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THE TELEPHEMERA YEARS: 2007, part 4

Written By:

Alan Boon
Spectacular Spider-Man, 2007-08

Ah, telephemera… those shows whose stay with us was tantalisingly brief, snatched away before their time, and sometimes with good cause. They hit the schedules alongside established shows, hoping for a long run, but it’s not always to be, and for every Street Hawk there’s two Manimals. But here at STARBURST we celebrate their existence and mourn their departure, drilling down into the new season’s entertainment with equal opportunities square eyes… these are The Telephemera Years!

2007-08

Reality TV was king of the small screen in 2007, with the top five slots in the ratings filled by American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, but drama of the scripted kind was still making an impact as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, House, and Lost were all still pulling in big viewing figures across the four main networks. Both Jericho and The Wire were entering their final seasons, after which one of them at least would enter the annals of TV classics, but it was a bad time for fans of animated genre fare, with The Batman, Ben 10, and Space Ghost Coast to Coast all beginning their final runs.

There were tons of new arrivals, of course, with Breaking Bad making drug dealing fun again, while Chuck, Gossip Girl, Pushing Daisies, and Reaper all debuted. The geeks of The Big Bang Theory made their bow, and it became cool to laugh at people getting hurt again when Wipeout hit our screens, but those were the shows made for grown-ups – what about the ones for the young (and young at brain)? This is the story of some of 2007’s new kids shows…

World of Quest (Kids WB): Originally a webcomic by Jason T Kruse, World of Quest was later compiled into a 120-page graphic novel, catching the attention of Cookie Jar Entertainment, a subsidiary of Canadian animation giant Nelvana, who thought it’s mixed of science-fiction and sword and sorcery perfect for a kid’s cartoon that might also attract an older audience. World of Quest is essentially a loving parody of all the things Kruse – a graduate of CalArts – enjoyed as a child himself, with Masters of the Universe firmly to the fore.

Quest – played by veteran Canadian voice actor Ron Pardo – is a musclebound warrior who was formerly assigned to look after Nestor, the baby Prince of Odyssia. Years later, Nestor arrives on his doorstep after the King and Queen have been captured, seeking his help in finding the Shatter Soul Sword and rescue them. Quest isn’t interested, but Nestor casts a spell of allegiance on him and the adventure begins, their party joined by sorceress Anna Maht, shapeshifter Way, cyborg Gatling, and thieving griffin Graer.

World of Quest, 2007-08 2

The main villain of the show is Lord Spite, a vaguely reptilian overlord who uses (mostly incompetent) underlings to prevent Quest and company from collecting the five swords of power needed to activate the Shatter Soul Sword. As the story progresses, we begin to learn more about the world of Odyssia and Quest’s past life, and by the end of season one they have both gained and lost the swords.

Debuting on March 15th 2008, World of Quest was the final show to begin a run on the Kids WB block, something the producers were aware of going in. Kids WB would therefore only commit to a first season of thirteen episodes, but Teletoon in Canada ordered double that, taking the story beyond where Kruse left it at the end of the webcomic. Teletoon ran the first thirteen from September to December 2008, and the back half from March 2009, and in the US, The CW picked up “season two” for a June 2009 debut. The newer stories continued the journey, but that was as far as things got, with episode twenty-six not bringing the story to a close. As the title character says at the end of the season, “This quest will never end!”

Skunk Fu! (Kids WB): Established in 1999, Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon almost immediately announced their debut feature – The Secret of Kells – but didn’t begin work on the film until 2005, the intervening period spent taking commercial animation work to raise funds for their endeavour. The Secret of Kells would eventually premiere in February 2009 and earn numerous accolades, including an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, losing out to Up.

While work was beginning on The Secret of Kells, the studio also started developing Skunk Fu!, a flash-animated TV series conceived by animator Aidan Harte and sales rep Hyun Ho Khang. Harte designed the characters and produced a showreel for exhibition at the 2003 European Cartoon Forum, an industry showcase held annually since 1990, where it was picked up by the BBC, Irish channel TG4, and Kids WB in the US.

Skunk-Fu, 2007-08

The show’s main character is Skunk, a ten-year-old skunk training to become a kung-fu master under Master Panda, and I’m sure you can guess what he is. Skunk is lazy and always looks for the easy way out, only to find the right way of doing things in the end. He was given to Panda by Heaven when Panda asked for help in defeating Dragon, formerly the guardian of the animals of the Valley but who turned against Heaven for not unreasonable reasons. Thus, Panda knows Skunk will be important but finds his patience tested along the way…

Debuting in September 2007, a full fifty-two-episode season was produced, each episode named “The Art of something,” with the somethings including Stickiness, Monkey Launching, Turtle Watching, the Nose Blow, and Art. There is no overarching story and the series ends in the same place it started, although a feature film was planned that would have told the whole story arc, later quietly dropped when Cartoon Saloon’s other features – they went on to create Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner, and Wolfwalkers, all of which were nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars – took precedence and Harte left the studio to study classic sculpture in Italy.

Dino Squad (CBS): It’s every kid’s dream to be able to turn into a dinosaur and, for thirty minutes on Saturday mornings in 2007, DIC Entertainment made it come true. Originally floated as I Was a High School Dinosaur, Dino Squad was developed by Jeffrey Scott, the man responsible for Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling and Muppet Babies, aimed at delivering an environmental message along with the trademark DIC action.

Evil scientist Victor Veloci is one of two surviving dinosaurs, evolved into passing for human after surviving the asteroid that wiped out the rest of their kind. Through his Raptor Dyne company, he has made it his mission ever since to pollute the Earth to the point that it returns to how it was millions of years ago, allowing him to return dinosaurs as the dominant species, performing experiments on wildlife to devolve them back to their ancestral states.

Dino Squad, 2007-08

When five teenagers – Buzz, Caruso, Fiona, Max, and Roger – jump into a river to rescue stray dog Rump, they are bathed in chemicals that enable them to turn into dinosaurs and back. What’s more, their high school teacher Ms Moynihan is the other surviving evolved velociraptor and can communicate with them telepathically to aid them in their mission to stop Veloci!

Scott himself wrote five of the thirteen-episode first season, which began airing as part of CBS’s KEWLopolis block in November 2007, and ratings were good enough that the network ordered another thirteen episodes. They began airing online in August 2008, transferring to CBS a month later. It might have even come back for a third season but for DIC’s merger with Cookie Jar Entertainment in June 2008 and a subsequent decision to de-emphasise DIC programming in favour of Cookie Jar productions thereafter.

The Spectacular Spider-Man (Kids WB): The Spectacular Spider-Man was the seventh attempt to do an animated series based on Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s famous wallcrawler, dating back to Ralph Bakshi’s 1967 show and taking in all manner of amazing friends along the way. Although it primarily drew from the original comics by Ditko, Lee, John Romita, and others, The Spectacular Spider-Man also took inspiration from the mammoth Ultimate Spider-Man run by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, and from the three Sam Raimi movies starring Tobey Maguire.

The basic story set-up should be familiar by now, with high-schooler Peter Parker struggling to balance his ordinary life with that of a superhero. This involves caring for his Aunt May, negotiating the affections of Gwen Stacey and Mary Jane Watson, being best friends with Harry Osborn and Eddie Brock, avoiding the bullying of Flash Thompson, and earning side money by working as a photographer for J Jonah Jameson at The Daily Bugle!

Spectacular Spider-Man, 2007-08

Season one brought such supervillains as the Vulture, Electro, the Lizard, Shocker, the Sandman, the Rhino, Doctor Octopus, the Chameleon, and Black Cat, all working for sinister gangster Tombstone, with the arrival of the Green Goblin and an alien symbiote further complicating matters. In short, this was Spider-Man as a greatest hits package and was originally planned as a straight-to-DVD release by Sony Entertainment before it was also sold for TV broadcast as part of the Kids WB block on The CW.

Renewed for a second season, which transferred to Disney XD when Kids WB was wound down, producers Greg Weisman and Victor Cook introduced more iconic Spider-Man characters into the mix, including  Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, the Tinkerer, Silver Sable, and Molten Man, and began planting seeds for season three, introducing the civilian identities of Carnage, the Hobgoblin, and the Jackal, with the clone saga on the slate as a future story.

Weisman wanted to tell a whole story over five seasons, but poor sales of the DVDs and less than hoped for ratings on its new home put a question mark over its future. In September 2009, Sony relinquished TV rights for Spider-Man to Marvel Entertainment, and the show was finally announced as cancelled in March 2010 when Disney, Marvel’s new owners, announced a new Spider-man cartoon, Ultimate Spider-Man, although the decision had been taken some months before. Ultimate Spider-Man eventually arrived in March 2012 and ran for five years before being replaced itself by another show, plain old Spider-Man.

Next time on The Telephemera Years: We’re off to 1991 for some excellent adventures!

Check out our other Telephemera articles:

The Telephemera Years: pre-1965 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1966 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1967 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1968 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1969 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1970 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1971 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1973 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1974 (part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The Telephemera Years: 1975 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telphemera Years: 1976 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1977 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1978 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1980 (part 12, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1981 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1982 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1983 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1984 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1986 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1987 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1989 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1990 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1992 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1995 (part 12, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1997 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1998 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 1999 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 2000 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 2002 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 2003 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 2005 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 2006 (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Telephemera Years: 2007 (part 1, 2, 3)

The Telephemera Years: 2008 (part 1, 23, 4)

The Telephemera Years: O Canada! (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

Titans of Telephemera: Irwin Allen

Titans of Telephemera: Stephen J Cannell (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

Titans of Telephemera: DIC (part 1, 2)

Titans of Telephemera: Hanna-Barbera (part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Titans of Telephemera: Kenneth Johnson

Titans of Telephemera: Sid & Marty Krofft

Titans of Telephemera: Glen A Larson (part 1, 2, 3, 4)

Titans of Telephemera: Quinn Martin (part 1, 2)

Titans of Telephemera: Ruby-Spears

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