The Completely Mental Misadventures Of Ed Grimley was a short-lived Hanna-Barbera series from The Renaissance Age of Animation based on SCTV and SNL alumnus Martin Short's popular sketch character. Along with the Coneheads and David S. Pumpkins specials in 1983 and 2017, respectively, it's one of only three animated adaptations of a character from either of these sketch shows and remains the only one to have been made into a children's series.
Ed Grimley is an overly-optimistic nerd, with his highly unfashionable sense of style, questionable speech patterns and odd obsessions, such as playing the triangle and watching Wheel of Fortune, who gets into strange adventures and takes everything that happens around him, no matter how weird, with good nature and aplomb.
In this adaptation, Grimley lives in an apartment in a converted Victorian house with his goldfish Moby and pet rat Sheldon, upstairs from his cantankerous landlord Leo Freebus (Jonathan Winters) and his much nicer wife Deidre (Andrea Martin). Other recurring characters included Ms. Malone (Catherine O'Hara), an attractive, yet airheaded amateur actress with whom Ed is infatuated, and her loudmouthed kid brother, Wendell (Danny Cooksey).
The show's plots always started out mundane (such as Ed heads to his aunt's house for an afternoon of board-game playing or Ed goes to return a library book) before descending into cartoonishness (Ed gets swept away and finds himself in a farmland that looks like the one from The Wizard of Oz or Ed accidentally signs up for the military and becomes a comedy star when a Bob Hope-esque comedian known for entertaining troops chooses him as a second banana). All the while, Ed would narrate his feelings on the situation and use his good nature and, occasionally, bizarre interests to get himself out of the situation.
The show had two other segments: the live-action Count Floyd's Scary Stories, featuring fellow "SCTV" alum Joe Flaherty as the bumbling vampire host of a children's show who told supposedly scary stories, most of which made no sense; and the animated Amazing Gustav Brothers, two scientist brothers (played by Winters and Charlie Adler) who would attempt, sometimes successfully, to tie in a science lesson to the main story.
The show only lasted one season, mostly due to the Writers' Guild strike of 1988 and the fact that it was created to compete with the then-ratings powerhouse Pee-wee's Playhouse. Short unsuccessfully proposed moving the show to prime-time for a second season, due to all of the Parental Bonus humor. It later did reasonably well in reruns on Cartoon Network and its sister station Boomerang.
Some pretty decent tropes, I must say:
- Actor Allusion: The Gustav brothers' mother (played by Jonathan Winters) is an expy of Winters' famous Maude Frickert character.
- A Day in the Limelight: "Crate Expectations" focuses on Miss Malone being depressed about growing older and losing out on a role in a TV movie, which unfolds into a whole episode reference to It's A Wonderful Life. Ed is in the episode, but only in a subplot where he gets a job at a crate factory and ends up in one of the crates and loaded on a truck.
- Alter Kocker: Irving Cohen, the retired vaudeville singer/songwriter from the final episode, "The Irving Who Came To Dinner."
- And You Were There: Invoked in "Blowin' In The Wind" as part of its Whole-Plot Reference to The Wizard of Oz. Of course, the one person Dorothy doesn't recognize is Ed, who frowns when she points to him.
- Animated Adaptation: Of Martin Short's recurring character from SCTV and Saturday Night Live. As mentioned above, it's one of only three characters from either of these shows to get a cartoon adaptation, the others being the Coneheads and David S. Pumpkins, but is currently the only one to be a series rather than a one-off special.
- Berserk Button: Ed seems to have a certain disdain for dogs.
- Catchphrase: Ed has several: "Too much," "I must say...," "I'm doomed as doom can be!"
- Irving Cohen gets one for when he writes a song. "Gimmie a C! A bouncy C!"
- Clap If You Believe: In "Eddy, We Hardly Knew Ye," a live-action Martin Short appears As Himself after Ms. Malone calls him to encourage television viewers to pray for Ed's recovery from a tonsillectomy by clapping their hands. Individually. As in just the palms and fingertips. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
- Department of Redundancy Department: As in the sketches, Ed has a habit of saying that he's going to do X, followed by "It's like I'm going to do X, y'know."
- Donut Mess with a Cop: When the police escort Ed to a concert, they stop for a donut break, despite knowing that he's already late.
- Dreadful Musician: Averted. Ed isn't bad at playing the triangle so much as way too enthusiastic about it.
- Edutainment: The first few Gustav Brothers segments were genuinely educational. This would later be dropped for pure slapstick.
- Everybody Do the Endless Loop: The very last scene of the very last episode is Ed and all his friends doing Ed's odd trademark dance like this.
- Expy: The Gustav Brothers' mother, played by Jonathan Winters, is clearly based on his famous Maude Frickert character.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Ed for Martin Short, of corse. Taken to it's literal extreme in the opening when a pixilated Short takes an animated Ed Grimley suit out of his closet and puts it on.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: The b-plot of "Crate Expectations" is about Ms. Malone moping over how she's worthless as a struggling actress at 25 before her guardian angel comes to show her what life would be if she'd never been born.
- Large Ham: Ed, and especially Miss Malone!
- Motor Mouth: Ed, who has a habit of giving long, colorful descriptions of everything going on around him.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Again, as in the sketches, Ed's trademark quirk is making a big deal out of the most banal things. One episode opens with him belting out a song about washing his windows!
- And of course, his trademark triangle-playing. An entire episode is dedicated to him rushing to a philharmonic concert to play a single note.
- Non-Indicative Title: None of Count Floyd's stories are scary, nor do they make any sense whatsoever.
- Once an Episode: The Amazing Gustav Brothers' segments and Ed stopping whatever he's doing to watch The Count Floyd Show.
- Self-Deprecation: In "Eddie, We Hardly Knew Ye," Miss Malone calls up her agent to get a hold of "that actor she dumped" to broadcast a get-well message to Ed. The actor? Martin Short!
- Skewed Priorities: The cops don't care about a citizen's stolen car because they're busy looking for Ed's fish. Ed reassures the car's owner that, if it wasn't a cartoon, the cops would be looking for the car.
- Stock Footage: Some of the Count Floyd segments were later recycled on the first iteration of Cartoon Planet.
- Shown Their Work: Despite being the typical No Budget production for which Hanna-Barbera was known, Ed's body language is astonishingly accurate to how Martin Short performs him.
- This Is Gonna Suck: One of Ed's many catchphrases is "I'm doomed as doomed can be, you know!"
- Toon Transformation: The opening has a live-action Ed (in stop-motion animation) getting out of bed and putting on a cartoon Ed Grimley outfit.
- Trademark Favorite Food: For Ed, tuna casserole.
- Triangles Are the Worst Instrument: The fact that he is a very avid triangle player is more proof that Ed is a very odd man.
- Verbal Tic: For Ed, "Pretty decent" and "...I must say."
- Whole-Plot Reference: "Blowin' In The Wind" is a weird example: it's The Wizard of Oz... from the perspective of the people waiting for Dorothy to wake up.