Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
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,
Crac, Slab and Rip face off against the Indigestible Wad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A girl arrives to turn C.A.P.E.R. on...to a case.
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!”
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
Shot from the very first scene filmed which showcases the Kids' different attire.
Tiger Beat Stardid 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
“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
“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.