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April 15, 2014

Before Gervais got animated, there was Benny

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 27th 2006 1:54PM

mouse that jack builtYesterday as I was getting ready to Tivo the Ricky Gervais episode of The Simpsons, I started to think about whether something like this had been done before, where an actor not associated with a cartoon was brought in to contribute to an episode. While I'm sure there's many, the only one I could think of was the Looney Tunes' short "The Mouse That Jack Built" which featured Jack Benny and his fellow stars from his famous radio and television program playing themselves as mice. The result was a hilarious short about Jack and his friends going out to eat at the Kit Kat Club, which turns out to be an actual cat. In the end, we're treated to a live-action shot of the real Jack Benny waking up from his nightmare, only to see the two mice from his dream crawl from his cat's mouth and scurry into a mousehole. Benny didn't write the episode, but by bringing in new voice actors with a more cerebral and less "cartoony" approach to humor, it resulted in one of the more unique Warner Bros. animated shorts when mixed with the slapstick and sadism for which these cartoons had become famous. Also, it should be noted that Mel Blanc, who voiced ninety-nine percent of the Looney Tunes characters, was also a regular on the Jack Benny Program, so maybe ol' Jack didn't need much convincing to appear in animated form. Rumor has it he asked for no money, just a copy of the cartoon. Oh yeah, and just to bring it full circle, the foppish shop owner on The Simpsons who says, "Yeeeeeesss???" is based on a character on Jack Benny's show. It's like a big ol' Mobius strip o' comedy.

So, my fellow cartoon-lovin' peeps, can you think of any other cartoons to turn themselves over to "new management" if only for one episode?

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kerry

There was an episode of Dexter's Lab purportedly written by a 7 year old, and it was awesome:
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0558999/
There was also an episode of Batman: Gotham Knights based around different Batman interpretations. While the show itself presents them as conflicting witness accounts from several children, each represents a classic batman interpretation, from Bob Kane's original to Frank Miller's darker vision in the 80's. The concept is taken from a story written in the 70's (so says IMDb). Fascinating stuff:
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0519697/

March 27 2006 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alan

There was a truly terrible episode of "Sealab 2021" that the bumper claimed to be written by a fan. Both the bumper and I agree the only funny line of the show was, "Hesh wants married sex."

There was also an episode of Dexters Lab that appeared to have been written and voiced by a 5 year old, complete with child like drawings. I don't know who wrote it, but it was a great departure from the regular Dexter/Dede stuff. It's best line was, "You are stupid. And another thing, you are stupid."

March 27 2006 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Destin

An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures was written by a bunch of kids. As I recall, three middle-school girls wrote an episode, sent it to the studio, and somehow it managed to actually end up on Spielberg's desk. He liked it (and, no doubt, the publicity it could generate) and it wound up being made into an actual episode. The episode was definitely re-written by the staff, to include cameos from Spielberg and the girls, but it at least began as an unsolicited "fanfic."

More details are on this Tiny Toons Reference Guide. The episode was called "Buster And Babs Go Hawaiian."
http://kumo.swcp.com/synth/tta-ref-guide.html

March 27 2006 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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