Originally published April 24th, 2012
So I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. Guess I might as well take another look at a cartoon barely anyone’s ever watched.
Um…Dr. Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop! Hooray!
For those who missed my last two recaps, here’s the deal with this series: Dr. Zitbag is a ghost/vampire/zombie/goblin/whodafuckreallycares who runs a castle pet shop in Transylvania – a magical fantasy land full of monsters – with his skeleton dog and zombie rabbit. He tries to make money, woo two vampire chicks with weird hair and thwart police officer Deadbeat.
So here’s two other episodes of the show from a videotape I got off EBay: ‘Every Dog Has Its Show’ and ‘Ants in Your Pants’. Look at the title of the latter episode. Yes, that’s what we’re dealing with here.
Let’s begin with ‘Every Dog Has Its Show’. Oh, one thing about the title cards: instead of a writer credited, it’s a ‘Ghost Writer’. Yeah, it’s supposed to be a dumb pun, but the thing about ghost writers is that they aren’t supposed to be credited. Kinda defeats the point. But bad puns are what all horror cartoons need.
You know what else horror cartoons need? Castles with thunder and lightning, and mad scientists laughing. The episode begins with Dr Zitbag on a black and white TV (?) announcing the creation of “Scaredy Cat”, which he proclaims as his most terrifying creation. Another pun, true to horror cartoon tradition. As is the fact that this horrifying beast is actually a fat, stupid-looking moggy with Frankenstein stitches.
Zitbag has created Scaredy Cat so he can win first prize in the Transylvania Cat Show and thus obtain the prize money. Because getting money is what he is wont to do. Since he can create unique pets, I’d think he’d make a lot just making them and selling them, but what do I know? The cat is silent, so Dr. Zitbag says ‘Cat got your tongue? Oh wait, I have’ and shoves in said body part. Lovely.
Then who should arrive but Officer Deadbeat, asking Zitbag to groom his dog. Odd that Deadbeat should be helping Zitbag profit, given Deadbeat wants Zitbag arrested and the castle to become a new police station, but whatever. When the time comes for Deadbeat’s dog to have his cut, Zitbag bursts out with a chainsaw and cries ‘Here’s Sidney!’ Now where’s that list of monster cartoon clichés…Lame puns, Frankenstein references, Shining reference. Check!
Zitbag shaves the crap out of Deadbeat’s dog and Deadbeat actually pays and compliments Zitbag because that’s what all police officers should do with mad scientists performing illegal experiments. Deadbeat leaves and then in come the vampire chicks, the Exorsisters, with a two-headed dog. The dog is called ‘Cerberus’ even though last time I checked Cerberus had three heads.
As usual, Zitbag wants to get into the Exorsisters’ panties, so he feeds Cerberus some of Horrifido’s treats. Is it me or is ‘That thing ate my boney bits!’ funny in a juvenile way out of context? Then Horrifido whinges about what Zitbag has done, and for once Zitbag and I agree on something: ‘Stop whinging, Horrifido!’
Then in comes a witch, complete with pointed hat and broom. Oh wait, she’s riding a vacuum cleaner, oh ho ho! Judging by her and the fact that gnomes, goblins and wizards have been shown to live in this show’s version of Transylvania, it seems they’re taking theCastlevania approach to monster choices; if it’s vaguely supernatural, bung it in. Yeah, I know witches are a big Halloween icon, but they’re more associated with fairy tales than Universal monster movies, the latter forming the basis for this programme.
Zitbag is only too happy to serve this witch, as she is a rich witch. Ha ha! I wonder if she vacations at the seaside, because that would make her a sand witch! If you take away her W, she gets a rash! Ho ho! And like I noted in ‘Where Mouse’, she is likely to buy only one pet, so it doesn’t really matter how much money she has. Still, she wants Horrifido, but Zitbag refuses to sell his assistant. The rich witch – named…Rich Witch – does offer five thousand beans though. I bet you can see where this is going.
Zitbag nabs the check and Horrifido is sent to live with Rich Witch. That’s what happens in times of recession, I guess. What does Zitbag do with this money, you might ask? He blows it all on a limo. Not a wise move, considering another episode had him struggle with his rent, and monster-making must be a pretty expensive hobby.
Then some fat blue lady comes in and gives Zitbag his number for the cat show. Except…it’s actually a dog show! Zitbag could have done with reading Blackadder’s dictionary. ‘I’m ruined!’ cries Zitbag. Well, maybe if you didn’t spend your profits all at once…
Now to Horrifido, who’s being pampered by Rich Witch and being fed loads of chocolate. I guess an advantage of being an undead dog is that you can eat lots of chocolate without anything happening, but sadly, you wouldn’t have tastebuds to enjoy them. Rich Witch introduces Horrifido to her friends, who strangely enough ride on the traditional brooms, and then has him lie in a pile of cushions. His new lifestyle allows Horrifido to reflect on working for Zitbag, and thus we are given a montage of him performing slave labour while that music that always plays in cartoons when gruelling labour is performed plays. What is the name of that track anyway? Doo-doo-doo-doo duuun, doo-doo-doo-doo duuun… (EDIT: It’s Song of the Volga Boatmen. Curse my lack of musical expertise!)
The montage also includes Zitbag in a loincloth. Didn’t need to see that.
Speaking of Zitbag, he’s about to kick Scaredy Cat away when he sees Officer Deadbeat. According to Deadbeat, Zitbag constantly boasted that he was going to win the dog show, and if that’s true, why didn’t anyone tell him it was a dog show? I guess they wanted to see him make a fool of himself. Don’t blame them.
Then Zitbag goes over to Rich Witch’s house to reclaim Horrifido. And of course, you know how this goes. Zitbag begs but Horrifido refuses blah blah blah. The thing is, Zitbag only wants Horrifido back for the dog show, so it’s hard to really care for the situation.
Horrifido bounds back to Rich Witch and her friends, and one of them says ‘So when shall we three meet again?’ and I must say, aMacbeth reference is probably the most surprising thing here. And yes, Rich Witch is planning on entering Horrifido into the dog show too.
Back at the castle, Zitbag resorts to sewing dog ears onto Scaredy Cat so he can enter him. Sadly, Scaredy Cat still meows. If Zitbag put the tongue in, he could easily take it out, but no, he tries to get the cat to bark. When that fails, he tries to train Scaredy Cat to act like a canine and asks Zombunny to get a stick for “Scaredy Dog” to fetch. I genuinely thought he was going to throw Zombunny, but rather he breaks a chair over Zombunny’s head to make sticks. Oh well, it’s kind of violence, I suppose and that’s really the only thing that would keep me interested throughout this thing.
Then comes the dog show, and what a lineup we have. A vampire with something that looks like Dingbat from Dingbat and the Creeps (obscure monster cartoons have to stick together, I suppose), a mummy with a mummified dog, an invisible man with a corny novelty, that yeti from ‘Where Mouse’ only shrunk a bit, and a Frankenstein. And of course, Deadbeat and Zitbag are there too with their respective pooches.
The Exorsisters are also present, and their dog exposes Scaredy by knocking off his ears. Really, didn’t he sew them on? And judging by that meowing, he didn’t bother taking out the tongue? Well, anyway, Scaredy runs away, and the other dogs at the show follow. Until…they see a lamppost and sniff at it! Get it? Dogs like to urinate!
Zitbag then runs out onto the street, where he sees Rich Witch and Horrifido, who aren’t at the dog show for some reason. Then Zitbag and Horrifido instantly make up. Yes, one millisecond, Horrifido’s still mad at Zitbag then inexplicably becomes lovey-dovey the next. Zitbag then gives Rich Witch back her money and we have a tearful reunion. And by tearful, I mean my eyes were slightly watery when I woke up from my bored slumber.
So then a pig in a top hat with a voice like Peter Lorre (?) arrives with Zitbag’s limo. Oh snap! Zitbag gave away his money! Instead of just, I dunno, giving back the limo, Zitbag disguises himself as a dog. So yeah, I suppose you can guess the ending. Zitbag wins the dog show, Rich Witch buys him for 5,000 and Horrifido gets the limo. Yeah.
And that’s really the problem with this show. It ticks all the cartoon boxes but leaves little surprises. But we must persevere. Now to…sigh…’Ants in Your Pants’. This episode introduces a beloved recurring character for the series.
As we open the episode, Horrifido is serving Quasimodo. That’s right, the Hunchback of Notre Dame himself. What he is doing in Transylvania I have no clue, as I’m pretty sure he lived and died in France. Or maybe this isn’t supposed to be our Transylvania and it’s actually the afterlife or something. They just chose that name because a horror novel was set there. Wouldn’t you?
Anyway, Quasimodo is buying a resurrected terrapin, and Horrifido is charging 1,700 Transylvanian zlotties (yes, I forgot to mention their currency. Isn’t that the currency they use in Poland?) Quasimodo, who looks like a mutated banana slug with a Beatles haircut, is outraged at this high price. I dunno, these pets were uniquely created by Zitbag, so they are pretty rare, I would think.
Zitbag decides to speak to Quasimodo, and it is then we learn that Zitbag’s is the only pet shop in Transylvania. I’m sticking with the afterlife theory so I’m not going to bother checking how many pet shops the real Romania has. Then Zitbag throws Quasi down a trap door and steals his money. Sure, treating a deformed man that way is sure to endear yourself to the customers.
And he does have customers too; most of them look like clipart you’d use on the poster for a Primary School Halloween party. Generic Dracula, Generic Ghost, Generic Jack O’Lantern man, and…a furry…skeleton thing…in a bikini? What is she, anyway? Then again, furry skeleton bikini girl has one of the more creative designs on the show, and maybe that’s why she is one of the more prominent background characters in this show, along with the aforementioned Dracula and that Papa Smurf thing, and she even had a speaking role at one point, when she was working at a till.
Yeah, I know what you bronies are thinking. She even sounded a bit like Derpy.
And since bronies are always thinking up stories for those background ponies, why don’t I try it for the Zitbag characters? Furry skeleton bikini girl is called Jennifer – she looks like a Jennifer – and was a student who was unfortunately murdered at a beach, which is why she’s always wearing a bikini. Also, Jack O’ Lantern man’s name is Fred and was a farmer who got his head cut off by his own scythe…ok, I’ll stop now.
So since Zitbag has the only pet shop in Transylvania, Horrifido says, the customers have to take his shit. I’d love a job where I could treat the customers like crap, but I don’t think Zitbag deserves such an honour. Then the Exorsisters come in and Zitbag kisses up to them. And as he kisses up to them, Jennifer keeps turning her head to look at them. Oh, let them have some privacy, you furry skeleton zombie whatever.
Now, in these recaps, I haven’t told you much about the Exorsisters, and there’s a good reason; they’re annoying. Still, there’s a “nice” one called Bimbella and a “mean” one called Sinistra. And most times whenever they come into the shop, Sinistra says in a nasally schoolteacher voice ‘We’re just here to window shop.’ Gah.
Zitbag, however, wants them to buy something, so he lets them look at a yellow (?) shark with a hammer on its nose. Can you guess what he calls it? That’s right, it’s a bull shark. The Exorsisters decide they quite like it, and Zitbag agrees to get it giftwrapped. Oh, how funny animal cruelty is.
Just then, who should appear but the weremouse. Yes, the same weremouse Zitbag sold in another episode I looked at. He tells everyone to look outside, and in true cartoon tradition, he never tells them what it is. Remember the Simpsons episode with the lemon tree? Yeah, that’s what we’re talking about.
Zitbag returns with the wrapping paper and finds his customers have gone. The Exorsisters and Jennifer and Fred and Bob…who’s Bob? He’s the Papa Smurf guy who appeared when the Exorsisters entered. I named him myself. OK, I’ll stop, I’ll stop, geez. Now why did the weremouse lead away Zitbag’s customers? Zitbag gave him a good home! No, wait, the kid who adopted the weremouse was an annoying brat who threw tantrums. Why wouldn’t he lead away Zitbag’s customers?
So what did the weremouse want the customers to see? Why, it’s Professor Sherman Vermin! He’s Zitbag’s rival who I looked at in my ‘Halloween Horse Race’ recap. He’s the most generic mad scientist you can think of. Glasses that don’t show the eyes, lab-coat, goofy hair, fake German accent. He’s arrived in his caravan to sell some pets of his own, and loads of Transylvanians have gathered around – even Quasimodo’s escaped from whatever prison Zitbag had him in.
Zitbag looks out at Vermin, and upon recognising him, froths at the mouth and screams like he’s the Nostalgia Critic. Upon calming down, he says he’ll explain why he hates Vermin with a flashback.
That means he and Horrifido are going to use “The Flashback Machine”.
Yes, a machine that can show flashbacks.
Now, that’s actually a pretty useful invention. Police could use it when interrogating and asking witnesses, psychiatrists could use it when talking to their patients…so yeah, another common problem for these types of stories. Why doesn’t Zitbag just patent that machine if he wants money?
Apparently, Zitbag went to school with Vermin. When Zitbag dips some girl’s hair in an inkwell, Vermin told on him. ‘A stinker that Vermin was,’ said Horrifido, even though Zitbag was the one causing trouble. I could understand a rivalry if Vermin got better marks than Zitbag or made better science projects or something, but Zitbag’s just being an overgrown child now. But then again, this is coming from someone who’s writing about a cartoon, so take that with a grain of salt.
Watching Vermin again, Zitbag notes that he can’t waltz straight up to Vermin’s caravan as that would show a sign of weakness on his part. So he walks off, and after he does, Officer Deadbeat comes to arrest Horrifido! DUN DUN! Oh wait, it’s Zitbag in disguise.
Zitbag goes in his Deadbeat disguise to spy on Vermin, and brings Horrifido, which will more than likely give him away. Vermin’s selling pets too, but his are cheaper. Furious at his right to be a dickhole taken away, Zitbag is lead mumbling in anger back to his castle.
At the castle, Zitbag ponders on what would scare Vermin away, and says ‘I’ve got a memory like a sieve.’ Horrifido replies, ‘Well, why notsee-if the flashback machine can help’ and Zitbag replies, ‘I’m not even going to justify that with a smirk.’ So Zitbag is mocking his own show for me; maybe I misjudged him.
As a flashback shows, Vermin was deathly afraid of ants and rats. A bit odd that he’s working in the pet industry then, but at least Zitbag has a plan now. He uses a machine to create a bunch of ‘monstermite ants’ to scare Vermin away. These ants focus only on eating…well, that’s another box ticked. Remember those episodes of Garfield and Friends? That’s it.
The ants go out of the castle and eat Vermin’s caravan. Then as a news report shows – hosted by a vampire with bananas for hair and the same Peter Lorre voice as the pig in the last episode – they go about eating all of Transylvania. I guess Zitbag has to save the day now.
The Mayor of Transylvania, go with it, calls a meeting to decide what should be done. The Mayor is a fat goblin in a top hat and moustache, and I’m pretty sure he’s only the Mayor as he resembles those of Townsville and Halloweentown. Next to him is a one-eyed Frankenstein thing who says in a bad faux-Romanian accent: ‘Mister Mayor! We need someone very very brave to save us from this terrible fate!’ And hopefully that terrible voice acting too.
Then Zitbag decides to become “The Pied Piper of Transylvania” and aims to lure the ants away with his music. When that fails, Vermin and Deadbeat show up with proof that Zitbag created the ants.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘This certainly is a cookie-cutter monster cartoon, so where the hell is the “angry villagers with torches and pitchforks” bit?’ Well, you’re in luck, because a bunch of creatures who look like minor villains in a bad fantasy video game appear and chase Zitbag. I also like the music that plays during this scene; with the use of violins, it’s one of the few things in this series fitting for something indirectly inspired by Dracula.
Luckily, Zitbag has a backup plan. A zombie anteater. This anteater eats up all the ants in seconds, so…shouldn’t this have been his first plan? The villagers then say ‘I guess we have to stop chasing Zitbag and start praising him again!’ Just because he was willing to clean up his mess? Even when the town is still in ruins?
Oh, but never fear! Zitbag is told by Deadbeat he has to rebuild the town or Zitbag will go to jail. I’m pretty sure it would make more sense for more qualified people to rebuild the town with Zitbag going to jail anyway, but Zitbag has a solution! Remember that hammerhead shark? Well, he’s back, and has a friend – a swordfish. These two rebuild the town with the power of reused animation.
When the town is restored, Zitbag overhears Deadbeat and Vermin talking. Deadbeat told Vermin to bring his caravan to Transylvania to drive Zitbag out of business. Gasp! What a twist! Well, not really.
So, despite the fact that neither of them did anything wrong in this episode, they have to be punished. They end up in the hammerhead shark’s pool, and Zitbag dumps the ants in. Why? Because water turns the ants into rats.
I mean really. Zitbag said Vermin was more scared of rats then ants, so why not use rats, which would be less likely to destroy Transylvania? And why did Vermin and Deadbeat have to be chased away by the rats? All Vermin did was sell his wares, and Deadbeat did barely anything. The ant fiasco and the destruction of Transylvania was all Zitbag’s fault and he got away without even a slap on the wrist.
So, you might have guessed that this cartoon isn’t very good. Yeah, but I’m still going to write that multi-chaptered Jennifer/Bob fic, so yeah, what you gonna do?
And what do gnomes have to do with horror anyway?