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                                                                     July 2005
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Here to serve
At least, that's the idea...   More...

Duckula's coming to DVD!...

    When Roobarb Came Back
Roobarb's return...

   High-five Harry

Harry and his Dinosaurs head for Five...

    The beautiful game
War Game on DVD + a DVD Giveaway!...

    Beautiful Bean
Mr Bean's a modern classic...

    That'll learn ya
Alan Gilbey's writing school...

     last month's news »        news archive »      interviews »


    Well, this is good news indeed. Capital Entertainment have recently
    announced the release of a fantastic Duckula DVD set, featuring all
    26 first season episodes of Cosgrove Hall's classic series, spread over
    three shiny discs. Special features include samples of original artwork
    and exclusive interviews with the folks up at Chorlton-cum-Hardy....

       Duckula on DVD - from Capital Entertainment

     ...Which all sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it is, apart from the fact that
     this is actually an American set, not officially scheduled for a Region 2
     release. Yes that's right, once again our American friends are getting
     inifinitely better DVD service than us Brits - and for a UK series, to boot.
     But before you climb on to your soapbox to expound and enrage, you might
     like to hear that all is not yet lost, because this is actually a Region 0 release,
     And that, my friends, means that all three discs should play rather splendidly
     on most regular UK machines, after all!

     Of course, Duckula has appeared on disc before over here. But we've only
     had one slaphazard compilation thus far (Vampire Vacation), and there's
     no word yet on an official UK release for the series proper. So let's give
     top-billing (geddit?) to what is, indeed, a Capital release. Now, what's the
     current exchange rate....?

                                                                  More: Capital Entertainment

   When Roobarb Came Back 

    Roobarb's back! - Well, okay, that's not news to most of you. The return
    of everyone's favourite wobbling wonder has been touted for what seems like
    eons, but for those who still haven't heard, here's the spiel: "Roobarb" creator
    Grange Calveley and A&B TV Ltd have been putting together all-new stories
    for a brand new series. It's taken a while to get here, but finally "Roobarb and
    Custard Too" will begin airing on Five, from Monday 8th August at 8.45am,
    as part of their busy "Milkshake!" slot. The PR promises more of that
    wibbly-wobbly-wondeful "boiling" look (this time, via modern effects), and
    what's more, Richard Briers will be reprising his role as the voice of our
    tittering titular star(s).

The original Roobarb by Grange Calveley

    So what is the news here? - Well, there's a new star character to look out for,
    that's what. It's a chap known only as "Mole", who is not only a little furry
    burrowing mammal, but also a little furry burrowing Welsh mammal with a
    voice that's said to sound just a little like that of Richard Burton!

    Mole will surely fit very snuggly alongside Roobarb, Custard the Cat and
    those twitterpated birds, who first bubbled on to our screens just over thirty
    years ago. The original series had a spectacular vibrancy, with Bob Godfrey's
    felt tip characters leaping off our teatime screens, and in to our living rooms,
    accompanied by that squiddly theme tune.

    To celebrate Roobarb's return, The Hound has joined director Jason Tammemagi
    in his garden shed, to chat about the green guy, past and present, and you
    can check out what Jason had to say here.

    Has lightning been bottled twice? - Well, "Roobarb and Custard Too" kicks
    of with the episode "When there was a Surprise", in which Roobarb constructs
    a new-fangled computer, with spectacular results. Which sounds like it is
    indeed, business as usual in the garden!...

Roobarb and Custard Too   When there was an interview...


   High-five Harry 

    "Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs" are on their way to Five. Silver Fox
     Films dropped us a line today, to announce the news, and to give us a
     sneaky-peek at the stars. So here's Harry and his prehistoric pals for you:

      Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs

     As regular visitors here will know from past news, Harry's a lucky lad who
     owns a bucket of toy dinosaurs who come to life for all sorts of fun and frolics.
     The 52 x 10min series is based  on the popular picture books by Ian Whybrow
     (Little Wolf) and Adrian Reynolds, and it's actually the very first collaboration
     between Silver Fox Films and the fine folks at Collingwood O'Hare (together
     with Canada's CCI Entertainment).

     Harry's set to make his UK debut as part of Five's "Milkshake!" strand on
     Saturday 1st October. In addition, we can look forward to appearances later
     this year on Tickle U, the new pre-school block from Cartoon Network US,
     and on Teletoon in Canada, as well as a bucket full of overseas channels.

     'Can't wait to see the finished show!...

    ++++++++++ STOP PRESS 23rd August +++++++++++++++++

    Silver Fox tell me there's been a change of date - Harry's broadcast slot
    on Five has been moved forward to Saturday 10th September. That means
    we'll meet this happy chappy and his prehistoric pals a month earlier than
    was previously fanfared!

    ++++++++++ STOP PRESS 23rd August +++++++++++++++++
 Silver Fox Films  Collingwood O'Hare


   The beautiful game 

    With Europe currently awash with wartime remembrance, Revelation Films
    have picked a particularly fitting time to release War Game on DVD.
    "War Game" was adapted from the award-winning picture book by Michael
    Foreman and it retells that famously brief encounter in the trenches, during
    the First World War, in which the British and Germans partook of a game of
    football on Christmas Day. It sounds the stuff of legend, but it's unequivocally
    fact. And what's also unequivocal is that this film is beautifully directed and
    produced, by Dave Unwin and by Iain Harvey's Illuminated Films respectively.

       War Game on DVD
    Revelation have given "War Game" a superior presentation on disc, with extras
    that include an interview with the production team, commentaries, test sequences,
    character sheets, and a presentation for the sequel adaptation "War Boy".
    The film itself is presented in glorious 16:9 widescreen and 5.1 Surround,
    which makes for a very moving experience indeed.

    "War Game" seems to have slipped under the radar for many, but is unforgettable
    for those who have discovered it previously, during it's Christmas 2003 broadcast,
    or on the festival circuit, where it has garnered many deserved awards. Illuminated's
    Iain Harvey previously produced When the Wind Blows, and "War Game" is built
    on a similar foundation. We watch as our young "heroes" progress from the
    golden fields of England, to the shock and awe of the trenches. This is,
    essentially, a childrens' film so the visuals are restrained, but by the end of
    our tale we are left in no doubt of the horror as we peer through black smoke 
    and a wall of orange fire, before our friends are led "over the top", to dissolve
    into charcoal outlines, and in to history. "War Game" also succeeds in
    presenting friend and foe with rare depth and humanity. In this particular
    game, time and again, we've learnt that no one ever wins...

    ++++++++++ STOP PRESS ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The Hound has five fabulous copies of this DVD to give away, courtesy
    of Revelation Films. Check out the War Game giveaway page for details
    of how to enter. But hurry, the deadline for the draw is August 1st!

    ++++++++++ STOP PRESS ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                                              More: War Game   War Game giveaway

   Beautiful Bean 

    You know, when it was first fanfared by ITV, Mr Bean: The Animated Series
    sounded like a rather lazy commission, a somewhat foolish foray into that
    distinctly American realm of live-action adaptation. We don't make those sorts
    of series here in Blighty. We leave it to Hollywood to make those mistakes
    whilst we busy ourselves with a conveyer belt of perfect preschool

      Mr Bean: The Animated Series on DVD
    But lo and behold, "Mr Bean: The Animated Series" soon revealed itself to
    be hugely stylish, beautifully crafted, and really rather terrific. The first
    thing to strike you is its delicious design. It has a kind of modern retro feel,
    a cross between those UPA classics of the sixties (Mr Magoo, etc), and the
    hi-tech styling of Gendy Tarkofsky (Dexter's Laboratory, etc). The live-action
    character has been meticulously reworked by the team at Tiger Aspect, Richard
    Purdum's and Varga Studios, working closely with their star so that every pratfall,
    every double-take, annoying grunt and guffaw is pure, unmistakable "Bean".
    It's also stuffed with lovely detail, like all those silly shop names in the
    backgrounds, and references on the posters and hoardings. Oh, and then
    there's poor "Teddy", who suffers such miserable and constant abuse
    from our hero...

    Which all adds up to a very classy package indeed, and makes it a delight to
    at last be able to highlight the show's forthcoming,  and now hugely anticipated,
    DVD release. Volume one of "Mr Bean: The Animated Series" finally hits stores
    next month, on or around August 29th, courtesy of Universal. The disc features 
    the first eight episodes, and includes a useful little "making of" documentary
    to boot. If you've dismissed this one in the past, do yourself a favour a buy
    this disc!

    Poor old Mr Bean has had a bumpy ride over the last couple of years. His
    series was initially trumpeted as the UK's first primetime Saturday toon
    commission, before he was inexcusably shifted to strange gaps in the
    schedules on Sunday mornings and Bank Holidays, before finally being
    shoehorned it into the CiTV time-slot, where he currently plays daily.
    One suspects that the show simply fell foul of preconceptions like mine,
    and that it's taken time to find an audience. Well, shame on us all, because
    what we have here is, unequivocally, a modern classic...

Mr Bean: The Animated Series


   That'll learn ya 

    The hellishly talented Alan Gilbey has just dropped us a line to reveal details
    of his forthcoming animation school at Bristol school of Art, Media and Design.
    As regulars to these pages will know, Alan was formerly one half of Peafur
    Productions, under whose banner he and David Freedman brought us Mr. Hell
    and Marion the erstwhile Bounty Hamster. Alan also co-wrote The First Snow
    of Winter and the Foxbusters series, and he worked on the first series of Rex
    the Runt. Which is a roundabout way of saying that this chap knows his toons.
    and that, frankly, we might learn a thing or two from what he has to say!

    Here's Alan's press release for you:

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

    All Just Kid's Stuff? Writing for animation.

   A three-day writing for animation summer school run by tutor
   Alan Gilbey at the Bristol school of Art, Media and Design.
   The course will look at the art and craft of writing screenplays
   for performance in general, and for animation in particular,
   focusing on what makes a good concept and a great script,
   then looking at the particular demands, joys, frustrations and
   freedoms offered by the animated film or series.

   Alan has won many awards including two BAFTA's, two Royal
   Television Society Awards, a Britsh Animation Award and the
   Canadian equivalent of an Emmy. He has co-developed shows
   for major studios on both sides of the Atlantic, including Aardman
   Animations (Rex The Runt) Cosgrove Hall Films (Foxbusters),
   The Disney Channel, Universal Pictures and Fox.

   Dates: 3th - 5th August 2005, 9.30am - 4.30pm
   Fee: 200
   Booking details can be found here:

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Sounds good, eh? - Well, Alan promises folks a jolly good time for all:

    "As I normally run half day workshops, this will be a great
    opportunity for them that turns up to explore the subject
    in depth, do lots of writing exercises and realise I've run
    out of useful things to say!

    We'll be watching lots of films too, both commercial TV
    animation and those ones with broken puppets being
    menaced by rusty pairs of scissors.

    As in my usual animation workouts I will be doing my very,
    very best to ensure a busy, buzzy atmosphere and not just
    me talking a lot while people take notes!"

    Ah, what modesty. Mr. Gilbey is a hugely-talented chap, and a great
    bloke to boot. The Hound reckons this could be time very well spent,
    not only for newcomers, but also for established folk wanting to brush
    up their writing skills and "talk toons" with someone who knows....

More:  Writing for Animation


   Here to serve  

    For crying out loud! - Here we are, just a few short months after that
    horrendous computer failure, and everything is coming back on line.
    The site is ticking along with updates and additions, my Inbox is
    buzzing with questions and contacts and news...

    And then my server goes down.

    Well, that's not strictly true. It's not "my" server at all. It belongs to
    my hosting company. But I couldn't care less about the ownership of
    said item or system or whatever may be. I only know that it's the
    fing wot keeps this here web site visible to folks around the world,
    and that I pay good money to keep these pages available to one
    and all, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week...

    But then the sever goes down, or so I'm informed. And that left this
    site and my email unavailable to a rather large number of people
    earlier this week.  On its own, it's not terribly important. Just a
    minor hiccup, or "one of those things". But the trouble is, it's
    not alone. I seem to be encountering numerous "outages", caused
    by this server-thingy, and the failings of my hosting company to
    keep it up and running as smoothly as they should. And that's
    not fun. It undermines everything I'm trying to do here. I bust a
    gut to get a page created/updated/modified, only to find I can't
    post it online, or it can't be seen by folks who have asked for
    it - or - well, you get the picture.

    Now I'm left between a rock and a hard place. I only paid my annual
    hosting fee a couple of months ago. If I switch hosts now that outlay
    will be lost (they don't "do" refunds). Plus there's the technical debacle
    involved, to get the site shifted over to a new host. I dread to think what
    might go wrong there...
    I guess I'll just keep my paws crossed for now. Hopefully, these outages 
    have come to an end. Hopefully, I won't be hearing from folks who couldn't
    send me feedback, or view the many new index pages I'm hoping to
    add to the site over the coming weeks...


    Till next time!    

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

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