December 19, 2020

SKUNK FU!

 

SKUNK FU!

(CW, September 22, 2007-March 29, 2008)

 

International Rheingold Productions, Cartoon Saloon, Telegael, Hoek, Line & Thinker, Cake Entertainment

 

MAIN CAST:

Jules de Jongh – Skunk, Ms. Duck, Crane
Paul Tylak – Panda, Rabbit, Snake, Frog
Patricia Rodriguez – Fox
Tony Acworth – Turtle, Ox, Bird, Pig, Killer Bees, Mantis, Mr. Fish, Ninja Monkeys
Rod Goodall – Tiger, Dragon
Paul McLoone – Baboon

 

            Before Kung Fu Panda, there was…Skunk Fu!

Dragon being punished.

            Many years ago, a Dragon (Rod Goodall) was charged with protecting a Valley and its inhabitants. One day, he overstepped his bounds and was punished by Heaven. He lost his power over fire and was banished to remain inside an extinct volcano submerged in an icy lake lest he succumb to his own flames. Turned evil by bitterness, Dragon aligned himself Baboon (Paul McLoone, using an Australian accent) and his endless army of inept Ninja Monkeys (Tony Acworth) in order to conquer the Valley (a reversal as dragons were typically heroic in Chinese legends).


Skunk: the destined hero of the Valley.

            Dragon’s once best friend, Panda (Paul Tylak), asked Heaven for help against Dragon and into his lap fell Skunk (Jules de Jongh); accidentally delivered by a stork since both of them were black and white. Panda took Skunk under his wing and trained him in the ways of Kung-fu. However, Skunk was overexcitable and lazy, unable to match Panda’s teachings of patience and always looking for an easier way to accomplish the lessons (which often backfired and required him to learn the lesson anyway). Because there were no other skunks in China, Skunk never learned how to control his natural spray and often exuded when he was embarrassed (which was also caused by his spraying), scared or suddenly surprised.


Residents of the Valley: Mantis, Ox, Ms. Duck, Fox, Bird, Killer Bee, Panda, Skunk, Dr. Turtle, Pig and Rabbit.


            Other residents of the Valley included Rabbit (Tylak), who considered himself the strongest animal in the Valley and often fought against Panda’s teachings, wanting to take the battle right to Dragon. He tried to hide his crush on Fox (Patricia Rodriguez), an effective and graceful fighter whose level-headedness was only matched by her fiery temper. She had an attraction towards Rabbit as well (in spite of himself), but wasn’t above smacking him whenever he picked on Skunk, whom she considered a little brother. Like the other female warriors of the valley, she was proficient in the art of fan combat. Dr. Turtle (Acworth) was an old Kung Fu master and the physician of the Valley with a talent for kite flying. Tiger (Goodall) was an old friend of Panda’s and claimed to have once been a great warrior until a disastrous battle with Dragon turned him into a coward. However, he could still fight ferociously when angered. Pig (Acworth, using a voice reminiscent of Bobcat Goldthwait) was a simple-minded loafer with a lousy memory who spent all his time bathing in mud, as well was being easily influenced—particularly by Rabbit. Ox and Bird (both Acworth) were always together. Bird was the smarter of the two (marginally) and considered himself to be great, while Ox could speak Ninja Monkey. Both enjoyed being nobodies and layabouts. Mantis (Acworth, impersonating Christopher Walken), was the Valley’s lookout with a masochistic and suicidal streak; always putting himself in harm’s way with the hope of a tragic end (although that didn’tt stop him from coming through for others in battle). Crane (de Jongh) was the town gossip used for aerial missions. Ms. Duck (de Jongh) was proficient in cooking, which made her a master of Dim sum Fu. Snake (Tylak, using an Australian accent), was the Valley spy who enjoyed inflicting pain on others. Frog (Tylak) was the master of jumping and enjoyed making people laugh. Mr. Fish (Acworth), the head of the underwater world and master of the art of No Lung Fu with feelings for Ms. Duck. Finally, there were the Killer Bees (Acworth, speaking in a hip-hop style), a hive full of extremely short-tempered bees that would attack anyone that disturbed them—friend or foe.

Baboon bowing to Dragon.

            Skunk Fu! was the first series to be made by Cartoon Saloon; an Ireland-based studio founded by recent college grads Paul Young, Tomm More and Nora Twomey. They were working on pitches while taking commercial gigs to survive until one of their first staffers, Aidan Harte, had come up with the idea for the show. While on a shoot, Harte was brainstorming ideas with the studio’s sales rep, Hyun Ho Khang, and decided to center in on their mutual love of Kung Fu movies. The agency Khang worked for being named “Skunk” gave them the inspiration for their lead character. In keeping with the color scheme, they thought about making Skunk’s mentor a zebra, but went with a panda since they were found more readily in China. The fact that DreamWorks was in the middle of producing their own martial arts animal film—announced in 2005—was entirely coincidental. The Karate Kid served as inspiration for the relationship between Skunk and Panda.

The Ninja Monkeys.

            Harte worked on all the initial character designs and did preliminary testing of their movement in Flash, a program he had some experience with. Cartoon Saloon had to hire additional animators experienced in Flash to tweak his ideas and build up a library for the show; notably character designers Joost Van Den Bosch and Erik Verkerk. In 2003, Skunk Fu! was presented at the European Cartoon Forum where it was bought up by the BBC, Ireland’s TG4 and ABC Australia. Additionally, their distributors, Cake Entertainment, were able to land a deal for the show to air in America on the Kids’ WB programming block. In 2006, Cartoon Saloon launched a blog where they would share episode titles and title cards, production artwork, random silly drawings and put out hiring notices. Animation duties were carried out by Fatkat Animation Studios with New Brunswick Film, Monkey Paw Media, Top Draw Animation, Inc., Ka-Ching Cartoons and Rocket Fish Studios.


            
Skunk Fu! began airing on ABC Australia first before hitting Europe and finally debuting on The CW on September 22, 2007. The series was produced in English with the same voice actors being present in both the American and European airings but was dubbed into Ireland’s native language for airings there. Each episode was broken up into two story segments, each one with a Panda-spoken title beginning with “The Art of…” It was written by Andy Rheingold, Amy Jackson, Greg Grabianski, Scott Sonneborn, Catherine Lieuwen, Aimee Keillor, Adam J.B. Lane, Pamela Hickey, Dennys McCoy, Thomas Krajewski, Eric Shaw, Brandon Auman, Josh Cagan, Dave Bourla, Rob Sosin, Holly Huckins and Gabe Pulliam, with Jackson and Reinghold serving as the head writers. The series’ theme was written and performed by Ghostface Killah featuring Cilvaringz and Shawn Wigs (all credited as Guillermo Montosa). The rest of the series’ music was composed by Chris Bemand.

Monkey surfing!

            At its peak, Skunk Fu! was shown in over 120 different markets around the world and was nominated for a BAFTA Children’s Award and two Irish Film and Television Awards, winning one. Its was a ratings success on The CW, prompting Cartoon Network to acquire the broadcasting rights and began airing reruns in 2008. While the show was a hit and a massive feather in the cap of a fledgling studio their first time out, no further episodes were ordered by any of the networks it was broadcast on (in The CW’s case, they sold off their children’s programming to 4Kids Entertainment who filled it with their own productions). While Skunk Fu! only lasted a single season, Cartoon Saloon was adamant about continuing the saga in movie form (which has not yet materialized as of this writing).


            In 2009, Zizzle acquired the rights to make toys based on the series. They released PVC-style action figures that served as launchers for over 70 collectible discs called Flingz, as well as stuffed toys. In early 2008, Warner Music Entertainment released Skunk Fu!: The Art of the Touch in the United Kingdom containing 7 segments as well as interactive games. Later that year, NCircle Entertainment released three compilation DVDs in North America containing 6 segments each.

  

EPISODE GUIDE:

“The Art of Stickiness / The Art of Rivalry” (9/22/07) – Rabbit plans to trap the Ninja Monkey sin sticky tree sap, but Skunk and his friends can’t help playing with it and end up caught as well. / Frustrated with Panda’s teachings, Rabbit decides to start his own school leaving Skunk with a choice of which to attend.

“The Art of Leaving Them Laughing / The Art of Monkey Launching” (9/29/07) – Dr. Turtle inspires Skunk to take up comedy. / Most of the Valley goes to investigate a catapult that the Ninja Monkeys are building, leaving Skunk, Bird and Ox to fend off an invasion.
 
“The Art of Attitude / The Art of Revenge” (10/6/07) – Rabbit teaches Skunk how to sound tough, leading to a competition with Baboon. / Skunk looks for revenge after a Ninja Monkey stomps his green tea cake, leading to his being captured along with Rabbit.
 
“The Art of Tunneling / The Art of Conkering” (10/13/07) – Skunk looks forward to digging a tunnel with Rabbit until Rabbit proves to be extremely bossy. / Skunk and Tiger go into Dragon’s territory to find an extremely hard walnut that will help them win against Pig in Chinese Conkers.
 
“The Art of No Mind / The Art of Kung Fruit” (10/20/07) – Ninja Monkeys attack the Valley and only Ox can see them. / Skunk decides to get some of Panda’s favorite plums from Dragon territory, leading to his being ambushed by the Ninja Monkeys.
 
“The Art of Darkness / The Art of Dream Control” (10/27/07) – Rabbit scares Skunk out of joining him on night patrol, so Skunk and Tiger decide to get revenge by scaring him back. / Skunk and Panda enter the dream realm to stop Skunk’s nightmares of being controlled by Dragon.
 
“The Art of Responsibility / The Art of Stealing” (11/3/07) – Skunk adopts a pet firefly. / Skunk wants to steal Dragon’s stolen magic jewel to help the Valley.
 
“The Art of Brain Washing / The Art of Turtle Watching” (11/10/07) – An amnesiac Pig believes he’s a Ninja Monkey. / Skunk is assigned to watch Turtle just when the Ninja Monkeys decide to steal his shell.
 
“The Art of Truffling / The Art of Patience” (11/17/07) – Pig goes mad for the same truffles Dragon wants to ensure his freedom. / Frustrated by Panda’s lesson, Skunk storms off only to end up in a Ninja Monkey trap with Fox.
 
“The Art of Being a Pebble / The Art of Passing the Buck” (11/24/07) – Panda attempts to trick Skunk into being quiet by teaching him to transfer his chi to a pebble, which the Monkeys end up stealing. / Skunk blames the Monkeys for breaking a lantern he did, causing everyone in the Valley to place blame on them and ignoring when they actually attack.
 
“The Art of Giggling / The Art of Getting Stuck” (12/1/07) – Panda takes Skunk on a secret spy mission just as he’s suffering from constant giggling. / Skunk gets a Ninja Monkey mask stuck to his face and is swept up into their ranks.
 
“The Art of the Touch / The Art of Hospitality” (12/8/07) – Skunk accidentally teaches the Monkeys a secret technique. / Skunk invites Rabbit to stay with him when the Monkeys invade his burrow, but Rabbit turns out to be a pest.
 
“The Art of Luck / The Art of Endurance” (12/15/07) – Baboon strikes Skunk with a bad-luck touch instead of Panda, and Skunk attempts to use it against the Monkeys. / Panda makes Skunk hold onto an egg between his legs until he returns—right before he’s kidnapped by the Monkeys.
 
“The Art of Lightning / The Art of the Double Cross” (1/5/08) – Skunk and Rabbit discover a forgotten fighting move in a piece of Baboon’s fur. / Skunk takes in an exiled Ninja Monkey who he comes to realize is a spy and feeds bad information to.
 
“The Art of the Nose Blow / The Art of the Crush” (1/12/08) – Snake starts a rumor that Skunk invented a powerful new move, which the recently-exiled Baboon wants. / Rabbit tricks Skunk into helping him retrieve stolen poems he wrote about Fox when the Ninja Monkeys attack.
 
“The Art of Small Victories / The Art of Influence” (1/19/08) – Skunk’s enjoyment of playing with ants comes in handy when Baboon uses red army ants in his latest attack. / Accidentally shrunken, Baboon uses his size to pretend to be Skunk’s inner voice and turn him against his friends.
 
“The Art of Kiting / The Art of Being Lazy” (1/26/08) – Helping Turtle with the New Year’s kite display gives Skunk an idea on how to infiltrate Baboon’s great wall. / Skunk fakes sick to get out of doing chores.
 
“The Art of the Stink / The Art of Fan Fan” (2/2/08) – Rabbit decides to weaponize Skunk’s stink. / Panda has Skunk learn fan fighting which he thinks is cool until the other guys make fun of him for it.
 
“The Art of the Dizzy Master / The Art of Dim Sum Fu” (2/9/08) – Skunk invents a new move that he believes is so powerful he decides to steal Dragon’s beard with Pig to prove it. / Panda has Skunk learn cooking from Duck, which the Ninja Monkeys take a big liking to.
 
“The Art of Strategy / The Art of Being Heavy” (2/16/08) – Rabbit ignores Panda’s orders and decides to make a bigger weapon to battle Baboon’s new cannon. / Skunk attempts to use a giant boulder when he’s unable to learn a skill that will make him heavier.
 
“The Art of Wushu / The Art of the Tea Ceremony” (2/23/08) – Baboon challenges the Valley animals to some games, but Skunk gets carried away and bets the entire Valley. / Skunk, Pig, Ox and Bird believe mimicking the elders’ tea ceremony will make them as powerfully skilled as they.
 
“The Art of Initiation / The Art of Art” (3/1/08) – Tiger, Snake and Fish talk about an initiation chamber that turns one into a true warrior, falsely claiming they themselves have already completed it. / Failing at learning art, when Skunk sees being beaten up by Ninja Monkeys turns his abstracts into beautiful realistic works he runs with it.
 
“The Art of Monkeying Around / The Art of Sneaking” (3/8/08) – When Baboon fires the Monkeys for failing, the Valley animals have to make them seem like winners to get them out of the Valley. / Skunk tries to prove he’s a good spy by tagging along on Snake’s mission to retrieve Turtle’s notebook.
 
“The Art of Seeing Blind / The Art of Monkey Love” (3/15/08) – Skunk doesn’t appreciate Panda’s lesson until he ends up lost in a dark tunnel. / Baboon disguises a Ninja Monkey as a female skunk to lure Skunk into a trap.
 
“The Art of No Lung Fu / The Art of Destiny Swapping” (3/22/08) – Fish teaches Skunk underwater combat just as Baboon causes a drought. / Skunk decides to trade lives with Mantis.
 
“The Art of Remembering” (3/29/08) – Rabbit, Fox and Skunk try to tell Duck about Panda being captured, but each one has a different version of the tale.

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