Tooncrap #3 - The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show

I know the words, but the title doesn't make any sense.
Disney: 1995

Written by: Raymond Gallant

I sometimes wonder just what inter-dimensional deity felt the need to show us some mercy and laid upon us the brilliance of The Ren and Stimpy Show. Look at the landscape of animated kids television before Ren and Stimpy, and you can tell that nothing even tried to walk into the territory that Nickelodeon happily skipped across by letting the warped mind of John Kricfalusi give the world such a cartoon that perfectly balanced simple comedic formulas, tinged with massive quantities of grotesque humor, and a great amount of darkness. It was most kids' first exposure to such a twisted style of comedy writing. I still claim that the Spumco era of Ren and Stimpy may be one of the greatest cartoons of all time.

And I guess a lot of other companies believe that too, since they all tried so hard to copy it. And that's where I segue into the house of the mouse.

By 1994, Disney was trying to beef up their afternoon block with more variety in shows beyond the one big show a year format. So, by the 1994/1995 block things started to see a shift in more content. First, by taking the animated classic Aladdin, and turning it into a weekday series, which wasn't too bad to be honest. At least Aladdin is the type of film that you could see more adventures that could possibly happen beyond the movie itself.

Though we can pass on any more singing Gilbert Gottfried.

The 2nd big cartoon was Gargoyles, which was Disney's attempt to do a more action packed, Batman-esque cartoon, which actually proved to be a massive success until they completely dropped the ball with "The Goliath Chronicles".
And that leaves us with our induction du jour. Disney was trying everything fresh and different in terms of going past their norm in terms of what cartoons they aired, and that includes a cartoon that imitated that of Ren and Stimpy. I mean, it's an obvious formula to imitate. Add a cat and a dog, put them in wacky situations, and boom. The kids will be dumb enough to love it.

And thus Shnookums and Meat were born. The show was created by Bill Kopp, who would create some other well forgotten cartoons of the 90's like Mad Jack the Pirate, and Toonsylvania. You know that one Steven Spielberg cartoon everyone forgets about? Originally, five of the Shnookums and Meat shorts aired the year prior on Marsupilami. You may remember them if you're one of the 3 people who actually remember Marsupilami. In fact, five of the 13 episodes of Shnookums and Meat featured contain these shorts, proving just how slapdash a lot of this show is.

Though they knew just adding dog and cat kookiness wouldn't keep the kiddies interested long enough, so they bundled two other cartoons into the half hour block, and dubbed it the "Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show". That's quite a tasking title. Is it either funny, or a cartoon , or a show? Let's find out as we review this thing.

I will open as I always do with talking about the theme song. I will admit, it's probably the best thing in the whole series. The Hellecasters give us a surprisingly solid guitar theme that tries its best to represent the show's manic feel. But it reminds me of a lot of 90's cartoons. Once the awesome theme song ends, you're left watching crap.

So, let's look into the first of the three cartoons of the aforementioned funny cartoon show by looking at a Shnookums and Meat short. Clearly if they're the starts of the show, they must have the strongest segments. Let's look at "Pain in the Brain"

We open the episode with Meat (the dumb dog of the duo) chasing Shnookums (the smarter cat of the duo) with a stove. This would be funny if it didn't feel like it takes forever for something funny to happen with the stove. Meat throws it through a window, which makes the seconds of precious air time wasted feel all the more worth it. After a bit more slowness, Shnookums tries to throw a piano down the stairs on to Meat. But Meat literally pulls the carpet on him, knocking him down too, just as the duo end up both being smashed by the piano.

The resulting accident LITERALLY knocked their brains out. Of course, you don't actually see it happen, or really anything more graphic than holes on their head you barely see much of. It really just looks mostly like they have Bart Simpson haircuts. They find the brains have slid into the basement and are covered in bugs and dirt. This is the best attempt at gross out humor you're getting folks.

They eventually get the dirty, spider-covered brains back, and decide that they'd better give their noggins a right cleaning before putting them back in their heads. This just leads to burning some of Meat's brain. Next up on this montage of literal brain washing, they try the washing machine, and the dryer. This only ends up shrinking their brains. But a quick trip to the sink fixes that. Hey, really dumb conflict resolved with time to spare. Looks like we can end this on a high note.

No, instead we get more brain damage (with no actual sign of effects to the brain, which honestly would have made the joke funny), as they throw the brains around, use them as tennis balls, and other such jokes. Meat even uses Shnookums brain as a clay pigeon and shoots it. Really? I get this is a comedy montage and all, but one of the brains is destroyed now, so that conflict should be more screwed up than it already is. But no, it be more than fine in the next part of this painfully long skit.

Finally the brains become sentient beings and are more than sick of all this abuse, and decide to go to Vegas. And thus the episode ends with the two dying since they finally realize that they need a brain to function at all.

Of course that's not the actual ending. The real ending is that Shnookums and Meat are sad and depressed while the brains are living it up in Vegas. The brains eventually get tired of the good life, and return to the heads of the two morons. But the big joke is they went into the wrong heads. The end. I'll say my piece on Shnookums and Meat's shorts in the end, but I will say this early on. The comedy really feels like it wants to be edgy, but you can really see how a lot of this is cribbing on Ren and Stimpy, while also being kept from any real creativity from the stricter Disney.

Next up on Shnookums and Meat is Pith Possum: Super Dynamic Possum of Tomorrow. In other words a Batman parody. Because, you know, there weren't enough superhero parodies at the time. Hell, Disney tried that route with Darkwing Duck and it was a massive success. And let's not forget that this was 1995, the same time another little cartoon by the name of The Tick aired. So, our old "buddy" Piss Possum (get it, because "pith" sounds like "piss". Elbow my ribs!) has some competition. Is it worthy of holding Tick's spoon? Let's find out as we look at, and I shit you not...

"Phantom Mask of the Dark Blackness of Black"

Get it. It's Batman. The Dark Knight. Every single Pith Possum short would have a title that added dark, or darkness, or black to it. And it was funny at first, until you realize, "oh god, that's all they really got for ideas, huh?"

Pith Possum started his life as an ordinary laboratory possum that was given a radioactive formula that turned him into a superhero . He has a secret identity as Peter Possum, who works as copy boy for a local tabloid . He fights for truth, justice, and killing 8 and a half minutes of a forgettable 90's cartoon. He protects the people of possum city, who aren't so much possums, as every other type of woodland creature.

Also, Possum City? That's the best town name you got? You couldn't be assed to take some time to think of a clever enough pun to make a forest-based town name better than Possum City? I'll give you a couple of the top of my head. Metreepolis. Forestopolis. Gotham Cit-tree. Look, you could have done a tree pun for added punch.

Back to the story. It turns out that the evil villain known as the Easter Bunny is being let out of the local asylum, since the doctor's think he's cured. Of course he isn't, as this joker-esque nutbar is out for revenge. He wants to finally change his cute and cuddly demeanor into something more monstrous. So he drinks a formula he whipped up, turning him into a hulking beast.

At the local newspaper, the Weekly World Horsefeather, we meet our titular possum of piss as Peter Possum, who's got the major hornies for the only human female in the company named Doris Deer. It's kinda like Lois Lane, ha. She gets news about the mutant Easter Bunny from the chief, and goes to investigate, plowing over the easily forgettable Peter Possum, who also believes it's time to leap into action. Literally leaping into action as he plummets out the window to much pain.

Yeah, Piss Possum is, well... kind of terrible at his job.

But he does have the help of his trusty sidekick Obadiah. They get their briefing from a rather moronic gorilla police chief, who pretty much just tells them that the Easter Bunny intends to rob the Possum City museum. While that happens, Doris gets herself intentionally captured by the Bunny to see where he's going.

Of course, when Piss actually tries to battle the bunny, he's easily trounced. However, he does come up with a logical solution. Just give the bunny and exploding carrot. The episode ends with Obadiah and Piss eating the egg minions that worked for the bunny, while we learn from the narrator that this wasn't the real Easter Bunny. Because you don't want to scare those kiddies.

I can honestly say this wasn't as bad as Shnookums, but it's also nothing all that creative either. It uses similar old and boring tropes, never tries to be edgy or creative, and is really forgettable.

But we're still not dome with this as we have to look at one more cartoon. We've had a bland cat and dog cartoon, and an even blander superhero cartoon. What's next, a bland and boring old west serial?

God damn me.

Yes, it's Tex Tinstar: The Best in the West (Hey, that rhymes). And unlike most Disney cartoons, it actually continues each part of its story with each episode. Since they're pressed for time, each part is only about 4 minutes long. And just like everything else, it's really kinda bland and forgettable. Save for Jeff Bennett using his Johnny Bravo voice, since it's the closest thing to sounding like a cowboy.

I won't go into detail much, but the main gimmick of the whole "saga" if you will, is that the evil Wrongo and the wrong riders causing trouble. Tex and his deputy, a stinky man named Chafe try to stop them, only for them to get easily beaten and left in some over the top trap. Will Tex survive? Don't miss our next episode:
Achey Breaky Back
A Fistful of Boring

And that's Shnookums and Meat. And yeah, it's pretty forgettable. I can see that Bill Kopp was trying, especially with the Shnookums and Meat shorts. And if the writing was funnier, and Disney wasn't the one behind the wheel, it could have been a much more fun and creative cartoon. The show does have some interesting plots and ideas, but they're never executed with enough comedic writing to make you laugh or want to come back for more.
And to quote George Harrison, "it's been done". And done better. Ren and Stimpy's formula was almost like a beautiful fluke. You'd never have expected something like that to have not only found itself on a children's television network, but gain the popularity it did... until Games Animation took over of course. Anyone who tried to emulate that couldn't get it right. Be it from the network's pressure, or just a lack of originality.
And that's all I get from this show. A lack of real originality. It's not even the K-Mart Ren and Stimpy. More the bargain bin at the local supermarket variety Ren and Stimpy. It's definitely far from the crappiest I've seen, but it's certainly not all that amazing. This meat is quite expired.