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I just recently became aware you worked on the series 'Disney's Bonkers', which I spent many teenage afternoons watching. First off thank you for whatever contribution you made, I enjoyed that show. I haven't seen the showing years, but knowing your love of Shakespeare, I'm kinda surprised you didn't have a character called off. Dogberry. ;)
I helped develop Bonkers in my role as Director of Development at Walt Disney Television Animation. That is, I helped develop the original Bonkers/Miranda series, i.e. the episodes that wound up airing last, after the Bonkers/Piquel episodes. But I wasn't the producer or even a writer on the series, so I didn't name any characters.
Were the Raw Toonage "He's Bonkers" shorts outlined/written/storyboarded/voice recorded before the Miranda episodes were, or after?
Simultaneously, more or less. As I recall, that is. It's been a long time.
Shucks! Someone already pointed out the Gargoyles homage in Darkwing Duck. I'll just add that in a field of protest signs, someone was holding up one saying "Bring Back Bonkers"
You've always (wisely) refused name one series you've worked with a favorite over another. It'd be like choosing which child you love best. But is there any instance of one work being a favorite instance of X and another of Y?
Uh... I'm not too clear on what you're asking....? Is it a chromosome thing?
Greg, what films are you a fan of and how have they inspired and/or influenced your work on the creation of Gargoyles?
Uh, I'm not going to list all the films I like. That would take forever. There's no specific film that jumps out to me as a direct influence on Gargoyles, though as I've said before, television series including Gummi Bears, Bonkers and Hill Street Blues were major direct influences on Gargoyles. In any case, check the "Influences" archive here at ASK GREG for more info.
Who first originated the initial idea of Bonkers and (roughly)when?
Geez... it was my development team... as to the when, I don't remember off the top of my head. And I'm at my Sony Spider-Man office, not my own office where I have all my old files. So I can't check right now.
Is it true that Bonkers was originally conceived as a Roger Rabbit TV series, but the Roger Rabbit were replaced due to Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment company and Gary K. Wolf co-owning Roger Rabbit along with Disney?
No, that's not true. Certainly, Roger provided inspiration for Bonkers. And I suppose one could say that if some higher up had come to us and said, "Do you want to do the TV version of Roger Rabbit?" (which never happened) than we would have jumped at the chance and most likely Bonkers never would have happened.
But Bonkers was developed as its own entity, originally entitled "Toon Cop". Roger was never our Toon Cop.
Greg, could please tell me everything you know about the development (and perhaps production) of Raw Toonage and Bonkers. Please tell me everything you remember about the development of these shows. Look for any notes about these that you still have somewhere. It's fine if you tell the whole stroy in multiple parts rather than all at once . Is it true what the Wikipedia entry for Raw Toonage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_Toonage) says? :
"The idea for the show had an unusual genesis. Disney TV was developing a 65-half hour series for their Disney Afternoon block entitled He's Bonkers. The premise was similar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit in that the lead character, Bonkers, was a cartoon living in the real world. He had at one time been the star of his own show on Saturday morning, but after it was canceled he became a policeman. The series dealt with his adventures post-stardom. The actual production of this series was troubled, in large part because the so-called real characters in the series were also animated, only not as broadly as Bonkers and friends.
At the same time, Michael Eisner had purchased the rights to the popular Belgian comic strip Marsupilami. At some point, someone had the post-modern idea to actually make the cartoons that Bonkers had starred in before becoming a policeman, and the show that would become Raw Toonage was born. The additional segment, Totally Tasteless Video, was intended as a satire of popular culture, not a proving ground for new stars. The host was added to give the show the familiar feel of the World of Disney show.
Though it looked like the longer show was spun off from the shorts, the reverse is actually true. Due to the shorter production schedule, Raw Toonage, with its Bonkers shorts, was on the air before the 65-half hour show, thus adding some credibility to the back story."
Also, please tell everything you know about the development of Darkwing Duck.
The show was originally called "Toon Cop" not "He's Bonkers." Then the name was changed to "Bonkers" in part to avoid any conflict with Steven Spielberg over the word "Toon" and in part because somebody felt that naming the show after the lead character worked well with kids. The "He's Bonkers" name was only for the pre-Toon Cop Bonkers cartoons that appeared as part of Raw Toonage. Raw Toonage may have had a slightly shorter production schedule, but the main reason it wound up airing first was BECAUSE Bonkers was troubled and delayed. I don't think the host was added to Raw Toonage for a World of Disney feel. I think it was added for a Saturday Night Live feel, but that may just be my opinion. Otherwise the description above seems largely accurate. For more information you can check the Bonkers Archive here at ASK GREG.
But I'm afraid I don't have any current plans to try to reconstruct ALL that I remember about either Bonkers, Raw Toonage or Darkwing Duck. I don't think I still have access to my notes on any of those shows, and the act of reconstructing it all is a project that I just don't have time for. If you have any specific questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
I have on occasion gone to wikipedia and corrected misapprehensions about Bonkers and Raw Toonage. And yet despite the fact that I was there and in charge of the development of both shows, I constantly found my corrections "corrected". I finally gave up.
Dude, I'm amazed. I haven't read in a while, and you managed to mend the 3-year gash in the space-time continuum created by this site single handedly. Congrats. Next time I'm sent back to 1955 and my mom falls in love with me, I'll know exactly who I'll look to for help in getting back... to the future.
I'm actually working on a pretty much informal article on the story behind Bonkers, so my questions deal with that show. I really want to get to the truth behind all the vague things said about the development of the show, and you seem like one of the prime people to ask. I find what I've learned so far concerning the story behind the show's development fascinating, and I'd like to write something more informed on it... even if it just ends up on a blog somewhere or wikipedia. Anyway, my questions follow:
1.) How did the concept of Bonkers come about? How did you get involved, and what was your involvement in the show? Contributions, etc.?
2.) How did the change of creative teams come down? There were 19 Miranda Wright episodes that made it through: was it after 19 that they said no, this isn't working? Or did they see the first few, and the rest were so far along and already overseas they had to let them be animated?
3.) Back in the day, Disney would create a multi-part pilot to introduce their new shows. As it stands, the show was introduced with a two-part story introducing the Lucky Piquel character, and then they created a bridging two parter that followed Miranda. Do you know how the pilot would've went if the original team would've done the introductory episodes? This is actually something I'd love to see the outline of, even if just to know how Bonkers would've originally met Miranda.
4.) Some websites claim that any episodes created after those 19 episodes were "destroyed." What is the truth to this? Personally I find it highly suspect: It sounds implausible that they'd scrap something with completed animation (such as the 19 that did make it out, and then the 3 you guys finished of Team Atlantis). My only guess as to the farthest anything else could've went toward completion is recording voices (also like Team Atlantis.)
5.) The order of episodes ended up being 65, again, with 19 of them being Miranda episodes. How far had you guys planned out the series after that? What were your plans for the future? Were there any really cool story ideas for Bonkers that unfortunately got dropped that you wish you could've seen come to fruition?
6.) Where did the idea for the 'vintage' Bonkers cartoons that aired on Raw Toonage come about? Were those conceived before or after your tenure on the show ended?
Thank you very much for your time!
1. As with Gargoyles, my team and I basically created Bonkers. We were of course inspired by Roger Rabbit, but we knew our entire show was going to be animated, so we needed to emphasize contrasts both visual and otherwise. Our working title was Toon Cop. I developed the series with Bonkers, Jitters, Miranda, Sgt. Grating, etc. We LATER decided to prequel ourselves by putting He's Bonkers! shorts in another show I developed, called Raw Toonage. Meanwhile on Bonkers, I handed the series over to Duane Capizzi and Bob Hathcock, and they produced the first Bonkers episodes -- i.e the ones that ended up airing last, the Miranda episodes. I had little or no involvement in what was for me the painful Piquel episodes. Jeff Bennett's Jitters A. Dog is still one of my all-time favorite performances.
2. They saw the first few and -- PANICKED. I think the main problem was overseas animation, but there were some art direction issues, a couple of minor voice issues and some problematic scripts. But mostly there was an overreaction, allowing problems in animation to tar the entire production. There was a LONG attempt to work with the current producers, but they were slow to realize the magnitude of the PERCEIVED problem. Let me be clear on that. They very rationally reacted to the real problems, which were minor. But didn't get the extent of the panic. They under-reacted to that and continued to under-react, until it got to the point where even I was thinking that we'd need to make a change -- because we could not proceed at all the way things stood.
3. Honestly, I just don't remember.
4. No episodes were DESTROYED... but some that weren't very far along were probably left unfinished. I don't remember the specifics, but any episode that was near completion was completed -- though not by the original production team.
5. The order was always 65 in those days. As for plans... well, I had a few story notions. But this wasn't my show. Though I was involved in its creation as I was in Gargoyles, I then HANDED it off, which is exactly what I didn't do on Gargoyles. So I didn't have big plans. Just a notion here or there that I handed off to Duane.
6. See above.
Another thought about Bonkers...
At one point here, you said
By the way, the Miranda/ Bonkers relationship was a clear precedent for Elisa/Goliath. (Doesn't that seem strange?)
Yes, that seems extremely strange, given some of the more salient aspects of the Elisa/Goliath relationship. Could you elaborate on what you meant? Are you just talking about pairing up a human female lead with a non-human male lead in crime-fighting stories?
Perhaps one day I'll have a bona-fide Gargoyles question to ask here.
Until then, JJ signing off.
P.S. Here's hoping the Gargoyles comics are thriving by the time you read this.
I'm hoping they're thriving too. It's hard for me to tell.
Anyway, yes, that's all I meant. A human female cop fighting crime with an inhuman (but very human) male "partner".
Nothing romantic going on between Bonkers and Miranda. Bonkers only has eyes for Fawn.
When you rambled about "The Gathering, Part I", you mentioned a scene that reminded you of the famous "Tears" scene from Blade Runner.
This reminded me of Bonkers, of all things. In particular, I thought of an episode entitled "Do Toons Dream of Animated Sheep?" or something to that effect, obviously a play on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel Blade Runner was loosely based upon,
My question is: Was someone thinking of Blade Runner during the creation and/or production of Bonkers? I realize that any link between Bonkers and Blade Runner would be tenuous at best.
However, if I recall correctly, many humans in Bonkers felt uncomfortable actually being around 'toons. Maybe the tenuous link I mentioned is the notion that humans would be afraid of powerful non-humans; in Bonkers' case, toons that can survive terrible explosions and the like. Also, from some of the Piquel episodes, it seems that humans created toons (remembr Piquel's daughter and the magic pencil?). Then, could there also be a "Frankenstein" angle in here, which could add meat to the aforementioned tenuous link?
Still, no-one was "retiring" toons, unless you count Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as part of the Bonkers universe, and think about Judge Doom....
I'm quite sure that no one would have named a Bonker's episode "Do Toons Dream of Animated Sheep?" and NOT be aware of both the movie Blade Runner and the Dick story it was based on.
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