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Western Animation / Crashbox

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"Well, now that we've got your attention, let the games begin!"

In the late 90's, HBO broadcast an Edutainment Show from Canada called Crashbox. The show was a bunch of skits about various educational topics held together by the titular Crashbox — a Steampunk computer run by crazy-looking robots. Most of the skits were in Stop Motion (with a few exceptions). The show lasted for 2 years and 2 seasons, totaling 39 episodes. It is still shown on HBO Family in reruns, and can also be seen on HBO Max.

There are 18 segements in total:

  • Distraction News: Cardboard news anchor Dora Smarmy gives a report about a certain topic while distractions continually occur throughout the studio. At the end, you're given five questions about the subject.
  • Think Tank: A Rastafarian submarine captain named Captain Bob shows you three common objects and challenges you to find out what they have in common.
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  • Psycho Math: Professor Rocket, a peculiar looking robot, gives various arithmetic questions- but rather than use numbers, he uses pictures.
  • Captain Bones: The titular skeletal pirate gives a puzzle involving moving his bones around to fix a math question or picture.
  • Word Shake: An enthusiastic chef combines two words to make another word.
  • Haunted House Party: A famous historical figure arrives at the titular party and, through conversation, you must identify who they are.
  • Dirty Pictures: Sort of like the previous one, except this time it’s at a museum where a picture of a historical figure is being dusted off. You get clues from a decrepit figure called the Old Fossil.
  • Paige and Sage: Two Barbie dolls are at a typical hangout for girls, and you need to find ten things different between each picture.
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  • Radio Scramble: The host of Radio KBOX, Jumpin' Johnny Jumble, plays a song or ad or report with a word scrambled, and you must figure out what the scrambled word really means.
  • 10 Seconds: The simplest of all the games, a common phrase is displayed as a picture and you must figure out what it is.
  • Eddie Bull: The titular zoo keeper gets eaten by an animal, and he challenges the viewer to figure out which one ate him via hints.
  • Sketch Pad: The titular beatnik writes a story on a pad with a key detail missing and asks the viewer to figure out what that detail is.
  • Riddle Snake: The titular serpent uses his flute to reveal a riddle and you must figure out what the answer is.
  • Ear We Are: Two disembodied ears play sounds and you must figure out what sounds they are and where they are.
  • Poop or Scoop: A carnival barker asks facts about animals and you must determine if they’re true or false.
  • Mug Shots: A cop named Verity Pens is interviewing four suspects, and only one of them is telling the truth. The one that is is innocent, but the other three aren't. Their alibis tend to center around facts.
  • Lens McCraken: The titular detective is trying to solve a crime, but all of his pictures are up close. You need to figure out what they are.
  • Revolting Slob: Arguably the most remembered segment of the show- for all the wrong reasons. A very fat and lazy man is shown doing things, and you’re tasked with figuring out which eloquent word best describes him. At the end, he blows up.

Well, now that we've got your attention...let the troping begin!

  • Alliterative Name: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble of Radio Scramble.
  • Always Identical Twins: Paige and Sage.
  • And I Must Scream: Captain Bones is cursed to sail the seven seas forever, even after his body has rotted away. And he'll tell ya', he's bored stiff. The only thing that saves him from going stark-raving mad is making up math puzzles using nothing but his own bones.
  • Animals Hate Him: Eddie Bull will always get eaten by the resident of whatever cage he's standing next to. According to them, it's because he's just so damn delicious.
  • Animate Body Parts: The ears of "Ear We Are".
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The whole point of Distraction News.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Eddie Bull, where all animals eat their prey by shrinking them whole and carrying them through in one piece. Or maybe it's just Eddie that who that happens to, the show isn't clear.
  • Artsy Beret: Sketch Pad, whose segment revolves around, well, sketching pictures on his sketch pad, has one.
  • Art Shift: While some of the games are stop motion like the framing segments, Sketch Pad, Like Totally Paige and Sage, Ear We Are, Haunted House Party, Mug Shots, Lens McCracken, Revolting Slob, and Word Shake have their own styles.
  • Badass Longcoat: Lens presumably has one of these; one hangs outside his office along with a fedora.
  • Beatnik: Sketch Pad, ya dig?
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Haunted House Party is set outside of a haunted house.
  • Black Comedy: The Eddie Bull segments are all about a man who constantly gets eaten by the animals there.
  • Butt-Monkey: He's pretty chipper in spite of it, but Eddie Bull's simply too appetizing for animals to resist. The poor fella gets eaten and (presumably) spat back out every episode.
  • Character Title: Some of the segments: Eddie Bull, Lens McCracken, Paige and Sage, Sketch Pad, Captain Bones, Revolting Slob...
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Some of the segments vanished in Season 2. Somewhat Justified in that the characters never interact anyway, meaning it'd be impossible to acknowledge their disappearances.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: The whole premise of "Mug Shots". The criminals who state a fact correctly have a solid alibi and go home free. The ones who mess up are guilty.
  • Cool Teacher: Professor Rocket from Psycho Math.
  • Darker and Edgier: In comparison to other edutainment shows. Being on HBO, a premium service, meant they could get away with a lot more.
  • Dem Bones: Cptn. Bones, which he uses to create Math Puzzles.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Something of a Running Gag with Lens McCracken; he loves naming his cases "Case of the Broken Teapot Case" and the like.
  • Deranged Animation
  • Disco Dan: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble, radio host of KBOX, of Radio Scramble. Possibly 1950s Rock & Roll.
  • Eaten Alive: Eddie Bull, and his game, run around this.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Professor Rocket from Psycho Math.
  • Every Episode Ending: All the Revolting Slob segments end with one word related to explosions or mortality being described and the Slob blowing up. The announcer then says, "No slobs were harmed in the making of this program."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Almost all of the games have names that are part of the game.
  • Fat Slob: The Revolting Slob. Slob's in his name, but he is also fat.
  • Framing Device: The actual Crashbox is a Framing Device for the games.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The criminals' descriptions under their photos in "Mug Shots" are hardly ever straightforward.
    • If you look closely during Distraction News, you might spot Captain Bob's sub amidst the chaos.
  • Gasshole: The Revolting Slob.
  • Ghost Pirate: Captain Bones.
  • Gratuitous French: The French Chef in Word Shake.
  • Great Detective: Verity from Mug Shots and Lens McCracken from the game with the same name view themselves as this.
    • They each might be considered a Defective Detective, particularly Lens because his close-ups are so obnoxious. Verity is less so, but really, if a grown woman can't figure out that, say, "influenza" is not a flower, she's been hitting the police station sludge too hard.
  • Grossout Show: To a small extent. Most parts of the show are tame, but there's still some cheap humor obviously geared to boys. Especially apparent in "Revolting Slob" and the title "Poop or Scoop".
  • Has Two Thumbs and...: In Haunted House Party, you're given clues to guess which famous person is at the party. In Dirty Pictures, you're given clues to guess whose painting is being cleaned.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Lens McCracken makes heavy use of this when solving his cases. Once he figures out what his photos are of, he'll figure out something zany and farfetched as to how they relate to the crime at hand.
    Lens: I should have known it from the start. It seems that our client got caught in the classic mushroom-manhole cover-toothbrush scam.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: And a very spooky one at that. Subverted in Eddie Bull's segment, which opens with a little song about how he's just so edible.
  • Made of Explodium: The Revolting Slob always gets blown up at the end of each segment.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Rocket is strongly implied to be not entirely there.
  • Meaningful Name: Captain Bones, Eddie Bull, The Revolting Slob, Lens McCracken, Verity, The Riddle Snake, and Dora Smarmy.
  • Mind Screw: The distractions of the game Distraction News.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Captain Bones is a Pirate, and a Skeleton!
  • No-Dialogue Episode: Dirty Pictures as a whole is one for Crashbox.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Okay, what kind of zoo would let a person named Eddie Bull get swallowed by animals of any kind? Even animals possibly smaller than him might not be able to eat him at all. Also the entire box in general, which might look a bit crowded with all the metallic machinery.
  • Nose Nuggets: In one of the Revolting Slob skits, the Slob "sneezes into his hand and dines on the contents"
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Julius Caesar references it in a Haunted House Party sketch. The butler asks if he can take Julius' toga; the response is, "You do and we'll be rated."
  • Once per Episode: Every episode, no matter how the segments fall, the power will always go out in the Crashbox, and the operator with have to restart the system. This also happens before the first segment.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble's "other staff" which he dresses up as to do the sports and weather segments on KBOX. He often forgets which voice he's supposed to talk in.
  • The Pigpen: The Revolting Slob, of course.
  • Pungeon Master:
    • Lens McCracken, who always makes obvious puns about the close-ups he's examining despite having no idea what they're close-ups of.
    • The Riddle Snake, whose riddles are more often than not simply puns.
  • Punny Name: Eddie Bull specifically.
  • Puzzle Game: Captain Bones (Who's literally nothing but Bones) uses his bones to make Math Puzzles.
    • Ten Seconds also counts as one, being made up of animated rebus word puzzles.
  • Riddle Me This: The Riddle Snake game is this.
  • Rogues Gallery: Parodied with the outrageous criminals Verity interrogates in "Mug Shots".
  • Running Gag: In every episode of "Revolting Slob", Revolting Slob always explodes at the end of the segment.
  • Shout-Out: The "Ten Seconds" game seems a bit similar to the game show Catchphrase, in that they both relay on animated, rebus-style word puzzles.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: After the "Crashbox Rewind" segment, the hammer-wielding robot says "Well, that's it for now! See you next time!" and hits the "Credits" button to close the show.
  • Squiggle Vision: Sketch Pad.
  • Stop Motion
  • Swallowed Whole: This happens to Eddie Bull all the time. He's used to it by now.
  • Talking with Signs: How the man in Dirty Pictures administers his hints.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Captain Bones, of course.
  • Third-Person Person: Professor Rocket occasionally lapses into this.
Professor Rocket: Professor Rocket is exhausted and his head keeps exploding. But that doesn't mean I won't be back, because I love you!
  • To Serve Man: The animals of the Walla Walla, Washington Zoo always go after Eddie Bull - even the herbivores. Apparently he's just that appetizing.
  • Trash of the Titans: The Revolting Slob's house.
  • Uncle Tom Foolery: Captain Bob, of the Jamaican variety.
  • Valley Girl: The game host of Paige and Sage.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: "It's time for Crashbox Rewind, where we flash back through the show and remind you how smart you really are!"
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble's persona for reporting the weather is April Showers, which is just Johnny with a wig speaking in a falsetto voice.
  • Widget Series: A rare edutainment variant.


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