March 26, 2022

SPACECATS

 

SPACECATS
(NBC, September 14-December 14, 1991)
 
Marvel Productions, Paul Fusco Productions, NBC Productions
 
 
MAIN CAST:
Rob Paulsen – Thomas “Tom” Spacecat, Chelsie Pipshire
Townsend Coleman – Scratch
Pat Fraley – Sniff
Paul Fusco – Captain Catgut
Charles Nelson Reilly – D.O.R.C.
Robert Ridgley - Narrator
 
 
            Spacecats was an animated/live-action/puppet hybrid created by Paul Fusco, the man behind the ALF puppet and franchise. The series focused on a group of alien cats (basically cats with antennae) who were created on the planet Trygliceride-7 to solve all the problems of Earth; fighting for “truth, justice and a better-quality cat food without a fishy aftertaste” (a play on Superman’s motto). They took refuge in an underground lair so secret, not even the cats themselves knew where they were.

D.O.R.C. addressing Captain Catgut.


Their leader was D.O.R.C. (the Disembodied Omnipotent Ruler of Cats, performed in liv-action by Charles Nelson Reilly), a former game show host with a low tolerance for cats due to his inability to have a pet as a young head (because he needed to be able to carry them in his mouth). He relayed missions directly to the less-than-intelligent Captain Catgut (Fusco), who then selected the agents to carry out their mission.            Despite a large assortment of Spacecats to choose from (seriously—he usually flipped through film slides of several), Catgut generally chose the same three. The team leader was always Thomas “Tom” Spacecat (Rob Paulsen), a weapons expert with excellent spelling ability. Under him was disguise expert Scratch (Townsend Coleman), so named because of a musical family of space fleas constantly making him itchy, and Sniff (Pat Fraley), whose keen sense of smell was only rivaled by his numerous allergies. It would be up to the Spacecats to foil the villains, save the day, and try to discreetly blend in with Earth cats (well, two out of three ain’t bad).

Captain Catgut's intro credit.


Spacecats debuted on NBC on September 14, 1991. The series was written by Fusco with ALF writers Howard Bendetson and David Silverman, animated ALF writer Terrie Collins, ALF Tales writer Judy Rothman, Rogena Schuyler, Rowby Goren (who served as story editor), George Atkins and Ron Friedman, with music by Shuki Levy, orchestrated by Udi Harpaz. Each episode followed a similar structure: after the intro and theme by ALF veterans Leslie Ann Podkin and Alf Clausen, the narrator (Robert Ridgley) would introduce the Spacecats to the audience as the camera went from space down into their lair via the garbage can entrance. The lair and Captain Catgut would be represented by puppets on a set, typically in stock footage showing the cats milling about looking busy-ish. D.O.R.C. would then appear on the to fill Catgut in on the mission with some snide barbs before departing with a comedic message appearing on his screen, such as “Deposit $850” or “Want to lose weight? Ask me how!”. The episode would then switch to traditional animation by AKOM Productions as Catgut would scroll through slides of agents before settling on our three protagonists, with the narrator going over their qualities (usually a mix of serious and comedic). After the trio bumbled their way through the assignment, they would end the episode by addressing the audience with words of not-quite-wisdom. A running gag also had them announcing themselves with a poorly-harmonized vocal fanfare. This would be Marvel Productions’ second—and arguably more successful—attempt at an animation/puppet hybrid series after the failed Little Muppet Monsters.

The crack(ed) team of Tom, Sniff and Scratch.


            Unfortunately for all involved, the series came about right when NBC was considering a move away from animation to produce more live-action teen-oriented fare in an attempt to duplicate the success of Saved by the Bell; which would take the form of TNBC the next season. As a result, Spacecats was among the many animated shows cancelled by the network after its sole season. To date, no home releases or merchandise have been released outside of the partial adaptation of “Diamonds are Fur-Ever” featured in the special NBC Saturday Morning Comics from Harvey Comics, which previewed NBC’s 1991 Saturday morning line-up. However, 10 episodes have been uploaded online in various places, with two only available in Persian dubs.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
(NOTE: Different sources list up to 26 different episode titles and seem to disagree on what episode aired when. Therefore, the accuracy of this guide cannot be verified at this time.)
 
“Send in the Clones” (9/14/91) – Investigating why a television clown has suddenly turned violent leads the Spacecats to discover a sleazy executive has been replacing talent with robot clones.
 
“Stinking Pollution” (9/21/91) – The Spacecats are pursued by a shadowy figure as they investigate pollution that has been plaguing communities.
 
“Like Cats to Water” (9/28/91) – The Spacecats investigate a thriving water park amidst the planet’s water supply rapidly drying up.
 
“Thank You, Masked Man” (10/5/91) – An evil Hollywood producer promises to revive a has-been superhero’s career as a ruse to have him commit crimes.
 
“A Recession is Depressin’” (10/21/91) – A government employee robs the U.S. Treasury and manages to keep the money away from the Spacecats by transmitting it through computers.
 
“Diamonds are Fur-Ever” (10/19/91) – The Spacecats disguise themselves as archaeologists to attempt to trap a diamond thief with the “discovery” of a fake diamond.
 
“Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall” (10/26/91) – Spacecat Yvette Meow is assigned to the team to help investigate what’s turning beautiful women into ugly hags.
 
“The Incredible Shrinking Monuments” (11/2/91) – The Spacecats investigate the connection between a miniature golf course and disappearing national monuments.
 
“Blintzcapades” (11/9/91) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“A Tale of Two Kitties” (11/23/91) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Mysteriously Missing Guests” (11/30/91) – The Spacecats are sent to investigate the mysterious disappearances of guests that attend an actress’ dinner parties.
 
“Operation Pine Crud” (12/7/91) – An air freshener company may be responsible for some deforestation going on at Yellowbelly National Park.
 
“Y.I. Auto” (12/14/91) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Professor VonSchtooker and the Temple of Gold” (???) – The Spacecats are sent to find out what happened to an important scientist as he discovered the means to turn anything into gold.

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