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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).

A Canadian-American animated series, Crashbox debuted in 1999 as a part of the relaunch of HBO Family. Produced by Planet Grande Pictures and Canada's Cuppa Coffee Studios, 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.

Segments included in Crashbox:

  • 10 Seconds: A low-pitched yet bubbly narrator displays a series of common phrases onscreen as a rebus puzzle, giving the player ten seconds to solve each puzzle.
  • Captain Bones: The titular skeletal pirate gives a matchstick puzzle involving moving a finite number of his bones to fix a math question or picture.
  • Dirty Pictures: At a museum, a picture of a historical figure is being dusted off, and you must determine who it is. You get clues from a decrepit figure called the Old Fossil.
  • 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.
  • Ear We Are: Two disembodied ears play sounds and you must figure out what sounds they are and where they are.
  • 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.
  • Haunted House Party: A famous historical figure arrives at the titular party and, through conversation, you must identify who they are.
  • Lens McCracken: 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.
  • (Like, Totally) Paige and Sage: Two Barbie dolls are at a typical hangout for girls, and you need to find ten things different between each picture.
  • Mug Shots: A cop named Verity 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.
  • Poop or Scoop: A carnival barker asks facts about animals and you must determine if they’re true (Scoop) or false (Poop).
  • Psycho Math: Professor Rocket, a peculiar looking robot, gives various arithmetic questions- but rather than use numbers, he uses pictures.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Riddle Snake: The titular serpent uses his flute to reveal a riddle and you must figure out what the answer is.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Word Shake: An enthusiastic chef combines two words to make another word, and you need to figure out what the word will be.

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

  • The Alleged Computer: The innards of the Crashbox, while cool, are also chaotic, and it's a miracle the robots manage to keep it running. Not to mention that Once an Episode, it, well, crashes.
  • Alliterative Name: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble of Radio Scramble.
  • 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" move up and down, hold conversations, and make sound effects.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Artsy Beret: Sketch Pad, whose segment revolves around, well, sketching pictures on his sketch pad, has one.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The premise of "Distraction News" is to maintain focus on the story at hand while unrelated shenanigans take place all over the screen.
  • Badass Longcoat: Lens presumably has one of these; one hangs outside his office along with a fedora.
  • Beatnik: Sketch Pad's main character dons an Artsy Beret, large glasses, and a beard. He speaks in cadence and illustrates from the titular 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: Captain Bones, Eddie Bull, Lens McCracken, Paige and Sage, Revolting Slob, Riddle Snake, and Sketch Pad all share names between the characters and segments.
  • 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 premise of Mugshots segments is this. Four people suspected of a crime state their alibis. Three of the four are found guilty, as their testimonies have a factual error, while factually sound testimony is deemed proof of innocence.
  • Dem Bones: Captain Bones is a pirate cursed to sail the seven seas for eternity. In this time, he has been reduced to nothing but 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.
  • Disco Dan: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble, radio host of KBOX, of Radio Scramble, partly styling himself after 1950s Rock & Roll.
  • Double Entendre: "Dirty Pictures" is a segment about dusting portraits of historical figures, but out of context, "dirty pictures" can also refer to pornography.
  • Eccentric Mentor: A few of the segment hosts are this. Professor Rocket is a crazed robot mathematics professor, Captain Bones is a skeletal pirate who passes the time with logic puzzles, Captain Bob is a rasta submarine pilot more concerned with comparison puzzles than escaping the tank...
  • 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 filming of this show."
    • Each segment of Psycho Math has Professor Rocket's head explode before he gets into the introduction.
    • The show itself always ends with "Crashbox Rewind," a Clip Show of lessons learned from the previous segments, followed by the hammer-wielding robot saying, "Well, that's it for now! See you next time!" and hitting the "Credits" button to close the show.
  • Expository Theme Tune: One for the Eddie Bull segments sung by the hungry animals, complete with Follow the Bouncing Ball:
    Eddie Bull, he's edible,
    He really is incredible,
    He's simply the best of the bunch!
    There's simply no disguising,
    That he's so appetizing,
    And we want him for our lunch!
  • Fat Slob: The Revolting Slob lives in absolute filth, makes a mess of himself, and takes no qualms in his bodily functions. Slob's in his name, but he is also fat.
  • Framing Device: The actual Crashbox is a Steampunk-esque factory inside a computer, producing, introducing, and recapping each of the game segments.
  • 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, befitting his name, is prone to burps and farts.
  • Ghost Pirate: Captain Bones was cursed to sail the seven seas for eternity, even after becoming nothing but a skeleton.
  • Gonk: The Revolting Slob is the ugliest character on the show even in this cast of otherwise odd-looking characters. Although this makes sense since he’s supposed to be, well, revolting.
  • Gratuitous French: The French Chef in Word Shake is prone to include French alongside his English-language dialogue.
  • Great Detective: Verity from Mug Shots and Lens McCracken from the game with the same name view themselves as this. However, 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: While most parts of the show are tame, "Revolting Slob" uses a disgusting title character as a setup to teach vocabulary. The title of "Poop or Scoop" is also worth a mention, though the actual visuals are usually pretty clean.
  • 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: The theme tune initialy toggles between a falling Crashbox with associated sound effects and an increasingly distorted lullaby on music box, before transitioning into groove driven by saxophone, and later, brass.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The more abrasive hosts like Captain Bones and Professor Rocket fall under this. They are a lot ruder than the other hosts, but are still there to teach and provide sincere praise.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The opening sequence always ends with a brief blackout. The robot who fixes it has such complaints as, "Oh no, not again!" "I don't understand, every day it seems to be the same problem..." and "I thought I fixed this!"
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: The narrator of "(Like, Totally) Paige and Saige" is a Valley Girl, with the word "like" being one of her verbal tics.
  • Made of Explodium: The Revolting Slob, despite being an ordinary human, always gets blown up at the end of each segment.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Rocket in Psycho Math is a benign version. He wants to teach you about math, but he's definitely not entirely there in the head.
  • Meaningful Name: Captain Bones is a skeleton pirate, Eddie Bull is often Swallowed Whole, The Revolting Slob is completely unhygenic, Lens McCracken is a detective and photographer, Verity tries to find the truth in criminal investigations, The Riddle Snake is a snake who tells riddles, Professor Rocket's head erupts like a rocket engine, and Dora Smarmy is a Smarmy News Anchor.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Captain Bones is a Pirate, and a Skeleton!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jumpin' Johnny Blumje ("that's Jumble") takes cues from Wolfman Jack.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: Segments of "Dirty Pictures" have no spoken words. All information is shown through the pictures themselves and words held up on signs (though if you listen closely, the Old Fossil does make noises that sound like the words on his signs.)
  • 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 machines.
  • 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 will have to restart the system. This also happens before the first segment. Later episodes break from this formula by showing small skits of the robot workers instead of the power going out.
  • 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, per his name, is covered in dirt, hair, and his own body fluids.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • Psychomath is a play on the word psychopath.
    • The sound based game Ear We Are swaps the word “here” for “ear” on account of it being hosted by two talking ears.
  • 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 is a zookeeper whom the animals love Swallow Whole.
    • Jumpin' Johnny Jumble of Radio Scramble takes on another persona, April Showers, to report the weather.
  • 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: Every episode of "Revolting Slob" contains a wrong answer that means "destroyed", "exploded", or similar. At the end of the episode, the narrator defines this word, and then the Revolting Slob explodes, followed by the narrator calmly stating, "No slobs were harmed in the making of this program."
  • 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.
    • One "Haunted House Party" segement’s answer is revealed to be Julius Caesar. After he gets revealed, he chants, "Toga! Toga! Toga!"
  • 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.
  • Snake Charmer: Parodied with "Riddle Snake", where the Riddle Snake's flute calls a human out of his basket.
  • Squiggle Vision: Sketch Pad.
  • Stop Motion: The framing device, and several segments therein, are animated with stop motion clay.
  • Swallowed Whole: Each "Eddie Bull" segment features the titular character being swallowed whole and trying to deduce which animal ate him. He's used to it by now.
  • Synchro-Vox: This animation style is used on Professor Rocket and Eddie Bull.
  • 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.
  • Wise Serpent: The Riddle Snake is a calm, secluded snake. By playing a horn, it can produce a riddle (often a pun) the home viewer is then expected to solve.
  • WPUN: Jumpin' Johnny Jumble's radio station is titled "KBOX" after the show itself.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Non-fatal version - at least Once per Episode in Psycho Math, sparks erupt from Professor Rocket's head.

"Well, that's it for now! See you next time!"