Monday, August 15, 2011

Donovan Cook interview, part 4

Read Part 3 here

Did the Standards and Practices ever gave you hard time on the show?

I'll tell you, at the time we thought we were getting hard time, but when you look at what people are like to you now versus what we did then, we got away with murder. We had shows where the dog's caught on fire and jumped out windows, drove in cars without seatbelts, all this stuff you can't do now. We were free as a bird.

I think the best story from S&P comes actually from a Secret Squirrel episode. It was [the one with a possum and his bat henchmen], all these nocturnal animals, so there was a scene where these bats beat the living hell out of Secret Squirrel with these baseball bats. We put it through...there wasn't really a formal Standards and Practices because we wern't doing it for a network, like if you were doing something for ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox, back then, the networks have formal S&P people, but we were doing it for syndication and TBS, and TBS never had original children's programming so basically there was Mike Lazzo at TBS who wanted to do basically everything, and guys like Buzz Potamkin [...] Buzz would handle production so they would basically look at stuff and say "I don't think we should do this," but we shipped that show overseas and it was animated with these characters beating Secret with wooden baseball bats, but when that one came back they saw it and they kinda freaked out, saying "You guys, no. We can't do this, it's too violent." But we wern't a rich show so I remember Larry and I, and Paul, I think it was a Rob Renzetti show [actually Paul Rudish, David Feiss, and Tony Craig] so we all started brainstorming and discussed what the hell we were going to do so finally we all thought "let's leave all the animation exactly the same" so instead of full retakes we added one scene where instead of picking up baseball bats the two bat characters blew up a long, narrow balloons. So we changed the bats to balloons but all the animation stayed the same, so it was still fantastically violent but they were hitting him with these balloons and they still beat the hell out of him. It was still hysterical, but that was one of the few times they wouldn't let us do something.

But yeah, I'm sure that if you asked me that question 15 or so years ago "Oh, god yes I have a long list of things they wouldn't let us do," but now in hindsight all I can do is look at almost every Stupid Dogs cartoons, there's a joke that would never, ever let me do now. In the "Door Jam" one, the Mike Mitchell one, where they misunderstood the concept of automatic doors and think they need shoes to get through the door, so they inexplictly start collecting shoes, and there's a scene in that cartoon where the two dogs go to a damn strip club, hollering at the stripper girl to take off her shoe! "The shoe! The shoe! Take off your shoe!" [laugh] And this wasn't, you know, Adult Swim or Comedy Central...I don't think Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon or Disney XD or any of those places would let you do that joke. They wouldn't even let you think about that joke.

So we had alot of freedom, especially in hindsight.

One of the characters in 2 Stupid Dogs was a big guy named Hollywood. What's the story of that?
Hollywood was inspired by a guy...I have a group of friends that go all the way back to high school. Every summer we'd run a beach house down San Diego, and one year there was a guy living in a house next door who was just incredibly loud and would always holler at things at the top of his lungs and we started him "Hollywood," I don't remember why we called him that, but that was the summer before we started production of Stupid Dogs so we were in development on the show. I can't remember exactly when Spumco got shut down 'cause I was still working there for the first few months when we were trying to figure out how to get a full greenlight on the show but, so, there was this crazy guy that me and my buddies, not from the animation world, called Hollywood and it was Cornflakes, the first Hollywood episode where he's a farmer, I think, and so we were talking about what do we do with this farmer and we decided to make him this guy with the joke that he had, that some people seemed to like, "Isn't that cute but it's wrong," which I thought was funny. I don't remember whether Rob [Renzetti] invented that in the board pitch or whether that was in the outline but that came up for the first time in that one and we all thought it was funny so we started using it everytime we used Hollywood.

Some of the secondary characters that came out of this show was Hollywood, or Cubby, the pimply faced teenager...he was in the "Drive-In" and I think that character got repeated because of Rob Paulsen, who voiced him. We all thought the voice was funny and we wanted to hear him again. So we started writing him into more cartoons. Funny thing is in the pitch there was a group of characters that never made it into a single cartoon. For example, when I pitched the show there was a gang of cats that would sometimes terrorize the dogs, but the cat gang just never seemed funny when we were developing the premises so we never used them.

Continue to Part 5

1 comment:

joecab said...

The part that freaked ME out in the original run of these great cartoons was that episode of Secret Squirrel where I think they showed I think a gorilla villain with a pierced nipple (!) That was a new one on me!