December 30, 2014
December 13, 2014
|Shaggy and Scooby terrified while Scrappy is ready to fight.
|Scrappy carrying Scooby into danger.
|"Enjoy that ice cream, guys. May be your last good meal in a long time!"
|The Neon Phantom of the Roller Disco.
|Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood DVD cover.
Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2019.
December 06, 2014
Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), the producers of Sesame
Street, decided to try and reach a broader audience with its
educational programming by making the move from stalwart partner PBS to the widely popular Saturday morning arena
on giant network ABC. Their proposal was to
adapt David Macaulay’s popular 1988
Way Things Work, into an animated series.
|Wheel and Axle explanation from The Way Things Work.
Way Things Work was an illustrated guide to everyday machines for children.
It used playful imagery to cover simple elements like pulleys and levers and
delved into more advanced things like telescopes and even light and sound. With
words by Neil Ardley, these
things were explained in diary form from the perspective of a Cro-Magnon man
discovering them for the very first time. Aiding in this journey of discovery
were woolly mammoths, which had been domesticated to serve multiple functions
as pets, workers and inspiration for many future inventions.
|Cro, the star and focus of the show.
With 18 months of production time from ABC, a $7 million dollar grant
from the National Science Foundation, and
along with Film Roman, CTW produced Cro. The series followed the adventures
of Phil (Jim Cummings), a talking wooly mammoth who ended up frozen during the
Ice Age and reawakened in the 20th Century. He was found and thawed
out by Dr. C (April Ortiz) and her assistant, Mike (Jussie Smollett). Phil
ended up staying with them and regaled them with stories about the more-evolved
11-year-old boy named Cro (Max Casella), who often used his brains to get his
adoptive family of Neanderthals out of sticky jams. Those stories would be
inspired by a problem in the present that required the use of physics to solve
it, and were often similar to a situation that Cro had faced and solved through
simple engineering. In a departure from the book, it’s often the mammoths that
guide Cro and the Neanderthals to their solutions, rather than being the
domesticated servants of the humans as they learn.
|Phil being thawed out by Mike and Dr. C.
Cro’s family consisted of Ogg (Cummings), the selfish and bossy leader;
Gogg, who was more sensitive and often translated for the other adopted member
of the family, the less-evolved Bobb (both Frank Welker); and Nandy (Ruth
Buzzi), the matriarch of the family who believed in a lot of urban legends. They
lived in Woolyville with Phil’s herd of wooly mammoths, which included
Esmeralda (Tress MacNeille), the oldest female an matriarch of the herd that ensured
order was maintained and didn’t particularly care for the humans; Steamer (Chares
Adler), the youngest member whose hyperactivity and playfulness often landed
him in trouble; Ivanna (Laurie O”Brien), a southern belle that Phil had an
attraction to; Earle (Welker), an elderly mammoth who preferred tradition and
hated humans; Mojo (Adler), Earle’s younger brother who shared his views; and
Pakka (Candi Milo), Cro’s best friend who often regaled him with mammoth facts.
|Cro with Gogg, Ogg, Nandy and Pakka.
Cro debuted on ABC on September 18, 1993. Writers for the series
included Sindy McKay, Jeremy Cushner, Len Uhley, Rich Rogel, Mark Seidenberg and Mark Zaslove, who also served as
story editor and voice director. The music was composed by Stacy Widelitz, with Bill Trudel and Josef Powell performing the
theme. Animation duties were handled by Plus
One Entertainment, Sunwoo Entertainment
and their subsidiary, Anivision America. Although the series had high critical
praise for its material and presentation, the show failed to find a suitable
audience and only lasted two seasons before it was cancelled. Since its run,
video collections have been released by Republic Home Video,
featuring two episodes each with bridging narration from Casella.
|Compact Disks from The New Way Things Work.
In 1998, Macaulay wrote a sequel called The
New Way Things Work, which added the workings of computers and digital
technology while removing two pages from the previous volume. He also led the
production of an animated
series named after the book with a modified premise on the BBC in 1999. This show featured modern people
living on an island inhabited by mammoths, who used outlandish contraptions to
work through daily life. It debuted in 2001, but failed to find an audience or
keep to a timely production schedule and was quickly cancelled after only 26
15-minute episodes in 2002. It was the shortest-run program, and the last
educational effort, by the BBC.