February 19, 2022


(FOX, September 22, 2001-January 26, 2002)
Spümcø, Cambium Entertainment
Harvey Atkin & Mark Dailey – Crag, Indigestible Wad various
Merwin Mondesir – Slab
Michael Kerr – Chuck Nuggett
Mike MacDonald – Rip
John Kricfalusi – Jimmy the Idiot Boy, Citracett/Stinky Butt the Foul

The Ripping Friends was about four massively muscular and manly men who were dedicated to protecting their city from scum and villainy with as much destruction as possible. While they wore costumes reminiscent of traditional superheroes, they didn’t actually have any superpowers as they viewed that as cheating. No, they did battle through sheer strength and manly forces of will, as they felt victory could only be achieved through pain. Some of that pain was self-inflicted as they spent an hour a day on torture machinery and diving on live grenades. The more it hurt, the more they loved it. The Really Impressive Prototype City of (Next) Tuesday, or RIPCOT (a spoof on Disney’s EPCOT), served as their base (it was said they came from the really futuristic time of, well, next Tuesday).

Crac, Slab and Rip face off against the Indigestible Wad.

The brothers consisted of their leader, Crag (Harvey Atkin at first, then Mark Dailey), his right-hand man, Slab (Merwin Mondesir), hotheaded Rip (modeled after Kirk Douglas in Detective Story, voiced by Mike MacDonald), and the childlike Chunk Nuggett (Michael Kerr, who was also a storyboard artist). They lived with their foster mother, the masculine He-Mom, and were assisted by Spümcø’s mascot Jimmy the Idiot Boy (John Kricfalusi), a mentally-challenged drooling kid created by combining the brothers’ DNA (Jimmy was actually the subject of his own show pitch, but Kricfalusi didn’t want to lose the rights to the character). Chunk was often the butt of his brothers’ jokes because he was the youngest at 35 ½, compared to the others being 36. The brothers’ only weakness was a lack of meat consumption, which would cause their muscles to shrink and leave them as frail wimps. Among the foes they faced were Citrocett (Kricfalusi), a Euroslavian dictator who once gained flatulence-based powers; Flathead (Marvin Goldhar), a worm whose acquisition of a spine allowed him to wreak havoc; the Indigestible Wad (Atkin), a sentient wad of gum that sucked moisture out of people and zombified them; and even their own underpants. The characters were designed by Kricfalusi and Jim Smith.

Chunk gets no respect.

 Before selling Ren & Stimpy, Kricfalusi was pitching a number of ideas to various studios and networks. While they claimed to like the ideas, they ultimately turned them down because they couldn’t see a way to get a toy company to finance the show’s production as they were only interested in action characters. Kricfalusi decided to give them what they wanted and came up with The Ripping Friends—which still didn’t sell. Even with the success of Ren & Stimpy, Kricfalusi didn’t abandon the idea and tried to get the concept turned into a film project with James Cameron attached, but that ultimately fell through. Finally, it was his partner Kevin Kolde who managed to put a deal together to get The Ripping Friends onto Fox Kids.

Citracett holds Jimmy hostage.

 Kricfalusi wasn’t heavily involved with the production of the show early on, as he was busy working on the Flash-animated Weekend Pussy Hunt (which also featured Jimmy). However, halfway through production on the season Kricfalusi saw that supervisors were eliminating the Spümcø style (such as cleaning up intentionally “off-model” poses, with John Shaw of Funbag Animation famously leaving Kricfalusi’s style guide unopened for weeks), and got more actively involved. Not only did he serve as one of the writers along with Richard Pursel, Robyn Byrd and Ben Jones, but also as the design supervisory, storyboard supervisor, storyboard artist, key animator, director and voice director. On that last role, Kricfalusi stated in an interview that he worked his actors so hard he was afraid Atkin was going to have a heart attack, resulting in his being replaced with Dailey for half of the episodes. Kricfalusi was also at constant odds with the network, which forced him to tone down the more adult aspects of the show and some of the violence after he felt he already “watered down” the concept enough just so it would sell (he had hopes of a more prime-time timeslot for future seasons).

Taking the pain.

 The Ripping Friends was originally supposed to debut in September of 2000 and then in May of 2001, but ended up coming to FOX on September 22, 2001. The series’ theme and music were composed by Steve London, with additional music by Ernest Lee and Zoran Borisavljevic. Along with Funbag, animation duties were handled by Animagic Studio, PIP Animation Services Inc., Q-West Studios and Red Rover Studios (now part of House of Cool). Kricfalusi made special point to give a shoutout to Sound of One Hand, a small audio studio that allowed him to go full experimental with the sound design of the episodes. Along with the main story, each episode featured a short segment called “Rip Along with the Ripping Friends”, where viewers were asked to send in letters about problems they were having (such as why toys no longer came in cereal boxes) and the Ripping Friends “ripping” the offenders to shreds. Viewers were encouraged to participate by ripping pieces of paper in front of the TV screen when told to. These satirical segments were intended to be an homage to classic cartoons and make use of previously produced footage so greater focus could be placed on the actual episode; however, the intent was lost on the animation studios who re-animated the footage anyway.

Too hot for TV? A hot dog and a bun get a little too...intimate for the censors.

 Because of when the show debuted, the episodes “The Infernal Wedding” and “Jimmy’s Kidnapped” never aired during its original run because the material was deemed offensive following the September 11 attacks. Additionally, a portion of one of the “Rip Along” segments was removed for its implied sexual nature. The segment dealt with the disparity between the number of hot dogs per package versus the number of buns, and featured a male hot dog slipping inside of a female bun (a possible inspiration for one of the gags in Sausage Party?).

Ad for The Ripping Friends' debut on Cartoon Network.

With a $400,000 per episode price tag and a toy deal with Playmates never materializing beyond a prototype stage, the series was cancelled with only 13 episodes produced. In September of 2002, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim picked up the series and aired it completely uncut. The series also aired occasionally on Teletoon in Canada, where it was produced, and briefly on the CNX channel in the United Kingdom and ABC in Australia. Creations Group Limited developed a video game for the Game Boy Advance with consultation from Kricfalusi that was published by THQ. Two VHS tapes containing two episodes each were released, and later combined into a single DVD. Madman Entertainment released the complete series to DVD in Australia.

“The Indigestible Wad” (9/15/01) – A wad of chewing gum gains sentience and wanders the town sucking the moisture out of people, turning them into zombies.
“The Infernal Wedding” (10/13/02) – Citracett decides to seduce He-Mom in order to get close enough to get rid of the Ripping Brothers.
“Flathead’s Revenge” (9/29/01) – A flatworm takes one of the brothers’ backbones and wreaks havoc on the town.
“Frictor” (10/6/01) – Crag tries to help get some friction in Jimmy’s smooth fingers, but when the brothers’ callouses are exposed to radiation they create Frictor, the master of friction.
“Rip’s Shorts” (10/13/01) – After being thrown into space, Rip’s shorts become evil and gain the ability to take control of anyone.
“The Ovulator” (10/27/01) – The only one not suffering from the beef shortage, Slag is sent out to solve the mystery of the missing beef and finds a chicken holding cows hostage.
“ManMan and BoyBoy” (11/10/01) – Crag decides to save BoyBoy from his “crimefighting” partner when it’s discovered their exploits are merely putting BoyBoy in danger.
“Stinky Butt” (11/17/01) – After being banished by the brothers to the nether regions of Earth, mystical energy gives Citracett the ability to control his flatulence.
“The Muscle Magician” (11/24/01) – Being made fun of for being younger, Chunk runs away to join a circus that ends up having a magician that can control muscles.
“Jimmy’s Kidnapped” (12/15/02) – When Rip causes Jimmy to run away, Citracett and his gorilla friend capture him.
“Dr. Jean Poole” (1/12/02) – He-Mom gives the brothers a lesson on girls and sets them all up on a date with Dr. Jean Poole.
“The Man from Next Thursday, Part One” (1/19/02) – A time traveler breaks into RIPCOT’s vault to steal the brothers’ “perfect” DNA to make a weapon to use against them.
“The Man from Next Thursday, Part Two” (1/26/02) – The time traveler’s plot revealed: he seeks revenge for the brothers ripping the nail off his giant thumb and putting it back on the wrong side.

February 14, 2022



You can read the full story here.

A prolific comedic director and producer who will probably be best remembered for the original two Ghostbusters films. Along with filmmaking, he served as a creative consultant on The Real Ghostbusters and an executive producer on both Alienators: Evolution Continues, which was spun-off of his film Evolution, and Beethoven: The Animated Series, which stemmed from the first two entries in the Beethoven franchise that he produced. 

February 05, 2022



(NBC, September 11, 1976-August 8, 1977)
Alan Landsburg-Don Kirshner Production
            Noticing the success of various live-action Saturday morning programs on other networks, NBC decided to get in on the action for the 1976 season by commissioning five new shows that would air together with the final season of The Land of the Lost. Among those shows was music producer Don Kirshner’s latest attempt at recapturing the success he once experienced with The Monkees.

Publicity shot of (clockwise from top): Doomsday, Doc, Bugs and P.T.

            The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. (a play on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) were four apparently duly-deputized teenagers that operated in the back room of the 927th police precinct in the town of Northeast Southweston that dealt with unusual cases. The founder and leader was P.T. (Steve Bonino), described as “cool and clever” by the show’s theme, who was the youngest member, provided fourth wall-breaking narration during a case, and possessed a superhuman sense of smell (he named his nose “Seymour”). Bugs (Cosie Costa) was the “tough and feisty” one possessing superhuman strength and speed (so long as he could see his hands), who tended to devolved into a brief insane rage whenever anyone said “bananas”. Doomsday (Biff Warren) was a childlike ray of sunshine who believed he brought bad luck to others (hence the name and dark wardrobe), was always hungry and could communicate with animals. Doc (John Lansing) was the oldest, smartest and best-looking member of the team who was generally always serious (and when he did show his humorous side, often caught others unaware). The Kids all wore “C” belt buckles and communicated via “Caperband” radios (Mego’s Star Trek communicators with some minor alterations). They travelled around in a former hot dog vendor truck dubbed the “Big Bologna” (as it still had a giant hot dog on its roof). Inside the truck dwelled Mr. Featherstone; a shark in a fish tank (portrayed by a puppet) that provided navigational assistance and who spoke in gibberish only the Kids understood. Their mentor and adviser was Sergeant Vinton (Robert Emhardt), who fully supported them but didn’t shy away from trying to ward them off of troubling cases.

A girl arrives to turn C.A.P.E.R. on...to a case.

            Episodes would begin with a silent comedy vignette and a member of the cast telling the audience via voiceover a “secret word” that would prove key to the plot. That would be followed by P.T. narrating what was about to happen before a girl came in looking for their help. In most episodes, that girl would also become attracted to a different member of the team. They would proceed to investigate the case with the occasional interjections by P.T. Similar to The Monkees, the cases and actions of the characters were over-the-top and silly; played for laughs rather than any kind of narrative seriousness. Reporter Kurt Klinsinger (Robert Lussier) would tag along looking for an exclusive. He fancied himself an intrepid journalist, but quickly turned coward when trouble arose. At some point, one of the Kids would break out into song; however, none of them were said to be in a band (unlike other Kirshner-involved projects) or able to play an instrument. Another silent vignette ended the episodes with a voiceover providing a “C.A.P.E.R. Code” that, when broken, would indicate the next week’s secret word. A running gag featured the group standing at attention and proudly explaining their acronym as meaning “The Civilian Authority for the Production of Everybody, Regardless!”, followed by a four-part harmonization of “Ta-da!”

Vinton and Klinsinger.

            The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. debuted on NBC on September 11, 1976; however, the cast would actually be seen the night before on The Great NBC Smilin’ Saturday Mornin’ Parade preview special (produced by series producers Kirshner and Alan Landsburg), co-hosting with Freddie Prinze. It was created by Romeo Muller and developed by Merrill Grant, with Kirshner serving as executive producer and music supervisor. Muller was the primary writer, with series director and producer Stanley Z. Cherry making uncredited contributions and Mae Wale Brown serving as script supervisor. A relatively inexperienced Joseph Roveto was tasked with coming up with the costumes for the main characters after being recommended to the producers. The theme song, which introduced the concept and characters, was written by Ron Dante and Jake Holmes and performed by Dante with interjections from the cast during their introductions. Other songs were written by Rob Hegel, Amanda George (as Carol George), Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield, Gene Allan, Gary Knight, Mitch Margo and Phil Margo, as well as Dante and Holmes. Each one was performed by a member of the cast. Wally Gold and Jay Siegel served as the music producers.

Bugs conversing with Mr. Featherstone.

            Everyone was banking on the notion that C.A.P.E.R. would prove a huge success. Ads were taken out for the show touting it up, as well as the promise of a massive merchandising campaign including toys, dolls, foods, accessories, and a decoder pin to transcribe the secret code. They were featured prominently in NBC’s Smilin’ Saturday Morning promo bumpers, advertising theirs and other shows. The teen magazines that covered the show extensively began a little friendly “rivalry” between C.A.P.E.R. and ABC’s Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, as well as passed along the possibility of their networks considering giving both a prime-time version. However, all of that seemed unlikely as C.A.P.E.R. suddenly disappeared from the NBC airwaves in November as the network did a massive schedule shake-up.

Shot from the very first scene filmed which showcases the Kids' different attire.

            Tiger Beat Star did some digging into the disappearance of the show, which left two episodes unaired. As they reported in their March 1977 issue, the last two episodes were actually the first two episodes filmed for the series and executives felt they didn’t quite live up to the standard of quality the rest of the show set. It turned out that between the wrapping of those episodes and production on the third episode of the season, some changes were made to the costuming, set design and the Big Bologna (originally colored blue, as was pointed out in the flashback song cue). It was decided to film all-new scenes to establish those episodes as flashbacks. The series returned in early 1977 with a new intro that included clips from episodes that allowed it to flow better with the theme, and all episodes aired. However, come the 1977 fall schedule, it was once again gone; officially cancelled by the network along with all of their live-action offerings from the previous season.

The album cover.

            As for the merchandising blitz? Very little was actually released for the show—especially not the decoder rings. What did get released was an album of the show’s songs (minus two episode songs and the theme) by Don Kirshner Music through Columbia/CBS Records, as well on 8-track and a single containing “When It Hit Me” and “Ridin’ a Rainbow”. Despite promoting more toys, Ideal only released the Big Bologna as part of their Micro Mighty Mo line. To date, none of the episodes have been made available on official home video. Two episodes and various clips do exist online from fan recordings, as does the preview special.
“Too Much Time on Their Hands” (9/11/76) – C.A.P.E.R. is tasked with stopping a malfunctioning time machine before criminals catch up to them in the past.
“Kids from H.Y.D.E.” (9/18/76) – A mad scientists slips C.A.P.E.R. a box of fudge laced with a formula that turns them into naughty tap-dancing monsters.
“Ghost from C.A.P.E.R.” (9/25/76) – A magician haunting the police station asks C.A.P.E.R. to find his lost love, unfortunately they end up producing three different women!
“The Uncanny Nanny” (10/2/76) – C.A.P.E.R. must find an obnoxious boy who disappeared after being handed over to Nanny Noony, who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
“Invasion of the Frankfurter Snatchers” (10/9/76) – A warning about aliens hiding in hot dogs taking over people’s minds is ignored until everyone but P.T. becomes a hot dog zombie.
“The Pieman’s Pool” (10/16/76) – A famous pastry chef’s daughter asks C.A.P.E.R. to figure out why his latest delicacies are exploding and causing earthquakes.
“King Cone” (10/23/76) – C.A.P.E.R. must solve a rash of ice cream thefts while figuring out why a new gorilla arrived at the circus without the acrobat who was accompanying him.
“The Post Monster General” (10/30/76) – C.A.P.E.R. must retrieve the rare stamp collection Bugs accidentally used to mail out invitations before someone else can snatch them.
“The Terrible Tollman” (11/6/76) – Only Doomsday knows a bridge isn’t gone when the Terrible Tollman hypnotizes the entire town.
“Dunga Gin” (11/13/76) – C.A.P.E.R. investigates the rise of a new cola drink just as the city’s water supply is stolen.
“Phantom of the Drive-In” (11/20/76) – C.A.P.E.R. goes undercover to put a stop to the phantom haunting the drive-in.
“Mummy’s the Word” (5/21/77) – C.A.P.E.R. recalls a past case where they stopped thieves from making off with valuable Egyptian treasures.
“The Goodfather” (8/13/77) – C.A.P.E.R. investigates an “un-crime” wave where money and jewels are being forced onto people rather than being taken away.