Western Animation / Toonsylvania
was an animated show that lasted for two seasons on Fox Kids
in 1998-99 (though reruns of the show aired on Fox Family
and some overseas Fox Kids channels until 2000). It was created by Bill Kopp (the creator and voice of Eek! The Cat
) and Jeff DeGrandis and produced by Steven Spielberg
, and was one of the first animated works to come from the then-newly created DreamWorks studios. Much like Spielberg's earlier works (Tiny Toon Adventures
), it was a multiple shorts cartoon show. Each episode was split into four parts (at least in season one; season two underwent a change in format):
- The first part would be one of the adventures of Dr. Vic Frankenstein; his assistant, Igor, a Small Name, Big Ego who thought he was the brains of the outfit, and their Frankenstein's Monster, Phil.
- The second part, called "Night of the Living Fred", was about the adventures of a family of zombies, created by Mike Peters, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and creator of Mother Goose and Grimm. On most episodes (particularly in season two), this segment would be replaced with an animated parody of a B horror movie or an animated piece featuring a short-lived character (like Becki With-An-I from "Something Weenie This Way Comes" or Madam Olga).
- The third segment was the shortest, called "Igor's Science Minute", where Igor gives a science lesson. Hilarity and disaster ensue, especially in the ones where Igor doesn't sing the lesson.
- The fourth and final segment, called "Melissa Screetch's Morbid Morals"', had Phil do something bad. As punishment, Igor reads him a tale involving a bratty girl named Melissa Screetch, who doesn't heed the warnings of adults (usually given by her mother) and gets punished one way or the other for it.
In season two, showrunners Bill Kopp and Jeff DeGrandis were replaced with Paul Rugg (the voice of Freakazoid and Mr. Director) and the show became more like a horror version of Animaniacs
, which, along with moving from Saturday morning to Tuesday afternoons (especially around the time that free-to-air networks were phasing out the weekday afternoon cartoon line-up in favor of talk shows and more people tuned into cable to watch cartoons), resulted in the show being cancelled as the ratings declined.
The show hasn't aired on television since 2000. It had a VHS release around the time that it stopped airing on TV, but the video was just a "best-of" compilation of episodes from season one (even though the season two opening was used). On January 2014, Netflix streaming (the Brazilian and Mexican feed) had the entire series (including two season two episodes that didn't air since FOX canceled the show due to low ratings), and as of late 2014, it's no longer running.
Toonsylvania provides examples of:
- Animated Anthology: In the same vein as Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures.
- Big Eater: The baby human on the episode of the same name
- Body Horror: Quite a bit. The Deadmans' rotting body parts frequently fell, flew, or were ripped off. Also, Phil was badly put together and literally fell apart if one of his stitches was pulled, as Igor demonstrated in his lesson on gravity. His brain was also removed from his head at least twice, and once was even shown to be sentient.
- On "Baby Human," when the baby chomps down on Igor's head, one would expect Igor's head to be tucked into his body when Phil pulled the baby off him, right? WRONG! Igor's body was shown blindly crawling on the floor for his head, with Phil telling the baby to "...spit Uncle Igor's head out." When Baby Human does spit it out, Igor casually screws it back on.
- Bowdlerization: On some reairings of the episode "WereGranny," the scene of Phil using the DreamWorks logo to see whether or not Dr. Vic's grandmother will react had the scene cropped so the logo won't be shown. The Brazilian/Mexican Netflix version and the version shown on the VHS compilation had the part uncut.
- Broke Episode: "Something Weenie This Way Comes"
- Christmas Episode: A weird one called "Spawn of Santa," where Dr. Vic crashes his car into a bank robber named "Debbie" (who's a man despite his feminine name) and decides to take his brain out to experiment on it. At the same time, Santa gets hit in the head with Igor's granny's cheese log and Igor and Phil take Santa to Dr. Vic so he can fix him. Dr. Vic accidentally switches their brains and now Santa is a bank robber while the bank robber is Santa.
- Couch Gag: The part in between the first cartoon and the second cartoon had a small animated piece where Igor flicks on the remote and each episode, something weird happens.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Bunny Wunny in the Melissa Screetch segment, "Melissa Screetch, Earth Ambassador". He's a filthy-looking man in a bunny suit, holding a couple of children who are crying hysterically. It turns out that he's actually some sort of demon who doesn't take kindly to having the channel changed on him.
- Exact Words: Throughout the whole Melissarella segment, Melissarella repeatedly states that all she wants is "what I deserve." In the end, that's what she gets (locked in a cage and forced to live with a clone of herself).
- Fanservice Pack: Melissa Screetch gets this in the Melissarella segment.
- The Farmer and the Viper: One Melissa Screetch segment had the Three Bears finding Melissa tied to a tree and taking her into her home, followed by Melissa repaying their kindness by tormenting them. In the end they tie her up and put her back where they found her and she ends up doing the same thing to the Three Little Pigs.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Like any 1990s kids' cartoon, this show had its share of sexually suggestive jokes note . Unlike any 1990s kids' cartoon, this cartoon also had a lot of dark humor and jokes about Amusing Injuries (again, the first episode had a scene of a previous customer wanting to return his Darla Doiley doll because she had put an axe through his head. Igor and the clerk laugh at the man before he angrily tosses the doll and leaves).
Igor: Ix-nay on the gun talk! This kid's watching.
- Grossout Show: Not so much the "Igor/Dr. Vic/Phil" cartoons (though there are moments of this), but definitely the "Night of the Living Fred" cartoons, even though it's bloodless.
- Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Melissa Screetch's parents. Or maybe it's more like Average-Looking Guy, Ugly Wife.
- I Am Spartacus: In one episode of the "Night of the Living Fred" segment, the principal of the school Fred and his sister attend found out Fred is dead and expelled him for that. Later, during a debate championship Fred's sister was a part of, she admits to also being dead and several other people did the same. Some guy claimed to be Spartacus and got stared for that.
- Loophole Abuse:
- In "Phil's Brain", Dr. Vic ordered Igor to take the garbage out but Igor replied that his union doesn't allow him to do it. (In fact, it's the only thing the union forbids him from doing) Dr. Vic then ordered Igor to make sure Phil takes the garbage out otherwise Igor will be punished.
- In an episode of the "Night of the Living Fred" segment, the principal, during a yearly visit to Fred Deadman's classroom, he figured out Fred is, as his surname suggests, dead and decided to expell him for that. After he was told there's no rule against dead kids attending school, he simply establish the rule, subverting the trope.
- In another "Night of the Living Fred" episode, Fred took his dead and stuffed dog Frisky to a dog show. Frisky was allowed in because there was no rule against dead dogs entering. Frisky won because the last event was a "stay" and the points for it were more than any other dog had got after the other events.
- Misspelling Out Loud: The "misspell as another word" variant is used in "WereGranny" when Phil is ordered by Igor to make tea for Dr. Vic's grandmother and accidentally uses wolfbane to make the tea.
Phil: Uh, W-O-L-F-B-A-N-E. Duh, tea!
- Our Werewolves Are Different: In "WereGranny", Dr. Vic's grandmother is a werewolf, and transforms only when she's directly in the moonlight. Although seeing a representation of the full moon or hearing the word "moon" triggers a transformation, as well.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Dr. Vic is occasionally shown to have feminine interests and pastimes.
- On "Built for Speed," he was seen painting his toenails.
- On "Love Hurts," the game show announcer mentions that Dr. Vic enjoys bubble baths.
- On "Love Potion Number Nein!" Dr. Vic has his body and hair wrapped up in towels the way a woman would have it.
- Right Behind Me: From "Baby Human," Dr. Vic, Igor, and Phil are searching for the cannibal baby Igor created in the basement. The baby lands on Dr. Vic's head as Dr. Vic is yelling at Igor, then Dr. Vic panics until he realizes "The baby's on my head, isn't it?"
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: In the episode "WereGranny", Igor and Phil panic after believing that they've turned Dr. Vic's grandmother into a werewolf and make desperate attempts at finding a cure while preventing Dr. Vic from finding out that his grandmother is a werewolf. After Granny Frankenstein leaves, Dr. Vic reveals to Igor and Phil that his grandmother was always a werewolf, meaning that the pair's efforts in curing her of her lycanthropy and hiding her transformations from her grandson were all for nothing.
- Shout-Out: Igor once greets a rival mad scientist's assistant with a disgusted "Hello, Renfield." A very familiar guitar strain plays. Wayne "Newman" Knight, of course, voiced Igor.
- Something Completely Different:
- "Built for Speed" was a full-episode parody of Speed
- "Love Hurts" took place on a sadistic Dating Game style game show
- The episodes in season one that had a B-movie parody rather than a "Night of the Living Fred" cartoon.
- All of season two's episodes (except for "Phil's Brain" and "The Inferior Decorator," which were season one episodes that aired in season two), which got rid of the "Science Minute" segments, doubled the length of the "Igor, Dr. Vic, and Phil" cartoons, and sometimes don't show the "Night of the Living Fred" or "Melissa Screetch" cartoons.
- Space Whale Aesop: The entire point of the Melissa Screetch segments is to show unrealistically severe consequences to common forms of misbehavior. Stay out past curfew? You get abducted and eaten by a monster! Make funny faces all the time? Your face will fuse permanently into the funny face and you're forced to star in B horror flicks to get by! Spoil your appetite with sweets? You'll waste away to an atom or get blown like paper in the wind. Disobey an instruction while on a field trip at NASA? You'll spark an alien invasion after they believe that all of Earth is just as ugly and mean as you are!
- Too Dumb to Live: Dedgar Deadman, oh so much. The time he nuked the neighborhood comes to mind.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Phil Likes chili.
- Valentine's Day Episode: "Blind Date of Frankenstein." Subverted in that it doesn't show any signs of being a Valentine's Day episode, but it did air on Valentine's Day of 1998 (which was a Saturday) and had to do with someone falling in love (Dr. Vic falls for a woman who is actually a robot made from spare parts by Igor).
- Whole Plot Reference: "Built For Speed"
- Yandere and Love Makes You Crazy: Natalie Nightshade (a dead actress who now haunts the castle as a ghost) under the influence of Igor's love potion on "Love Potion Number Nein" was so crazy in love with Igor that she tries to kill him so the two can be together forever.