Ahhh, Stunt Dawgs....the cartoon no one seems able to remember, yet everyone who grew up in the early 1990s can recall on sight. One of the more underrated gems of afterschool weekday animation, it was similar to most of the early 1990s animated shows in that it had the look of a goofy and colorful slapstick 'toon, but had extremely subversive humor that most of its own demographic would never get until a decade or so later.
The premise, which was as off-kilter as the humor, focused on a group of stunt men (and one woman) aptly named the Stunt Dawgs, who live to perform the most deadly and insane stunts that no other stunt person would ever chance doing. Their rivals were the Stunt Scabs, a ragtag group of derelict stunt performers who were employed by a crazed director, who hated the Stunt Dawgs with a vengeance, and would come up with ways to either get them under his tyrannical employ, or cause them as much physical pain as humanly possible.
The Dawgs consisted of:
- Needham, the brawny, Southern "punch first and ask questions later" leader of the team. Named after Real Life stuntman and film director Hal Needham.
- Splat, a wealthy, high class socialite who just enjoyed working with the team even though he technically didn't need the money.
- Sizzle, the feisty redhead who had a thing for pyrotechnics, and the lone female of the team.
- Crash, the token black guy of the group that was best known as the trendy hip guy who also had to contend with Velda, an abrasive, obese woman who was insanely in love with him (as the Expository Theme Tune noted, he was on the run 'cause he broke Velda's heart).
- Skidd, the youngest member of the group, who was somewhat of a Cloudcuckoolander, but had occasional bouts of clarity.
- Human, their loyal mascot/dog, who could be very anthropomorphic when he wanted.
The Scabs consisted of:
- Richard P. Fungus ("Don't call me Dick!"), director/owner of Fungus Studios as well as the Stunt Scabs, whose primary goal was to be known as the greatest director in Hollywood history, which included forcing the Stunt Dawgs to honor any agreements via loopholes he may have concocted.
- Slime, Fungus' lawyer who usually came up with and carried out such loopholes.
- Lucky, member of the Scabs who seemed to be cursed with non-stop bad luck.
- Airball, Fungus' right hand and toadying sycophant, who bore somewhat of an eerie resemblance to Napoleon Bonaparte in both voice and stature.
- Half-a-Mind, who was somewhat of a human cyborg type character that was, as his name implied, dumb as the proverbial bag of hammers.
- Badyear, a big, burly construction worker-esque stunt guy who was as frugal and cheap as he was big.
- Whiz Vid, the Evil Genius who came up with all of their nasty inventions, and was a caricature of Jerry Lewis to boot.
- 555: In the comic, Airball grabs some papers off Needham's desk. One of them reads "Call Vanessa Vavoom, 555-2439".
- Abhorrent Admirer: Velda.
- Accidental Marriage: The whole mess with Velda started when, for a stunt exhibition, she was picked as a volunteer to play Crash's "bride" in a stunt. She took it a bit too seriously.
- Action Girl: Sizzle.
- All Part of the Show: Fungus' plan to sabotage a stunt show in the comics fails because the audience thought it was part of the show.
- Alliterative Title: In the comic book, the Dawgs are hired to perform stunts at a movie titled Sexy Siberian Snow Surfers.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Fungus upon having the Stunt Scabs assembled in a comic book story.Fungus: To accomplish this evil mission, I need the best men possible! Since they were all booked-up, I'm stuck with you.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Played With. One episode had the Dawgs in space with helmets, but no pressure suits.
- Bald of Awesome: Crash.
- Better the Devil You Know: Once the Dawgs learned how the Scabs work with Airball leading them, they decided to bring Fungus back.
- Big Bad: Fungus.
- The Big Race: One episode features a relay race between the Stunt Dawgs and the Stunt Scabs where five members from each team use their vehicles and the winning team gets ten million dollars. The Dawgs intend to donate the prize to a charity that helps homeless kids.
- Biker Babe: Sizzle again.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Did this at least once when Splat told the audience "Don't try this at home. I am a trained professional and, ultimately a cartoon character. Witness the three fingers and a thumb."
- Brick Joke: In the comic, the Stunt Scabs go to a former Soviet republic and pass themselves as the Stunt Dawgs as part of a plan to steal that nation's atom bomb. When Premier Driscalpitch shows surprise at the notion that "dawgs" is spelled s-c-a-b-s, Fungus says English is a tricky language and the Premier says his translation skills need a little work. When they do reach the bomb, it turns out to be a cosmetic named Adam's Balm. As the Premier reiterates, his translation skills need a little work. During the epilogue, the big bucks the Premier offered as payment for the stunt work performed by the Dawgs turn out to be reindeer, prompting them to confirm that his English needs work and now so do they.
- Bound and Gagged: Sizzle had this happen to her in two episodes ("Casting Call" & "Bad Day at Badwater"), no doubt to the delight of males everywhere.
- The Cameo: Inspector Gadget appeared briefly in one episode, almost getting run over by the Dawgs. One of them even broke the fourth wall by telling him he was in the wrong cartoon.
- Catch-Phrase/Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: The Stunt Dawgs had two of them.Needham: It's T. T. Kaaaaaaaay B.!
Others: Time to kiiiiiiiick butt!
- and:Needham: It's P.B.T.!
Others: Pay-back time!
- Fungus had one too.Fungus: Lights.... camera... MAYHEM!
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Harvey Comics produced one issue. It was... all right.
- Credits Gag:
- The Episode Title Card had someone announce the title as if the show was being filmed right there, complete with clapperboard ("'Half-A-Mind Over Matter,' take one!"). Also, the Franklin/Waterman Productions logo at the end would feature Fungus's "maniacal pose in front of a stormy sky" shot from the main titles.
- Not to mention one episode had Needham commenting on the crew over the end credits (on seeing the Franklin/Waterman logo: "What do those guys do?").
- There were a couple of gags with various characters reading the end credits, the funniest probably being Fungus. "That guy owes me money!"
- Dastardly Whiplash: Although he fits the type well enough by himself, Slime's last name actually is "Whiplash".
- Death Faked for You: When the Stunt Sawgs tie up Fungus and Airball and leave them in a cargo ship to be free of them, Airball escapes but leaves Fungus behind so he can become the Stunt Scabs' new leader by tricking them into thinking he's dead.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the comic, Airball telling the readers why he must find out what the Stunt Dawgs are rejoicing for.Airball: For I am zee evil Airball! Second-in-command of zee evil Stunt Scabs... led by zee evil Richard Fungus! By zee way... did I mention we are evil?
- The Ditz: Half-a-Mind.
- Distress Ball: Sizzle had a tendency to get hit with this.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Inverted. Their pet dog is named Human.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": Do Not Call Me Dick, in Fungus' case.
- Eat the Camera: Human, following the Title Scream in the transition sequence.
- Elvis Impersonator: One episode had Fungus buy a casino and hire Whiz Kid as an Elvis Impersonator. His act was of Elvis dying.
- Exactly What I Aimed At: In the comic, Fungus fires a harpoon at a glacier, making the Stunt Dawgs think he missed. He then pulls the glacier on the Dawgs.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Fictional Country: Khrzctphxn in the comic. According to Premier Driscalpitch, they're the last (and smallest) breakaway republic of the former Soviet Union. He adds that, rather than break away, they just fell off and nobody noticed.
- Five-Man Band
- Fiery Redhead: Sizzle.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: One episode had Half-a-Mind become so smart he started calling himself "Mind-and-a-Half".
- Force Feeding: One story features Airball being force-fed spinach as a torture.
- Forging the Will: Fungus' lawyer forged a will where Splat's family's fortune belongs to Skidd and Skidd has to keep it otherwise the Stunt Dawgs will lose their funds.
- French Jerk/Funny Foreigner: Airball.
- Fun with Acronyms:
- From the theme song. "D is for danger upon which we thrive. A is for action, Makes it fun to be alive. W is for wild things we always do. G is for the gross stuff thats really cool. And S just makes it plural."
- Needham's catchphrases T. T. Kaaaaaaaay B. (Time to kiiiiiiiick butt!) and P. B. T. (Pay-back time!).
- Gadgeteer Genius: Whiz Kid.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The show did this quite often, particularly with the names Richard P. and R. Peter Fungus. However, it goes beyond mere names. The show's predicaments, evil plans, catch-phrases, devices, minor characters and so forth seemed to wander into this territory as often as not. One example is Sizzle calling something "as funny as a wet toilet seat."
- Hollywood Cyborg: Half-a-Mind.
- I Resemble That Remark!: Badyear says that much upon being described as "an ox and a moron".
- Inadequate Inheritor: Badyear is seen as such by his billionaire uncle.
- Job-Stealing Robot: In one episode, Fungus orders Whiz Kid to build a stunt robot that steals the Stunt Dawgs' jobs. The stunt robot is so good that Fungus decides to fire the Stunt Scabs except for Whiz Kid, who'll be needed whenever the stunt robot needs repairs.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Needham's giant cleft chin.
- Last-Name Basis: Needham's first name is used only once in the entire series. And yes, it's Hal, just like his Real Life counterpart.
- Last Request: When Airball fakes Richard P. Fungus' death as part of a plan to become the Stunt Scabs' new leader, he tells them Fungus' last request was for him to become the new leader.
- The Law Firm of Pun, Pun, and Wordplay: In the comics, lawyer Slyme Whiplash works for the law firm of Dewey, Cheatam and Howe.
- List of Transgressions: In "Dream On, Fungus", Richard P. Fungus is shown a long parchment which he assumes to be a list of his sins. He's told it's the list's index.
- Literal-Minded: As far as Badyear in concerned in the comics, to hog-tie someone means to tie a hog to someone.
- Meaningful Name: In the comic book, the Stunt Scabs' lawyer introduces himself as "Slyme (with a "y"), Whiplash attorney-at-law with the firm of Dewey, Cheatam and Howe."
- Moral Watchdogs: Parodied in "Freedom of Screech."
- Ms. Fanservice: Sizzle. Besides her Bound and Gagged moments, she even wears a bikini during the opening title sequence.
- My Card: In the comic book, the Stunt Scabs' lawyer introduces himself to them by showing his card when Half-a-Mind says he's got half a mind to sue.
- Mysterious Middle Initial: Richard P. Fungus. There's also a case of Mysterious Middle Initial with Fungus' twin R. Peter Fungus.
- The Napoleon: Airball.
- Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: In one occasion where the Stunt Dawgs were contract bound to perform stunts for one of Fungus' movies, he tried to use this trope to make them wear blindfolds during the performance. They said that the contract didn't require them to accept that request and they asked 60 million dollars in exchange for doing it. Fungus made a conter-proposition (half the gross profits) and they accepted it.
- Non-Idle Rich: Splat.
- On One Condition: In "Fungustein", a robot name Scabulator drove the Stunt Dawgs jobless and one of them asked where they'd get the money to survive. Noticing the others staring at him, Splat said the terms of the will forbid him from doing any charity.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Stunt Scabs.
- Ruritania: The titular country in "Morning in Halvakia".
- Sequel Hook: Parodied. When the Stunt Scabs flee in the end of a comic book story, the last thing their leader says is "Set up a sequel!".
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Being the only female on the team doesn't exempt Sizzle from the Amusing Injuries they all tend to be hit with.
- The Smurfette Principle: Sizzle is the only female Stunt Dawg. Lampshaded in an episode where she temporarily bonds with Airball, the only foreigner in the Stunt Scabs.
- Spelling Song: The Expository Theme Tune."D is for danger, upon which we thrive
A is for action, makes it fun to be alive
W is for the wild things we always do
G is for the gross stuff that's really cool
And S just makes it plural!"
- The Starscream: Airball. The Stunt Dawgs would bring Fungus back just to stop him.
- Stock "Yuck!": In "Dream On, Fungus", Fungus is tricked into thinking he and his team are dead. He's shown a scene of the other Scabs being tortured in "Hell". Airball's torture is being force-fed spinach.
- Take That, Audience!:
Skidd: You know what has ten teeth and an I.Q. of 30?Splat: The first ten rows of our audience!
- Skidd and Splat pull this in the comic.
- Fungus does the same in the same comic book when he decides to introduce himself just in case the readers are as ignorant as they look.
- Team Pet: Human.
- Temporary Bulk Change: One episode featured the Stunt Dawgs eating muffins that, when consumed caused them to inflate like balloons.
- Title Scream: Often used for scene transitions and Eye Catches. STUNT DAWGS! *explosion*
- Title Theme Tune
- Token Minority: Crash.
- Took a Level in Dumbass, Transformation Ray/Baleful Polymorph, Fountain of Youth etc...: The predicaments faced by the Stunt Dawgs were... diverse to say the least, and hardly limited by our silly, serious understanding of science.
- Trick Bomb: A huge number. Made up a lot of the action. Weird ones, too. The only one that springs to mind is the Opera Bomb. That's not exactly a Wikia up for this show yet.
- The most common one was the Snot bomb, which would fly to its target and then sneeze sticky green goo on them.
- The smart bomb would track its target relentlessly, but instead of exploding, it bored its target with an obnoxious voice and trivial facts.
- Even weird by it's standards, when Airball took over, he hit all the donut shops with skunk/limberger/sardine bombs, so the donuts would taste terrible, preventing the cops from functioning.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Crash. What else can you say about a black character whose catchphrase is "Hep me! Hep me!"
- Villain Exclusivity Clause: The Stunt Scabs are the antagonists of every episode and all cases of Enemy Mine are the result of some rifts among them that cause one of more of them to temporarily team up with the heroes. In spite of it, the next episode shows the Scabs as united as if the rift never happened.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The intentional misspelling of "Dogs".
- You Never Did That for Me: When the ghost of Richard P. Fungus' grandfather showed up to finish his last movie, the two of them argued a lot. One of Fungus' complaints was that his grandfather never sent him Christmas cards.