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Western Animation / Fangface

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Glistening white triangular tooth
Open up a can of tomato juice
They Might Be Giants, "I've Got a Fang" (reportedly inspired by this show note )

One of the first regular series from Ruby-Spears, debuting in 1978. Following in the formula of Scooby-Doo (which, while created by Ruby and Spears, was not a product of their production company), Fangface features four teenagers — Kim, Biff, Puggsy and Sherman "Fangs" Fangsworth, who drive around in their convertible called the Wolf-Buggy, solving mysteries which frequently involve mad scientists, aliens, monsters, and outlandish crimes.

The big twist is that Fangs is a werewolf, who will transform into "Fangface" whenever he sees the moon. Or a picture of the moon. Or something that looks kinda like the moon. Luckily, all he needs to see is the sun (or something resembling it) to change him back. Of course, having a werewolf on your mystery-solving team has its advantages (he's often referred to as a "secret weapon"), and the team keep photos of the sun and moon on hand to initiate Fangs' Transformation Sequence as necessary. Fangface is stronger, faster, and better in a fight — although he has the bad habit of trying to eat Puggsy, especially when he hears any reference to food. In his human form, naturally, he has no idea about any of this, and is frequently confused to find himself in a situation he has no memory of getting into.

Another significant difference between this show and Scooby Doo was that all of the monsters in it were real, including the titular werewolf himself.

In 1979, the second season, titled Fangface and Fangpuss, aired as a segment on The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show and introduced a new character: Baby Fangs, Fangs' infant cousin who turns into a baby werewolf called Fangpuss (which contradicts the opening narration stating that only one werewolf is born into the family every 400 years, unless Baby Fangs' lycanthropy comes from another source entirely). The show remained in the same mystery-adventure style as the first season, but episodes were now shortened to 15-minute segments. Sixteen episodes of Fangface and Fangpuss were produced for the 1979-80 season. The episodes "The Creepy Goon from the Spooky Lagoon" and "Dr. Lupiter and the Thing from Jupiter" are the only season two episodes in which Baby Fangs/Fangpuss did not make an appearance.

Fangface and Fangpuss ran on ABC from September 22, 1979, to September 27, 1980; it then became a separate series in 1981 and, like the original Fangface, ran for just one season. After this series, Fangface and company faded into obscurity until reruns began to air on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. A few episodes were released to VHS, but the bulk of the series was only available in bootleg format, until eventually the first series, at least, became available for digital purchase through iTunes and Amazon.

Has a characters page!

This show contains examples of:

  • Adventurer Outfit: Episodes set in jungles will often have one-off characters in a pith-helmet-and-khakis getup. Namely, Mr. Ling in "The Great Ape Escape", Prof. Ortega and his daughter Carmen in "A Scary Affair in the Skullman's Lair", and the evil Xeno in "A Goofy Bungle in the Filipino Jungle".
  • All Just a Dream: When Fangface reverts to Fangs, he dismisses it as such.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The opening sequence shows us Fangs as a baby, transforming into Fangface and back.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Too many specific examples to list, and describing some of them would be next to impossible, but let's just say the show runs on cartoon logic first and foremost.
  • Artistic License – Space: "Dr. Lupiter and the Thing from Jupiter" opens with an astronaut landing "on the surface of Jupiter".
  • As You Know: "Oh no! Every time Fangface hears a food word, he eats Puggsy! Quick! We've got to rub his foot! It's the only way to calm him down!"
  • Bat Deduction: "A Scary Affair in the Skullman's Lair" opens with Prof. Ortega finding a skull in the jungle, and treating this as proof of his theory that this region was once inhabited by a lost civilization of "skullmen". He's right, naturally.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In "The Great Ape Escape".
    They need no guards. There is no escape from our trap!
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Swami Zodak does this to both Hal Hercules and Biff.
    • In "Dr. Lupiter and the Thing from Jupiter", the thing in question is actually an astronaut who has been turned into a Brainwashed and Crazy monster by Mad Scientist Dr. Lupiter.
  • Captain Obvious: A lot of the dialogue. Spoofed in "The Cuckoo Carnival Calamity", when Puggsy restates where they are, and Fangs excitedly agrees, "Yeah! That's what the sign says!"
  • Chased Off into the Sunset: A few episodes end with Puggsy chasing Fangs like this.
  • Circus of Fear: "The Cuckoo Carnival Calamity" focuses on a circus strongman being brainwashed by an evil hypnotist.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Happens in several episodes when Fangface (each time after his first transformation) pulls poor Puggsy's pants for no reason; sometimes they're pulled down with his paws, while other times they're even yanked off with his fang.
  • Comically Missing the Point: A frequent habit of Fangface. For example, in the episode "The Ill Will of Dr. Chill", the eponymous villain gloats that "You've made your last mistake!" and Fangface excitedly assumes that this means he will be infallible going forward.
    You hear that, Puggs? I've made my last mistake!
  • Cool Airship / Dread Zeppelin: The Sky Ghost flies one in "The Invisible Menace Mix-Up"
  • Cool Car: The Wolf-Buggy, a bright yellow convertible.
  • Cool Boat: "The Creep From The Deep" has a lot of scenes on nice yachts. The gang rent another yacht for a fishing trip in "The Great Ape Escape", and "A Toothy Shark Is Not Lark" is set mostly on a cruise ship.
  • Death Trap: The ape-man of "The Great Ape Escape" throw Puggsy and Fangface in one, and naturally post no guards to keep an eye on them. After returning to human form, Fangs is able to escape the trap by using a well-thrown ball of chewing gum to "gum up" the trap. Later in the episode, the whole gang save Mr. Ling the explorer from being lifted into the fiery maw of the "Ape Idol".
  • Defanged Horrors: There's some spooky visuals here and there, but the emphasis is always on comedy and adventure over fright.
  • Don't Be Ridiculous. In "A Toothy Shark Is No Lark", Fangs comments that he's always wanted to go on a Caribbean cruise in the Mediterranean. Puggsy, ever the Know-Nothing Know-It-All, pompously corrects him that the Caribbean is nowhere near the Mediterranean, but in the North Pacific.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • Played straight in "A Heap of Trouble", where Prof. Arnos' plot is to "transform the whole faculty [of the local university] into hulking monsters!"
    • In "Who Do The Voodoo", Puggsy is briefly changed into a frog. All of his clothes vanish, except for his hat, which shrinks to frog size.
    • Fangface himself, whose transformations are usually deliberately triggered by his friends. He doesn't seem to ever realize what's going on.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: In "A Toothy Shark Is No Lark!", Kim forgets to bring the sun and moon pictures on the cruise, making her and the others unable to trigger Fangs' transformation into Fangface or vice versa.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: In "The Invisible Menace Mix-up", the gang go here to try to stop a pearl being stolen.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: "The Creepy Goon From The Spooky Lagoon" has Fangs' brain in a Fish Person's body.
  • Human Sacrifice: See Death Trap above.
  • I Am Not Weasel: In "The Space Monster Mishap", Fangface is deeply offended when one of the astronauts calls him a dog.
    Dogs do not have a single fang! Dogs whine and bark! I snarl and growl!
  • Just Think of the Potential!: In "Dinosaur Daze", Prof. Ito hopes to capture the rampaging T. rex so it can be studied. In a rarity for this trope, he actually gets his wish!
  • Laugh Track: The VHS release added prerecorded laughter after some of the jokes. Unfortunately, the dialogue wasn't timed around a laugh track, so a lot of lines get lost in the noise.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Usually once an episode, with Biff and Kim going off separately while Fangface and Puggsy get into shenanigans.
  • MacGyvering: "We'll use those tapestries and bamboo poles to build a glider!"
  • Mars Needs Women: In "The Goofy Gargoyle Goof-Up", both Fangface and the gargoyle seem to find Raquel very attractive, although the gargoyle apparently wants to turn her into another gargoyle before she can be his bride.
  • Monster of the Week / Strictly Formula: Any given episode of the show will give you a pretty good grasp of its overall tone and format.
  • Monochrome Casting: Averted, which was a rarity at the time. Kim is black (or at least Ambiguously Brown), and many incidental characters are people of colour. In the first season, at least, they also tend to avoid leaning too heavily on stereotypes, though the second season doesn't make as much effort.
  • Monumental Damage: A reversible example: In "The Invisible Menace Mix-up", The Sky Ghost uses his Invisibility Ray to turn Mount Rushmore invisible, intending to turn it back to normal only if the US government pays a hefty ransom. See Rushmore Refacement for more.
  • Not a Mask: "The Goofy Gargoyle Goof-Up" is set at a costume party in the Hollywood Hills. People regularly compliment Fangface on his great werewolf costume, and film producer Shadrach Cadillac even offers him a part in a movie. When the evil gargoyle shows up, most people seem to assume it's just a troublesome guest, and Fangface even briefly thinks it's Puggsy's costume.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different... and HOW!
    • Even within the series, werewolves vary. The episode "Where's The Wolf That's The Werewolf" featured the gang going after... a werewolf. Not only did he look entirely different from Fangface (being more humanoid and less Funny Animal, though he can't seem to talk), his transformation was triggered by a potion (conveniently labeled "Werewolf Secret Formula").
    • And then, in the same episode, Puggsy becomes a werewolf for a short time thanks to the same formula. Unlike the drastic difference between Fangs and Fangface, he looks mostly the same as normal, except for the brown fur on his hands, feet, and face. On the other hand, unlike the villainous werewolf, he can still talk, and he winds up acting like Fangface, right down to the "Ooh! Ooh!" exclamation.
  • Out of Focus: The end result of all the splitting the party and frequent kidnappings is that Biff and Kim are usually put off to the sidelines, keeping the focus on Fangs/Fangface and Puggsy (and, in the second season, Baby Fangs/Fangpuss).
  • Palate Propping: Fangface uses a car-jack to prop open the mouth of a Threatening Shark.
  • Playing Sick: In "Westward Ho the UFO!". The aliens abandon their plans to conquer Earth for fear of ending up like the Martians in The War of the Worlds after Fangface pretends to have a contagious disease.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: "I'll peep through this peephole with my peepers and take a peep!"
  • Refuge in Audacity: It is a comedy show, isn't it?
  • Rushmore Refacement: In "The Invisible Menace Mix-Up", The Sky Ghost turns Mount Rushmore invisible, holding it for ransom from the US. When Fangs and Puggsy try to turn it back at the end, they have a number of mix-ups, including putting Teddy Roosevelt's head upside down and replacing it with Fangface's head — which terrifies Fangs.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Consistently averted; unlike Scooby-Doo (and many of the other "Mystery Kid" shows of its kind at the time), the monster villains in this series are actually real. And, unlike most of those shows, they have a real supernatural creature on their side to help deal with the villains.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: "The Cuckoo Carnival Calamity" has a scene like this, with the added element that Fangface is carrying a phone, whose (incredibly long) cord criss-crosses the hallway multiple times.
  • South of the Border: Downplayed in "The Creep From the Deep", which is set on an island off the Mexican coast. The plot revolves around an Aztec mummy and there are a few incidental characters with Mexican accents and Spanish names, but it's a fairly subtle, non-stereotypical portrayal.
  • Space Station: Most of "The Space Monster Mishap" is set on one resembling Werner von Braun's design. To drive the point home, that episode briefly features a German-accented rocket scientist named Prof. Werner.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In "The Great Ape Escape", Fangface uses his tooth to cut a door into the side of a mountain so he and Puggsy can escape from the ape-men... but the door doesn't lead anywhere and they get caught anyway.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Fangface disguises himself as a female gargoyle to distract the male gargoyle. It works.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Kind of. "A Creep From the Deep" ends with the mummy returning to his grave, reunited with his sacred treasure - but it's clear that this is simply a rest, and he could rise again if anyone else messes with the treasure.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • A lot of incidental characters seem very unfazed to see a werewolf running around. Sometimes there's a plausible explanation (see Not a Mask above) but other times they just seem to roll with it. In "There Is Nothing Worse Than A Stony Curse", a hotel bellhop specifically forbids entry to Fangface and Fangpuss, citing a "no werewolves allowed" policy, suggesting that the existence of werewolves may be common knowledge in this universe.
    • Several second-season episodes feature very blase crowds. For example, "The Defiant Casablanca Giant" has a giant man (standing around ten to twelve feet tall) abducting a scientist from a busy restaurant and subsequently wandering around crowded Casablanca markets (while carrying a normal-sized man screaming "HELP", no less), and nobody bats an eye; and "A Goofy Bungle In The Filipino Jungle" has the team transforming Fangs and Baby Fangs into werewolves right in front of a scientist, who is completely unsurprised and doesn't even comment on it.
  • Vacation Episode: Nearly every episode. See Busman's Holiday, above. Nevertheless, the characters' Limited Wardrobe remains in effect. The one exception is "Snow Job Jitters", where the gang put on winter coats and sweaters, though Kim's legs remain bare. In the second season's snowy episode, "The Ill Will of Dr. Chill", however, they appear once again in their traditional wardrobes, with Fangs and Puggsy in short sleeves and Baby Fangs not even properly clothed at all.
  • Weird Moon: The moon is always full. Always. Not that Fangs needs a full moon to transform; things like door-knockers shaped like crescent moons can do it.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In "The Cuckoo Carnival Calamity", Zorak deliberately leaving a few misleading clues at his circus tent, counting on the heroes' detective skills to lead them to the wrong pier at the harbour.
  • You Meddling Kids: An occasional lament of the various villains.