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Western Animation / What A Cartoon! Show
aka: What A Cartoon

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The What A Cartoon! Show (originally known as World Premiere Toons, and later renamed The Cartoon Cartoon Show) was an anthology show on Cartoon Network running from 1995 to 1997, with a few scattered shorts airing towards the end of The '90s. Created by then-president of Hanna-Barbera Fred Seibert as a throwback to theatrical studio cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation, it was described as "48 chances to succeed or fail" at potential original programming. The premiere of the project was on a special hosted by Space Ghost.

True to Seibert's word, 48 cartoons were produced by a generous handful of creators (mostly Hanna-Barbera staff), each reflecting the artist's individual style and sensibilities. Five of the shorts [Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo, The Powerpuff Girls and The Chicken from Outer Space (which became Courage the Cowardly Dog)] would go on to be the network's first original shows, or Cartoon Cartoons. Two wound up being the prototype for a much more popular toon later on (Larry & Steve would serve as one of the inspirations for Family Guy and Kenny and the Chimp was retooled into Codename: Kids Next Door). Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera themselves got back in the director's chair to create "Hard Luck Duck" and two shorts featuring Dino of The Flintstones, respectively. Others, such as Yoink of the Yukon, Pfish & Chip, Yuckie Duck, and Shake & Flick, were not as successful, but have gained a strong cult following from classic CN fans.


Fred Seibert would produce a spiritual successor, this time for Nickelodeon, called Oh Yeah! Cartoons, which would spin off its own programs The Fairly Oddparents, My Life as a Teenage Robot, and ChalkZone.

Another spiritual successor was planned for The New '10s in the form of Cartoonstitute and was to be headed by Craig McCracken and Rob Renzetti, both of whom got their start on WAC. For undisclosed reasons, it never came to be, although two of the shorts (Regular Show and Uncle Grandpa) went on to be successful series' in their own right.


List of shorts featured:

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    What A Cartoon! Shorts 

    Cartoon Cartoon shorts 

Tropes featured:

  • 555: In the title card for "Lost Cat", the lost cat sign has the phone number 555-1234 written on it. In the episode proper, the phone number is 555-9603.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: "Strange Things" was the only short featured on this programming block that was made entirely using computer animation.
  • Animation Bump:
  • Artistic License – History: This is acknowledged in Gramps when the grandkids keep pointing out the errors in Gramps' story about how he actually lived his life. For example, when he mentions meeting the President, who's depicted as a statuesque woman, they point out that America never had a female President.note  He then begs them to let this part remain unchanged, which they reluctantly do.
  • Blinding Bangs: The grandson in Gramps.
  • Butt-Monkey: Yuckie Duck's shorts both have him get the short end of the stick in the end, being made into duck soup for messing up a customer's order in "Short Orders" and his stint as a paramedic ending with him requiring medical attention himself in "I'm On My Way".
  • The Cameo: The Jetsons have a brief cameo in Wind-Up Wolf.
  • Captain Obvious: At the start of "Larry and Steve":
    Steve: Hi. I'm a dog, in case you're... well... stupid.
  • Captivity Harmonica: In Pizza Boy in No Tip, after getting sent to prison for assaulting the Eskimo couple for not giving him a tip, Pizza Boy is seen playing the harmonica after relating his tale of woe to the prison parson.
  • Cassandra Truth: In Gramps. Despite what details Gramps changed, it seems he really did save the world from an alien invasion as the alien leader testifies to his own grandchildren.
  • The Cast Show Off: Most of the shorts were created by Hanna-Barbera staff, given free range to create whatever they wanted.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: In "Larry and Steve", while the car is driving out-of-control towards a stack of TNT, Steve interrupts his scream to point out: "Wait a minute, isn't that a little contrived?"
  • The Chew Toy: Poor, poor Shake from Shake & Flick is a quite literal example. Nothing saves him from Flick abusing him and chewing him up.
  • Cranium Chase: Happens to the dog in Sledgehammer O'Possum: Out and About and Wind-Up Wolf.
  • Christmas Episode: George and Junior's Christmas Spectacular had George and Junior tasked with delivering a Christmas present on Santa Claus' behalf as punishment for delivering the letter asking for it late.
  • Creator Cameo: The superhero in the "Malcolm and Melvin" shorts was voiced by Ralph Bakshi, who created the shorts and disowned both of them after they aired.
  • Cutaway Gag: Larry and Steve had some. Justified in that Seth MacFarlane was behind the cartoon and this would later be the hallmark for his more popular work, Family Guy.
  • Deranged Animation: Anything directed by Pat Ventura: Yuckie Duck, Sledgehammer O'Possum, and George and Junior. Also Buy One, Get One Free, which has visual influences from The Ren & Stimpy Show (not hurt by a few staff members who worked on that show).
    • Also the two Ralph Bakshi shorts Babe! He Calls Me and Malcom and Melvin, and Tales of Worm Paranoia, directed by Eddie Fitzgerald.
  • Domestic Only Cartoon: Being a Cartoon Network program, most of the shorts were made by either Hanna-Barbera or Cartoon Network Studios, but there have been exceptions.
    • "Help?", which was produced in Italy.
    • "Babe, He Calls Me" and "Malcom and Melvin", which were produced by Bakshi ZooToons in New York.
    • "Strange Things", which was made by Sensible Shoes Productions in the U.S.
    • "O Ratz: Ratz in a Hot Tin Can", which was made by Perennial Pictures Film Corporation in Indianapolis.
    • "The Chicken From Outer Space", by Stretch Films in the U.S.
    • "The Adventures of Captain Buzz Cheeply: A Clean Getaway", produced by Buzz Image Group in Canada.
    • "Journey to Sector 5-G", which was made by Cuppa Coffee Productions in Canada.
  • Expy: The superhero seen in the "Malcolm and Melvin" shorts vaguely resembles Batman.
  • The Faceless: The President in Fat Cats in Drip Dry Drips.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted in Captain Buzz Cheaply: A Clean Getaway. The titular protagonist bribes an alien into sparing his life by offering him beer and we later see a whole bunch of signs that read "beer".
  • Fur Is Clothing: At one point in "Shake & Flick in: Raw Deal in Rome", the fur covering the lower half of Shake's body falls down like pants to reveal boxer shorts.
  • Groin Attack: Fat Cats in Drip Dry Drips features a scene where Louie accidentally hits the President in the grapes when he was doing his measurements.
    Louie: Oops, sorry Mr. President.
    President: No problem!
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Johnny's acid-scalded face in "Tales of Worm Paranoia". As if once wasn't bad enough, they cut to it three times!
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • The ending of Godfrey and Zeek. After all the trouble the two go through to retrieve the TV remote from the sewage plant, the two get bored with what's on television and Godfrey decides to flush the remote down the toilet so they can get the remote back again.
    • "Swamp and Tad: Mission Imfrogable" had the titular characters retrieve a package from Earth for their king that turned out to be a pizza. The duo is then told that they have to go back to Earth to retrieve more pizzas, much to Tad's dismay.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Tales of Worm Paranoia is about a worm named Johnny being terrified of a human that obliviously injures him constantly. Unlike most other examples, it's a straight up Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In "Malcolm and Melvin", Melvin tries to off himself by jumping from the window ledge, but he changes his mind when he hears Malcolm's trumpet-playing.
  • Jerkass: Luther from "Awfully Lucky". The very beginning of the short has him steal a man's sandwich, tease a dog with the last bite before eating it in front of the pooch, and steal a baby's milk bottle to wash it down. It's almost as if they wanted to make him as unsympathetic as possible when the curse of the Paradox Pearl continuously gives him good luck only to follow with bad luck so that his misfortunes wouldn't seem unfair.
  • Kid with the Leash: Mina and The Count.
  • Laughing Mad: The Mad Bomber in the first Pfish & Chip short.
  • Line Boil: The characters in The Kitchen Casanova squiggle slightly.
  • Mad Bomber: Pfish & Chip's stock in trade is to catch these guys. The villain of the first short is actually named Mad Bomber.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon:
    • Help?, which has no dialog aside from Jof's "Help!"
    • "Shake & Flick in: Raw Deal in Rome", which has no dialog aside from a few screams.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Jof in Help?, who runs to the hospital after he pricks his finger while sewing.
  • Nightmare Face: The titular Podunk Possum can apparently deploy a monstrous one of these at will, scaring an entire alien fleet away from Earth.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Podunk Possum featured the psychotic ghost of a Colonel who owned his own chicken restaurant who is clearly based on Kentucky Fried Chicken's founder Colonel Harlan Sanders.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened to Grandma in Gramps. According to Gramps' grandchildren, it was a result of their refusing to listen to one of his stories. "SHE WAS DEAD WHEN I GOT THERE!!"
  • Old Superhero: The premise of "Captain Sturdy: Back in Action", where the titular superhero has to go out of retirement after learning that the official retirement age for superheroes has been changed and as a result his pension has been cancelled.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: The granddaughter in Gramps.
  • Post-Script Season: Sort of. 48 cartoons were contracted for 1995-97, but more were made after that including Mike, Lu & Og, Kenny And The Chimp, King Crab: Space Crustacean, and the Big Pick shorts from 2000-02.
  • Psycho Poodle: Subverted in No Smoking. Cerberus, a hellhound who is The Dragon and pet of the Red Guy, has the body and one head of a poodle. However, he shows hardly any malice, and seems like a Punch-Clock Villain more than anything else.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: (After seeing a zombie) AAAAAHHH!!! *whack* OH! *whack* MAH! *whack* GAAAWD!: The opening theme. "WHAT! A! CARTOOOOOOOOON!"
  • Rampage from a Nail: The lion in the second Yuckie Duck short "I'm On My Way" gets a tack stuck in his rear end.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mr. Fitzgibbon in the short "Trevor in Journey to Sector 5-G". He deliberately tries to stump his students by coming up with extremely hard math problems and even withholds recess until they answer correctly.
  • Say My Name: From "Dry Dry Drips": "EEELLLMOOOOOO!"
  • Screwy Squirrel: The titular character of Sledgehammer O'Possum spends both of his shorts messing with someone for no good reason. He torments a dog trying to enjoy a drive in "Out and About" and he screws with a postal worker named Ethel for trying to evict him from a mailbox in "What's Goin' On Back There?"
  • Skewed Priorities: Captain Buzzy Cheaply puts getting his laundry done over rescuing his robot sidekick and repairing his ship.
  • Slasher Smile: The aforementioned psychotic Colonel Sanders Ghost from "Podunk Possum" wears a perpetual one while smashing eggs and delivering completely nonsensical catchphrases. Chickens are terrified of him for a reason.
  • The Speechless: Shake & Flik. Though Shake often screams a lot. Even the opening doesn't have either of them saying "What! A! Cartoon!", instead has Flick's roar ("What!"), Shake's scream ("A!"), and Flick's belch ("Cartoon!").
  • Spin-Off: Famously, Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and Courage the Cowardly Dog (and, to a lesser extent, Family Guy and Codename: Kids Next Door) are all series derived from shorts on this programming block..
  • Theme Tune: There were two of them. The first was a heavy metal piece. Reruns of the show used the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays theme.
  • Thick-Line Animation: Some of the cartoons utilized this design style, such as Pizza Boy in No Tip, Godfrey and Zeek, The Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter's Laboratory.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: The Colonel Sanders-expy ghost in "Podunk Possum" who keeps bothering the title character by trying to serve him tried chicken, scaring Podunk's chickens, and smash their eggs.
  • Threatening Shark: Completely averted by Pfish in the Pfish and Chip shorts. He's a shark, but he's a friendly, clueless, eccentric who has feet and is somehow able to live on land.
  • To Serve Man: Gramps lampshaded this when a character runs to Gramps with a book reading "To Serve Man" and exclaiming that it's a cookbook before he is hit with a golf club by Gramps, exclaiming, "It's been done!"
  • Urine Trouble: In "Swamp and Tad: Mission Imfrogable", Tad tries to spy on a dog by disguising himself as a fire hydrant. The plan backfires when the dog starts sniffing him and then raises his hind leg.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: O. Ratz and Dave D. Fly
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Yoink, even though he doesn't die.
  • With This Herring: In "Gramps", a grandfather tells his grandchildren a tale of how he supposedly saved the world from an alien invasion. The President asked for his help and told him to choose between door number 1 or door number 2. Had he chosen door number one, he'd have received several big weapons but he chose door number 2 and received his mule.

Alternative Title(s): What A Cartoon