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Western Animation / Bruno the Kid

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Bruno the Kid is a cartoon starring Bruce Willis as the voice of an 11-year old boy who becomes a top spy for a secret espionage organization. The organization, named Globe, contacts Bruno via his computer and a special gadget watch, and are completely unaware of their top spy's young age as he hides behind a computer simulated avatar of a full grown man (in the image of Bruce Willis).

The members of Globe that Bruno works with in person, such as Jarlesburg (voiced by Tony Jay) and Harris (Mark Hamill), are unaware that Globe do not know Bruno's actual age, and assume that the organization must know what they are doing sending the boy into dangerous situations.

The episodes consist of Bruno managing to live a double-life without his parents' or friends' knowledge. In one episode, he tells his parents that he is camping in the garden and he sets up a torch to project a fake silhouette of himself onto the side of the tent so that it looks like he is inside it. Meanwhile, with an alibi set up, Bruno will be out saving the world or foiling a major heist with the aid of his British spy partner Jarlesburg. Along the way they usually meet Harris (a spoof of the character 'Q' in the James Bond books and films) who supplies Bruno with gadgets which Bruno usually finds a use for later on in the episode. As well as voicing the title character, Willis was one of the executive producers and also co-wrote and sang the theme song for the show with backing singers.

If you're having trouble remembering it, don't be surprised. The show was syndicated and one of the lesser known ones of its time, having only lasted one season and 39 episodes. It had a few VHS releases which of course are out of print now.

This series provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Bruno's folks wait in line in "Spies, Lies, and Bavarian Pies" to see a movie, and the signs indicate it's Die Hard that's being shown. Howard thinks the character voiced by Bruce Willis would enjoy it, though Grace is skeptical.
  • Anchovies Are Abhorrent: "Give Pizza a Chance": Bruno is given a gadget in the shape of a slice of pizza, containing olives (really mini-grenades), cheese and pepperoni (really a super-strong nylon cord with a suction cup) and anchovies (which are only there to ensure that nobody eats the pizza).
  • Auction of Evil: The very first episode "The Adventure Begins" revolved around one of these.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the "Bye Bye Jarly" three-parter, Harris finally gets his long-awaited chance to be an official field agent. After surviving several death traps in succession, he says he'd much rather prefer the relative safety of his lab.
  • Bedlah Babe: In part 2 of the 3-parter episode called "Bye Bye Jarly", when Bruno and Harris are in a cafe trying to find Couscous, they meet a harem girl known as Popic, and Bruno asks her where he is.
  • Belly Dancer: In “North by Southwest”, Bruno and Jarlesburg disguise themselves as friends of Couscous, an oil tycoon, in order to find out more about his shady dealings. Jarlesburg’s cover get blown, forcing him to cross dress as a dancer to warm Bruno before both get outed for their betrayal.
  • Big Bad: There wasn't really one, as most of the villains are one-shot, but Professor Von Trapp & Laszlo Gigahertz are the most frequent recurring antagonists. Mostly Von Trapp, as he led the other villians when they formed a Legion of Doom.
  • Big Eater: Couscous is constantly stuffing his face and rarely shows signs of being full. On one occasion, Harris had an invention that resembled a salami, and Couscous offered him a sizable fortune for it.
  • Celebrity Toons: Starring Bruce Willis!
  • Child Prodigy: Despite being a 11-year-old kid, Bruno is smart and skilled enough to create an adult avatar of himself, fight various criminals, pilot jets and save the world on daily basis. This is in large part the reason Jarlesburg and Harris are willing to swallow he was recruited in Globe.
  • The Comically Serious: A big part of Jarlesburg's humor comes from how he keeps acting serious even in all the absurd situations he and Bruno go through.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In one episode, Lazlo's assistant points out to him that his attempts to get rich by holding the world hostage fail so often and cost so much money that he'd actually be rich already if he just stuck to more ordinary crime. Lazlo dismisses him as "thinking small".
  • Darker and Edgier: Well, not to a great extent, but people did actually die on the show. Agent 86 (whom Bruno replaced) was killed in the first episode, and several of the one-shot villains occasionally died as well.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Bruce Willis again.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: An as-yet-unnamed Lazlo Gigahertz appears in the very first episode despite the main villain of that story being Colonel Muckbar. Doubles as The Bad Guy Wins as Lazlo actually gets away with his particular evil scheme.
  • Egopolis: Parodied; in one episode, Bruno and Jarlesburg, looking for a dictator known as El Presidente, ask to someone where they can find him. The man then starts to list all the places named "El Presidente" in the town, much to Bruno's confusion.
  • Enemy Mine: "Revenge of the Giganerd" has Bruno teaming with Lazlo to foil another guy who stole Laszlo's latest invention for his own evil purposes.
  • Eviler than Thou: After organizing the Legion of Doom, Von Trapp explains why he's in charge: because he had the foresight to install Electric Torture devices in their chairs, as well as restraints to keep them from getting up.
    Von Trapp: All in favor of joining the union with me as the President, say aye. All opposed, say fry!
    Other villains: [flatly] Aye.
  • The Faceless: Bruno's bosses' faces are never actually shown onscreen; whenever they appear, they always are in a dark room obscuring their faces.
    • One is heavily implied to be a case of Elvis Lives, another appears to be Elizabeth II (although this was disproved when the actual Queen showed up in one episode).
  • Green Around the Gills: Jarlesburg in "North By Southwest", after eating some bad falafels.
  • Herr Doktor: Professor Von Trapp, due to his thick German accent supplied by the late great Kenneth Mars.
  • Hindenburg Incendiary Principle: In one episode, during a firefight, the villain turns to his henchman and carefully asks if their zeppelin is filled with helium or hydrogen. In answer, the zeppelin explodes.
  • Legion of Doom: In "Bye Bye Jarly" Von Trapp organizes several of Bruno's villains into one in order to Take Over the World.
  • My Greatest Failure: Back in his younger days, Jarlesburg failed to stop Di Archer from escaping with the Hope Diamond. It's a sore spot for him when they encounter each other again in the series proper.
  • The Napoleon: Mr. X
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Couscous, one of the recurring villains, sounded like Sydney Greenstreet.
    • Recurring villain Armando Castrado is a parody of Fidel Castro.
  • Punny Name: Several among the villains, including Cy Cologone, Aunt T. Mahyem & Armand Geddon.
  • Recycled Premise: Nearly every episode plot was "villain seizes some kind of dangerous weapon/device and blackmails the world with it."
  • Running Gag: Jarlesburg approaching Bruno in a civilian disguise to let him know he needs to contact the council. Also, Bruno's assorted excuses to his parents for why he has to be away for an extended period of time (much to the folks' increasing confusion and skepticism).
  • Send in the Clones: The plot of one episode had Von Trapp creating clones of famous world leaders so he could access their Swiss bank accounts.
  • Strictly Formula: Every episode was basically as such- Bruno & Leecy would be doing something, either at school or elsewhere, when Jarlsburg would appear in disguise to tell Bruno to call GLOBE, which he would do in some background based on wherever he was at the time. After securing an alibi for his disappearance, he'd meet up with Harris to get gadgets, which would turn out to be useful later foil the villain's plan, then come back with no one the wiser.
  • Teen Superspy: Bruno (although, okay, technically not a teen).
  • Vapor Wear: Leecy in "Chip Happens". As a result of a goof, there's a brief view up her skirt that reveals she's not wearing underwear at all as she holds Bruno too tightly.