Western Animation: The Foxbusters

The Foxbusters is a British animation series, very loosely based on the Dick King-Smith book The Fox Busters. It was made by Cosgrove Hall and consists of two 13-episode series, each episode running 11 minutes, made between 1999 and 2000. The show was co-written by the animation partnership of David Max Freedman and Alan Gilbey, and occasionally with Joel Jessup as a third writer. It was directed by Jon Doyle.

The show is primarily set on Foxearth Farm, a fictional farm based in the English countryside, which is dominated by a variety of animals, particularly the chickens. The Foxbusters are three chickens, Ransome, Sims and Jeffries, who have the unlikely ability to fly. Each has a different personality; Ransome is the best flyer, Sims is the smartest and Jeffries is the comic relief. The Foxbusters also have the ability to spit grit like machine guns, and drop hard-boiled eggs as if they were bombs—and these are used to effect among other methods to keep the hungry pack of foxes in Foxearth Forest at bay.

The arguments and conversations among the chickens makes an effective comedy. The foxes' attempts to get the better of the chickens are often unsuccessful, but they add a lot of humour to the show. The show itself is laden with gags and action, and is of a quality which led to its receiving two major awards in 2000. One was a BAFTA for 'Best Animated Series' and the other was from the British Animation Awards for 'Best Children's Series'.

Despite being a critical success, the show did not enjoy the same level of commercial success as some of its competitors and ended in 2000 after just two series. Despite this, the series is still fondly remembered by fans.

Tropes include:

  • Accidental Hero: Todd becomes one to the foxes when he's snagged by a hang-glider and unwittingly knocks Ransome and Sims right out of the sky.
  • Action Girl: The Foxbusters themselves.
  • Adorkable: On the heroic side, there's Jeffries. And on the antagonistic side, there's Todd. Both are rather precious when they speak.
  • Affably Evil: While many of the foxes are portrayed with something of an attitude, they can be courteous to one another. This especially applies to Todd, who's generally well-going and friendly. Rotter the otter is also a villain, but is incredibly polite about it.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of The Dam Busters. The episodes "Ackluckalypse Now" and "The Not-so Great Escape" also count.
  • Amusing Injuries
  • Animal Talk
  • Attack Of The50ft Whatever: The episode "Big Trouble".
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Voracious, Attila, Evita, Todd and Jeffries all suffer from being bitten by Voracious' son Ghengis at some point during "Three Hens And A Baby" when they babysit him.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Jeffries is the beauty, Sims is the brains, and Ransome is the brawn.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Jeffries does all kinds of things that wouldn't be possible to do. Even Sims points this out in one episode.
  • Big Bad: King Voracious
  • Big Eater: Jeffries has been referred to by the foxes as "The Fat One" at least once, and although she takes offence to this even she refers to herself as this at one point.
  • Black Sheep: Todd, who is the only fox who doesn't actually possess any malicious intent towards the chickens. He's also the Token Good Teammate among the foxes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jeffries does this a lot, and on occasion Todd.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The "Salad Squad", started as a gag about cucumbers based off Ransome's attempt to make a loyal army out of sheep, comes into play in the climax when Jeffries uses them to bombard Voracious.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Both Jeffries and Todd demonstrate this quality. The former's proposal for an escape plan from a trapped tunnel was to leave a message for "highly-advanced chicken archeologists" to uncover and rescue them.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The antagonists, duh.
  • Cycle of Revenge/The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: Voracious has a nightmare to this effect in "Peace", wherein the foxes' pursuit of the Foxbusters leads to the Foxbusters pursuing and hunting them down, as Voracious tries to defend his son. He later cites this as his motivation for trying to establish a peaceful coexistence between the foxes and chickens. It sadly doesn't last.
  • Dark Chick: Evita
  • Doomsday Device: Sims' growth gun in "Big Trouble".
  • Downer Ending: "Peace" concludes with the chickens and foxes' meeting to declare a final truce turning into an outright war, when Sims and the elder fox drop a boulder onto them. Sims laments her part in setting off the conflict to confirm her suspicions. And the revelation that both sides had catapults, hidden and at the ready, pretty much shoots down any real chance of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
    • Of the Sudden Downer Ending variety, "In the Beak-ginning" concludes with the triumphant Foxbusters' origin story and the ugly duckling gaining confidence. He then walks off to try becoming a hero himself, and is devoured offscreen by a fox. Cue the protagonists' horrified reactions and iris in on Jeffries crying. End of episode.
  • The Dragon: Attila.
  • Eats Babies: At the beginning of one episode a fox is seen trying to eat a chick (the chick is saved by the Foxbusters moments later). On the other hand, in "In The Beak-ginning", a duckling actually does get eaten by one of the foxes off screen.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Sims talks like this, although it's largely due to her accent.
  • Enemy Mine: After both sides are manipulated by Rotter the Otter throughout "The Trojan Chicken", the Foxbusters and foxes team up to foil Rotter's scheme and bombard him with eggs.
  • Enfante Terrible: Genghis, especially in "Three Hens and a Baby"
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Between Ransome and the antagonistic rival Hunter in "Day of the Hunter". This turns out to have been an Invoked Trope, on the orders of Voracious for Hunter to take out the Foxbusters, in exchange for the freedom of his wife and child.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Ransome calls her brother Icky a "Dumb Cluck!" in one episode, for example. Some of the things Farmer Farmer says also count.
    • In an attempt to prove he is the "wiliest", Todd mentions that he picked Evita and Attila's pockets while they were arguing. Attila flatly points out that foxes don't have pockets, which prompts a disgusted squeal out of Todd.
    • During their Trojan Horse attempt in "The Trojan Chicken", while operating a giant chicken restaurant mascot costume that obscures everything but their legs, we get this bit from the foxes.
    Attila: I can't see where we're going.
    Evita: {disdainful} I feel stupid.
    Todd: No, you don't. You feel all soft and cuddly...
    Evita: {beat, royally pissed off} TODD, WILL YOU STOP THAT?!
  • Heli Critter: Unlike her sisters, Jeffries achieves flight by spinning her tail feathers in a helicopter motion.
  • Humans Are Morons: Farmer Farmer, amongst several others.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Vlad, wanting to butter his mate up, tells Evita that he loves the idea of having kids. Attila, who was saddled with Genghis shortly before, passes him onto Evita to watch over. Seeing this, Vlad tells Evita he "has a badger on the grill" and bails.
  • Jerk Ass: Ransome and King Voracious.
  • Killer Rabbit: Voracious and Voracity's son Ghengis is a cute fox kit with a sadistic habit of biting anything and anyone.
  • Landslide Election: In "See the Dog, See the Dog Run", Dog the dog wins the farmyard leadership election with almost every single vote (Sims' and Ransom's only votes were from themselves). Dog however won by making promises he clearly could not deliver. It dramatically backfires on him later on.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Rotter the otter, especially in "The Trojan Chicken"
  • Meaningful Name: Voracious, Voracity and Rotter. Todd, too, in that it refers to an older word for "fox".
  • Misplaced Wildlife: A beaver appears briefly in a couple of episodes; although beavers are indiginous in Scotland, they are not found in England where the show is clearly set.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jeffries assisted Dog the dog winning the farmyard election in "See the Dog, See the Dog Run", and it goes straight to Dog's head.
    Jeffries: Is it just me or have I created a monster?
    Ransome: Worse - it's a politician!
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: In the pilot trailer all of the Foxbusters had these, which were removed from the final designs.
  • Origins Episode: "In the Beak-ginning" has Sims telling an ugly duckling (and eventually the whole farm) about how she, Ransome, and Jeffries became heroines, saving the chickens from the foxes with their flight.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Follow My Leader" Voracious disguises himself as a ram by wearing a wooly coat and a pair of handlebars. In "Passing The Buck" the foxes paint themselves pink to disguise themselves as "Pink Patagonian Tree Rats" and the chickens actually fall for it.
  • Poirot Speak: Maurice the mole is French, despite living in the English countryside.
  • Power Trio: Sims, Ransome, and Jeffries.
  • Quarter Hour Short
  • Shout-Out: In an attempt to make Voracious and Voracity rekindle their love (and theoretically become distracted by it), the Foxbusters set up the Spaghetti Kiss and "Kiss the Girl" scenes from Lady and the Tramp and The Little Mermaid.
    • When the sheep begin to follow Ransome around, Dog admits it's not as humiliating as that time they started following a talking pig.
    • "Day of the Hunter" ends with Ransome and Hunter recreating the end of Casablanca, with Ransome acting as Rick and recanting the famous "You'll regret it" speech.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Sims in "Hen Night", though that is not what she had in mind to begin with.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: One fox mentions this when he is unwittingly fed frog spawn by Todd.
  • Terrible Trio: Attila, Evita and Todd.
  • The Ditz: Jeffries and Todd.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Sims right at the beginning of "Big Trouble".
  • Too Clever by Half: Both the Foxbusters and the foxes suffer from this from time to time.
  • Toothy Bird
  • Trojan Horse: "The Trojan Chicken", which consists of Rotter manipulating the foxes into trying to infiltrate the farm by using a giant chicken restaurant mascot.
  • Unexplained Accent: Ransome.
  • Villain Episode: Todd is the central character in "Winging It", and a number of other episodes revolve around Voracious.
  • Weather Control Machine: Lampshaded in "Big Trouble".
  • We Need a Distraction: Played on Farmer Farmer in some episodes.
  • When I Was Your Age: The Foxbusters' dad and Volpone the fox, respectively.