Thursday, January 6, 2011
Disney's Bonkers Kellogg's Corn Pops Crime Wave
Bonkers D. Bobcat has one of the most unusual histories of any of the characters from The Disney Afternoon syndicated block of TV cartoons.
"Bonkers" was a show about a cartoon star-turned police officer. The series debuted on The Disney Channel in February of 1993 and was launched on The Disney Afternoon later in the Fall.
But let's back things up a bit. Disney Afternoon shows like "Bonkers" required 65 episodes for syndication. During this production, it was decided to introduce the Bonkers character in short cartoons on a 1992 CBS Saturday Morning series called "Disney's Raw Toonage," truly giving Bonkers a past as a cartoon star. This series also featured Disney's version of a European cartoon character, Marsupilami, and usually had a different Disney character (like Sebastian the Crab) acting as a host for the show.
When the "Bonkers" series first debuted on the Disney Channel in February of 1993, the show's title character was a cop partnered with a human female named Miranda Wright (clever name!). Bonkers had left Toontown to work in the real world. Though in this show, the "real world" characters were hand drawn, too.
The February/March 1993 Disney Channel Magazine featured this little article:
Up until the series finally debuted on The Disney Channel on February 28th, I had thought the name of Bonkers' partner shown here was Lucky Piquel (per this article), but it was Miranda! Confusing! Bonkers is called "Bonkers T. Bobcat" here---I'm pretty sure it's "Bonkers D. Bobcat."
When "Bonkers" debuted on the Disney Afternoon in the Fall of 1993, it was a vastly different show from what Disney Channel viewers had seen. Bonkers himself had been redesigned. He was now partnered with a fat male detective named Lucky Piquel. Bonkers had new toon friends, like Fall-Apart Rabbit and Toots.
Apparently, some folks at Disney had not been pleased with the original "Bonkers as a cop" show, and changes were ordered. The changes must have been baffling to many viewers. To make things even more confusing, the "new" version of Bonkers was considered to be a prequel to the Miranda Wright episodes. Lucky and Bonkers say goodbye to each other in one episode, and Bonkers is partnered with Miranda.
Just writing this makes my head hurt.
Bonkers and Lucky Piquel were both voiced by the versatile Jim Cummings (also the voice of Darkwing Duck, the Tasmanian Devil, Bad Pete, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger).
The police lineup from the Kellogg's Corn Pops Bonkers Fingerprint Game features some minor characters from the show.
Julio Calamari (voiced by Michael Bell, who was Quackerjack on "Darkwing Duck") was a singer that used the voice of an imprisoned toon pig named Charlie (voiced by Jess Harnell, Wakko Warner from "Animaniacs") in an episode called "Tune Pig." Bonkers also had to rescue Charlie's Mom (April Winchell, the voice of Clarabelle Cow) from farmer Old Macdonald (Michael Bell).
Wooly the sheep (Pat Fraley, who was Wildcat the mechanic on "TaleSpin") and Bully the duck (Rob Paulsen, who was P.J. in "Goof Troop" and "A Goofy Movie") were featured in "Calling All Cars." Wooly and Bully were henchmen to a shifty tow truck named Ma Parker (voiced by June Foray). Ma Parker looked very much like a cross between a tow truck (years before Tow Mater in Disney Pixar's "Cars!") and Ma Beagle from Disney's "Ducktales" (a character also voiced by June Foray). Bully the duck bears a striking resemblance to Darkwing Duck.
The main character and the premise of "Bonkers" was very similar to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." A few well-known Disney characters made appearances on "Bonkers." The Mad Hatter and the March Hare from "Alice in Wonderland" were semi-regulars on the show, as was Dr. Ludwig Von Drake. I can remember seeing Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, Darkwing Duck, Goofy, and Brer Bear, too. There was even an entire episode featuring Mickey Mouse, but he was never shown---only his voice was heard!