Originally published November 10th, 2012
Before we look at today’s cartoon du jour, let’s take a minute to ponder on the title. This cartoon is called Raw Toonage. Raaaw Toonage. That’s the title, that’s sure the title. What does it mean anyway? It sounds like one of those ‘extreeeme’ comics that were commonplace in the 90’s, only more ridiculous. What is a ‘raw’ cartoon anyway? A sketch? Is this just looking at the scribbles in an artist’s pad for twenty minutes?
I would explain Raw Toonage, but I’m lazy, so I’ll let Wikipedia do it for me.
The idea for the show had an unusual genesis. Disney TV was developing a 65-half hour series for their Disney Afternoon block entitled He’s Bonkers D. Bobcat. The premise was similar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit in that the series dealt with the lead character’s adventures post-stardom. The actual production of this series was troubled, in large part because the so-called real characters in the series were also animated, only not as broadly as Bonkers and friends.
At the same time, Michael Eisner had purchased the rights to the popular Belgian comic strip Marsupilami. At some point, someone had the post-modern idea to actually make the cartoons that Bonkers had starred in before becoming a policeman, and the show that would become Raw Toonage was born. The additional segment, Totally Tasteless Video, was intended as a satire of popular culture, not a proving ground for new stars. The host was added to give the show the familiar feel of the World of Disney show.
So yeah. Raw Toonage had Bonkers cartoons before the actual Bonkers cartoon. Remember Bonkers, kids? The wacky bobcat cartoon policeman who solved wacky crimes with the fat guy? Oh yeah, and there was a leopard monkey thing too, I guess. That’s enough information to get us started.
One thing worth mentioning about Raw Toonage was its ‘hosts’, who would be characters from other Disney cartoons and stuff. One episode was hosted by Scrooge McDuck, another by Launchpad McQuack, and they would get into little adventures between each short where hilarity would attempt to ensue.
The episode we’re looking at is hosted by Don Karnage. I know nothing about him other than he’s a pirate wolf, he was a bad guy inTalespin which I also know very little about, and he has a creepy fanbase, as characters like him are wont to have. So anyway, he’s on some desert island and is apparently going to teach us how to be pirates. Well, since he’s a kiddie cartoon villain, he’s probably going to skip over the murder and the wild pillaging which is a bit of a bummer, but go ahead, Donny, share with us your pearls of wisdom.
Apparently, the first thing we need to be a pirate is a “pirate song”. Karnage thus pulls out an accordion – wouldn’t be a cartoon without one – and sings a shitty song before he gets a message in a bottle saying that he stinks at singing. ‘Everyone’s a critic,’ he retorts.
Yeah, it’s one of those cartoons.
Next, we get our intro. The characters from the show dance around in a square while the title is sung by what sounds like Jabba the Hutt as a chain smoker. Oh great, I just reminded myself that Disney bought Lucasfilm. The intro is mostly ‘wacky’ animation done in a ‘this ain’t your grandma’s Disney’ type way. Maybe the 90’sness of the title is appropriate after all.
Now we’re back with Karnage. His bag, it seems, is talking in a fake accent and using big words and shit, which does get old fast. Maybe it works better in the actual Talespin, I dunno. Yeah, his lessons are just going to cover ‘finding buried treasure’, no murder or plunder. As the now-defunct Smoking Tree website pointed out when looking at a pirate-based reality show, just looking for treasure isn’t being a pirate, it’s being a goddamn treasure hunter. However…a parrot steals his map! Oh ho ho! What a bumbler thou art. Well, screw him, let’s look at Bonkers.
Now, if you’ve watched the original Bonkers show, you may get the impression that before joining the boys in blue, our favourite bobcat starred in the most generic cartoons known to man. That impression is solidified all the more when we look at the title of this cartoon: ‘Sheerluck Bonkers’. Yes, using a plot so stock it may as well be an Oxo cube; the Sherlock Holmes parody written by people who have never read a word written by Arthur Conan Doyle and likely haven’t even seen any of the movies. It also uses the most predictable pun on ‘Sherlock’ possible. Look:
Generic Victorian intro ho! Can’t a Victorian cartoon begin without Big Ben’s bells chiming? Anyway, Bonkers is in the role of the eponymous detective, and has been summoned by the Queen. And yes, Karnage and Bonkers are both voiced by the usually-versatile Jim Cummings and sound pretty much the same.
Bonkers and his dog sidekick Jitters are booted off a carriage with the driver yelling, ‘I hate voice-over narration!’ See what I mean when I said it was one of those cartoons? The ones who try to compensate for their generic plots with some lame fourth-wall breaking? Thing is, there is a lot of narration in this cartoon, as in the characters constantly narrating their actions. Oh yeah, as you may have guessed, Bonkers is wearing a deerstalker and a flock coat, smoking a…are your sides ready to be split…BUBBLE PIPE! Really, the real Holmes’ drug addiction was funnier.
Entering the throne room, Sheerluck catches sight of the obligatory love interest, Fawn Deer, and does the whole love-hearts-in-eyes-turn-into-rocket routine. Boy, it must suck living in a cartoon world if this is the alternative to boners. Fawn is from another country and is here to present the Queen with a gift of a necklace. When she finds the gift is gone, she screams, and Bonkers thinks the scream is the gift, adding ‘I’d thought roses or chocolate would be more appropriate.’ So there’s the problem with this cartoon; the writers strained themselves to think up jokes, and it shows. A lot like this review, actually.
Fawn cries over the gift being stolen…so, if she only found out about it now, why’d the Queen hire Bonkers hours beforehand? Anyway, Bonkers deduces this is the work of ‘Moriarty-Grumbles’, because Holmes, Watson and Moriarty are the only characters Doyle ever wrote about. Oh, did I mention ‘Grumbles the Grizzly’ is the baddy of the Bonkers cartoons? Well, he is, and he’s Moriarty. His name is Grumbles, and he’s playing Moriarty, so he’s Moriarty-Grumbles. Couldn’t they think up something better, like…Grumbiarty, or Beariarty or I got nuttin.
Oh, and we learn why Bonkers was summoned in the first place; he was supposed to find the Queen’s kitty. Oh, and the Queen calls Bonkers’ deerstalker ‘a beanie’. Leave the hat jokes to Cumberbatch.
You’ve all seen the Western spoof episodes in cartoons, haven’t you? You know how they’re all the same? The characters go to a town, have a card game at the saloon, meet a bad guy and have a showdown at high noon before riding off into the sunset. Sherlock Holmes spoof episodes are the same way; three of the show’s characters play Holmes, Moriarty and Watson (I can just imagine Mycroft smirking while chewing down his popcorn), something is stolen, and the Holmes character saunters about with a magnifying glass at one point. True to form, Bonkers traipses about the palace, magnifying glass close to his oversized eye. He spies some jelly on Fawn’s neck, and my first thought is that I’m glad it was just her neck. Wanna avoid another Gummi De Milo. Then Sheerluck theorises that Moriarty may be in the kitchen, and he does it without floaty text too. He zooms off, and there’s a bit with his outline that I must admit is sorta clever.
The chef is some sort of yellow lizard thingamajig, and both Sheerluck and Jitters are in J’ACCUSE mode. The lizard tosses them into the dumb waiter, which leads to…a gun powder room. I guess even fireworks get hungry.
The two are blown outside, and since we’ve had an obligatory explosion joke, we need an obligatory anachronism joke! Jitters is hit by a juggernaught. Ho ho. Physical comedy and an anachronism. Double amusement.
Then Bonkers goes and accuses the butler of being Moriarty, a theory that turns out to be false. Has the butler ever done it unironically, out of interest? And why is he no longer suspecting the chef, after he threw them down into a pit filled with fireworks? But never mind, because it turns out DUN DUN D…oh this doesn’t deserve it, Dr. Jitters was Moriarty in disguise. All that comes of this is that Moriarty descends on Bonkers semi-threateningly, before a policeman shows up out of nowhere and arrests Moriarty. So, this version of Holmes’ most famous nemesis, the Napoleon of Crime, didn’t say anything or really do anything. Still less annoying than Andrew Scott.
The cartoon is wrapped up as Bonkers finds the real Jitters and the necklace that was to be given as a gift, before Fawn kisses Bonkers and the world is consumed by hearts. Generic ending for a generic cartgeneric.
Oh look, it’s Don Karnage again. This time he’s got a metal detector. Oh, what hijinx of wackiness is to occur? Who cares?
Now, onto Totally Tasteless Video. You may notice something off about that title, and not just because it shares a name with fifty porn sites. No, it sounds like more ‘We’re more wild and wacky than is expected of Disney’ despite the fact that we’ve been delivered pretty damn standard fare so far. Nonetheless, TTV was probably the best part about this show. It revolved around pop-culture parody and was pretty decent at it, good examples being ‘Badly Animated Man’ and a Freddy Krueger made out of ice cream. Note how the latter is more faithful to the Nightmare on Elm Street movies than Sheerluck was to Sherlock.
This episode, however, is not one of the better ones. It’s just a bunch of typical TV parodies, only with potatoes. And at the end, the people watching are…CARROTS HAH HAH DA HILARITIE.
Blah blah blah Karnage. Oh shut up, I don’t think I want to be a pirate now. They’re too mainstream.
Marsupalami now. The adaptation of the famous Belgian comic and all that. Wacky adventures with monkey cat thing and gorilla. ‘The Puck Stops Here’.
We open in the jungle with all the animals being hot. Another cartoon rule: if an episode begins with everyone being hot, the plot will either be a) the characters trying to stay cool or b) winter comes early. The evil Foreman Norman utilising a giant air conditioner means it’s the latter. Oh, and ew, I did not need to see him in a speedo, thanks. Thankfully, when he freezes the lake, he puts on hockey gear. Oh, the puck in the title means the hockey puck. And here I thought it was going to involve Shakespeare. Maybe this cartoon will be more bearable if I believe it to be a dream.
So Norman freezes the lake and challenges Marsupilami to a hockey game. Mmm, this cartoon is about a mean human doing bad things and a wacky animal annoyed by said bad things. I wonder if come-uppance will be involved at all. This pretty much has some of the same problems Bonkers had; over-reliance on characters narrating their actions and poor physical comedy. Really, just physical joke after physical joke and not even done particularly well. I do like how they have Marsupilami use his tail though.
We close with our good friend Don Karnage again. This time, he’s actually found some treasure, and just as he opens it…
Captain Bleeding Hook appears. Raw Toonage: making Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and JM Barrie whiz about in their graves at the same time. And I guess maybe Rudyard Kipling too, since Talespin was based on The Jungle Book but does anyone care what Kipling thinks? And wouldn’t Karnage be surprised to see a human, since he lives in a world full of talking animals?
Hook and Karnage have a fight, and Hook completely owns Karnage. That’s just sad. Sure, Karnage may be a goofy comedy villain, but so is Hook. A goofy comedy villain being beaten by a ‘serious’ villain would be bad enough, but getting pawned by another comedy villain? Well, I guess those who can’t, teach, or attempt to or whatever.
Well, that was utterly boring. I guess Disney fans may like the novelty of seeing Karnage and Hook sharing the screen, but the rest was dull, predictable and, except for some of TTV’s stuff that I linked earlier, not even that funny.
Tragic Kingdom indeed.