July 03, 2021

OZZY & DRIX

 

OZZY & DRIX
(WB, September 14, 2002-July 5, 2004)

 
Conundrum Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation

 

 

MAIN CAST:
Phil LaMarr – Osmosis “Ozzy” Jones, Vitamin A, Iron, Mitosis Jones
Jeff Bennett – Drixenol “Drix” Koldreliff, Pb, Butane, Frank DeTorre, various
Justin Cowden – Hector Cruz
Alanna Ubach – Mayor Paul Spryman, Hector’s mom, Hector’s sister
Tasia Valenza – Maria Amino
Jim Cummings – Chief Gluteus, B Complex, Ernst Strepfinger (season 2), various

 

 

 Emboldened by the success of Disney’s animation renaissance, other studios—in particular Warner Bros.—made their own moves back into feature animation. Warner Bros. had been distributing animated films up until that point, but had not been actively making them; choosing to instead focus strictly on television projects.

Promo art featuring Ozzy and Drix.


Their first film was 1996’s Space Jam, which received mixed reviews but was a success regardless. Unfortunately, it was the only one the studio would see. 1997’s Cats Don’t Dance, the last film Turner Feature Animation was working on before it was absorbed into Warner Bros., suffered from poor marketing and was a box office flop despite great reviews. 1998’s Quest for Camelot fared a bit better, but still ended up a flop due largely to inexperienced executives leading to cost overruns and production nightmares. 1999’s The Iron Giant was a critical darling that still managed to underperform at the box office, thanks to the poor marketing campaign that resulted from Warner Bros.’ growing skepticism over theatrical animation (home video and television syndication would turn it into a cult classic in the following years). At this point, the Feature Animation division was in financial trouble and they needed a hit. Two movies were up for consideration as their next project: a new film by The Iron Giant’s director Brad Bird, or an animation/live-action hybrid written by Marc Hyman. The studio chose the latter, and Osmosis Jones went into production.

The City of Frank.


Osmosis Jones was set inside a human body, known as The City of Frank (Bill Murray). Osmosis “Ozzy” Jones (Chris Rock) was a white blood cell and a member of the police force responsible for protecting Frank’s body from threats, and boy did he have his work cut out for him as Frank was a slovenly zookeeper with no interest in taking care of himself. When Mayor Phlegmming (William Shatner) caused Frank to accidentally ingest a nasty virus, Thrax (Laurence Fisburne), Ozzy was teamed up with cold pill Drizenol “Drix” Koldreliff (David Hyde Pierce) to stop him before he ended up killing Frank. In typical buddy cop fashion, they were total opposites as Ozzy was overzealous and impetuous while Drix was stoic and more by-the-book.

Frank--health-conscious, he's not.


All of the inner body sequences were animated, directed by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon, while all of the external was done in live-action. Unfortunately, that’s where the film hit a snag. Even though the animation was progressing as planned, Warner Bros. had trouble finding a director or a star for the live-action. Eventually, Murray was signed to star and Peter and Bobby Farrelly were hired to direct (and given sole directorial credit, despite having nothing to do with the animated portions). Initially, the film was rated PG-13 for “crude language” and “bodily humor”, resulting in Warner Bros. making extensive cuts and removing entire scenes in order to achieve a family-friendly PG rating.


Osmosis Jones opened on August 10, 2001, after an August 7th premiere at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. While the film received praise for the animated sequences, which earned it numerous Annie Award nominations, it was heavily criticized for the comparatively lethargic live-action scenes. The gross-out humor of the live scenes, a trademark of the Farrelly brothers, was also panned. Ultimately, the film ended up grossing only $14 million against a $70 million budget. As a result, the feature unit was significantly scaled back and eventually folded into the main animation unit with the next box office disappointment, Looney Tunes: Back in Action. And Brid’s film that Warner Bros. passed on? It was released by Disney as The Incredibles

Hector, Ozzy & Drix's new charge.


 Despite the failure, Warner Bros. evidently still had faith in the property as a spin-off series was put into production over at the Television Animation division. Developed by Alan Burnett and Hyman, Ozzy & Drix saw Ozzy (Phil LaMarr) and Drix (Jeff Bennett) removed from The City of Frank (Bennett) by a mosquito and deposited into the body of 13-year-old Hector Cruz (Justin Cowden). After help defeat Scarlet Fever (Tim Curry) who also arrived from Frank, Ozzy and Drix were set up as private investigators to help keep Hector healthy. As in the film, Ozzy was impetuous and always following his gut into trouble, while Drix was kept strait-laced with an added dose of naivete and innocence.

Maria, Mayor Spryman, and Chief Gluteus.


As they’re now in a completely new “town”, all of the characters from the film were replaced by a new supporting cast: Maria Amino (Tasia Valenza) was a Hispanic white blood cell cop, a skilled fighter, and Drix’s love interest; Chief Gluteus (Jim Cummings), the gruff police chief for The City of Hector; Mayor Paul Spryman (Alanna Ubach), the immature teenaged mayor of The City of Hector; Ellen Patella (Vivica A. Fox), an attorney who helped cells find homes in The City of Hector and Ozzy’s new love interest; The Mole (Jeffrey Tambor), a klutzy and paranoid former secret agent that knew just about everything going on in Hector, making him a valuable informant; and Dander (Frank Welker), a dog germ from Hector’s dog that became Drix’s pet. Human characters included Christine Kolchuck (Kimberly Brooks), the girl Hector liked; Travis Lum (Rob Paulsen), Hector’s best friend; Ricky Sales (Paulsen), the school bully; and Hector’s mother (Ubach), father (Joe Lala) and sister (Ubach). Unlike the film, all of the human scenes were also animated.

Smirch the acne germ attempts to take advantage of Drix.


Of course, with a new city comes new threats. Nick O’Teen (Curry), the nicotine that came from a cigarette Hector smoked accompanied by his minions Tar (Welker), Butane (Bennett), and Carbon Monoxide (Tara Strong); Protozilla (Welker), an allergen with a weak and powerful monster form; Ernst Strepfinger (a combination of strep throat and James Bond villains Auric Goldfinger and Ernst Blofeld, voiced by Brad Garrett & Cummings), a criminal mastermind; Sal Monella (Henry Winkler), a gangster germ who wanted to dump toxic waste into Hector’s stomach; Sylvian Fisher (Brian Posehn), a brain cell who plotted to become mayor by giving Hector a growth spurt; Stickety Lipid (Paulsen), a bad cholesterol beatnik that wanted to clog Hector’s arteries; Smirch (Danny Bonaduce), an acne germ determined to give Hector a zit; General Malaise (Charlie Adler), a bacterium who used sugar to grow his army; Professor Nightmare (Keith Silverstein), a nightmare originating from a movie Hector saw; Shane (Danny Cooksey), a hormone and leader of a testosterone gang that once took over Hector’s brain; Cryo (Susan Silo), a virus that wanted to give Hector hypothermia; Pb (Bennett), lead from a lead-painted shed that infected Hector with his Lead Head Gang; Billy Bob Bile (Welker), owner of a hotel in Hector’s appendix that almost caused it to burst; Rhoda Virus (Justine Bateman), an intestinal virus intent on giving Hector gastroenteritis; Mother Louse, a louse that tried to lay eggs in Hector’s hair; and Mother Worm (Welker), a Trichinella spiralis worm that came from a barely cooked sausage. One adventure took Ozzy and Drix into Christine where they met their counterparts Cilia Tyson (Dawnn Lewis) and Drixeen (Miriam Flynn), whom they helped take on pneumonia-causing The Pneumoniac (Pat Fraley).



Ozzy & Drix debuted on The WB on September 14, 2002 as part of the Kids’ WB programming block. The series was co-produced by the Farrelly brothers through their company Conundrum Entertainment, however the crude humor and violence found in the film was significantly toned down to meet broadcast TV standards. It was edutainment that often disguised its messages behind the fast-paced action established by the film and simple terminology and imagery to describe the workings of the human body. While none of the actors reprised their roles, Kathy Najimy, who was considered for the role of the teacher, ended up voicing the president of the subconscious network for the show.

Strepfinger, a persistent germ.


The series was written by Burnett, Len Uhley, Gene Grillo, Joe Piscatella, Craig A. Williams, Micah Wright, Marc Gutman (who assisted producer Zak Penn on the film), Doug Langdale, Evan Gore, Heather Lombard, Ray DeLaurentis, John P. McCann, Steven Darancette, John Behnke, Paul Dini, Rob Humphrey and John Loy. Animation duties were handled by Dong Woo Animation, although some episodes used clips from the film (mostly scenery bits that didn’t feature any characters). Randall Crissman composed the series’ music, as well as the theme with Ed Driscoll. The theme was performed by Kenneth Gray.

The DVD cover.


Ozzy & Drix did significantly better than Osmosis Jones, performing well enough to justify a second season. Following the episodes that aired in October of 2003, the series went on hiatus until February, then again until June where it began to air the remainder of its episodes on the weekday version of Kids’ WB. Not much in the way of merchandise was released for the show, despite the award-winning style guide developed by The Illusion Factory for merchandisers. However, Midway did publish a video game for the Game Boy Advance that brought several of the show’s villains together in a sinister plot. The game was reviewed poorly for its repetitiveness and bad controls. In 2017, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD.

 

 

EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Home with Hector” (9/14/02) – Ozzy and Drix end up in the city of Hector along with Scarlet Fever, whom they must stop from making Hector ill.
 
“Reflex” (9/21/02) – Ozzy has to figure out how to save Hector from a fight with Rick after accidentally causing Hector to kick him.
 
“Strep-Finger” (9/28/02) – Ozzy is jealous of super agent Penicillin G., who was injected into Hector to find the powerful germ Strepfinger.
 
“A Lousy Haircut” (10/5/02) – Ozzy and Drix attempt to save Hector’s scalp from lice.
 
“Oh My Dog” (10/12/02) – Drix’s new pet is mistaken for the allergen threatening the city while Mrs. Cruz believes it’s Hector’s dog causing his allergy.
 
“Street Up” (10/19/02) – Drix inadvertently helps an acne germ create a giant zit on Hector’s face on school picture day.
 
“Gas of Doom” (11/9/02) – Ozzy, Drix and Maria head into the intestines to alleviate Hector’s building gas problem.
 
“Where There’s Smoke” (11/16/02) – Ozzy and Maria have to prevent Nick O’Teen from turning Hector into a smoker.
 
“The Globfather” (11/30/02) – Sal Monella kidnaps the mayor during his plot to poison Hector.
 
“Ozzy Jr.” (12/7/02) – Stepfinger infects Ozzy with a parasite that Maria and Drix must find a way to stop.
 
“Growth” (2/1/03) – Sylvian Fisher plans to make the mayor look bad by giving Hector a growth spurt in order to win the upcoming election against him.
 
“Sugar Shock” (2/8/03) – When Hector is taken off of a sugar rush, the bacteria that formed during it decides to raid his sugar reserves.
 
“The Dream Factory” (3/1/03) – Ozzy and Drix have to enter Hector’s nightmares in order to stop the bad dreams keeping the entire city awake.
 
Season 2:
“An Out of Body Experience Part 1” (8/23/03) – Ozzy ends up inside of Christine when she gives Hector CPR and is arrested as a virus.
 
“An Out of Body Experience Part 2” (8/30/03) – Ozzy has to get back to Hector before he gender morphs and prevent Christine from catching pneumonia in the process.
 
“Lights Out!” (9/6/03) – Hector’s concussion causes everyone to forget Ozzy and Drix, necessitating them heading to the brain to reboot his memories.
 
“The Conqueror Worm” (9/13/03) – Hector ends up getting worms after eating barely-cooked sausage.
 
“Puberty Alert” (9/20/03) – Puberty allows a testosterone gang to imprison the mayor and take over Hector’s mind, causing him to get into trouble,
 
“Tricky Ricardo” (9/27/03) – After learning about the rift between Maria and her brother, Drix tries to fix it but is unaware that her brother is working for Strepfinger.
 
“Aunti Histamine” (10/4/03) – Drix’s aunt arrives when Hector uses nasal spray, and with her comes a sudden drop in Hector’s water levels.
 
“A Growing Cell” (10/11/03) – Hector’s junk food binge gives Stickety Lipid an opportunity to try and clog up his arteries.
 
“A Cold Day in Hector” (2/25/04) – A Day of snowboarding causes Hector to contract Cryo and lead to hypothermia.
 
“Supplements (a.k.a. Triumph of the Supplements)” (6/14/04) – The mayor forces Hector to eat some cereal so that a team of supplements can come and deal with a gang of lead Hector accidentally breathed in.
 
“Double Dose” (6/21/04) – Mitosis causes Ozzy to split into evil duplicates looking to steal Hector’s iodine.
 
“Nature Calls” (6/28/04) – Billy Bob Bile creates a detour to lure bacteria to his hotel, which causes Hector’s appendix to almost burst.
 
“Cavities (a.k.a. Journey to the Center of the Tooth)” (7/5/04) – Excessive sugar and poor brushing leads General Malaise to give Hector a cavity.

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