set Night of the Vegetable in 2017. A second set containing the remaining episodes was planned, but ended up being cancelled for unknown reasons. Instead, Warner opted to release the complete first season in 2018. The entire series is available on the streaming service, as well as for purchase on Amazon Prime Video through a partnership with Boomerang.          


EPISODE GUIDE (CN=Cartoon Network, B=Boomerang, S=Boomerang SVOD):
Season 1:
“Mumkey Business” (1/18/16 preview, 2/6/16) – Tired of Bunnicula’s antics, Chester decides to lock him back up in the basement when a beast attacks the apartment.

“Walking Fish” (1/18/16 preview, 2/6/16) – Playing a harmonica has Bunnicula and Harold resurrect all dead fish.

“Spider Lamb” (2/13/16) – Bunnicula and Chester take care of Harold after his surgery, but a monster emerges from the book they read him.

“Alligator Tears” (2/13/16) – A ghostly alligator looking for her missing earring spreads a crying curse through the apartment building.

“Muddy Harry” (2/20/16) – Harold befriends the mud monster that emerges from the mirror that Mina and her friends fail to summon Bloody Mary through.

“Garlicked” (2/27/16) – Chester feeds Bunnicula garlic to cure him of his vampirism, but instead it turns him into a cute dancing skeleton that the pets must hide from Mina.

“Whooo is…the Knight Owl” (3/5/16) – Chester thinks Bunnicula isn’t enough to protect the apartments, so Bunnicula brings in his friend: the Knight Owl.

“Squeaky Doom” (3/12/16) – The spirit of an evil Viking warrior possesses Harold’s squeaky toy and wants revenge against the being who trapped him: Bunnicula.

“Son of Bunnicula” (4/11/17 B) – Chester is convinced an eggplant will cause Bunnicula to lay an egg, so Bunnicula plays a prank on him by pretending to be his own kid.

“Evil Cat Videos” (4/11/17 B) – Bunnicula believes Chester’s change of personality came from his watching a possessed videotape.

“Chester’s Shop of Horrors” (4/11/17 B) – Chester comes to like a Venus flytrap that scares Bunnicula, unaware of its own sinister plans.

“Curse of the Weredude” (4/11/17 B, 10/1/18 CN) – Chester wants to become human to impress Mina, so Bunnicula introduces him to Patches the Weredude.

“Bride of Bunnicula” (4/11/17 B) – Mina’s vegetable monster is brought to life by static electricity, and Bunnicula becomes smitten.

“Nevermoar” (6/15/17 S, 10/1/18 B) – Bunnicula and Chester venture into the internet to stop an evil raven that feeds on everyone’s negativity towards each other.

“Vampire Rabbit Season” (6/15/17 S, 10/1/18 B) – Fluffy the Vampire Pointer seeks to free Mina and her pets from the control of Bunnicula.

“Hole of the Unworthy” (6/15/17 S, 10/2/18 B) – Lugosi seeks to serve Bunnicula, but first he must get rid of Chester.

“Adopt a Vampire” (6/15/17 S, 10/2/18 B) – Chester decides to get rid of Bunnicula by putting him up for adoption, but Harold ends up being taken by a kooky old lady instead.

“Haunted Dog House” (6/15/17 S, 10/3/18 B) – Mina leaves the pets out overnight in a dog house that is apparently haunted by the ghost of a playful puppy.

“Lucky Vampire’s Foot” (6/15/17 S, 10/3/18 B) – Chester steals Bunnicula’s foot to give himself good luck.

“Ghost Chef” (6/15/17 S, 10/1/18 B) – Bunnicula summons the ghosts of Mina’s cooking idol to help her.

“Catula” (6/15/17 S, 10/1/18 B) – Bunnicula bites Chester, leaving him to believe he’ll soon transform into a monster.

“Dreamcatcher” (6/15/17 S, 10/2/18 B) – Bunnicula takes the other pets into Mina’s dreams in order to cure her of her nightmares.

“Ghost Pepper” (6/15/17 S, 10/2/18 B) – Bunnicula begins burning everything after feeding on a ghost pepper.

“Dating for Dummies” (6/15/17 S, 10/6/18 B) – Bunnicula and the pets realize something’s amiss when Mina’s dad goes out with a ventriloquist.

“Sunday Bunnday” (6/15/17 S, 10/1/18 CN) – Bunnicula ends up very far from home as the sun begins to rise.

“Scaraoke” (6/15/17 S, 10/7/18 B) – Bunnicula tries to stop a ghost from getting revenge on Mina for ruining his song with her bad singing.

“Bearshee” (9/28/17 B) – Bunnicula discovers the screaming ghost bear that visits the apartments is scared of living beings.

“Beware Apartment 13!” (9/28/17 B) – The pets trace the disappearance of various items around the building to Apartment 13.

“Puzzle Madness” (9/28/17 B) – Chester and Harold must solve various puzzles in order to escape Bunnicula’s puzzle box.

“Return of the Curse of the Weredude” (9/28/17 B) – Patches wants Chester’s help to woo his girlfriend, but Chester ends up falling for her.

“Collar Me Crazy” (9/28/17 B) – A silver collar turns Bunnicula into a normal bunny.

“Calendar Boys” (9/28/17 B) – The pets try to stop a photoshoot from exposing Bunnicula’s secret.

“Brussel Boy” (9/28/17 S, 10/1/18 CN) – Mina’s new friend as a dark secret: he can turn into Brussel sprouts.

“Vampire Tick” (9/28/17 B) – Bunnicula has to save Harold from a vampire tick.

“Chestroldcula” (9/28/17 B) – An amulet combines the pets into a singular being.

“Never Been Scared” (9/28/17 B) – The pets hire a ghost to scare Mina, who desperately wants to see one.

“Family Portrait” (9/28/17 B) – The pets have to find a way to free Mina and her dad from an evil painting.

“My Imaginary Fiend” (9/28/17 B) – Mina’s imaginary friend returns while Bunnicula faces a new threat.

“The Juicy Problem” (9/28/17 S, 10/1/18 CN) – Chester gives Bunnicula mixed vegetable juice to get him to clean the house.

“Uninvited” (12/21/17 B) – Bunnicula must save Mina and Becky from Red Cap.

Season 2:
“Three Heads are Better Than One” (3/8/18 B, 11/2/18 S) – Harold wants to prove his responsibility by taking Cerebus’ place in the underworld.

“The Invisible Yarn” (12/21/17 B) – Bunnicula ends up invisible after eating a rotten yam.

“Indistinguishable from Magic” (12/21/17 B) – Chester comes to believe Bunnicula is an alien robot.

“Pranks for the Memories” (12/21/17 S, 10/3/18 CN) – Chester and Bunnicula enter into a prank war.

“Revenge of the Return of the Curse of the Weredude” (12/21/17 B) – Patches moves in with the pets and Chester tries to keep his curse secret from Mina’s dad.

“On Mina’s Secret Service” (12/21/17 B) – Harold trains Chester to be a “secret service” animal in order to rescue Bunnicula from some chipmunks’ tree.

“Cellarmander” (12/21/17 B) – A flooded basement leads the pets to be eaten by a Cellarmander.

“The Eyes Have It” (12/21/17 B) – Sewer mermaids keep the pets from retrieving Bunnicula’s eye.

“Chips and Salsa” (12/21/17 B) – Bunnicula goes off to have a party, and the pets have to find him before Mina and Marsha do.

“Mark of the Mandrake” (12/21/17 B) – A mystical mandrake makes Bunnicula human-sized.

“Down the Rabbit Hole” (12/21/17 S, 10/3/18 CN) – Bunnicula helps a family of rabbits whose food supply keeps being eaten by a horse.

“Cat Burgled” (12/21/17 B) – Bunnicula and Harold have to rescue Chester and other cats from a mysterious dimension.

“Goat Story” (12/21/17 B) – Chester and Harold have to prove that Bunnicula didn’t eat all the food in the fridge.

“Bunnicumoji” (11/29/18 S) – Bunnicula tries to stop the delivery of an embarrassing text message Mina sent to Scott.

“Scott Free” (3/8/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – Bunnicula erases Scott’s memory when he discovers his secret, and the pets take advantage of that and make Scott their servant.

“Legend of the Lucky Locket” (9/26/18 S) – When a future-seeing locket reveals an adult Mina in danger, the pets decide to make sure she’s trained for anything.

“Area 50 Bunn” (3/10/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – A government agent comes to the apartments to find supernatural activity and save his job.

“Bunn on a Plane” (3/11/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – A plane ride brings Bunnicula into contact with an ancient threat.

“Cat-aclysm” (3/11/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – Catnip turns Bunnicula into an evil cat bent on destroying everything.

“Jurassicnicula” (3/12/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – When Bunnicula drains an ancient plant at the museum his lizard brain takes over.

“Bunzilla” (3/12/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – Seaweed turns Bunnicula into a monster that terrorizes a village of squirrels.

“The Chocolate Vampire Bunny” (3/14/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – A cocoa bean turns Bunnicula into chocolate, and there are some hungry kids nearby.

“Lord of the Lucky Locket” (9/26/18 S) – Two Grunges use the self-repaired locket to capture Mina.

“Bunderworld” (11/29/18 S) – Patches explains how he became cursed and met Bunnicula.

“The Gingerdread Man” (2/3/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – Harold becomes the king of a candy world, but the former king wants his crown back.

“Beach Blanket Bunn” (11/29/18 S) – Bunnicula’s day at the beach turns into an adventure.

“The Curiosity Shop Killed the Cat” (11/29/18 S) – Madame Plodouri thinks Chester is a vampire and kidnaps him to exploit with other strange animals.

“Bunn Vs.” (11/29/18 S) – Bunnicula engages in a bunch of challenges set by Harold.

“Bunn in Space” (11/29/18 S) – Cabbage sends Bunnicula into space, and he must find his way back home.

“Orlockdown” (11/29/18 S) – Count Orlock returns to the apartments to reclaim Bunnicula and take over the world.

“Prism Prison” (11/29/18 S) – The pets’ vampire dance party is crashed by a group that takes them to a vampire prison.

“Lafitte’s Lucky Locket” (9/26/18 S) – Bunnicula helps Jean Lafitte defeat the British with the help of the locket.

“A Dark and Stormy Night” (11/19/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – Patches uses a magic pen to bring his stories to life, which then proceed to threaten the town.

“How the West Was Bunn” (11/19/18 B, 11/29/18 S) – Bunnicula helps the rabbit family win a game of mini-golf against a ghost rat.

“Yellow Bellied Sound Sucker” (11/29/18 S) – Playing in the basement causes the pets to accidentally release a bird that can steal sound.

“The Fruit Fly” (11/29/18 S) – Bunnicula attempts to try fruit, but accidentally eating a fly turns him into a fly hybrid.

“Queen Wicked, the Wicked Queen” (11/29/18 S) – The pets escape from an old book, accidentally bringing the villainess of the story with them.

“Harold the Vampire Pointer” (10/28/17 B, 11/29/18 S) – Harold and Bunnicula have to fill in for a sick Fluffy when a Vampire Dog challenges her.

“Blueberry Blues” (11/29/18 S) – A blueberry makes Bunnicula depressed.

“Iron Bunn” (11/29/18 S) – A vegetable burned by an iron pot causes Bunnicula to become metallic when he eats it.

Season 3:
“Mastering the Genie” (12/1/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – A genie twists the wishes he grants into nightmares.

“Hare Club” (12/1/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – The pets come to learn their new hairstyles come with a lofty price.

“The Maltese Bunny” (12/4/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – The pets head to the underworld to find Mina’s lost pony.

“Termites!” (12/4/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Chester’s perfect day is anything but.

“Clone-icula” (12/7/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Chester and Harold have to find a way to get rid of the clones Bunnicula created of himself.

“Hiccup in Smoke” (12/7/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Chester and Harold try to help Bunnicula get rid of his hiccups.

“Purr-gatory” (12/10/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Bunnicula tries to fight his desire to scare Chester.

“Take the Bunny and Run” (12/10/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Harold accidentally wins a dog race and the loser keeps pestering him for a rematch.

“Any Witch Way” (12/13/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – A witch keeps Bunnicula from hugging Mina.

“Up to Our Ears” (12/13/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Street gangs steal Bunnicula’s ears.

“Flunicula” (12/16/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – The pets team-up with Lugosi to find a cure for Bunnicula’s flu.

“So Campy” (12/16/18 B, 3/28/19 S) – Harold tries to sell Chester on the fun of camping.

“Wag the Dog” (12/18/18 B) – Harold’s tail lands him in trouble.

“Back in Thyme” (12/18/18 B) – Bunnicula goes back in time to save Mina’s project.

“Hat-Cat” (12/22/18 B) – Bunnicula gives Chester a magical hat that will make him brave.

“Poppet Master” (12/22/18 B) – Harold’s puppets of the pets lead to trouble.

“The Party Animal” (12/24/18 B) – Bunnicula plans a party to help get Chester to loosen up.

“Good Luck Cricket” (12/24/18 B) – A cricket provides the pets with good luck, but for a price.

“Monster-Con” (12/26/18 B) – The pets go to a monster convention and discover Bunnicula is a celebrity.

“Skin Deep” (12/26/18 B) – A monster scares the pets out of their skins.

“The Thingy” (12/28/18 B) – A doppelganger is on the loose in the apartments.

“A Vampire at the Vet” (12/28/18 B) – The pets try to get Bunnicula out of his vet appointment.

“Road Tripped” (12/30/18 B) – The pets head into the underworld for a music festival.

“Oh Brother!” (12/30/18 B) – A mysterious visitor has all of the supernatural entities in the apartments on edge.

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