September 12, 2020

WISH KID

 
WISH KID
(NBC, September 14-December 7, 1991)
 
Macaulay Culkin Productions, DiC Animation City, Reteitalia S.p.A.

 
 
MAIN CAST:
Macaulay Culkin – Nick McClary
Quinn Culkin – Katie McClary
Stuart Stone – Darryl Singletary
James Rankin – Frankie Dutweiler
Andrew Sabiston – Mel McClary
Marilyn Lightstone – Adrienne McClary

 
 
            By the time the 1990s rolled around, Macaulay Culkin--barely a decade old--was a major movie star. He began acting at age 4, appearing on stage in Beach Babies with the New York Philharmonic. He graduated to television with roles in the television film The Midnight Hour and in an episode of The Equalizer before finally breaking into the movies with Rocket Gibraltar. The film that propelled him into superstardom was 1990’s Home Alone, which saw him as the young Kevin McCallister, accidentally left behind when his family went on vacation, protecting his house from a pair of bungling burglars. Of course, NBC would try to capitalize on Culkin’s growing celebrity to try and breathe new life into their limping animated offerings.

Nick making a wish with Slobber looking on.


            Produced by DiC Entertainment and Reteitalia S.p.A., Wish Kid followed the adventures of young Nick McClary (Culkin), whose baseball mitt became imbued with magic when a miniature shooting star hit it. Every week, Nick could punch his mitt three times and make a wish and it would come true—for a limited time. Sharing this secret with Nick was his best friend, Darryl (Stuart Stone), who was often included in those wishes (though not always happily), Nick’s baby sister, Katie (voiced by Culkin’s real sister, Quinn), and dog, Slobber. Nosey neighbor Mrs. Opal was also aware of Nick’s secret, frequently spying on his house when he made one, however she was never able to convince anyone of what she saw  (reminiscent of the neighbor from the 1960s sitcom Bewitched); especially not her husband, whose face was always obscured.

Darryl having to help Nick out of another fine mess.


            Nick’s wishes tended to backfire, either by fulfilling his desires in unconventional and unexpected ways such as making it so a pair of bank robbers become his new parents by hiding out at his house, or by running out at inopportune times. Another major hurdle for Nick was neighborhood bully Frankie Dutweiler (James Rankin), who took any opportunity to harass and torment Nick and Darryl and often got Nick in trouble through his actions. Frankie especially went off if anyone dared to call him “Francis”. Other characters included Nick’s parents, Mel (Andrew Sabiston), a writer/reporter often struggling to advance in his career, and Adrienne (Marilyn Lightstone), a real estate agent.

Frankie the bully.


            Wish Kid debuted on NBC on September 14, 1991. Half of the episodes included an appearance by a live-action Culkin at the beginning talking to the audience and promoting the show, with a few featuring just his voice over describing the events of the upcoming story. “Love at First Wish” and “The Best of Enemies” featured Frankie’s voice-over instead. The entire series was written by Jeffrey Scott and featured music by Clark Gassman. Animation duties were handled by Hung Long Animation, Point Animation and Cartooneurs. The live-action segments were directed by Christopher Brough.

Live-action Nick.


            Wish Kid didn’t quite bring in the audience NBC was hoping for, and ultimately the network followed through with their plan to eliminate animation entirely from their Saturday morning schedule in favor of trying to replicate the success of Saved by the Bell with a focus on live-action teen-oriented comedies. Wish Kid did have the distinction of being the last of the cartoons to remain on NBC’s schedule when it was cleared for the 2-hour news program Saturday Today on August 1st, 1992 before the fall season began. Reruns of the show aired on The Family Channel and did well enough that the network expressed interest in commissioning a new season, but plans for that fell through. Originally, the show’s theme song was a parody of “Chantilly Lace” by The Big Bopper. Rights issues about the music forced DiC to remove the lyrics for syndication, leaving only the singular line “Yo, baby, wishing’s what I like!” The line also tied into Nick’s unexplained exclamations of “Yo, baby!”

The DVD cover.


            Throughout the 90s, single episodes were released to VHS by DiC Video, BMG Kidz and Buena Vista Home Video. In 2003, Sterling Entertainment released a collection called Be Careful What You Wish For containing 3 episodes on VHS and 4 episodes on DVD. The DVD was later re-released by NCircle Entertainment in 2008. In 2015, Mill Creek Entertainment released the complete series to DVD as part of their “Retro TV Toons” line.
 
           
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
“Top Gun – Will Travel” (9/14/91) – Nick and Darryl have to rescue Katie when she ends up stolen by spies along with the jet Nick wished for.
 
“A Matter of Principal” (9/21/91) – After Frankie gets Nick in trouble at school, he wishes to be principal.
 
“Haunted House for Sale” (9/28/91) – A lightning strike causes Nick’s wish to help his mother sell a house have it end up being purchased by its previous—and dead—occupants.
 
“Captain Mayhem” (10/5/91) – Nick turns himself into a superhero in order to give his father a hot new story to write about.
 
“Glove of Dreams” (10/12/91) – To get his dad into a baseball game to investigate possible loan shark meddling, Nick wishes he was pitching for the team.
 
“Love at First Wish” (10/19/91) – Nick falls for a new girl at school who ends up being Frankie’s cousin.
 
“Lotto Trouble” (10/26/91) – Nick wishes his family would win the lottery and tries to discourage them from spending through all of their winnings before the wish wears off.
 
“Darryl’s Dilemma” (11/2/91) – When Frankie destroys Darryl’s science project, he decides to sneak a wish for himself to replace it and ends up with a real dinosaur egg.
 
“A Nick Off the Old Block’ (11/9/91) – Nick wishes for a duplicate to help him with his chores, but the double decides to break out and have some fun on his own.
 
“A Grand Ol’ Time” (11/16/91) – Nick gives his grandfather a chance at a second childhood.
 
“Gross Encounters” (11/23/91) – Nick wishes to encounter an alien that ends up being captured by the government.
 
“Mom, Dad, You’re Fired!” (11/30/91) – After Frankie gets him in trouble again, Nick wishes he had new parents and ends up with a pair of thieves.
 
“The Best of Enemies” (12/7/91) – After his father tells him about becoming friends with his bully, Nick wishes Frankie would become his friend.

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