KaBlam! (Kablam! Theater in pre-production) was an animated anthology show designed to show off more animated shows, and the first spin-off of All That. Running only a half-hour, it crammed in four two-to-five minute programs per episode as well as various miscellaneous animated short series that would come and go. It spawned two spinoffs, Action League Now (which was the centerpiece of KaBlam! throughout its run) and Angela Anaconda. It was masterminded by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, the creators of The Adventures of Pete & Pete (McRobb also wrote for Nick's original Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show), as well as Robert Mittenthal, who co-created Nickelodeon's incarnation of Double Dare. It aired on Nickelodeon from 1996-2000, with many episodes left unaired. It's more less-remembered than any other Nicktoon save Oh Yeah! Cartoons, but there's somewhat of a reason there.It was hosted by Henry and June, who resided inside a comic book (which was more notable earlier on; season four toned down most of the comic book references except for "turning the page") in which they frequently broke the fourth wall, mocked tropes, and got into their own adventures.Common shorts on the show included:
Action League Now, which followed the misadventures of a band of incompetent action figure superheroes. Filmed in a mix of stop-motion and live-action described as "Chuck-imation".
Life with Loopy, the adventures of Loopy, a spunky girl who gets into bizarre situations, as related by her older brother. Filmed in a mix of stop-motion, puppetry and live-action performed by the short's creators.
These appeared in almost every episode, with the exception of Life with Loopy which suffered frequent Schedule Slippage in season one, and Sniz and Fondue when their production company went under mid-season three.Other recurring shorts were:
Surprising Shorts, which had no recurring characters or plot or art style but seemed to be the overarching title given for a series of one-off cartoons. It appeared occasionally during the first two seasons.
There were some one-off cartoons that did not fall under the Surprising Shorts title, but were presented as their own entities.
The Offbeats, a traditionally-animated series created by Mo Willems of Sheep in the Big City, about a group of unpopular kids. Occasionally replaced Life with Loopy during the first two seasons. Although it was considered one of KaBlam!'s best shorts, it was the first of the regulars to end because of Willem's creating Sheep in the Big City for Cartoon Network.
The animation for Sniz & Fondue also was cleaned up in season two, but that was because they got a new overseas animation department.
Life with Loopy also improved after the pilot, "Goldfish Heaven". In the episode, Loopy's hair beads were 2-dimensional (like her head) rather than 3-dimensional, everyone had more square-er shoulders, and Larry had a longer neck. Not to mention the backgrounds were more basic, and the stop-motion was a bit more rough.
Later in the same episode, Henry and June get into a catapult to launch themselves into the real world. They just end up smashing against the screen - and actually crack the glass.
In "Won't Stick to Most Dental Work!", June's attempt to make the show more "intimate" involves singing a song while swinging from a series of horizontal bars. She doesn't get very far before smashing into the screen.
Several Prometheus and Bob episodes end this way, such as Prometheus' ship crashing into the screen, and a mammoth blowing its trunk so loud it cracks the glass. There are several instances of Prometheus himself deliberately throwing something at the camera (the remote in "Laundry", a rock in "Furniture", a softball in "Softball", etc).
Content Warnings: Being one of the first Nick shows (along with Are You Afraid of the Dark? [which warned viewers of its scary content] and reruns of The Ren & Stimpy Show [which warned viewers of its gross-out humor and cartoonish slapstick]) to be given a TV-Y7 rating when the ratings were introduced in 1997 (the rest were TV-Y and TV-G [the TV-G rating was mostly for the Nick at Nite line-up, which had a lot of old, family-friendly sitcoms], or not rated like game shows and The Kids Choice Awards), a parent warning was shown at the beginning to remind parents of very young children that the show had silly slapstick violence that sometimes went too far. By 1998, they got rid of those.
Early-Bird Cameo: Sheep made his first appearence in the Off-Beats short "Statistics". Sheep's girlfriend Swanky the poodle also made her first appearance in "Paddleball Record".
Face Palm: September does this in the Off-Beats episode "Paddleball Record," with both hands/forepaws.
Five-Episode Pilot: Three, actually. Two were televised, one wasn't (it was just to show Nickelodeon what the idea of the show is like)
Flanderization: Henry started off the series relatively normal. It was only until after the first season that he became the unfunny Butt Monkey.
Some episodes made June a victim of this, as she usually is just a bit of a prankster with an attitude problem, but in some episodes, she's a bossy brat. Depends on the writer, probably. It starts to end in the final season.
Forgotten Birthday: In "More Happiness Than Allowed By Law". Henry and June are celebrating their birthdays, and June got Henry a really cool remote-controlled car. Guess what Henry got her? Nothing? Yep. She spends the rest of the episode making his life hell until the end, where he makes up for it by giving her a mood ring, and when she puts it on, the color goes from blue for "Sad" to green for "Happy". Until he makes a remark about how expensive it was, and it changes to orange for "annoyed", and then goes to red... Luckily for his sake, June admits to being self-centered and forgives him, and they wish each other a happy birthday.
Framing Device: The Henry and June segments—a particularly odd choice, seeing as there's no reason for them to be watching animated shorts while living in a comic book. It makes sense when you find out McRobb and Viscardi's original pitch was for a live-action comic book.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Some of the wider shots in the Henry and June segments (particularly coming out of a short or the opening) show upcoming 'panels' that reveal the next short or an upcoming exchange.
Loony Fan: One episode had to do with a fan visiting the set of the show, and constantly annoying Henry and June due to his huge obsession with them. He wears Henry's outfit, June's sweatshirt, and even has his hair blue dyed to match June's hair (either that or it's natural). June constantly refers to him as "Weird Ryan from school", meaning the duo already knew him. The obsessed June fans covered in Even the Girls Want Her could also apply.
Opera Gloves: June wears them in her musical number in the episode "Won't Stick to Most Dental Work".
Out of Order: An extreme case of it. While "Now With More Flava!" may seem like a Downer Ending (it was the final episode aired and ended with Henry and June as security guards), the final episode made was "Going The Extra Mile".
Overly Narrow Superlative: The KaBlammy for best acting while impersonating an egg went to Loopy from "Life with Loopy" and the award for best supporting monkey went to "Prometheus and Bob."
Potty Dance: Loopy does this due to Larry being in the bathroom too long... he's recently gotten muscular, and is admiring himself.
Potty Emergency: June gets one in "Won't Crack or Peel!", and Henry gets one in "Timeless!".
Potty Failure: Henry and June are astronauts in spacesuits in one episode. Henry commented that he needed to use the bathroom and June asks why he doesn't just do what she did: use her spacesuit like a real astronaut. June runs off embarrassed when Henry informs her that they aren't wearing real spacesuits, merely cheap Halloween costumes.
Henry: I think June just went where no cartoon character has gone before. In her pants!
In one short, Fondue is addicted to Solitaire on the computer. He comments that he needs to tinkle, but continues to play. He soon notes he no longer has to go.
Real Song Theme Tune: "2-Tone Army" by The Toasters. The tune for "Skaternity" by the same band was for the ending, with another song of theirs, "Everything You Said has been a Lie" in season two onwards.
Real World Episode: Henry and June once entered a door leading to the "Real World", and went live-action for a short time (played by real (and uncredited) kids, but lip-syncing so the voice actors could do their lines, to avoid viewer confusion), until they realized "real world pain".
Say My Name: In "Harold's Glow-In-The-Dark Brand Butter", the last H&J segment features June shilling the titular butter. Henry is less than pleased, and when he sees her wearing a Harold's Butter uniform, he snaps and lets out a hilariously angry-sounding cry of "JUUUUUUUUUUNE!!!".
He also does in the episode where he gets a bad haircut, June "fixes" it, and he discovers her handiwork.
Scare Chord: Happens a lot in Life with Loopy, even in the short's theme. But then again, this IS Life with Loopy...
Scout Out: June is a former Girl Scou- uh, Logfire Girl.
And in a Season 1 episode, she appears to be a Jimi Hendrix fan. Before being launched skyward in a chair (it doesn't work out very well), she says "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky!" while Hendrix-style music plays and her eyes light up in psychedelic colors.
June's trademark outfit slightly resembles one of the many outfits worn by Stormer, not to mention sharing the same eye and hair color.
Action League Now! had seven (or eight depending on Justice (the dog)'s gender that episode) main male characters: The Flesh, Stinky Diver, Meltman, The Chief, The Mayor, and Bill The Lab Guy. Girls? Thundergirl. There was also the lab guy's daughter, but she was annoying and was taken out.
Life With Loopy was the most gender neutral short (Although it had a female protagonist). It had 2 main females (Loopy and her mom) and 2 main males (Larry and his dad). The other characters were minor/one shot characters.
Even worse in Sniz and Fondue; the only main female was Bianca!
Averted in The Off-Beats, however, where Betty Ann Bongo is the leader of the Off-Beats and Tina is the leader of The Populars.
In some episodes, June would usually make a cute face showing her eyelashes (which aren't usually seen, as this is only shown during her "cute act"). Usually her eyelashes are never shown (either due to the art style, or just to show her tomboyish nature), but she's cute enough without them.
Unmoving Plaid: Tommy from "The Off-Beats" was the inspiration for starting the trope page in the first place. The cartoon did that with several other materials, too. September disguises himself as "the President," complete with wig with unmoving hair texture.
Victoria's Secret Compartment: Slightly averted, as in the "Kablammy Awards" episode, June pulls the envelope (it says who won) out of the top part of her dress. However, since she's ten (and flat) it didn't get anything past the radar (unlike SOME stuff).
Vocal Evolution: All the kids in The Off-Beats had lower voices in season two. This also happened with Loopy and Larry of Life with Loopy and more recognizably, Henry and June. Unlike most shows with kid voice actors, they were (thankfully) never replaced.
Your Costume Needs Work: The episode "In It To Win It" has June meeting with a group of fans of hers who are dressed up like her, right down to the hair. But when she tries to interview them, they naturally don't believe she's the real June, mock her for her "lousy" costume and imitation, and get rather angry when she keeps insisting that she is the real June.
Join us again next time! Same KaBlam! time, same KaBlam! network!