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Western Animation / Toonsylvania

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Toonsylvania was an animated show that lasted for two seasons on Fox Kids in 1998-99 (though reruns of the show aired on Fox Family and some overseas Fox Kids channels until 2000). It was created by Bill Kopp (the creator and voice of Eek! The Cat) and Jeff DeGrandis and produced by Steven Spielberg, and was one of the first animated works to come from the then-newly created DreamWorks studios. Much like Spielberg's earlier works (Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs), it was a multiple shorts cartoon show. Each episode was split into four parts (at least in season one; season two underwent a change in format):

  • The first part would be one of the adventures of Dr. Vic Frankenstein; his assistant, Igor, a Small Name, Big Ego who thought he was the brains of the outfit, and their Frankenstein's Monster, Phil.
  • The second part, called "Night of the Living Fred", was about the adventures of a family of zombies, created by Mike Peters, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and creator of Mother Goose and Grimm. On most episodes (particularly in season two), this segment would be replaced with an animated parody of a B horror movie or an animated piece featuring a short-lived character (like Becki With-An-I from "Something Weenie This Way Comes" or Madam Olga).
  • The third segment was the shortest, called "Igor's Science Minute", where Igor gives a science lesson. Hilarity and disaster ensue, especially in the ones where Igor doesn't sing the lesson.
  • The fourth and final segment, called "Melissa Screetch's Morbid Morals"', had Phil do something bad. As punishment, Igor reads him a tale involving a bratty girl named Melissa Screetch, who doesn't heed the warnings of adults (usually given by her mother) and gets punished one way or the other for it.

In season two, showrunners Bill Kopp and Jeff DeGrandis were replaced with Paul Rugg (the voice of Freakazoid and Mr. Director) and the show became more like a horror version of Animaniacs, which, along with moving from Saturday morning to Tuesday afternoons (especially around the time that free-to-air networks were phasing out the weekday afternoon cartoon line-up in favor of talk shows and more people tuned into cable to watch cartoons), resulted in the show being cancelled as the ratings declined.

The show hasn't aired on television since 2000. It had a VHS release around the time that it stopped airing on TV, but the video was just a "best-of" compilation of episodes from season one (even though the season two opening was used). On January 2014, Netflix streaming (the Brazilian and Mexican feed) had the entire series (including two season two episodes that didn't air since FOX canceled the show due to low ratings), and as of late 2014, it's no longer running.

Toonsylvania provides examples of:

  • Accidental Astronaut: In an episode where Melissa Screech goes on a field trip to the launch site, she goes on a space shuttle and presses a button, which told her not to touch, which launches her into space. Melissa arrived on a distant planet and insulted the queen of that planet, demanded the alien race to send her back to Earth.
  • Animated Anthology: In the same vein as Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures, the show consists of several unrelated shorts put together.
  • Banana Peel: In "Baby Human", Igor slips on a banana peel discarded by Phil and ends up spilling the formula that created the titular Baby Human, resulting in a whole bunch of Baby Humans being created and devouring the entire world.
  • Berserk Button: Switch the channel on Bunny Wunny at your own peril. Right, Igor?
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Phil, Dr. Vic and Igor fit this trope to a T, considering that Phil is a stocky Frankenstein monster, Dr. Vic is a tall and thin scientist, and Igor is a short hunchback.
  • Black Comedy: As one might expect from a horror comedy, there's tons of dark humor to go around. Most of it comes from the Night of the Living Fred segments (such as the Deadman family constantly getting dismembered and Fred's pet dog Frisky being an immobile corpse whose owner still treats as if he were alive).
  • Body Horror: Quite a bit.
    • The Deadmans' rotting body parts frequently fell, flew, or were ripped off. Also, Phil was badly put together and literally fell apart if one of his stitches was pulled, as Igor demonstrated in his lesson on gravity. His brain was also removed from his head at least twice, and once was even shown to be sentient.
    • On "Baby Human," when the baby chomps down on Igor's head, one would expect Igor's head to be tucked into his body when Phil pulled the baby off him, right? WRONG! Igor's body was shown blindly crawling on the floor for his head, with Phil telling the baby to "...spit Uncle Igor's head out." When Baby Human does spit it out, Igor casually screws it back on.
  • Bowdlerization: On some reairings of the episode "WereGranny," the scene of Phil using the DreamWorks logo to see whether or not Dr. Vic's grandmother will react had the scene cropped so the logo won't be shown. The Brazilian/Mexican Netflix version and the version shown on the VHS compilation had the part uncut.
  • Broke Episode: "Something Weenie This Way Comes" has Dr. Vic and Phil working at a restaurant called Weenie on a Twig to make ends meet after they run out of money.
  • Christmas Episode: A weird one called "Spawn of Santa," where Dr. Vic crashes his car into a bank robber named "Debbie" (who's a man despite his feminine name) and decides to take his brain out to experiment on it. At the same time, Santa gets hit in the head with Igor's granny's cheese log and Igor and Phil take Santa to Dr. Vic so he can fix him. Dr. Vic accidentally switches their brains and now Santa is a bank robber while the bank robber is Santa.
  • Couch Gag: The part in between the first cartoon and the second cartoon had a small animated piece where Igor flicks on the remote and each episode, something weird happens.
  • Creepy Family: The Deadmans from the Night of the Living Fred segments are a family of zombies, albeit harmless ones. At least, they try to be harmless.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Bunny Wunny in the Melissa Screetch segment, "Melissa Screetch, Earth Ambassador". He's a filthy-looking man in a bunny suit, holding a couple of children who are crying hysterically. It turns out that he's actually some sort of demon who doesn't take kindly to having the channel changed on him.
  • Elvis Impersonator: The Igor's Science Minute segment "Earthquake Boogie" had Igor sing a song about earthquakes while dressed as Elvis Presley.
  • Exact Words: Throughout the whole Melissarella segment, Melissarella repeatedly states that all she wants is "what I deserve." In the end, that's what she gets (locked in a cage and forced to live with a clone of herself).
  • Extreme Omnivore: The titular Baby Human from "Baby Human" ends up devouring the entire castle.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: The Melissa Screetch's Morbid Morals episode "Melissa and the Three Bears" had the Three Bears finding Melissa tied to a tree and taking her into her home, followed by Melissa repaying their kindness by tormenting them. In the end they tie her up and put her back where they found her and she ends up doing the same thing to the Three Little Pigs.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • "Built for Speed" was a full-episode parody of Speed
    • "Love Hurts" took place on a sadistic Dating Game style game show
    • The episodes in season one that had a B-movie parody rather than a "Night of the Living Fred" cartoon.
    • All of season two's episodes (except for "Phil's Brain" and "The Inferior Decorator," which were season one episodes that aired in season two), which got rid of the "Science Minute" segments, doubled the length of the "Igor, Dr. Vic, and Phil" cartoons, and sometimes don't show the "Night of the Living Fred" or "Melissa Screetch" cartoons.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Phil, the creation of Dr. Vic Frankenstein.
  • Friendly Zombie: The Deadmans are actually quite good-natured and amiable for a family of walking, decaying corpses.
  • Fun with Subtitles: Subtitle humor is used a bit in the Night of the Living Fred episode "Voodoo Vacation", where the cannibals babble nonsensical statements that don't match what the subtitles read at all. One example is a native saying "Lots of frappuccino. Lots of frappuccino!", which the subtitles translate as saying that they must get the Deadmans off the island.
  • Grossout Show: Not so much the main cartoons starring Igor, Dr. Vic and Phil(though there are moments of this), but definitely the Night of the Living Fred cartoons due to how the Deadmans tended to fall to pieces, even though it's bloodless.
  • Here We Go Again!: "Darla Doily: Demon Doll" has Phil menaced by the Darla Doily doll Igor bought him for his birthday. After the Darla Doily doll is defeated, Phil accepts the Sergeant Kilko action figure Igor made to fight the doll as his new toy, but is unable to go to bed when it turns out that Sergeant Kilko also wants to kill him.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Melissa Screetch's parents. Or maybe it's more like Average-Looking Guy, Ugly Wife.
  • I Am Spartacus: In the Night of the Living Fred segment "In Or Out", the principal of the school Fred and his sister Ashley attend found out Fred is dead and expelled him for that. Later, during a debate championship Fred's sister was a part of, she admits to also being dead and several other people did the same. Some guy claimed to be Spartacus and got stared for that.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The Night of the Living Fred segment "Bang!" at one point has the Deadmans throw a dinner party for their new neighbors the Baffs, who are grossed out when they are told that the food they're being served with is made of maggots.
    Mrs. Baff: Now, Mr. Deadman, what is this Hawaiian dish? Is it some kind of macaroni?
    Dedgar Deadman: Close, it's maggot-roni.
    Mr. Baff: You mean rigatoni.
    Stiffany Deadman: Oh, no. Maggot-roni, with fresh Maui maggots. (The Baff kids make disgusted faces and Mrs. Baff spits her food into Mr. Baff's face)
  • Ironic Name: Fred Deadman's dog is named Frisky. The word "frisky" means full of energy, while Frisky is an immobile corpse, the exact opposite of frisky.
  • Licensed Game: The cartoon had a video game for the Game Boy Color, where the objective was for Igor to find Phil's scattered body parts so he could rebuild him after accidentally blowing him to pieces.
  • Look Behind You: In the Night of the Living Fred segment "Football and Other Body Parts", Ashley is dared to prove that she can do the splits better than Heather. Ashley shouts "Look, touchdown" to distract Heather and her clique long enough that they don't see her cheat by removing her leg and reattaching it after her body collapses.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In "Phil's Brain", Dr. Vic ordered Igor to take the garbage out but Igor replied that his union doesn't allow him to do it. (In fact, it's the only thing the union forbids him from doing) Dr. Vic then ordered Igor to make sure Phil takes the garbage out otherwise Igor will be punished.
    • In the Night of the Living Fred segment "In Or Out", the principal, during a yearly visit to Fred Deadman's classroom, he figured out Fred is, as his surname suggests, dead and decided to expell him for that. After he was told there's no rule against dead kids attending school, he simply establishes the rule, subverting the trope.
    • In another Night of the Living Fred segment titled "Dead Dog Day Afternoon", Fred took his dead and stuffed dog Frisky to a dog show. Frisky was allowed in because there was no rule against dead dogs entering. Frisky won because the last event was a "stay" and the points for it were more than any other dog had got after the other events.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Natalie Nightshade (a dead actress who now haunts the castle as a ghost) under the influence of Igor's love potion on "Love Potion Number Nein" was so crazy in love with Igor that she tries to kill him so the two can be together forever.
  • Mail-Order Bride: "Phil's Brain" has Igor find that Phil is having trouble following Igor's orders because his brain Larry Cortex is depressed and lonely. Larry's loneliness is remedied when Igor (or, rather, his reflection in the castle's moat) orders a mail-order brain bride named Sarah Bellum, who in the end leaves Larry and runs off with Phil's pancreas Stu.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: "Phil's Brain" has Igor communicate with his reflection in the castle's moat, who acts as if he's a completely separate character from Igor.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: The "misspell as another word" variant is used in "WereGranny" when Phil is ordered by Igor to make tea for Dr. Vic's grandmother and accidentally uses wolfbane to make the tea.
    Phil: Uh, W-O-L-F-B-A-N-E. Duh, tea!
  • Musical Episode: "My Fair Monster" has several scenes of the characters singing.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Only after they've destroyed much of human civilization do the aliens shamefully realize that they were mistaken in believing that Melissa Screetch represented the entire human race.
  • Negative Continuity: Episodes would occasionally end with drastic changes that are undone by the next episode. Examples include "Baby Human" ending with the entire planet devoured by a swarm of Baby Humans created when Igor dropped the formula that made them and the Igor's Science Minute segment "The Brain" having Igor make Phil's brain into a milkshake and growing geraniums in the monster's empty skull with no indication that Phil will recover from being made into a planter.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: In "Phil's Brain", Phil's brain Larry Cortex gets a Mail-Order Bride named Sarah Bellum. Both brains are anthropomorphized a little, with Sarah having a noticeable bust even though she's an organ.
  • Organ Autonomy: "Phil's Brain" reveals that Phil's brain is sentient and named Larry Cortex. His depression and loneliness prevents Phil from taking out the trash, so Igor sets him up with a female brain named Sarah Bellum and the two are married. Eventually, Sarah leaves Larry and runs off with Phil's pancreas Stu, but Igor manages to get Larry to finish the chores needing to be done by convincing him that some hard work will help him forget about Sarah.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In "WereGranny", Dr. Vic's grandmother is a werewolf, and transforms only when she's directly in the moonlight. Although seeing a representation of the full moon or hearing the word "moon" triggers a transformation, as well.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Deadmans are of the Revenant Zombie variety. They function just like almost any other human being for the most part, although their limbs and heads are prone to falling off a lot.
  • Perpetual Smiler: The Deadmans are constantly seen grinning.
  • Punny Name:
    • The episode "Phil's Brain" has Phil's brain Larry Cortex marry another brain named Sarah Bellum (a play on cerebellum).
    • Most of the Deadmans have a name having to do with being deceased. The father's name is Dedgar (a play on "dead" and the name Edgar), the mother is named Stiffany (a play on the name Tiffany and "stiff" being slang for corpse) and the daughter is named Ashley (as in "ashes to ashes").
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Dr. Vic is occasionally shown to have feminine interests and pastimes.
    • On "Built for Speed," he was seen painting his toenails.
    • On "Love Hurts," the game show announcer mentions that Dr. Vic enjoys bubble baths.
    • On "Love Potion Number Nein!" Dr. Vic has his body and hair wrapped up in towels the way a woman would have it.
  • Rental Car Abuse: In the Night of the Living Fred episode "Voodoo Vacation", Dedgar Deadman drives his family's car off a cliff. As if to justify it, as they're going over the edge, he gleefully yells, "It's a rentaaaaaaaaaal!"
  • Rewatch Bonus: In "WereGranny", Igor and Phil believe they've accidentally turned Dr. Vic's grandmother into a werewolf and do whatever they can to hide her transformations from her grandson and try to cure her. At one point, Dr. Vic offers to use his telescope to show his grandmother the moon. Granny Frankenstein responds "Sure, sonny. You know me". On a second viewing, this is a hint early on that Granny Frankenstein was already a werewolf before she came to visit the castle and that Dr. Vic was already aware of it.
  • Right Behind Me: From "Baby Human," Dr. Vic, Igor, and Phil are searching for the cannibal baby Igor created in the basement. The baby lands on Dr. Vic's head as Dr. Vic is yelling at Igor, then Dr. Vic panics until he realizes "The baby's on my head, isn't it?"
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In the episode "WereGranny", Igor and Phil panic after believing that they've turned Dr. Vic's grandmother into a werewolf and make desperate attempts at finding a cure while preventing Dr. Vic from finding out that his grandmother is a werewolf. After Granny Frankenstein leaves, Dr. Vic reveals to Igor and Phil that his grandmother was always a werewolf and was disappointed when he thinks she never turned, meaning that the pair's efforts in curing her of her lycanthropy and hiding her transformations from her grandson were all for nothing.
  • Shout-Out: In "My Fair Monster", Igor greets a rival mad scientist's assistant with a disgusted "Hello, Renfield." A very familiar guitar strain plays. Wayne "Newman" Knight, of course, voiced Igor.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The entire point of the Melissa Screetch segments is to show unrealistically severe consequences to common forms of misbehavior. Stay out past curfew? You get abducted and eaten by a monster! Make funny faces all the time? Your face will fuse permanently into the funny face and you're forced to star in B horror flicks to get by! Spoil your appetite with sweets? You'll waste away to an atom or get blown like paper in the wind. Disobey an instruction while on a field trip at NASA? You'll spark an alien invasion after they believe that all of Earth is just as ugly and mean as you are!
  • Take That!: In "Darla Doily: Demon Doll", Mickey Mouse's skeleton can be seen chained up in a dungeon for a split second.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dedgar Deadman, oh so much. The only reason he hasn't actually died yet because of his stupidity is because he's already dead.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Phil Likes chili.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: In the Night of the Living Fred segment "Dead Dog Day Afternoon", several of the participants of the dog show Fred entered his dog Frisky into happened to resemble their owners.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Blind Date of Frankenstein." Subverted in that it doesn't show any signs of being a Valentine's Day episode, but it did air on Valentine's Day of 1998 (which was a Saturday) and had to do with someone falling in love (Dr. Vic falls for a woman who is actually a robot made from spare parts by Igor).
  • Wilting Odor: In the Night of the Living Fred segment "Dead Dog Day Afternoon", the smell of Fred Deadman's dead dog Frisky at one point causes all the birds to fall out of a tree and the tree to subsequently lose all its leaves.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Built For Speed" is a send-up of the movie Speed.
  • Yandere: Natalie Nightshade (a dead actress who now haunts the castle as a ghost) under the influence of Igor's love potion on "Love Potion Number Nein" was so crazy in love with Igor that she tries to kill him so the two can be together forever.