The Wuzzles was the first Disney original animated series. It debuted in 1985, and aired on broadcast television as a Saturday Morning Cartoon. It is also their shortest running series of The '80s, at 13 episodes, though it went into reruns for quite a while.
Like many other shows of the 1980s, it had a plush line (which it
may have been was designed to sell) and each stuffed animal character came with a picture book that helped set up the world of the series.
It was a fun little cartoon and toy line that followed the great tradition of 80s cartoons and toys: It was colorful, had kind of a sci-fi/fantasy theme, and made you wonder what kinds of legal or illegal drugs the people who came up with it were taking at the time.
All of the main characters were Mix-and-Match Critters:
- Bumblelion (bumblebee/lion)
- Hoppopotamus (hippo/rabbit)
- Eleroo (elephant/kangaroo)
- Butterbear (butterfly/bear)
- Moosel (moose/seal)
- Rhinokey (rhino/monkey)
- Tycoon (tiger/raccoon.)
- Crock (crocodile/bear or crocodile/tyrannosaurus... maybe? [see below])
- Brat (boar/rat)
- Flizard (frog/lizard... with a few monkey parts?)
The plush line actually outlived the cartoon, and involved several more characters who never got a chance to appear in the cartoon. Additionally, a few episodes of the television show were given theatrical runs in Europe, acting as animated shorts before Disney films.
This show has examples of:
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Said Mix-and-Match Critters are often bright shades of nonsense, such as purple or pink.
- Animal Gender-Bender with a sometimes Viewer Gender Confusion chaser: Eleroo, who is a male, and has a pouch.
- Appropriate Animal Attire: Though the main characters were naked most of the time, they would occasionally wear clothes.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: One episode revolves entirely around the rest of the gang mocking Moosel for being afraid of monsters. This is after it's been established that things like Sharkasaurus (half Great White Shark, half Tyrannosaurus rex) exist.
- Big Eater: Eleroo and Hoppopotamus.
- Breakingthe Fourth Wall: The line of storybooks based on the show had this trope as its bread and butter: the book would begin with the reader reading about another kid reading the exact same book they were, which would proceed until things got completely out of hand in the story, then the kid reading the book in the book would wish to be transported to Wuzz. Once there, they would use their knowledge of the story to help the Wuzzles figure out a solution to their problem.
- Broken Aesop / Moral Dissonance: Surprisingly, a lot of it.
- Call of the Wild Blue Yonder: In episode "Eleroo's Wishday", Eleroo wishes that he could fly, but when Croc and his cronies threaten the other Wuzzles, Eleroo uses his final wish to sacrifice his newfound abilities of flight and to save his friends.
- Carrying a Cake: Subverted in the episode discussed in the above link.
- Cartoon Creature: Brat. Unlike all of the other characters, he doesn't seem to be a hybrid of any real animals so much as an "ugly hairy thing".
- Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Word of God is annoyingly inconsistent as to whether Crock is half-crocodile, half-dragon or half-crocodile, half-tyrannosaur... or if he's a hybrid at all. Further, all the monsters Moosel lives in fear of are named [something]-saurus.
- Fat and Skinny: Hoppopotamus and Butterbear.
- Fat Comic Relief: Hoppopotamus. Also Eleroo to a lesser extent.
- Five-Man Band:
- Harmless Villain: Crock.
- Hollywood Density: Sometimes Hoppo would be heavier than usual when a joke called for it. At least once, she made the ground shake just by walking. Let's just say that watching the series now, it is jarring how many jokes against fat girls there are.
- Jerkass: All the characters had their jerkass moments, but none more so than Rhinokey.
- Last Episode, New Character: In the finale, new Wuzzle Tycoon moves in and befriends the main characters (sans Moosel, who's inexplicably absent). While the series didn't make it to a second season, Tycoon did at least get his own storybook and plush toy.
- Lemony Narrator: The narrator of each episode, who comes off having a lot of personality.
- Lessons in Sophistication: Played straight and subverted in one episode. Butterbear and Crock have a wager that she can teach his slovenly henchbeast, Brat, to be a proper gentleman for an important party and succeeds. The subversion comes when her friends (after getting scolded by Butterbear for their lack of good manners and are forced to learn classy behavior in time for the same party) go find a book on how to be more classy, Crock overhears them and thinks the book is for Butterbear in teaching Brat, and puts the title of a book on classy behavior on a book for "teaching 'bad manners'". Instead of learning how to be proper, they're taught to behave even worse.
- Love Triangle: Hoppopotomus is infatuated with Bumblelion, who is head over heels for Butterbear, who isn't really interested in anyone.
- Merchandise-Driven: Though they're so rare it may pass others by, the series was in fact created to sell a line of stuffed toys.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The entire cast and the core concept. In fact, this isn't limited to just the creatures — the gadgets they use and food products they eat all seem to be odd combinations, some of which make no sense at all (such as a pedal bicycle with pogo stick springs instead of wheels — what do the pedals even do?)
- Mood Whiplash: The entirety of "Bumblelion and the Terrified Forest". It starts out as a lighthearted, comedic affair as Bumblelion tries and laughably fails at being a swashbuckler after watching a TV show about one, while Hoppo tries to doll herself up in hopes of getting Bumblelion to notice her. Then it does a full-fledged swing into a horror movie pastiche, as Bumblelion and Hoppo have to travel through a seriously creepy forest and then venture into an equally creepy castle being haunted by the true villain of the episode. Which is a giant "gor-rantula" and thusly takes the form of a massive ape's head scuttling around on eight hairy giant spider legs. It's a seriously creepy sight.
- No Fourth Wall / Medium Awareness: In the course of thirteen episodes, Freberg manage to address the audience or the presence of the show every single time.
- Off-Model: Some examples can be seen here.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Pretty hard to miss this one. All three of the recurring villains are at least part reptilian (with the possible exception of Brat), in stark contrast with the main cast, who are all predominantly mammals with the occasional cute bug mixed in.
- Saturday Morning Cartoon
- Soap Punishment: Crock threatens to do this to Flizard for saying that he's hungry enough to go work for food.
- Talking Animal: The Wuzzles themselves.
- Unrequited Love: Hoppopotamus, for Bumblelion; and Bumblelion, for Butterbear.
- Wings Do Nothing: Discussed here. All the main Wuzzles have little fairy wings that do nothing aside from flapping rapidly when they are excited.
- Only Butterbear and occasionally Bumblelion can use them to hover, but they're part insect anyway, so they at least have that excuse.