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                                                                     April 2005
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Lights! Camera!
The Hound gets clicking...   More...

   Disastrous news
    King Arthur's here...

    I am not a DVD
    I Am Not An Animal escapes...

    A bit of a giggle
    Aardman take on the Gigglers...

    Time for a birthday
    The Hound's "Magic" cake...

    The Beeb get animated
    Animation Nation on the BBC...

    School's out
    Term starts at Bromwell High...

    et tu Shakespeare?
    Animated Tales on DVD...

     last month's news »        news archive »      interviews »

   Disastrous news 

    They're Knights of the Round Table, and they certainly are not able.
    Indeed in Zenith's all-new animated series for CiTV, King Arthur's clown
    princes are veritable no-hopers....

     King Arthur's Disasters

    "King Arthur's Disasters" started airing last week, 11th April, but alas
    The Hound had a disasterous time of things, with birthdays and business
    to the fore, which meant that the show wasn't previewed here!

    So how to make amends? - Well, let's fill in some detail. "King Arthur's
    Disasters" is a cross between "Monty Python" and "Maid Marion" and
    is Zenith Entertainment's first ever foray into the animation world. It's
    a co-production with Neptuno Films, based on an original idea by
    Paul Parkes and Will Ashurst. This is quick-witted entertainment,
    guaranteed to get your ribs tickling. The show is slotted in to a 4.30pm
    timeslot, but don't let that fool you, there's great crossover appeal for
    us Bigger Kids here.

    The premise has the legendary English knights of yore embarking on
    epic quests and madcap escapades in which they encounter such
    absurdities as Yodelling Dolphins, Pink Knights, backward-flying owls,
    trapeze artists, Norwegian minstrels and Cornish peacocks.

    King Arthur is voiced by Rik Mayal, a self-centered buffoon (Arthur
    not Rik!) who is fixated by Morwenna Banks' Guinevere. The King
    will throw himself into any number of outrageous ventures to win her
    love, much to the chagrin of his confidante, Merlin, voiced by
    man-of-the-moment Matt Lucas. Phil Cornwell ( Gilbert! ) is also
    armoured-up as Sir Launcelot. 13 x 24" episodes have thus far been
    produced, and you can meet the characters and stars and view a clip
    from this jolly romp on the official web site.
    Gadzooks, t'is a frolicsome show! - Tune in for fun Mondays,
    4.30pm on CiTV.
                                                   More:  King Arthur's Disasters


   I am not a DVD

    Oh, but we beg to differ because Philip the pompous horse, Mark the
    right-wing sparrow, Winona the dog, Keiron the cat, Claire the breast-
    infatuated rat, Hugh the  sex-mad monkey and Niall the call-centre rabbit,
    otherwise known as the fugitives from Project S, have recently been
    liberated on DVD.

      I Am Not An Animal

    "I Am Not An Animal" ruffled a few feathers when it arrived last May.
     The six part series from Steve Coogan's Baby Cow was brought to life
     by the multi-talented Tim Searle and Triffic Films (they of "2DTV" fame,
     amongst many others). The show followed the exploits of six experimental
     talking animals, set free from their cosseted life in a vivisection unit to explore
     the world at large. Only they're too busy bickering and back-biting to really
     get on with things. And - oh - how they miss the creature comforts of their
     designer home. The real world is so uncultered and uncouth....

     The comedy voices include those of Steve Coogan, Simon Pegg, Kevin
     Eldon, Julia Davis, Amelia Bulmore and Arthur Matthews. The show was
     a hit with the critics and grabbed itself quite a cult following in its late-night
     broadcast slot (10.00pm on BBC2). For the DVD release the BBC have
     included a "making of" extra and commentaries for three of the six episodes,
     so we can delve even deeper into the minds of those animals. If we
     can possibly handle it!...
                                                         More: I Am Not An Animal


   A bit of a giggle 

    Aardman Animation have been busy of late. Recently we've had
    Planet Sketch trumpeted across the media, and now, from MIP comes
    news that they've optioned the rights to a trio of Roddy Doyle's excellent
    children's books.

      The Giggler Treatment

    Mr. Doyle is, of course, the much-lauded author of such Irish gems as "The Van",
    "The Commitments", "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha" and "The Snapper". But he's
    also been winning rave reviews for his childrens' trilogy. "The Giggler Treatment",
    "Rover Saves Christmas", and "The Meanwhile Adventures" feature the Mack
    family, Rover the dog, and various Gigglers, reindeer, slugs, and lots of
    concurrent developments.

    Firstly there's The Giggler Treatment (2000), starring a mischievous band of
    pixie-types known as Gigglers. These cheeky little chappies help kids to get
    their revenge on adults who treat them improperly. In this particular case that
    "revenge" involves Rover the dog, Mr. Mack, and more-than a little of what dogs
    like to do.
    Rover Saves Christmas (2001) has Rover saving the winter festivities by pretending
    to be a reindeer. And not just any old reindeer, either, because he has to take the
    place of Rudolph.

    The Meanwhile Adventures (2004) has Mr. Mack being sent to jail, a daring escape,
    a missing mother, a circumnavigation, and a bunch of Irish slugs bent on world
    domination - all taking place at the same time.

    Aardman hope to adapt the trio into feature-length specials for television, as
    a co-production with Treasure Ireland Entertainment, although it's early days
    yet, so there's no word on the techniques being employed, broadcasters or
    even a whiff of a schedule. But it's hard to see these not getting the greenlight
    from someone soon...

                                                                      More: Aardman Animation  


   Time for a birthday 

    What more could an ageing Hound want for his birthday than this
    fine fellow:

    Dougal cake   Cheer up Dougal!

    Isn't it brilliant? - This Dougal cake is a Tesco's in-store exclusive, beautifully
    boxed and presented and based on the Robbie williams version from the new
    Magic Roundabout movie. Yes, it's probably stuffed-to-busting with sugars
    and all-round zebadness. But - oh boy - it tastes as good as it looks and it's
    brought a BIG smile to this Birthday Boy's face today - Yum!

    The packaging states there are 18 portions to be had here, but at that
    the rate we're going he could be gone by tea-time. That's if a kidney
    doesn't pop first...

The Magic Roundabout


   The Beeb get animated 

    Set your video for Monday 18th April at 9.00pm, because that's when
    BBC4 broadcasts the first part of their mouthwatering "Animation Nation"
    series. This three part documentary analyses the development of the animation
    industry in the UK - from past to present - taking in our feature film heritage,
    those evergreen tea-time tv classics, advertising and industrial films,
    and on to our freethinking, artistic shorts and endeavours (a little bit
    like this site, in fact...).

    The first part, "The Art of Persuasion", puts the UK's propaganda and
    advertising films and promotions under the spotlight. Part two, "Something
    To Say
", takes a peek at our counter-culture classics by way of Monty
    Python and "Yellow Submarine", whilst the final film "Visions
    of Childhood" spends its time wallowing in kids' TV nostalgia. All three
    episodes are stuffed with interviews and clips, and each is being supported
    by a whole evening's worth of associated  films and material - enough to
    make Hounds like us howl with anticipation: "Automania 2000",
    "Charley Says", Digby Turpin's "Pan-Tele-Tron" promo, "The Do-It-
    Yourself Cartoon Kit", Gerald Scarfe's "Long Drawn Out Trip", "Bob's
    Birthday", "Girl's Night Out", "The Pogles", "Captain Pugwash"
    and plenty more gems and pearls...

    The BBC4 website fills in the details, and I'm told there'll be clips and
    a producer's interview added there, too, in the next few days. Which all
    adds up to a tantalizing package of delights, don't you think? - It's just
    a shame it's on digital only. Let's just hope this gets a BBC2 repeat,
    so that those without a set-top box can get their fill...

                                                                    More: Animation Nation


   School's out 

    Pete Bishop dropped me a line this week. He's been directing the first
    term of Hat Trick/Decode's anarchic adult toon, "Bromwell High"
    (Formerly Streatham Hill). We Brits have yet to see anything of the
    show, but over the Big Pond, the series is now airing in Canada,
    late-nights on Teletoon, and picking up a satchel's-worth of positive
    reviews on the way.

     Bromwell High from Hat Trick / Decode

     "Bromwell High" is set in a rundown inner-city school, and stars the
     "Laydeez" Keisha Marie, Latrina and Natella and their various school
     mates and teachers. It's been Flash animated out of Collideascope ,
     in Halifax, Nova Scotia and billed as a British "South Park"
     (a billing that was attached to Empire Square recently, too).     
     But how frustrating that something so spectacularly "British"
     should air abroad first!

     Still, that's the way the co-production crumbles. So for now,
     school is indeed "out", but only on Canada's Teletoon...


   et tu Shakespeare?

    "Shakespeare: The Animated Tales" has just arrived in the UK as a splendid
    three disc DVD set from Metrodome Films. All 12 original films are here, and
    they're handsomely packaged too...

      Shakespeare: The Animated Tales

    This is an exquisite series, produced for the BBC by S4C and Christmas
    Films in Moscow, over a protracted period of the early nineties. It features
    retellings of Shakespeare's famous plays, in an abridged half-hour format
    and various media were utilized for the films: stop-motion for "The Tempest",
    cel animation for "A Midsummer Night's Dream", etc. Best of all is the telling
    of "Hamlet" for which the animation was etched on painted glass, frame by
    laborious frame, to create an unforgettable luminescent piece (a technique
    used again in "Richard III").
    The plays were adeptly abridged by Leon Garfield, and a host of famous
    British thespians fill the soundtrack. The series subsequently picked up two
    Daytime Emmy awards for Best Animation (1992 and 1996).

    Okay, let's be honest, this isn't really a British production because although
    the project was conceived in Wales and executive produced by Chris Grace,
    it was actually animated in Russia and Armenia.  But - oh - just set your
    nationalistic pride aside for a while, because this is wonderful stuff, and
    it captures the work of some incredible craftsmen and women, just
    before the collapse of their state-funded industry....


   Lights! Camera!   

    You know, there's more to birthdays than just scrummy cakes.
This year, the Hound finally got a decent digital camera. And the
    first results are already making themselves known on the site.

    Now some folks may mock my efforts over at Bunty's Booty and Cracking
    Collectibles. But you know, this site attempts to cover all aspects of
    British toondom, and many fans will you tell, collecting comes hot on the
    heels of their appreciation for a character, creation or series. A good
    character licence can extend adoration and awareness ad infinitum,
    as well as making a shed-load of revenue for the rights owners.
    And frankly, no one has done it better than Aardman here in the UK.
    As I say elsewhere, they've given us a fantastic array of licensed goodies,
    with ne'er a dodgy character likeness in sight. Bunty's Booy and
    Cracking Collectibles are there to chronicle these splendid efforts for
    others to envy and copy, or simply to drool over. They're also there
    as a checklist for collectors who can see what they have or haven't
    got, go forth and tick the boxes on their own collection.

    In Aardman's case, the imminent arrival of the Wallace & Gromit movie
    is going to be very interesting. "Chicken Run" goodies saturated British
    High Streets back in 2000. And before that, of course, Wallace & Gromit
    had shop tills ringing around the country. Will we see a repeat for
    "Wererabbit"? An official W&G shop has already popped up online, and
    the PR department have recently announced that McFarlane Toys
    hold the US Master Toy Licence, which guarantees at least one
    collection of figures to make collectors weep. Only time will tell.
    Meanwhile, with Bunty's Booty now spruced up and almost up to speed,
    the Hound can turn his attention to those Cracking Collectibles. You
    should stay tooned for a stack of updates, new photos and info over the
    coming weeks. And as the countdown to the new film continues, a
    new "Wererabbit" off-shoot may also be in the works - if my wallet
    can handle it....
    Till next time!    

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'     thehound@toonhound.com

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