Case Study 35: The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show, Episode 7–“Step-Ladder To Heaven”

Original Airdate: February 13th, 1995 on first-run syndication

At the end of my last review, I promised to explain what foul truffle I’ve exhumed from the deep roots of television to present to you today: The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show. Yeah, you’ve never heard of it. It ran for 13 episodes. It was a spinoff of Marsupilami. Yeah, I know–you haven’t heard of that one either. Marsupilami was a spinoff of Raw Toonage. I swear I’m not making these up. Toonage’s tenuous hold on a cartoon you might actually remember is another one of its spinoffs, Bonkers. Remember Bonkers? Some kind of predatory cat that was also a cop and had trouble with the ladies for some reason? Yeah, you can go back to forgetting Bonkers. Shnookums was the decidedly less notable creation of Bill Kopp, responsible for Eek! The Cat and the Whammies from Press Your Luck. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Anyway, it’s divided into three segments focusing on different characters and it’s annoying garbage from wall to wall. Will I explain how and why in a profound level of unnecessary detail? You know I will.

Strengths

  • A unique setting for the Pith Possum segment. That’s right, Shnookums narrowly avoided the ol’ goose egg with one slightly interesting idea. It’s a tired-as-hell Batman parody, but the Batman character is a possum (Jeff Bennett, Johnny Bravo) and instead of Gotham City, he patrols a city of woodland creatures deep in a forest. This makes for some interesting visuals. The plot deals with rampaging termites, and they eat the police station, so the commissioner or whatever (Brad Garrett, Everybody Loves Raymond) summons Pith Possum “down to the police pile of sawdust right away.” I chuckled. The end.

Weaknesses

  • Misogyny. Jesus, my kingdom for a TV show where I don’t have to put up with this. I guess we’ve got to get the kids hating women early! Shnookums (Jason Marsden, A Goofy Movie) and Meat (Frank Welker, Scooby Doo) are a chaotic dog and cat duo that is legally distinct from a much more famous chaotic cartoon dog and cat duo from 90s kids cartoons. In their segment, they die and go to heaven, where the housepet version of St. Peter (uncredited) calls them to the carpet for their many sins. One of these involves our heroes going on a blind date, but their dates turn out to be ugly, so they ditch them. Because the only value women have is contingent on their fuckability! Taking notes from Henry the VIII, I see. Later, S&M learn that there are sexy succubi in hell, so they clamor to be sent there. Yep, all the best kids’ cartoons are about housepets wanting to fuck busty demons in hell. Where were the Parents’ Music Resource Center people for this shit? Let’s leave the worst parts of Looney Tunes in the past, shall we? The joke’s on S&M, though–the succubi are actually the ugly dates in disguise. Haha! There is no punishment worse than sex with an ugly woman!
  • Incoherence. Sometimes S&M are house pets. For the blind date interlude, they’re inexplicably dressed as 50s greasers, because I guess that goes along with the fact that they take their dates to the drive-in-movie, or perhaps this is meant to be a scene from their callow youth, or who the fuck even knows. The worst offender on this score is the third segment, which is about cowboy Tex Tinstar (Bennett.) For some reason, unlike the other two segments, the third segment is serialized, which is a bizarre choice in the first place. The entirety of the segment here is a dramatic fight between Tinstar and his foes. It starts in a saloon. It continues to a carnival. Then the characters dive into some dude’s bathtub and all of a sudden they’re under the sea, with sharks and so forth. There’s no resolution. The set up is minimal. It’s cacophonous and disorienting. I get that cartoons are supposed to be wacky, but usually there’s a narrative through-line and a vague gesture at adherence to a setting. Why have a cartoon about a cowboy if you’re not going to use the Old West setting? There’s also five more characters than there need to be. It’s just a hot mess.
  • Shitty voice acting. You’d think that industry pros like Welker, Bennett and Garrett would be able to acquit themselves more nicely here, but it might be a man behind the curtain situation. Welker and Bennett just use the Scooby and Bravo voices respectively. It turns out there’s a reason Scooby-Doo doesn’t get much dialogue. The Bravo voice makes sense on Johnny Bravo, but on an old west cowboy it’s simply confusing, and Bennett hadn’t refined the voice, so much of what Tinstar says is nigh incomprehensible, adding to the general feel of incomprehension plaguing that segment. Garrett voices the antagonist of the Possum segment, one Shirley Pimple, and as you may have realized he has no range whatsoever.
  • Not funny. Look, “funny” is in the name of the goddamned show. It should at least deliver on that. No? Okay then. I mean, if “Shirley Pimple” doesn’t tell you all you need to know about the humor on display here, what will?
  • Derivative. Yeah, you guessed it. Take one part Ren & Stimpy, one part Animaniacs and one part Tiny Toons and you get fetid, grey mush. I understand the rationale the Disney execs used–these other things are popular! Let’s just copy off their work! Surely then we will be successful! Of course, the reason people liked the latter cartoons is because they were original and funny and charming. But it’s a lot easier just to churn something out of a Play-Doh Children’s Cartoon Fun Factory, isn’t it?
  • Clip show. Ugh, this is like a compendium of what not to do. Mercifully we’re only treated to a single recycled montage of S&M misbehavior from this show and Marsupilami, but that’s one too many. This is episode seven of your show and you’ve already run out of fresh material? BOO MINUS.

Motivation: Too incoherent to tell. I guess S&M want to get their dicks wet on that sweet succubi gash, so that’s love/sex for you. And Possum is trying to save Possum City from destruction, so we’ll chalk that up to survival. Couldn’t tell you about Tex Tinstar.

Final Episode Judgment: 1/10. The only reason this didn’t join Mary-Kate & Ashley in the annals of ignominy is because I was feeling charitable. Yeah, that up there? That’s what charitable looks like.

NEXT TIME: Did you know that Nick-at-Nite makes original scripted programming? Read my review of See Dad Run to learn more!

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Case Study 35: The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show, Episode 7–“Step-Ladder To Heaven”