July 04, 2015


(CBS & FOX, September 15, 1990-November 16, 1991)

Hanna-Barbera Productions, DiC Entertainment, L.P. (season 2), Nelson Entertainment, Orion Television, MGM Television

Alex Winter (season 1) & Evan Richards (season 2) – Bill S. Preston, Esq.
Keanu Reeves (season 1) & Christopher Kennedy (season 2) – Ted “Theodore” Logan

George Carlin (season 1) & Rick Overton (season 2) – Rufus

            When the future is in peril who can save it? Two dudes from San Dimas, that’s who.

Poster for the first movie.

Rufus (George Carlin), a resident of the utopian year 2688, was tasked by his leaders to travel back to 20th Century San Dimas, California, to ensure the two Great Ones responsible for their society successfully passed their history class. Those Great Ones? Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves); the slacker best friends of the garage band Wyld Stallyons. Traveling back in a phone booth-shaped time machine, Rufus’ offer of helping them write their paper on how historical figures would view the present was rejected until a future Bill and Ted arrived in the phone booth and convince them otherwise. They traveled back in time to round up historical figures for their report, but ended up running into difficulties when the phone booth began to go haywire.

Bill, Rufus and Ted from the Hanna-Barbera version.

During an improv workshop in 1983, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson came up with the characters of Bill and Ted: two ignorant teenagers who had no clue about anything they said. They had such fun creating and acting as the characters that they revisited them over the next year. By 1984, they had crafted a script and began shopping it around. Several studios expressed interest in the script and Solomon and Matheson rewrote them to each studio’s specifications. Ultimately, it landed at Warner Bros., who brought it to the attention of director Stephen Herek; but they eventually opted out of the deal, citing the death of the teen comedy genre.

Rufus getting the royal Roman treatment in a production drawing.

            Dino De LaurentisDe Laurentis Entertainment Group picked up the option and partnered with Interscope Communications, and the film was put into pre-production. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves were cast as Bill and Ted, respectively (although initially they were cast in the opposite roles). With their casting, the characters were altered from their original envisioned state as being 14-year-old skinny guys who were despised by the popular kids as it would be hard to believe given how cool Winter and Reeves appeared to be. The final lead role of Rufus went to comedian George Carlin after producer Scott Kroopf saw him at a Comic Relief concert. Initially, they were looking at for a more serious actor in the role.

The Dudes and Bill's step-mom Missy.

Filming ran through 1987, but De Laurentis’ company went bankrupt before its release after a series of box office bombs. The film sat in limbo until Orion Pictures picked up the theatrical distribution rights with De Laurentis’ Nelson Entertainment handling home video production. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was finally released on February 17, 1989 to negative reviews, but the movie ended up grossing over $40 million against its $10 million budget, becoming a box office success.

            Looking to bank further on that success, Hanna-Barbera was tasked with bringing the movie to the small screen in the form of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures for CBS. The basic concept remained unchanged, save for a few cosmetic differences with the characters and renaming the dudes’ favorite hangout the Kozy Korner rather than the Circle K. Traveling in the phone booth was accompanied by a brief segment of CGI showing it propelling through the time stream. The series was written by Paul Dini, Sharman Divono, Rowby Goren, Wayne Kaatz, Gordon Kent, John Loy, John Ludin, Mary Jo Ludin, Doug Molitor, Sean Roche and Jim Thut, with music by Chuck Loeb. It was animated by Fil-Cartoons, Wang Film Productions and Cuckoo’s Nest Studios.

Like, wrong number, dude.

The most unusual aspect of the show was that unlike other movie-to-TV adaptations, the actual movie actors provided their voices for the main characters. That came about at the insistence of Judy Price, the Vice President of Children’s Programs and Daytime Specials at CBS, as a way to maintain a degree of credibility with the project. Ralston also secured the rights to produce a cereal promoting the series, although different actors provided the characters’ voices in its commercial.

            After one season, CBS decided to drop the show due to the production going over budget and delivery delays, despite the shows always airing on time and respectable ratings. The following year, the relatively new FOX network decided to pick up the series with production moving to DiC Entertainment. DiC reworked the character designs slightly and animation was handled by Big Star Enterprise and Spectrum Animation Studio. FOX sought to improve the repetitiveness they felt the Hanna-Barbera episodes fell into by having the phone booth able to send Bill and Ted into literature, films and even inside the human body. Goren and Molitor remained, but were joined by Jim Aitken, Phil Harnage, Perry Martin, Kati Rocky, Judy Rothman RofĂ©, Barbara Slade and Ellis Weiner on scripts, with Murray McFadden and Timothy Mulholland on music. As FOX was also planning a live-action show in anticipation of the sequel film, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, being as successful as the first, they decided to tie the cartoon into it by recasting the voices with their live-action actors: Evan Richards, Christopher Kennedy and Rick Overton.

Bill & Ted: the comic strip.

            The changes didn’t sit well with fans and the show only lasted eight more episodes; one episode longer than its live-action counterpart, which also flopped. When the show began airing in the United Kingdom, episodes were adapted along with original stories in comic form in the magazine Look In! In 2005, the first episode was released as a special feature in the Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Collection DVD box set. In 2013, TGG Direct, LLC released a “best of” collection on two discs, which omits five episodes from the first season. Originally a Wal-Mart exclusive, it was soon made available nationwide. In 2014, both discs were released individually.

Season 1:
“One Sweet & Sour Chinese Adventure” (9/15/90) – The dudes go to ancient China to replace a vase they broke and meet Marco Polo.

“The Birth of Rock ‘N Roll or Too Hip for the Womb” (9/22/90) – Bill and Ted are flunky music appreciation and given an assignment about classical music.

“A Most Excellent Roman Holiday” (9/29/90) – The dudes head to ancient Rome and end up saving Julius Caesar from being assassinated.

“Model ‘T’ For Ted” (10/6/90) – Ted accidentally wrecks his father’s car and they head back in time to help fix it.

“The More Heinous They Are, the Harder They Fall” (10/20/90) – The dudes head back in time to find a bigger bully to deal with their bully at school.

“Birds of A Feather Stick to the Roof Of Your Mouth” (10/27/90) – The dudes head into time to try and find a replacement for a rare bird they allowed a cat to eat.

“A Black Night in San Dimas” (11/3/90) – Bill and Ted face expulsion unless they can improve their grades.

“Pocket Watch Full of Miracles” (11/10/90) – The dudes head into time to find an antique pocket watch for Mr. Preston’s birthday.

“The Babe Ruth “BABE” is A DUDE, Dude” (11/24/90) – After accidentally washing a signature off Coach Sweatsock’s baseball the dudes head into time to get it resigned.

“When the Going Gets Tough, Bill & Ted Are History” (12/1/90) – Fed up with no applause, the band breaks up causing a breach in time security.

“Never the Twain Shall Meet” (12/8/90) – The dudes search for someone to bring to Career Day.
“A Job, a Job—My Kingdom For a Job” (12/15/90) – Bill & Ted must find a job.

“A Grimm Story of an Overdue Book” (12/22/90) – Ted has a very overdue library book so the dudes head back in time to try and find a copy to replace it.

Season 2:
“Now Museum, Now You Don’t” (9/14/91) – Bill and Ted have to try and replace the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo.

“The Totally Gross Anatomy of a Gym Teacher” (9/21/91) – A new phone shrinks Bill and Ted and they take a journey through their gym coach’s body.

“The Star Strangled Banner” (9/28/91) – Music is threatened when Missy sings a horrible rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the opening of a baseball game.

“Leave It to Bill & Ted” (10/5/91) – Bill and Ted head into TV land in order to change the outcome of their favorite shows, Leave it to Badger.

“Goodbye Columbus…And America” (10/20/91) – Bill and Ted accidentally discourage Columbus from discovering America.

“It’s A Bogus Day in the Neighborhood” (10/26/91) – Bill and Ted must keep their childhood idol Mr. Radish from quitting.

“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in Babysitting” (11/2/91) – Bill and Ted go back in time to find Mr. Preston’s old guitar and end up babysitting themselves.

“The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Phone Booth” (11/16/91) – Bill and Ted learn Mr. Logan wasn’t always as disciplined as he wants Ted to be.

No comments: