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TV FUNHOUSE!! LOONEY TUNES!! ROBOT CHICKEN STAR WARS!! SPACED!! SOUTH PARK!! BATMAN!! HercVault!!

Published at: July 23, 2008, 2:22 a.m. CST

I am – Hercules!!

The boundlessly wonderful “TV Funhouse” is rivaled only by “South Park” and “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” for the title of Funniest Thing Ever to Air on Comedy Central, so I was a little shocked to read on the back cover of the complete series set streeting today that the enterprise was originally cablecast in its entirety way back in December 2000 and January 2001. In the back of my mind I’ve been hoping that Comedy Central would at any moment come to its senses and greenlight a second season of this instead of more “Mind of Mencia” or “Drawn Together.” For those unfamiliar, “Funhouse” was the brainchild of Robert Smigel, the screenwriter (“The Wedding Singer,” “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan,” SNL's William Shatner “Get A Life” sketch) who voices Triumph The Insult-Comic Dog on "Conan" and creates the Saturday TV Funhouse segments for “Saturday Night Live.” The Comedy Central series combined Smigel’s penchants for animation and puppetry to forge an adult kiddie show whose lynchpin was the hilariously foul-mouthed puppets who would each week ditch the kiddie show and head off on their own very grown-up adventures. AUDIO COMMENTARIES Provided on all eight episodes by creators Robert Smigel, Dino Stamatopoulos and Andy Breckman and host Doug Dale. EPIDSODE ONE: WESTERN DAY. Learn that the original Fox pilot (sadly, not included) featured Dale as a clown. Learn that Dale and Smigel were roommates and did comedy in Chicago together. Learn that the toilet in Smigel’s real house was used to transport the turtle puppet every time the reptile elected to get somewhere by “taking the pipes.” Learn that Smigel was excited to do the cartoon “Wonderman” in the style of the Fleisher Bros.’ “Superman” short of the ‘40s because his SNL cartoons were typically based on shitty ‘60s cartoons. Learn that “Late Night” writers Smigel, Stamatopoulos, Brian Stack and Jonathan Groff provided Anipal voices. Learn that the Anipals were inspired by both Triumph and the “Conan” turkey puppet, which would interact with real turkeys. Learn that Smigel’s wife found the original Triumph puppet at a furniture store. Learn that Smigel began giving Russian voices to dogs when he was eight because his mother’s side of the family was comprised of Russian immigrants. Learn that the hippy-ish “real” puppeteers were fired because they were making the Anipals behave too much like real animals. Learn that the Anipal snake’s voice was based on Adam Sandler’s Judd Apatow impression! Lean that Comedy Central suggested replacing Dale for the (never produced) second season. Learn that Andy Richter’s wife, Sarah Thyre, played the lady in “The Baby, The Immigrant and the Guy on Mushrooms.” Learn that the main Funhouse set was built three feet above the stage floor with a puzzle-like floor to accommodate the copious puppetry. Learn that while Smigel loved the tail-obsessed dog Xabu, he considers the operation of Xabu his most miserable puppetry experience. Learn that “Policeman” was co-written by Louis CK and used the same music used on “Sesame Street.” EPISODE TWO: HAWAIIAN DAY. Learn that the duck’s voice was based on Smigel’s father and that the lobster’s was based on Ann Landers. Learn that “Kidder, Downey & Heche: Private Trespassing Investigators” was co-written by “Monk” creator Andy Breckman. Learn that Ana Gasteyer did Anne Heche’s voice. Learn that the show wasn’t renewed because it went “insanely overbudget.” Learn that the bugspray commercial was originally written years before for SNL. (There’s also talk on the commentary track of rerecording the Anipal cussing for the DVD set because the uncensored voice tracks were lost -- but the there’s still plenty of bleeping, so they may not have gotten around to it. EPISODE THREE: CHRISTMAS DAY. Learn that the lobster’s singing voice was inspired by Jim Nabors’. Learn that during the production of this episode, a duck defecated in Stamatopoulos’ mouth as he was puppeteering. EPISODE FOUR: MEXICANS DAY. Learn that the “living-slides” faux stills with Doug that open every episode were pioneered on “Conan.” Learn that the endangered lizard was based on “Conan” producer Frank Smiley. Learn that Smigel hid from “Mexicans Day” guest star Sally Jesse Raphael because he had just done an SNL cartoon that featured horseshit morphing into the talk-show host. Learn that members of Raphael’s staff would phone Smigel at SNL with ideas for Raphael parodies. Learn that Louis CK joined the show’s second-season writing staff and that the writers worked a month to create eight treatments for the show’s second season. Learn that a plan was hatched to move the show from New York to Toronto for the second season to save money, and that Stamatopoulos was going to move to Canada to supervise production. Learn that Smigel’s realization that he “can’t afford to work this hard again for such little money” was probably what killed the show’s second season. Learn that the Fox pilot contained primate mobsters. Learn that “30 Rock” star Scott Adsit unwittingly helped create the bit with Dale and the tequila worm. EPIDSODE FIVE: CAVEMAN DAY. Learn that this episode was conceived to save money. Learn that the sauna set was actually an oversized stadium set built for the baby chicks in episode two. Learn that Dale was almost hired for the cast of SNL in 1985, but was beat out by Jon Lovitz. Learn that Chris Elliott auditioned the same year, long before he was actually cast on the show. Learn that “Mischievous Mitchell” was originally pitched as “Dennis The Supremist.” Learn that “Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Outer Space” was originally conceived for the Comedy Central series. Be reminded that the Black Sabbath cartoon was created before Ozzy Osbourne’s MTV reality show. EPISODE SIX: SAFARI DAY. Learn that Smigel can distinguish between Fogey and Triumph’s voices. Learn that it took Smigel a month to greenlight the “Stedman” cartoon because he thought it was too mean. Learn that Tim Meadows played Stedman and Maya Rudolph played Oprah. Learn that James Brolin, whose cartoon image appears unflatteringly in “Stedman,” would go on to guest star on a nervous Breckman’s “Monk.” Be reminded that “Funhouse” did copious puppet vomit years before the release of “Team America.” Learn that Comedy Central’s president insisted “Porn For Kids” never be aired again. (It did, however, run again as “Porn For Everyone”). Learn that guest star Robert Goulet wasn’t contacted until three days before this episode started shooting. Learn that this episode’s ending was written by a chimp. EPISODE SEVEN: ASTRONAUT DAY. Learn that Robert Goulet wrote the joke mocking Wayne Newton. Learn that producers fretted over whether the “Behind the Music” parody on George Washington fit the kiddie-show format. Learn that Stamatopoulos came up with “Safety Gang” while writing for “Mr. Show,” but abandoned it because there was not really a Bob Odenkirk or David Cross role in it. EPISODE EIGHT: CHINESE NEW YEAR’S DAY. Learn that Tammy Faye Bakker was considered to replace Doug for season two. Learn that Xabu was named for Smigel’s wife’s dog, who also enjoyed chasing his tail. Learn that season-two plans called for the Anipals to sneak into the Playboy mansion disguised as a hot girl, stacked on top of each other in a skimpy dress (with Hojo the turtle as the head), only to have Hugh Hefner fall in love with “her” and take “her” to bed. Another episode would have put the rooster Chickie to work handing out flyers in front of a bitter Adam West’s restaurant, Sergeant Baatt’s Chicken. Yet another episode would have seen Chickie managing his sons in a boy band. Another episode would have parodied “The Last Detail” as the Anipals befriended a mayfly with 24 hours to live – the resolved to show the insect a good time before he expired. Yet another episode would have dealt with Chickie hiring a wolf nanny, then using a nannycam to make sure the nanny wasn’t eating the kids. One unrealized cartoon might have dealt with the further deterioration of Mr. Magoo as he lost his sense of smell. Learn that because the final episode depicted terrorists, Comedy Central wouldn’t repeat it after 9/11. Learn that when Conan O’Brien took over David Letterman’s “Late Night,” Smigel and O’Brien wanted to retitle the show “Night Night.” OTHER EXTRAS * Video commentary with Chickie, Jason, Xabu and Dave (6:46). This deceptively titled feature is actually comprised of footage of an exhausted Smigel and Stamatopoulos supervising an editing session while in character as their rooster, chick, dog and lizard characters. * Outtakes from the Anipals and Doug (7:45). More than half of this reel deals with the puppeteers’ efforts to unveil the Hojo the turle’s penis. Also included is the mosquito-centric deleted ending of episode six. * Behind The Scenes: Killing Bob Hope and Horse Cock (4:43). The former scene gives us a better look at the old guy who played Hope. The latter demonstrates how producers integrated a stallion into the penis-unveiling steamroom scene. * Extra Triumph Appearance: On The Rob Reiner Roast (8:15). The insult-comic dog makes sport of Vanilla Ice, Brett Butler, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Kevin Pollak’s hairline, Alan King’s privates and Reiner’s girth. “David Crosby thinks you’ve let yourself go!!” * Extra Triumph Appearance: On The Daily Show (5:16). Interviewed from his dressing room off the “Conan” stage, the acerbic canine informs Jon Stewart that Kermit is “queer” and that Triumph has worms in his stool that have shows on Comedy Central. * Lost Sketch: “What Do We Know, Part 2” with Bob Odenkirk (2:40). A traveling documentarian appears to finance his work by working as a drug mule. * Comedy Central Quickies. Scenes from episodes of “The Colbert Report” (1:27), “The Sarah Silverman Program” (2:39) and “South Park” (2:34).

Actor-writer-director Seth Green concocted “Robot Chicken: Star Wars,” a 30-minute stop-motion animated Cartoon Network special which mocks scenes from the movie franchise. Green made it in collaboration with LucasFilm. He got George Lucas to play himself and Mark Hamill to play Luke Skywalker. Others lending their voices to the project include Conan O'Brien, Robert Smigel, Malcolm McDowell, Hulk Hogan, James Van Der Beek, Donald Faison, Abraham Benrubi and Joey Fatone. Variety said:
... in many respects … more satisfying than the source material's recent chapters. … even in this lightweight diversion resides a lesson highlighted by Cartoon Network's animated "Clone Wars" shorts -- namely, that Lucas' fantasy has frequently sailed the smoothest when he takes a back seat and leaves the starship piloting to someone else. …
The Chicago Tribune said:
Anyone with a deep fondness for George Lucas’ “Star Wars” films should not miss Sunday’s episode of “Robot Chicken”…
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said:
… Even if you are not a total "Star Wars" fanatic, you will laugh hard at this special. I mean, milk- spraying-out-of-your-nostrils hard. …

I am not familiar with “Spaced” beyond the fact that it was made by the same Britons who went on to make the big-screen comedies “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” The new set contains audio commentary by the show’s creators as well as famous American fans of the show, among them Quentin Tarantino, Matt Stone, Bill Hader, Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt and Diablo Cody.

My great pals, the super-talented Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan, wrote an episode of the second season of "Masters of Horror.". The whole season is housed in a human skull!!
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TV-on-DVD Calendar
Last Week Birds of Prey: The Complete Series Dallas 9.x Eureka 2.x Evening Shade 1.x Jupiter Moon Vol. 4 Manswers: Best of 1.x The New Adventures Of The Lone Ranger/Zorro Vol. 2 Reno 911! 5.x Saving Grace 1.x Swamp Thing: The Series Vol. 2
This Week

The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin Vol. 3

Earth: The Biography Earth: The Biography (Blu-ray)

L.A. Ink 1.x

Las Vegas 5.x

Masters of Horror 2.x

Robot Chicken: Star Wars

Spaced: The Complete Series

Strange But True

Transformers Cybertron: Ultimate Collection

TV Funhouse: The Complete Series
Next Week Avatar: The Last Airbender 3.x Vol. 4 Baldwin Hills 1.x Beverly Hills 90210 5.x Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist Centennial: The Complete Miniseries Dark Shadows: The Beginning Vol. 5 Eli Stone 1.x Freakazoid 1.x Girlfriends 4.x The Hills 3.x The Human Body: Pushing the Limits Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 7.x Parking Wars: Best Of 1.x Phineas & Ferb: The Fast and the Phineas The Princes of Malibu: The Complete Series Robin of Sherwood: The Complete Series Space Angel Vol. 1 Stargate SG1: Continuum Stargate SG1: Continuum (Blu-ray) Tiny Toon Adventures 1.x Vol. 1 Two Fat Ladies: The Complete Series Witchblade: The Complete Series The Wizards of Waverly Place: Wizard School
August 5 Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Vol. 3 Back at the Barnyard BBC Hi-Def Natural History Collection (Blu-ray) Beastmaster: The Complete Series Ben 10 4.x Charlie & Lola Vol. 8 Code Monkeys 1.x Days That Shook The World 1.x Doctor Who: Black Orchid Doctor Who: The Five Doctors Doctor Who: Time Meddler Epic Conditions: The Weather Channel Epic Conditions: The Weather Channel (Blu-ray) Family Ties 4.x Family Ties: The First Four Seasons The First Olympics: Athens 1896 Foyle's War Vol. 5 Get Smart 1.x He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Vol. 3 Heroes & Heroines Hotel Babylon 2.x Laredo 2.x Vol. 1 Life In Cold Blood: The Complete Miniseries Lonesome Dove: Collector's Edition Lonesome Dove: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray) Masters of Science Fiction: The Complete Series Robin Hood 2.x Robin Hood 1.x (Blu-ray) Route 66: The Complete Series The Saddle Club Vol. 1 Sensitive Skin 1.x/2.x Star Trek 2.x Remastered Sunset Tan 1.x Terminal City: The Complete Series Wild China: The Complete Miniseries Wild China: The Complete Miniseries (Blu-ray) Wire in the Blood: Prayer of the Bone
August 12 Blue Murder Vol. 3 Caroline in the City 1.x Comedy Central's Kenny Vs. Spenny 1.x Dave's World 1.x DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures The Eon Kid 1.x Vol. 1 First Amendment Stand-Up 2.x Frightfully Funny Collection Vol. 1 Love Boat 1.x Vol. 2 Prison Break 3.x Prison Break 3.x (Blu-ray) The Racing Game: The Complete Miniseries South Park 11.x That Girl 4.x Tom & Jerry Tales Vol. 5 Tru Calling: The Complete Series

Readers Talkback

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  • July 22, 2008, 2:17 a.m. CST

    First!

    by Amadeo Zeller

    Parker Lewis Can't Lose. When!?!

  • July 22, 2008, 2:24 a.m. CST

    What? Where's ACCORDING TO JIM???

    by Uncle Stan

  • July 22, 2008, 2:37 a.m. CST

    I'm still waiting for

    by DasMagnus

    Rocko's Modern Life

  • July 22, 2008, 2:52 a.m. CST

    According To Jim 1.x

    by Hercules

    is due Oct. 21, but it's not quite yet available for pre-order

  • July 22, 2008, 3:37 a.m. CST

    a TV Critic unfamiliar with Spaced?

    by RealDoubleJ

    Isn't that like a Catholic unfamiliar with the Bible??

  • July 22, 2008, 4:05 a.m. CST

    I would love to know

    by SUPERJIM

    How much cash AICN gets from linking to Amazon.

  • July 22, 2008, 5:33 a.m. CST

    Saw the Spaced mini-marathon on BBCA Sunday...

    by tonagan

    It reminded me of Scrubs, for better or worse. Does it get funnier?

  • July 22, 2008, 6:31 a.m. CST

    What a rip-off, Robot Chcken is 23 minutes long

    by Trazadone

    I think I'll save my $.

  • July 22, 2008, 7:32 a.m. CST

    Drawn Together and Robot Chicken

    by chrth

    Uh, Herc, Comedy Central has cancelled Drawn Together.<p> My problem with Robot Chicken is that too many of the segments were reruns. Granted, they were funny reruns, but still, it was only like 15 minutes of new material, and 4 or 5 of that was the lame Lucas sketch.

  • July 22, 2008, 7:47 a.m. CST

    "Stedman" is one of the funniest cartoons ever

    by Drunken Rage

    "What? Invisible robots?"

  • July 22, 2008, 7:48 a.m. CST

    I said it already in Harry's Talkback, but...

    by DerLanghaarige

    ...the Star Wars Special is the best thing that Robot Chicken ever made. Not because it's about Star Wars, but because it'S the only RC episode that made me not just laugh loud, but also laugh from the beginning to the end! (Unlike the other episodes, that make me laugh one or two times and that'S it.)

  • July 22, 2008, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Robot Chicken

    by Geekgasm

    is about as mean-spirited and misanthropic as anything that's currently on television. I feel dirty after watching it, so usually I don't.

  • July 22, 2008, 10:23 a.m. CST

    How do you keep the Buccaneers warm?

    by EriamJH

    By putting on a Bucking Hat!

  • July 22, 2008, 10:39 a.m. CST

    the best bunch of DVDs gathered in one topic/section

    by future help

    of AICNs history. period.

  • July 22, 2008, 10:50 a.m. CST

    What's the latest on the R1 music for SPACED?

    by SpyGuy

    "Battle of the Planets" by Fader Gladiator better be on there or there'll be hell to pay.

  • July 22, 2008, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Damn, Estelle Getty is dead!

    by DerLanghaarige

    The funniest old lady that TV has ever seen. And I'm serious when I say that I hope to read some words about her from Sly Stallone.

  • July 22, 2008, 3:18 p.m. CST

    Simpsons Season 11

    by conniebrean1

    When? For the love of all that is good and holy, when?

  • July 22, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST

    I 2nd Parker Lewis to DVD

    by Baron Karza

    I would like to view the early days of FOX again.

  • July 22, 2008, 3:24 p.m. CST

    The Globetrotters Save Christmas had better be intact...

    by MCVamp

    Or I will stab Herc in the eye with a toothbrush shiv. I keed, I keed.

  • July 22, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST

    DON'T TOUCH GOULET!!!

    by MCVamp

  • July 22, 2008, 4:20 p.m. CST

    Dammit, where's Herman's Head; The Complete Series?

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    And Amazing Stories season two? The show only RAN for two seasons, and it's been TWO YEARS since the first hit DVD. Christ...

  • July 22, 2008, 4:27 p.m. CST

    I'm sorry, but Robert Smigel can't be forgiven for Zohan

    by Cotton McKnight

    Zohan. That movie was so terrible, it negated anything good he ever did. I really wish I could get him on trial for crimes against humanity for the minutes of my life wasted watching that. It was stupid, vulgar for all the wrong reasons, and I can honestly say that I am worse for having seen it. It didn't inspire, it didn't entertain, it didn't make you think. It didn't make you laugh, either. It was just garbage. Pure, unfiltered trash.

  • July 22, 2008, 5:38 p.m. CST

    alien and simpsons

    by Bouncy X

    29.99$ for the quadrilogy? jesus....and here i thought the 50 or 60$ i spent when it was released was a good deal. as for the simpsons, its been announced recently that season 11 comes this fall, i think it was october.

  • July 22, 2008, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Simpsons 11.x

    by Hercules

    due Oct. 7. should be available for pre-order any day now

  • July 22, 2008, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Annnd...NO GLOBETROTTERS XMAS.

    by MCVamp

    Fucking bullshit. I wonder if it was the song rights or the Globetrotters copyright? Either way, a stain on an otherwise awesome DVD. Anipals in Vegas makes up for it. Herc, your shiv's a-comin'...

  • July 22, 2008, 8:29 p.m. CST

    love or hate according to jim

    by JackieGleasonUFO

    but he was great in REAL MEN, I've been watching that movie over and over again recently. rip john ritter.

  • July 22, 2008, 8:35 p.m. CST

    Supernatural Season 3

    by My Pretty Pony

    Why isn't it in bold like season 7 of "Smallville"? Everyone knows "Supernatural" is far superior.

  • July 22, 2008, 8:55 p.m. CST

    pingsy and wonderman...

    by jarjarsjockstrap

    i never thought i'd see the day where they were in my life in beautiful dvd format.....and stedman, oh stedman.

  • July 22, 2008, 9:11 p.m. CST

    TV FUNHOUSE

    by Mace Tofu

    is now in my hands! Bye...

  • July 23, 2008, 2:53 a.m. CST

    MCVamp

    by mrbeaks

    Smigel mentions on the commentary that "Globetrotters Christmas" belongs to SNL. It's available on the "Best of Saturday TV Funhouse" DVD.

  • July 23, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Thanks beaks...

    by MCVamp

    I actually heard that while watching the commentary in the wee hours last night and heaved a sigh of relief. Man, what a weird and wonderful show. I totally flashed back to watching it in bed on Comedy Central when I should have been sleeping.

  • July 23, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Which means Herc won't get shanked...

    by MCVamp

  • July 23, 2008, 8:32 p.m. CST

    The "TV Funhouse" set sounds cool ...

    by JohnnyFriendly

    ... but you told us way too much about the commentaries. Next time put up a freakin' "SPOILER" alert !

  • July 24, 2008, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Picked up season 2 of Venture Bros

    by skimn

    this week at Best Buy for less than 15 bucks. I hate to whore for an electronics retailer, but they had a wide selection of Adult Swim titles at ten dollars off.

  • July 24, 2008, 9:09 a.m. CST

    Saw that too skimn...except for...

    by MCVamp

    AQUA TEEN v5 was regular price! Figures. The one Adult Swim DVD I don't have that I still want.