More TV Memories – Ned’s Newt.

Ned’s Newt (1997-1999)

Another silly cartoon review! This is a show that I remember watching on Cartoon Network in the On Digital days when I wanted to discover more about what they had to offer, although it actually wasn’t made for that channel. Ned’s Newt was a Canadian production that originally aired on a channel called Teletoon, and I am fairly sure that it hasn’t been shown on CBBC or CITV.

Ned Flemkin is a boy who wants to own a pet, but when he gets to the shop all he can afford is a small blue newt. At first, he just sits there quietly in his bowl not doing much which disappoints Ned. But then one day Ned feeds his newt some Zippo food and he magically grows in size and starts to talk! Ned and his newt then go off and have some adventures together. vlcsnap-01104

When the newt starts to talk he is able to do a variety of impressions of famous people and he can also shapeshift, so for example he might tell a joke but in the style of someone such as Groucho Marx or Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he often gets Ned into awkward situations, by which point the food starts to wear off and he returns to his normal size, leaving Ned to get the blame for most of what has happened as no-one believes that his small pet newt could cause such things. vlcsnap-01102

Also throughout the show we meet various other characters including Ned’s parents, plus some of his schoolmates such as his friend Doogle, and his neighbour Linda who he has a crush on, and he is always battling alongside Rusty for Linda’s affections. Also as the episodes went by the Newt turned into a wide variety of characters and some of the impressions were rather bizarre. vlcsnap-01106

The oddest thing about Ned’s Newt though is that thing that I remember most about the show from the time isn’t an actual episode, but the way that it was promoted. In about 1999 I was watching Cartoon Network one day when I was beginning to get into their shows, when during an advert break there was a trail for Ned’s Newt. As well as explaining what the show was all about, it also used a piece of music that I rather liked. vlcsnap-01107

I wasn’t sure what it was or whether it was made for the trail or not, but a while later I discovered that it was the introduction to the 1982 hit single “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash, so every time I hear that now I still think of it as “The Ned’s Newt song”, as odd as that may seem. 39 episodes of the show were made in the late-90s, I haven’t seen them on TV for a while, and it seems that there has been no DVD release, but this is definitely yet another odd cartoon that I remember.

More TV Memories – Two Stupid Dogs.

Two Stupid Dogs (1993-1995)

After I wrote about Potsworth And Co. on here recently, another Hanna-Barbera cartoon that featured canine chaos came into my mind. As well as CBBC and CITV, a lot of children’s programmes were shown on Channel 4 throughout the 90s on weekend mornings. I remember being intrigued by the titles of such programmes as Aaahh! Real Monsters!, so around 1997/1998 I decided to set the video so I finally could see some of these shows, and although I don’t remember watching too many episodes at the time, one show that made an impact on me was the cartoon Two Stupid Dogs.

What the show features is exactly as the title suggests, the two main characters were a little dachshund dog with a high-pitched voice, and a big Old English Sheepdog with a low-pitched voice, and he also had a purple nose, and his hair was always over his eyes. And would you believe it, neither of them were very bright, and they were always doing stupid things and managing to drop themselves into awkward situations, a lot of which were very silly. vlcsnap-00284

One episode that stood out to me because it was amusingly odd was when after little dog hears a voice on a phone say “please deposit 25 cents”, the dogs begin to look for a quarter coin. They have some difficultly finding one, at first having no luck with a change machine. They then decide to take part in experimental tests in a hope of earning some money but of course that doesn’t work. vlcsnap-00280

At one point the dogs turn up at a get rich scheme presentation hosted by a typically smarmy salesman with his tongue hanging out which made me laugh. In their final attempt to get the coin, big dog turns up at a bank and simply says “give me $10,000”. Being mistaken for a robber, big dog ends up in prison, and little dog uses his quarter that he finally got hold of to talk to him on the phone. And would you believe that all of this happened in a episode that was just seven minutes long. vlcsnap-00285

And of course I also enjoyed the episode that featured a game show parody where the dogs appear as contestants on the classic Let’s Make A Right Price. There were a few other characters in the show though, including a cat who little dog is scared of, and an angry man called Mr Hollywood who is always shouting. 26 episodes were made of Two Stupid Dogs and it is one of the few non CBBC/CITV 90s cartoons that I enjoyed, and in more recent years the show has also been repeated on Cartoon Network. It’s still very amusing two decades on. vlcsnap-00286

More TV Memories – Cow And Chicken.

Cow And Chicken (Cartoon Network, 1997-1999)

As I have said before, when I first got digital TV in 1999, suddenly having access to lots more channels meant that I was curious what programmes were out there that I would like. I enjoyed a lot of the shows on Cartoon Network, including Cow And Chicken. This was a very bizarre cartoon, but remarkably it wasn’t the strangest thing that I ever saw on that channel, as it still wasn’t in the same league as the wonderfully odd Cult Toons and Space Ghost Coast To Coastvlcsnap-00004

Naturally this is a show about the adventures of a cow and a chicken, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Cow and Chicken are actually somehow related, and indeed they are brother and sister, with Chicken being the older one. Even odder, their parents are actually human, and we only ever see them from the waist down. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a satire on Tom And Jerry, but I think it might have even been implied that they really did only both have a bottom half, so they were both a pair of legs with no head or anything like that, even though they could both speak, I’m not really sure. vlcsnap-00001

We meet lots of other characters throughout the episodes, including the two human friends Flem and Earl who Cow and Chicken went to school with (Earl was voiced by Dan Castellaneta who it seems has done a lot more cartoon voice work beyond The Simpsons than I previously ever realised). Also occasionally Chicken’s cousin Boneless came to stay, and you can imagine what fun that was. Cow and Chicken were also both voiced by the same actor Charlie Alder who shrieked his way through all of the very noisy episodes, there seemed to be odd mooing and clucking sound effects throughout the show too, and every episode ended suddenly with someone shouting “end!”. vlcsnap-00002

There was some very odd humour throughout the show. Other things that happened in Cow And Chicken included Cow turning into a superhero called Supercow. There was also a villainous character called The Red Guy who tried to thwart the duo’s plans, and he also turned up in another Cartoon Network show called I Am Weasel which was also great and rather odd. I also think that Cow was fond of their toy beaver called Piles. vlcsnap-00003

Because Cartoon Network was the first time that I had seen a 24-hour children’s channel, it was the first time that I experienced watching cartoons on TV at all odd times of the day, and Cow And Chicken used to appear so frequently I couldn’t help but watch it, and I’m sure that I watched some episodes on several occasions, and it seemed to be on all weekend at one point, and that couldn’t be done with CBBC or CITV at the time. vlcsnap-00005

Four series of Cow And Chicken were made and I’ve seen little else like it on TV, and as someone who is a fan of the more unusual TV show even I wondered what was going on half the time, and I could watch it at 2am, hooray! Unfortunately the show didn’t really become a big success in this country because so few people had access to Cartoon Network at the time, but all these years later I still find it an enjoyable experience to watch.

CITV Memories – Freakazoid!

Freakazoid! (1995-1997)

As well as the likes of Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania and Animaniacs, another great Warner Brothers cartoon that was shown on CITV in the mid-90s was Freakazoid! As far as I remember Freakazoid! was always shown on Fridays on CITV so I associate that great “just got home from school and the weekend’s started” feeling with watching, and I became a big fan.

Freakazoid! was about a rather unusual superhero, and when the show’s opening theme wasn’t going on about chimpanzees it explained the idea. Ordinary teenager Dexter Douglas is someone who has spent far too long on the information superhighway (well, it was the mid-90s) and he gained his abilities from the code in a computer bug, becoming the all knowledgeable hero in the process. He can instantly transform into his alter-ego by saying “freak out!”, although his family have no idea about his new identity. vlcsnap-00748

Because he was a superhero, dealing an alien invasion was just an everyday occurrence for Freakazoid, but he also had battle with several baddies to help save the world. These included Longhorn and Cave Guy, but his main enemy was The Lobe, a rather strange character who had no head but he did have a brain with a face on it and he spoke in an English accent. In his rare moments of spare time from trying to take over the world he liked to do the Hokey Pokey (as they seem to call it in America). vlcsnap-00743

Of course, one thing I liked about Freakazoid! was the streak of weirdness going through the show. An announcer would usually appear to try to explain the situation but as the episode progressed he found it a struggle, and the concept of TV was played around with, with episodes randomly stopping and the Animaniacs title sequence beginning as if it had suddenly turned into another programme, there were strange cutaways to unrelated archive footage, and lots of people were parodied, from celebrities to presidents, and it seemed that no-one was safe from a ribbing. There were also odd credits and a post-credit sequence featuring a character making a quick joke to end the show. vlcsnap-00745

Freakazoid! was a fairly short-lived show and it only ran for two series and 24 episodes, it didn’t become as popular as the other Warner Brothers cartoons, and it hasn’t been released on DVD in this country. As well as being shown on CITV, in more recent years it has been on Cartoon Network where it gained a new following, and I remember setting the video once for an episode that was shown in the morning during the Christmas holidays one year, you definitely wouldn’t see something that odd on ITV now at any time. I was always happy to watch and support the show though, because if I didn’t they’d be unemployed. vlcsnap-00738

More TV Memories – Space Ghost Coast To Coast.

Space Ghost Coast To Coast (Cartoon Network, 1994-1999)

When I was one of the few people who got an OnDigital box in 1999, one of the channels that I was interested in watching was Cartoon Network, partly because it would be the first time that I could watch cartoons and children’s programming in the evening and late at night as it was a 24-hour channel. When watching one night I came across a programme that was wonderfully odd.

Space Ghost was a 1960s Saturday Morning superhero cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera, which in the 1990s was turned into something rather different. Using artwork from the original version which was redubbed, the show was turned into a parody of Letterman-style late-night chat shows and called Space Ghost Coast To Coastvlcsnap-00175

Space Ghost was the host of the show and he sat at his desk to interview all the guests. He was assisted by his bandleader and sidekick Zorak, however, they never really saw eye-to-eye and Space Ghost would constantly zap him. Also taking part was Moltar who was the producer and director of the show, but he usually didn’t really seem to know what was happening, and would often cause problems. vlcsnap-00605

The idea was that various celebrities would appear as their real-life selves on a TV screen and be interviewed by Space Ghost, only some of the conversations were rather bizarre, and their comments were often taken out of context, with most guests being bemused by proceedings as they were seemingly unaware that they taking part in a spoof. Lots of famous people featured and looking back the show is an interesting capture of celebrity in the mid-90s, with lots of guests at the quirkier end of fame being interviewed including Terry Jones, Matt Groening, and Jim Carrey. vlcsnap-00181

But the weirdness didn’t end there though. The show played around a lot with the traditional conventions of TV, and lots of odd things happened, including the credits being run at the wrong time, and people being credited as “one”, “two”, “three” and so on instead of their actual roles, names being upside down, bizarre episode titles, and episode lengths varying so it really was difficult sometimes to know when the show really had ended. vlcsnap-00619

One other weird thing that happened was an edition of the show ending with a parody of the BBC1 1991-1997 globe which was voiced by John Peel. Space Ghost Coast To Coast is definitely one of the strangest programmes that I have ever seen, and I really did think that it was terrific. It was just so unlike anything else, and as far as surreal shows go, I think that only Cult Toons, which was another Cartoon Network show which I reviewed on here a while back, can beat it for an almost trippy oddness. They don’t make them like that any more. vlcsnap-00162

It seems that Space Ghost Coast To Coast hasn’t been shown on Cartoon Network for a while now, although it was shown on a few other channels, and some editions have been released on DVD, but not in this country, but watching old editions on YouTube again recently over 15 years after I first saw them was a great experience, It probably got next to no viewers in this country and I still can’t believe it really happened. And if you liked this piece, why not fax Space Ghost and tell him all about it? vlcsnap-00183

The YouTube Files – Cult Toons.

Cult Toons (Cartoon Network, 1999)

A while ago I was thinking about a show that I liked that I wanted to write about on here, but I never recorded any episodes myself and because the show was so obscure I assumed there was no trace of it anywhere online. So I decided to go on YouTube expecting nothing to turn up when to my delight a member called “Si’s Video Vault” had uploaded five episodes of this odd show, bringing back memories and making it possible for me to write a piece about it, so huge credit goes to them. vlcsnap-00270

Cult Toons is a show that is difficult to describe in a few words. In fact, it’s difficult to describe in a lot of words. When I had On Digital, I used to enjoy watching Cartoon Network. In 1999, they had a late-night strand called AKA where they showed some classic cartoons plus original show Cult Toonsvlcsnap-00261

The show would feature old episodes of Hanna-Barbera cartoons such as The Hair Bear Bunch, The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop and Hong Kong Phooey. But what made it different was that these cartoons would be spliced with various random clips, meaning that the cartoons would be remixed to create something rather strange. vlcsnap-00268

The choice of clips were very odd, coming from various old cartoons, blaxploitation films and pop videos. So for example, if something happened in the cartoon, it would suddenly go to a clip of Daffy Duck saying “yes?”, Mr T saying “this is serious”, or other weird out-of-context clips. vlcsnap-00269

They also frequently used “they’ve put him in a trance!”, “you’re not serious, are you?”, “oh boy, some adventure at last!” and “you’ll pardon an unscientific wow… wow”. I had no idea where they found these clips from or what has happening half the time, I’ve never seen anything else like it on TV, it was terrific. vlcsnap-00266

I also remember pop stars of the time turning up to plug their singles including, this being 1999, the famous for five minutes indie group Gay Dad, leading to a segment where the title sequence of old cartoon Wait Till Your Father Gets Home was edited to go Wait Till Your Gay Dad Gets Home, I suppose you had to be there. vlcsnap-00272

I’ve always enjoyed shows that are rather odd, and this became my favourite programme on Cartoon Network, even ahead of the equally terrifically weird Space Ghost Coast To Coast and Cow & Chicken which I’ll be reviewing soon. I’d go so far as to say that it was one of my all-time favourite programmes of the On Digital era, right up there with some of the UK Play shows, and I still love it after all these years. vlcsnap-00263

So is Cult Toons another obscure lost classic of a TV show?

“I think you might be right”. vlcsnap-00264