December 30, 2020

DAWN WELLS DEAD AT 82

 


You can read the full story here.


Best known as Mary Ann Summers from the Gilligan’s Island franchise, she would reprise the role and assume that of Ginger Grant for Filmation’s second animated spin-off, Gilligan’s Planet. She was unable to do so for the first, The New Adventures of Gilligan, due to being in a play at the time of production.




December 26, 2020

ROLLBOTS

 

ROLLBOTS

(YTV, February 7-December 1, 2009 CAN
CW, September 19, 2009-January 23, 2010 US)

 

Amberwood Entertainment, Elliott Animation

 

MAIN CAST:

Scott McNeilLance, Vett, Daso, Ringo, Rigaroo

 

            RollBots was a Canadian computer-generated animated series created by Michael Milligan, credited as “MCM”, and produced by Amberwood Entertainment. The series was set in the floating city of Flip City. It was inhabited by sentient robots that could retract their limbs and become balls for travel along roller coaster-like tracks, as well as receive “mods” that could grant them new abilities or enhance pre-existing ones. The citizenry was divided up into 11 different tribes with their own individual functions: Fuzata, responsible for finances and the economy; Hai’bu, responsible for sanitation and waste management and aided by the sub-tribe Kenchi-ku, which were small robots kicked into tiny spaces and became the basis for the major sport, Bot-Ball (similar to soccer); Kazoku, responsible for educating BotTots (bot children); Kei’zatsu, responsible for law enforcement through the FCPD; Kuzuri, responsible for healthcare; Nisen, responsible for running the government; Tensai, the most intelligent Bots responsible for maintenance and technology construction; Zobo’shi, responsible for emergency services and had a rivalry with the Kei’zatsu; Zogen’sha, responsible for spiritual guidance (aka religion); Zurasho, responsible for construction; and Zeishi, a mysterious and quiet tribe that mostly kept to themselves. There was a 12th tribe, the Zushin, guardians of the city who could access all of its systems and were capable of self-healing, but they were eliminated by the Spiderbots some time ago in a plot to destroy all RollBots.

Spin.

            The main character was Spin (Sam Vincent), a rookie member of the FCPD who was the last surviving Zushin; something initially unknown to him. His mods included Boomstick, an extendable stick with two heat blades at the end; Skyv Boots, giving him super jumping ability and adjust surface friction wherever he stood; Hyper Mode, a Zushin trait that allowed him to reach extreme velocities; Radiation Boost, allowing him to absorb radiation and channel it back as telekinesis or energy balls; Sound Scaper, an infrared camera; and Invisibility, a prototype disk that rendered him invisible.


On the move: Lance, Pounder, Spin, Penny and Tinny.

Captain Pounder (Garry Chalk) was the head of the Kei’zatsu and the FCPD. He was tough and strong but had a secret soft side. His mods were Trolvodian Throwing Armor, which gave him projectile shields, and Thunder Punch, giving him a boost of power in his fists. Pounder worked closely with the Special Weapons and Tactics bots, aka Swat Bots, which were specially armed and trained FCPD officers utilized for special missions. Penny (Cathy Weseluck) served as the FCPD’s doctor, on loan from the Kuzuri tribe, and was Spin’s best friend—potentially a bit more. She possessed a Healing Glove that repaired bots, power-up small machines or drain power from bots, as well as the Sound Scraper. Lance (Scott McNeil) was a cowardly administrator at the FCPD who disliked Spin for constantly breaking the rules, but absolutely loved to eat lug nuts (a bot snack). His only mod was a Force Field that he could put around himself or others. Bunto (Colin Murdock) was a high-ranking member of the FCPD with a no-nonsense approach to the law and often commanding his own squad. His mods included Siren, comprised of spheroid drones that followed him emitting a siren wail; Cuffs, restraining devices that resembled green energy disks; Arm Beam Gun, a cannon stored in his left arm; and Do-Right Module, which emitted a shock whenever the bot who had it broke the law. Tinny (Tabitha St. Germain) was a BotTot who enjoyed hanging out with Spin whenever he wasn’t in school.

Vertex in his Spiderbot form.

The central villain was Vertex (Murdock), a suspected Spiderbot who planned to disable the safety net protecting the city (and its citizens from falling to their dooms) utilizing 11 hidden artifacts so that his fellow Spiderbots could invade. Only Spin was openly fully aware of Vertex’s true nature (a history with Pounder was implied) as Vertex could shift his form to resemble a normal Rollbot (albeit the biggest one in the city). Vertex led an army of henchbots with his top lieutenants being Manx (Nicole Oliver), a former member of the FCPD who came up with most of Vertex’s plans and seemed to maintain some level of conscience; Botch (Brain Drummond), a former member of the city’s most dangerous gang, the Triads, he had ambitions of supplanting both Manx and Vertex; and Macro (Murdock), a strong former Hai’bu who loyal to Vertex, dimwitted and clumsy, and loved eating lug nuts almost as much as Lance. They eventually were joined by Vett (McNeil), an old ally of Vertex who took a more direct approach in his attacks on the city. Other bad bots included Phaze (Paul Dobson), another former member of the Triads who got Manx kicked off the force and had a passion for magnetic bot mods; Reboot (Cathy Weseluck), a renegade Tensai who voluntarily joined in Vertex’s plans; Tamaki (Shirley Millner), the leader of a group of pirate bots that included her right-hand bot, Kibi (Richard Newman).

Vertex's main minions: Macro, Manx and Botch.

RollBots debuted on Canada’s YTV on February 7, 2009, and was imported by 4Kids Entertainment into the United States on September 19, 2009 as part of The CW4Kids programming block on The CW. It was developed by MCM, his first television series, along with Jonathan Wiseman, Chantal Ling and Gerald Tripp. MCM would confess on his website that a lot of what he had in mind was improvised, but there was a massive mythology built up for the world along with a semi-functional language and three alphabets. MCM has also said that a lot of the names used were a combination of “Japanese words and techy humor” (for instance, Kei’zatsu was taken from keisatsu, which is Japanese for “police”). Along with MCM, the series was written by Craig Young (also a supervising producer), Vito Viscomi, Steven Sullivan, Mark Leiren-Young, Terry Saltsman and Edward Kay. The original conceptual design was done by Andrew King, Leif Norheim and Paul Rivoche, and 2D character concept designs by King with Dave Badour. Serge R. Cøté served as the composer with Elliott Animation handling the animation. It earned a Gemini Award for “Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series”.

Pounder and Vertex falling to their dooms? We may never know...

MCM had envisioned and planned for around 5 seasons’ worth of material, peppering in clues for future developments throughout the entire first season; even ending it on a cliffhanger due to assurances of a second. Unfortunately, the series proved to be too expensive to produce, despite being broadcast around the world in multiple languages, and was subsequently cancelled. The American run didn’t fare much better due to 4Kids’ ongoing financial troubles. After the first 13 episodes aired, 4Kids put it on a brief hiatus before resuming with reruns that January. On January 23rd, they aired the 14th and final new episode as RollBots was again put on hiatus. 4Kids announced that the show would resume come the fall season, but it never made the transition into the newly renamed Toonzai block.

One of the DVD collections.

To date, RollBots has only seen home video releases outside of North America in both episode collections and a complete season set. As of this writing, Wow Kidz Action currently hosts the Hindi translations of the series on their YouTube channel, and Forrest+Schlange Animation has several animatics from early production work they did on theirs including the original pitch presentation. As for MCM, he hasn’t quite given up on his baby yet. He announced on his website that he was working on a reboot pitch as too much time has passed to continue the original story. For now, RollBots: Refactored exists solely as a pilot script.

  

EPISODE GUIDE:

“Training Day” (2/7/09 CAN, 9/19/09 US) – It’s Spin’s first day with the FCPD and a bank robbery goes out of control.

 

“Breakpoint” (2/14/09 CAN, 9/26/09 US) – Spin must rescue Captain Pounder and the Kei’zatsu from Manx and the henchbots.

 

“Wipeout” (2/21/09 CAN, 10/3/09 US) – Spin and Tinny have to work together to get free of a net and stop Manx from delivering a mysterious package to the mayor.

 

“Scorched” (2/28/09 CAN, 10/10/09 US) – Vertex’s henchbots use a special bot mod to freeze the Kei’zatsu in mid-transformation.

 

“The Koto Protocol” (3/14/09 CAN, 10/17/09 US) – Lance needs a full repair, but something in Penny’s past may keep him from getting it.

 

“Inside Outside Upside Down” (3/21/09 CAN, 10/24/09 US) – Vertex frees Phaze from prison and forces him to work with him to take over Pengi Park.

 

“House Call” (3/28/09 CAN, 10/24/09 US) – Spin develops sudden bursts of uncontrollable speed that Vertex wants to harness for his own plans.

 

“Crontab Trouble” (4/4/09 CAN, 10/31/09 US) – Vertex unleashes a mod that keeps Spin reliving the same pocket of history.

 

“Two Left Feet” (4/18/09 CAN, 11/7/09 US) – Spin stumbles into a plot to steal limbs from random bots around the city.

 

“Do the Right Module” (5/2/09 CAN, 11/14/09 US) – The mayor’s new modchip keeps Spin and Penny from doing their jobs.

 

“#044” (5/9/09 CAN, 11/21/09 US) – Spin and Lance’s boring guard duty becomes exciting when they’re lured into a booby-trapped house.

 

“Goooooal!” (5/16/09 CAN, 11/28/09 US) – The biggest Bot-Ball player is abducted in the middle of a match.

 

“Nonlinear” (9/15/09 CAN, 12/5/09 US) – Octo’s unveiling of his newest masterpiece is interrupted by Vertex’s henchbots stealing the medallion from the top of City Hall.

 

“Teacher’s Pet” (9/22/09 CAN, 1/23/10 US) – When Tinny accidentally lets a robo-dog eat a special invisibility mod, Vertex becomes aware of it and wants it for himself.

 

“09:F9:11” (9/22/09 CAN) – Penny must help Spin figure out why his comm messages seem to be setting off bombs around the city.

 

“The Whole Truth” (9/29/09 CAN) – Spin and Pounder must save the Flip City Grand Prix from disaster.

 

“Inferno” (10/6/09 CAN) – Spin causes tensions to rise between the Kei’zatsu and Zoboshi just as Vertex decides to set the city on fire.

 

“The Pirate Bay” (3/11/09 CAN) – Spin has to stop a pirate invasion while attempting to rescue Tinny from them.

 

“The Bazaar” (10/13/09 CAN) – Vertex attacks the Koppa Festival with a device that sends bots to another dimension.

 

“The Cathedral” (10/20/09 CAN) – Botch strikes the Zogensha for an artifact before Vertex can get it.

 

“The Broken” (10/27/09 CAN) – The Tensai unleash a new maintenance robot that makes life hard for the other tribes, so of course Vertex wants it.

 

“Ajax” (11/3/09 CAN) – Phaze complicates the city’s newest transportation system.

 

“Vett” (11/10/09 CAN) – Vertex’s old ally Vett returns and gives the FCPD more trouble than they can handle.

 

“Prophecies and Guesstimates” (11/17/09 CAN) – Spin investigates Vertex’s past while Vett attacks the stadium for another artifact.

 

“Paradigm Shift, Part 1” (11/24/09 CAN) – Vertex and Vett attack the FCPD in order to claim the final artifact.

 

Paradigm Shift, Part 2” (12/1/09 CAN) – The FCPD struggles to keep the city from falling when they lose Pounder’s leadership.

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.

December 12, 2020

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES

 

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES
(CW, September 23, 2006-April 5, 2008)

 

Warner Bros. Family Entertainment, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Animation

 

 

MAIN CAST:

Yuri LowenthalSuperman/Clark Kent/Kal-El, Stone Boy/Dag Wentim, Superman-X/Kell-El (season 2)
Andy MilderLightning Lad/Garth Ranzz
Kari WahlgrenSaturn Girl/Imra Ardeen, Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel/Luornu Durgo, Shrinking Violet/Salu Digby, Infectious Lass/Dura Sehpt, Ayla Ranzz (season 2)
Adam WylieBrainiac 5/Querl Dox, Colossal Boy/Gim Allon, Computo
Heather HoganPhantom Girl/Tinya Wazzo
Alexander PolinskyChameleon Boy/Reep Daggle, Matter-Eater Lad/Tenzil Kem, Chlorophyll Kid/Ral Benem, Calamity King/E. Davis Ester (season 2)


For the history of Superman, check out the post here.

            The Legion of Super-Heroes was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino in Adventure Comics #247. Although multiple DC Comics continuity reboots have altered the details some over the years, the constant is that the Legion was a team comprised of beings from multiple worlds in the far future inspired by the heroics of Superboy/Superman to be heroes in their own time. Initially starting small, the roster would come to boast dozens of different characters and off-shoot teams, funded by eccentric millionaire R.J. Brande after they saved his life. The initial line-up was comprised of Lightning Boy (later Lad), from the planet Winath with lightning powers, Saturn Girl, from Saturn’s moon Titan with telepathy, and Cosmic Boy, their leader from Braalian with the ability to generate magnetic fields. They traveled back in time to recruit Superboy into their ranks, and after a series of tests was he inducted into the “club” before being returned to his own time.

The ever-expanding roster of the Legion of Super Heroes.

            Initially intended as a one-off story, the Legion proved popular with readers and was brought back in issue #267 for another adventure. Their popularity continued to grow, and the Legion was featured in stories in various titles edited by Mort Weisinger. In these stories, the other Legionnaires only hinted at before began to be introduced, including Chameleon Boy, a shapeshifter from the planet Durla; Invisible Kid, who was an Earthling capable of stealth; Colossal Boy, another Earthling with the ability to increase his size (and later decrease it as Micro Lad); Star Boy, from planet Xanthu with the ability to increase the mass, density and gravity of an object; Brainiac 5, initially a descendant of Superman’s villain Brainiac (before he was retconned as being robotic) from the planet Colu with superior intellect and shape-shifting abilities; Triplicate Girl, from the planet Cargg with the ability to split herself into three physical beings; Shrinking Violet, who possessed the ability to shrink to atomic levels like other residents of planet Imsk; Sun Boy, another Earthling who could generate fire; Bouncing Boy, yet another Earthling who could inflate his body allowing him to bounce really high and become impervious to injury; Phantom Girl, hailing from the 4th dimensional planet Bgztl with the ability to phase through solid matter, fly and travel between dimensions; and Ultra Boy, from Rimbor who could use super strength, speed, flight, x-ray vision, heat vision or invulnerability one at a time. Superman’s cousin Supergirl would even become a member. In Adventure Comics #329, the Legion Flight Ring was introduced; granting each member the ability to fly and survive in vacuums.

The very first Legion of Super-Heroes issue.

            The Legion spent most of their early existence sharing a title with Superboy in the pages of Adventure Comics, Action Comics and Superboy. It wouldn’t be until 1973 that they would get their own book titled The Legion of Super-Heroes, although it was only a four-issue series reprinting earlier Adventure stories. In 1980, they took over the Superboy title completely with #259, leading to their second solo series. The Legion book would be cancelled and restarted several more times, navigating through inter-office politics that saw Superboy removed from their history entirely to be replaced by the similar Mon-El and then later re-introduced, an ever-expanding roster, new origin stories for the various members, and little tweaks to the Legionnaires overall. Spin-off titles, such as Legionnaires and The Legion would see publication, and several members would get books of their own, including Cosmic Boy, Timber Wolf and Valor.

Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy and Cosmic Boy make their animated debut in 1998.

            In 1998, the Legion made their first jump to animation with the Superman: The Animated Series episode “New Kids in Town”. Chameleon Boy (Jason Priestly), Saturn Girl (Melissa Joan Hart) and Cosmic Boy (Chad Lowe) travelled back in time to keep Brainiac (Corey Burton) from killing a teenaged Clark Kent (Jason Marsden). Other Legionnaires appeared in silent cameos. In 2004, their arch-villain Mordru appeared in the Justice League Unlimited episode “The Greatest Story Never Told” before the Legion themselves reappeared in 2006’s “Far From Home”, where Bouncing Boy (Googy Gress) and Brainiac 5 (Matt Czuchry) recruited Supergirl (Lauren Tom) to help rescue the others from the Fatal Five (more on them later).

Reciting the Legion's oath outside of their HQ.

            Many fans assumed that this episode was actually a backdoor pilot to the newly announced Legion of Super Heroes animated series developed by Amy Wolfram. However, producer and character designer James Tucker set the record straight in revealing that the show came about because Cartoon Network wanted their own Superman-centric series that could air around the time Superman Returns hit theaters. It had no connection to the DC Animated Universe that began with Batman: The Animated Series. The series saw the Legion—Lightning Lad (Andy Milder), Saturn Girl (Kari Wahlgren), Brainiac 5 (Adam Wylie), Phantom Girl (Heather Hogan), Bouncing Boy (Michael Cornacchia), Triplicate Girl (Wahlgren), Timber Wolf (Shawn Harrison) and Chameleon Boy (Alexander Polinsky)—journey back in time to recruit a young Superman to join their ranks. Unfortunately, they ended up going too far back and encountered a Clark Kent who was not yet in full control of his abilities; requiring them to train their inspiration as well as fight alongside him. While the series centered around the core 8 Legionnaires, other members of the Legion would appear in various episodes either as guest stars or cameos.

The main Legionnaires (from top): Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Superman, Timber Wolf and Bouncing Boy.

            Original promotion for the show called Superman “Superboy”, much like he had been known during his earliest encounters with the Legion. However, there was ongoing litigation between DC Comics and the families of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to Superman and Superboy. In March of 2006, a judge ruled in favor of the Siegel family over the copyright of the Superboy character, but Time Warner, DC’s parent company at the time, owned the trademark. Although a retrial would rule in DC’s favor, at the time DC had to use creative ways to get around outright calling any of their Superboys by name.

Triplicate Girl is beside herself.

            Legion of Super Heroes debuted on September 23, 2006; however, Cartoon Network ended up passing on the show (although they would air it in reruns). Instead, The CW, also looking for a cartoon centered around a young Superman to compliment their long-running Smallville, picked it up and aired it in their Kids’ WB programming block. It was written by Wolfram with Matt Wayne, Scott Sonneborn, Rob Hoegee, John Esposito, Rob Hummel, Stan Berkowitz, Marty Isenberg, David Slack, Michael Jelenic, Greg Weisman, J.M. DeMatteis, Eddie Guzelian, Keith Damron, Joseph Kuhr, Steven Melching with Hoegee serving as story editor for season 1 and Jelenic for season 2. The theme was composed by Kristopher Carter with him, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis composing the rest of the series’ music.

The Fatal Five: Persuader, Mano, Emerald Empress, Tharok and Validus.

            Villains for the series included the aforementioned Fatal Five comprised of Emerald Empress (Jennifer Hale & Tara Strong), wielder of the Emerald Eye of Ekron which gave her access to immense mystical power; Mano, a mutant with the ability to disintegrate anything he touched; the Persuader (David Sobolov), who used an axe that could cut through anything; Tharok (David Lodge), a cyborg with immense intelligence; and Validus, who possessed immense physical strength; Alexis Luthor (Strong), the richest girl in the galaxy and descendant of Lex Luthor who turned to villainy when she felt Superman’s heroic duties left him little time to pay attention to their friendship; Mordru (Richard McGonagle & Jim Ward), a powerful sorcerer; Brainiac (Burton, reprising his role from the DCAU), Brainiac 5’s android ancestor; and the Legion of Super-Villains (aka the Light Speed Vanguard), an antithesis to the Legion comprised of Lightning Lord (James Arnold Taylor), Lightning Lad’s brother with similar powers; Esper (Strong), a telepath; Hunter (Khary Payton, using an Australian accent), a master hunter and trucker; Ron-Karr (Harrison), who possessed the ability to become totally flat; Wave, who could use her hair like an appendage; and Tyr (Payton), a warrior whose right arm was a bionic gun.


            On request from the network, the second season of Legion was given a darker tone than the first with such occurrences as Lightning Lad losing an arm and getting a robotic one, and one of Triplicate Girl’s duplicates being lost in a temporal anomaly leading her to take the new codename Duo Damsel. Set two years later, Superman returned to the future to help the Legion deal with the looming threat of Imperiex (Phil Morris), a powerful being from the 41st Century who came back to conquer the Legion’s present. He was aided by the Dominators: a technologically advanced alien race whose rigid hierarchy was determined by the size of the red circle on their heads. Aiding the Legion was a second Superman: Superman-X (Lowenthall), a clone of the original created by an android named K3NT (Amy Hill & Sab Shimono) to battle Imperiex. Superman-X possessed all of the original’s abilities and none of his weaknesses; in fact, he was given the ability to produce and channel Kryptonite energy. However, since he regarded himself as a living weapon, he was far more aggressive and cold-blooded than the actual Superman. A focus was also placed on Brainiac 5’s relationship with his ancestor, culminating in Brainy’s eventual corruption to the dark side.

An older Superman returns to help his friends.

            A third season was planned but ended up being cancelled when The CW handed their children’s programming over to 4Kids Entertainment, ending Kids’ WB in favor of The CW4Kids. The series would have again time-jumped three years after the conclusion of the second season with an older and more experienced Superman returning. The primary focus would have been Brainiac 5’s return after he quit the team due to events of the previous season. Legionnaires Blok and Dawnstar would have been elevated from cameos to major characters. Superman-X would have returned with a reduced role, replaced by fallen Legionnaire Ferro Lad’s (Dave Wittenberg) long-lost twin brother. Brainiac would have returned as well.

Superman and Superman-X.

During its run, Legion was nominated for three Creative Arts Emmy Awards. In 2007, DC Comics began publication of a tie-in comic titled Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, distinguishing it from both the main Legion books and the more youth-oriented Adventures titles set in the DCAU. The first issue was given out on Free Comic Book Day that year as well as sold in comic shops. The series ended after 20 issues and one collection of the first 7 issues. McDonald’s featured toys based on the characters in their Happy Meals that came in their own book-like case with a trading card, and the collectible miniatures game HeroClix by Wizkids produced a special starter set with the Legion and “Young Superman”. A proper action figure line wasn’t made due to a lack of retailer interest.

The second season DVD cover with Imperiex front and center.

            Warner Home Video released the first season across three DVD volumes from 2007-08, which was collected as a three-pack in 2009. In 2020, Warner Archive released both the second season on DVD and the complete series on Blu-ray. The series has also been made available for streaming on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and DC Universe. Individual episodes were included as bonus features in several direct-to-video animated movies: “Phantoms” in Justice League: Gods and Monsters, “Man of Tomorrow” in Justice League vs. The Fatal Five and “Dark Victory” in The Death of Superman.

 

 

EPISODE GUIDE:

“Man of Tomorrow” (9/23/06) – Three Legionaires go back in time to recruit Superman to help them defeat the Fatal Five, but end up arriving before Clark Kent becomes the man of steel.

 

“Timber Wolf” (9/30/06) – A scientist asks the Legion to help capture a dangerous creature, but they soon discover it’s not the dangerous one.

 

“Legacy” (10/7/06) – Superman becomes fast friends with Alexis after rescuing her, and she decides to do something about it when his Legion duties keep him neglecting her.

 

“Phantoms” (11/4/06) – Superman accidentally opens the gateway to the Phantom Zone, freeing someone with his powers and trapping the Legion.

 

“Champions” (11/11/06) – Superman and Phantom Girl uncover a plot by the Fatal Five while Lightning Lad competes in the Galactic Games.

 

“Fear Factory” (11/18/06) – The Legion takes refuge in an abandoned space station to escape a storm, only to be confronted by their worst fears.

 

“Brain Drain” (2/3/07) – Superman and Timber Wolf head to an inhospitable planet to find an element to restore Brainy’s IQ, but a transporter accident leaves them following not-so-Brainy’s lead.

 

“Lightning Storm” (2/10/07) – Lightning Lad is offered membership in an older, “cooler” team but discovers they aren’t exactly the heroes they appear to be.

 

“The Substitutes” (2/17/07) – Legion recruitment isn’t going well until the team finds themselves overwhelmed by a mysterious foe and a group of rejected Legionnaires band together to help.

 

“Child’s Play” (2/24/07) – A sorcerer arrives and causes trouble on Earth, introducing Superman to his weakness to magic.

 

“Chain of Command” (3/3/07) – The Legion goes to help Lightning Lad’s home planet, but more trouble arrives when their original leader Cosmic Boy returns.

 

“Sundown, Part 1” (4/28/07) – The Legion finds themselves unable to stop the ancient weapon known as the Sun Eater.

 

“Sundown, Part 2” (5/5/07) – The Legion recruits their enemies to help save Earth from the Sun Eater while Superman discovers who’s controlling it.

 

Season 2:

“The Man from the Edge of Tomorrow, Part 1” (9/22/07) – A Superman clone from the future comes to the Legion for help in defeating warlord Imperiex.

 

“The Man from the Edge of Tomorrow, Part 2” (9/29/07) – Imperiex frees the Legion’s foes from prison to help in his conquest, resulting in their calling Superman back from the past to help.

 

“Cry Wolf” (10/6/07) – The Legion try to catch Timber Wolf when it seems he attacked his father, but Chameleon Boy and Phantom Girl work to clear his name.

 

“Chained Lightning” (10/13/07) – Imperiex attempts to harness a stormy nebula with the aid of Lightning Lord and attempting to stop them costs Lightning Lad his arm.

 

“Karate Kid” (10/27/07) – Spread thin, the Legion looks for more recruits in order to stop Grimbor the Chainsman’s crime spree.

 

“Who Am I?” (11/3/07) – Chameleon Boy infiltrates Imperiex’s ranks but ends up losing himself in the process.

 

“Unnatural Alliances” (11/17/07) – Everyone wants to protect a young boy named Abel from robotic cowboy Terra-Man, despite Abel being the one to eventually give rise to Imperiex.

 

“Message in a Bottle” (12/1/07) – Superman learns that Brainiac 5’s ancestor played a part in the destruction of Krypton.

 

“In the Beginning” (3/8/08) – The Legion must rescue their founder once again when he ends up being kidnapped.

 

“Trials” (3/15/08) – Zyx comes to the Legion for help freeing his homeworld from Mordu.

 

“In Your Dreams” (3/22/08) – Realizing the prophetic Dream Girl is helping the Legion beat them, the Dark Circle kidnap her to use her themselves.

 

“Dark Victory, Part 1” (3/29/08) – Imperiex tries to force Brainy to unlock Brainiac 1.0 so that he can use him in his plans for conquest.

 

“Dark Victory, Part 2” (4/5/08) – Brainiac 5 defeats Imperiex and takes over his army, as well as his plans to conquer the universe.