He's got a nose
He's got two ears
Wherever he goes
When you see him comin', well everybody knows!
Mr. Potato Head! Mr. Potato Head! Mr. Potato Head...
The Mr. Potato Head Show was a short-lived 1998 Puppet Show on Fox Kids based on Mr. Potato Head. It lasted 13 episodes before being canceled. Afterwards, a Direct-to-Video movie was produced, in which... well, the show gets canceled.
Somewhat infuriatingly, the movie is just the last two episodes back to back with 20 minutes of padding that were nothing but little skits taken from other episodes that have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot at hand.
The movie is somewhat redeemed by the fact that there's a little production documentary with in-character commentary at the end.
Yes, the show was sort of about Mr. Potato Head having a TV show. Potato Head battled with the TV execs (who are most certainly evil, and they won't let you forget it) many times, including in the movie.
The Mr. Potato Head Show provides examples of:
- Aesop Amnesia: Mr. Potato Head often forgets the moral of the episode immediately after voicing it; this tends to happen as part of the stinger.
- Amusing Injuries: the show uses slapstick humor from time to time, including Baloney being electrocuted and a ham-monster hurling characters across the room.
- Anthropomorphic Food: the majority of the cast.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: inverted when Dr. Fruitcake lists his latest invention's features: it will cure all known diseases, generate limitless power, and make bussels sprouts taste like cherry cheesecake!
- Ash Face: Mr. Potato Head was lucky that this was the only consequence of losing an Eye Beam-O-War with a demon who was supposed to be able to destroy the world!
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In one episode, Dr. Fruitcake grows to enormous proportions after eating radioactive sludge. In another episode, Dr. Fruitcake ends up in a parallel universe where he's chased by a giant, carnivorous Mr. Potato Head.
- Bald of Evil: This, combined with Beard of Evil and his name, Bully-Boy McPherson, are all that's needed to establish Mr. Potato Head's new supervisor as bad news the moment he's introduced.
- Beard of Evil: Bully-Boy McPherson sports a goatee, and he very much lives up to his name.
- Baleful Polymorph: an evil magic kit turns two characters into toasters, who both say "I feel peculiar" upon this happening.
- Beam-O-War: At one point, superhero!Mr. Potato Head and an ancient demon, both of which have Eye Beams, get into a beam-o-war duel. Mr. Potato Head loses and gets an Ash Face as a result.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: This happens in-universe as a bad decision on Mr. Potato Head's part on how he wrote an episode of his Show Within a Show: he had a BLAM at the end of his cop-episode where a clown appears on-stage and sprays everyone with whipped cream. This only makes slightly more sense in context. Other characters comment on how it made no sense.
- Brick Joke: Perhaps the writers were aiming for a Running Gag some of the time, but they had several jokes that referenced previous events, such as real weapons being used as props in a spy episode. First, poor Baloney was exploded by an exploding handkerchief, then electrocuted by an electrifying pen.
- Brown Note: Mr. Potato Head works hard writing a masterpiece script, hoping it will satisfy the man his TV Bosses put in charge of his show. He actually writes something that causes anyone who reads it to go bug-eyed and scream "I have gazed into the nameless horror of the void!". Which actually works perfectly in this case.
- Bullethole Door: In the superhero episode, Mr. Potato Head's "Spudman" character uses Eye Beams to create a door to enter the villain's lair.
- Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: In the superhero episode, Mr. Potato Head, acting as the in-universe fictional superhero "Spudman", tried to use his character's powers to fight a world-destroying demon. Bizarrely, he was able to fire Eye Beams, even backstage, though he lost a Beam-O-War with the demon.
- Catchphrase: Multiple characters have catchphrases:
- Mr. Potato Head himself has "Tubular, baby!"
- Baloney has "Not in any way good!"
- Potato Bug has "Sweet cheese and crackers!"
- Nora the T.V. Boss has "I have no idea what that means, but I love it!"
- Character Development: Of all characters, Betty the Kitchen Fairy has some development over the 13 episodes that sticks: at first, she would refuse to help the other characters when they had a pressing problem, like a world-destroying demon or a Frankenstein's Monster-expy made of ham. A few episodes before the end of the show, she realizes how annoying this is, and actually helps them out. In the finale, it's actually her who saves the day from an Alien Invasion.
- Clip Show: The final two episodes of the show are unabashed clip shows; Mr. Potato Head has frequent flashbacks to earlier episodes when he hears that the show has been cancelled to justify most of them. However, at one point, the narrator just says they're going to show the audience some clips just because. It's as if they were deliberately aiming for So Bad, It's Good!
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Potato Bug: she talks to shoes (but never boots), believes goblins deliver the newspaper every day, and thinks you can get milk from a cabbage if you can get it to say "moo".
- Comically Missing the Point: Several of the show's jokes use this. For instance, after Mr. Potato Head showed his "masterpiece script" to Queenie, she screamed at the top of her lungs and fell over. As she was on the floor moaning, "the horror...the horror..." Mr. Potato Head asked her, "So...you don't like it?"
- Confession Cam: Invoked during the reality-show episode: Mr. Potato Head set one up and allowed the other cast members to go in any time they wanted to discuss their feelings. Which he then used Manipulative Editing on to make it look like one of the characters was badmouthing all the others as an attempt at generating conflict to liven up the show.
- Cue the Rain: After alienating all his friends and turning all the floorspace he'd normally use to film his show into rented space in order to make money, Mr. Potato Head is stuck outdoors, alone. He says it's not so bad "on a day like today", only for a thunderstorm to begin.
- The Dark Arts: Baloney gets a magic kit in one episode. He thinks it's plain sleight-of-hand magic that he's getting into at first, but his magic wand turns another character into a toaster, and he accidentally summons a monster out of his top hat while trying to perform a magic act.
- Did Not Think This Through: Queenie was going to try to force Mr. Potato Head to let her sing on the show by stealing his detachable ears and holding them hostage. She didn't make her demands until after she detached the ears, and he couldn't hear her, though...
- Queenie: Man, I shoulda thought this plan through better!
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Sweet Potato often slaps Mr. Potato Head around, and no one calls her on it. Then again, there are times when Mr. Potato Head is kind of asking for it, and it's downplayed in that Mr. Potato Head never seems to be in much pain from it.
- Dreadful Musician: Johnny Rottenapple even calls his own songs "My latest musical stain/puddle/onslaught"!
- Everybody Hates Math: One episode had the TV Guys tell Mr. Potato Head and his crew to do an educational superhero show. When Mr. Potato Head's character sang a song about the Pythagorean Theorem right before a battle with an evil robot, the evil robot just moaned "I hate math!", filled up its bubble-helmet with whipped cream in a panic, and fainted.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: In "Aliens Dig Baloney", the Aliens that Baloney encounters make him listen to bagpipe music, much to his horror. They later regret this decision.
- Eye Beams: During the superhero episode, Mr. Potato Head's "Spudman" character has the ability to fire lightning-like purple rays from his eyes; he used them to create a Bullethole Door to enter the villain's lair. He showed this ability once backstage, too.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: The show lampshades and dances around the fact that you can't have real guns on a kid's show. For example, in a western episode, sherrif!Mr. Potato Head and outlaw!Johnny have some closeups of them that size them up head-to-toe, and you can tell that their holsters are empty. And yet, when Mr. Potato Head is showing this western episode to the TV bosses, seconds after these size-up camera shots, you can hear gunshots as part of the climactic shootout while seeing the bosses' reactions of horror as they tell him he can't have guns on the show.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Potato Bug's stupidity got Mr. Potato Head's plant killed, so she asked Dr. Fruitcake to make her smart with a brain-enhancing device. It works too well: she felt like she was Surrounded by Idiots, she enhanced every appliance in ways only she could understand, she made the whole cast obsolete by programming the computer to create episodes of the show for them, and in general made herself and everyone around her miserable to the point where she thought about throwing herself under a bus. She instead had the brain-enhancement reversed and went back to being a Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: In the spy-episode, there's a scene where spy!Mr. Potato Head and spy!Baloney are in a lounge, listening to agent!Queenie sing before getting information from her. The show doesn't draw attention to it, but their wine glasses are filled with milk.
- Funny Background Event: Often, when Mr. Potato Head met with the TV executives Aaron and Nora, they were eating french fries.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Godfrey Daniels! Not the censors again!"
- Hell Hotel: After getting depressed, thinking his friends no longer needed him, Mr. Potato Head stays at a run-down hotel in a dangerous neighborhood to mope.
- Idiot Ball: Mr. Potato Head would sometimes be quite wise, like making it a point to break the news that the show has been cancelled to his cast in small groups so there wouldn't be a mass panic. Other times, even in the same episode, he'd make unbelievably idiotic decisions, like setting up the opening night of the show months before anything was ready!
- I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Due to a misunderstanding, Queenie Sweet Potato felt very awkward around Mr. Potato Head, and made up random and nonsensical excuses to get away from him, including:I have to go shampoo the doorbell!I have to go feed the toaster!I have to go iron my toenails!
- Insufferable Genius: One episode (appropriately with a Sherlock Holmes Show Within a Show theme to it) had Potato Bug use a brain enhancer. She's an atypical example in that she isn't just a know-it-all, and doesn't even go out of her way to prove she knows it all, either—when other characters ask her trivia questions, she gets bored with that quickly. The problems begin when she starts enhancing equipment around the kitchen in ways only she can understand.
- Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: In an episode of Mr. Potato Head's in-universe show, where Mr. Potato Head and Baloney play cops, they arrest Sweet Potato for jaywalking.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Potato Head acts like either this or Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, depending on the episode or even the situation. For instance, in one episode spoofing reality shows, he deliberately tricked his friends into getting mad at each other to create drama, but in the end apologized.
- Kaleidoscope Hair: In the reality TV episode, Queenie starts trying on various wigs, experimenting with different looks. One of them is neon orange!
- Lampshade Hanging: This being a show about producing a show, a lot of meta-humor is a given. One outstanding example: when Jiblets is playing the evil overlord in the spy episode and has spy!Mr. Potato Head and spy!Baloney captured, he literally says he'll explain his evil plan to them so they can foil it. Then when Mr. Potato Head pressed a Big Red Button to activate the island's self-destruct, Jiblets howls, "I knew I shouldn't have had that thing installed!"
- Logic Bomb: At one point, a robotic version of Mr. Potato Head decided that the real Mr. Potato Head was a bad influence on the rest of the cast who was making them miserable, and tried to keep them separated. Betty the Kitchen Fairy told the robot that keeping them away from their friend also made them miserable, and this paradox caused the robot to explode.
- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: One of Mr. Potato Head's catchphrases is "Who's ___? That's right, it's me/you!" The blank can be filled in with all sorts of things, like "clueless", "gonna be rich", or "a genius".
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Fruitcake, in spades: he created a Frankenstein-like ham-monster that attacked the rest of the cast, built machines that have exploded when they're supposed to be safe, and given the other characters real weapons as props while they were doing a spy show.
- Meat-O-Vision: When Queenie goes on a diet, she starts seeing other cast members this way (who, let us remember, are almost all Anthropomorphic Food to begin with): she sees Mr. Potato Head as a baked potato, and she sees Baloney as a sandwich.
- Moral Guardians: During the filming of a monster-themed episode, the censors won't let Mr. Potato Head use a gun or drive a stake through someone's heart on a children's show. He improvises by serving yogurt with a silver spoon to the werewolf actor and driving a stake through the vampire actor's cape.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The TV bosses set up a violent and sour supervisor over Mr. Potato Head whose name, we kid you not, was Bully-Boy McPherson.
- Nervous Wreck: Happy Whip, a can of whipped cream with Mr. Potato Head arms attached, comes across this way. Whenever he gets emotional (typically afraid, though pride can have this effect as well), he sprays whipped cream everywhere. The main purpose of his appearances is for him to panic and trigger this.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: Feeling both guilty and desperate for something to show his audience after his original plan for a reality show spectacularly blows up in his face, Mr. Potato Head films himself doing a dance that embarasses him called the "Fluffy Pookie-Poo" and submits that to his network executives for the show. To his dismay, both the executives and the TV-watching public love it, and it becomes extremely popular. He swears he'll escape the embarrassment if he has to move to South America to do it...only to find that it's also popular in South America.
- Once per Episode: Most episodes had Betty the Kitchen Fairy appear to deliver an aesop and call out the characters on jerkish behavior. If there's a problem like a monster chasing the characters, though, she won't intervene to save them. Most episodes also have a song in them.
- Pie in the Face: Queenie Sweet Potato loves her sugar cream pies. At one point, she accidentally got some pie slapped onto her face, and when Mr. Potato Head's test audience loved it, he added a segment to his for-Toddlers episode where a large number of pies were thrown in Queenie's face.
- Quick Draw: It's implied that the original version of the cowboy episode ended with one of these, as there are camera angles sizing up both sheriff!Mr. Potato Head and outlaw!Johnny right before their showdown. (The closeups revealing that their holsters are empty did not stop this.)
- Restrained Revenge: After Mr. Potato Head has a segment of his show where Queenie gets hit by about a dozen pies, she tells him she's not upset because of her new philosophy: Don't get mad—get even! She then pies him in the face. He laughs it off and admits he deserved it.
- Robot Me: Mr. Potato Head was under a lot of stress and needed a vacation, so Dr. Fruitcake made a robotic version of Mr. Potato Head to stand in for him while he was away...who was friendly and didn't have any of Mr. Potato Head's flaws. He was so liked by the rest of the cast, that when the real Mr. Potato Head found out about the robot, he didn't want to come back to the show and became depressed.
- Rotten Robotic Replacement: Zig-Zagged with a robotic duplicate of Mr. Potato Head, built so that the real Mr. Potato Head can go on vacation: at first, the robot is actually well-liked by the cast. However, when they realize the real Mr. Potato Head is miserable because he feels like the robot has made him superfluous, the problems start: the robot concludes the real Mr. Potato Head is a bad influence on the others and tries to keep them from him.
- Running Gag: Most jokes that involve referencing previous events in the episode don't happen often enough to qualify as Running Gags and are instead Brick Jokes, but there's one that recurs often enough: Mr. Potato Head saying, "Please don't say X. It makes me uncomfortable." Words like "bosom" and "evacuate" fill in the X.
- Sassy Black Woman: Queenie Sweet Potato comes across this way, though she's an anthropomorphic yam.
- Screwed by the Network: happens often in-universe, with the TV executives changing their minds about things in the middle of filming an episode of Mr. Potato Head's Show Within a Show, such as telling them that their superhero episode needs to be educational or a musical.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Baloney and Mr. Potato Head have this dynamic; Baloney has little problem expressing his softer emotions and is into things like aromatherapy, while PH tends to only express manlier emotions like anger and annoyance, and is ashamed to be found dancing.
- Shoe Phone: subverted in the spy episode: Potato Bug is regularly in the habit of speaking to shoes. See Cloud Cuckoo Lander above.
- Show Within a Show: This is the premise of the Mr. Potato Head show. No, really: the main cast films episodes of a TV show (not all of which we get to see) for a pair of network executives. However, what this show is or even its genre is different in every episode.
- Special Effects Failure: happens in-universe in an episode where Mr. Potato Head had gone money-mad and was deliberately keeping the budget down: three small spaceship miniatures made of tinfoil, suspended by visible wires, are swinging around in front of the camera, while the narrator says things like "Swish! Boom! Zap!"—those were the only sound effects. And this is supposed to be the sci-fi episode's epic space battle.
- Stock Footage: Hilariously lampshaded in the Variety Show episode: there's no studio audience for the Show Within a Show, so Mr. Potato Head splices in stock footage of an applauding audience after each act, instead. At one point, footage plays of a woman working in what looks to be a tomato-canning factory, and Mr. Potato Head shouts "Wrong stock footage!"
- Tempting Fate: after listing off what his invention does (see Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking), Dr. Fruitcake tells those assembled at his press conference that his latest invention is completely safe (his own emphasis). Cue explosion. Then he starts telling them about another invention of his. Cue another explosion!
- Token Evil Teammate: Jiblets is a character who delights in the suffering of others. When the show is cancelled in the finale, he laments that he's unemployable, and when Mr. Potato Head jokingly says "There's always politics", he quickly regrets it.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Queenie Sweet Potato, despite being Anthropomorphic Food herself, has a favorite food: sugar-cream pies.
- Tuckerization: Dr. Fruitcake calls a press conference, and says hello to the reporters present: Tom Brokaw, Nancy O'Dell, and Diane Sawyer, all of whom were news anchors at the time the show was being aired. However, he only uses the characters first names.
- Typecasting: This happens in-universe as the way Mr. Potato Head runs his Show Within a Show: Mr. Potato Head is invariably The Hero and his best friend Baloney is invariably the Sidekick. The other characters aren't nearly as typecasted, however; Queenie and Johnny have played both villains and allies, for instance.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: The western episode-episode sees the TV bosses giving Mr. Potato Head a literally impossible task. When he calls them out on its impossibility, they put an oh-so-subtly-named Bully-Boy McPherson in charge of his show, and give him a contract that allows him to cancel the show if he's not satisfied with the cast's work.
- Unmanly Secret: Mr. Potato Head's secret is that he likes to hide in the cupboard and do a silly dance called the "Fluffy Pookie-Poo".
- Villain Song: Queenie Sweet Potato plays an Evil Overlord in the superhero episode, and her first moment on-screen in the in-universe episode is a song about world domination.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: Queenie begins singing one about Bully-boy McPherson in his episode, and as he realizes that it's not meant to be flattering, his smile fades, and he cuts her off.
- Wangst: In-universe, Baloney viewed Mr. Potato Head's progressively worsening depression over the show being cancelled as annoying and overreacting, and tried several over-the-top things to get him out of that funk.
- X-Ray Sparks: This happens to Baloney in the spy episode, when he tries taking notes using a spy-gadget electrifying pen...that isn't just a prop!
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A third network executive appears in the finale, who says Mr. Potato Head's show has outlived its usefulness to "The Plan", and tells the regular T.V. Bosses Aaron and Nora to cancel it.
- Zany Scheme: In one episode, Mr. Potato Head thinks that his rival is trying to hire away his star singer, so he sets out to give her the variety-show episode she wants, and everything else she wants, too...without letting her know why. She ends up thinking he's fallen in love with her. Hilarity Ensues.
- Most of the characters' plans are relatively simple, but insanity always follows, regardless.