Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tim Burton Tribute: Family Dog

On September 29, 1985, an anthology series created by Steven Spielberg debuted on TV. That show was known as Amazing Stories.


Each episode features a different segment created by different writers  containing stories based on horror, fantasy, and science fiction. While the show was nominated for 12 Emmys and won 5 of them and had positive reviews by critics and viewers, it was not viewed by many people. Amazing Stories is considered by many people a cult classic. Today, we're going to talk about one of the episodes of the show that would eventually receive a spin-off. That is none other than Family Dog which debuted on June 23, 1993.


The cartoon is about a dog who lives with a family called the Binfords consisting of Skip (voiced by Martin Mull), his wife Bev (voiced by Molly Creek), their son Billy (voiced by Zak Huxtable Epstein), and their daughter Buffy (voiced by Cassie Cole). He gets into wild and crazy antics while the family neglects and ignores him. Each family member has their own unique characteristics: Skip is a typical suburban man who works hard and cares for his family, Bev is overworked, underappreciated, and sassy, Bobby is sarcastic and witty, and Buffy is small and cute.

The cartoon was created by Brad Bird, whom you might know as the writer and director of critically acclaimed animated movies such as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. While he did created the Family Dog cartoons for Amazing Stories, he did not get himself involved with the TV series. He felt that making it into a 30 minute animated series wouldn't work. However, Spielberg continued to create the show without him. There were a lot of people from Warner Bros. and Amblim that had gotten involved. Not only Steven Spielberg, but Sherri Stoner, the writer of Animaniacs and the voice of Slappy Squirrel, and Paul Dini, the writer and producer of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Lost were the writers of Family Dog. Tim Burton was the executive producer and Danny Elfman did the opening theme.

As much as the show was filled with great talent based on the most popular cartoon segment on Amazing Stories, the show only lasted for less than a season until it was cancelled on July 28, 1993, a month after it aired. The critics panned it due to its crude writing and cheap looking animation. Looking back at it, the show is actually not that bad. I mean, sure, it's not as good as other Amblim shows at the time like Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky and the Brain, and Freakazoid, but I can understand why they made this short cartoon into a series. It's quite humorous and well put together. It's not an underrated classic, but the shorts that aired on Amazing Stories are. I would recommend checking those out as oppose to the TV series that tried to cash in on the popularity.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we discuss about the stop motion musical The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


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