Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Project G.e.e.K.e.r. (1996)

Around 1996, Columbia-Tri-Star (now Sony Pictures Television) jumped into the business of producing animated series themselves, rather than outsource product to other studios. Adelaide was the name of their animation arm, and produced a pair of series that first year. Jumanji, a reboot of the Robin Williams movie of the same name from a year earlier, lasted three seasons on UPN as a Sunday entry. The other show?

Project G.e.e.K.e.r. landed in the dreaded 8:00 (ET) slot on CBS. Ideally, you'd want a new show to air in the middle of the lineup, somewhere between 9-11 am (ET), which worked really well for some shows (i.e. Pee-Wee's Playhouse) in prior years, but airing in the lead-off spot or at the bottom of the lineup, unless it was a pre-established franchise, usually meant certain cancellation.

G.e.e.K.e.r. (Billy West, Ren & Stimpy, Doug, etc.) was the creation of a no-good named Moloch (Jim Cummings), who wanted to use the shape-shifter as part of his plan for world conquest. Unfortunately, Lady MacBeth (Cree Summer, ex-A Different World, Inspector Gadget, etc.), a cyborg thief, and her dinosaur sidekick, Noah (Brad Garrett), stole G.e.e.K.e.r., and now must ensure that Moloch doesn't take G.e.e.K.e.r. back. Because he wasn't fully formed, if you will, G.e.e.K.e.r. suffers from the same problem that had plagued video game hero Space Ace (Saturday Supercade) more than a decade earlier, in that his transformations are random and involuntary, often leading to trouble. Aside from that, he's an imbecile, slightly up the intellectual ladder from, say, Beavis & Butt-Head. Suffice to say, while G.e.e.K.e.r. stumbles into and out of trouble on a weekly basis, like, say, Inspector Gadget, he had no real connection with the audience, resulting in a quick hook.

To illustrate what I'm talking about, let's take a look at a sample episode:

The title sequence was edited off to avoid the copyright police. Just as well. Co-producer Doug Langdale would move to Disney (The Weekenders, Dave the Barbarian), and is currently at Nickelodeon (Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness) and working on other projects.

Rating: D.


Goldstar said...

Project GeeKeR's co-creator Doug Tenaple also created the video game Earthworm Jim. Geeker's weird eyes were looked very similar to Jim's.

The show was a mixed bag, but it boasted an impressive voice cast; Billy West, Cree Summer, Brad Garrett, Jim Cummings and Charlie Adler as an intelligent mammoth mad scientist named Dr. Maston.

Interestingly, Billy West, the voice of Geeker, would lend his voice to another protagonist in an animated series set in the future, Futurama.

hobbyfan said...

And Futurama had a longer lifespan than GeeKer did, as it turned out. Earthworm Jim crashed & burned on Kids' WB!, lasting just a season, like GeeKer, and I don't think Tenaple was heard from again afterward.

Silverstar said...

Last I heard about Tenapel, he was working on The Neverhood video games. He's currently authoring comic books and graphic novels, such as "Tommysaurus Rex".

Bit o' trivia: Tenapel supposedly wasn't fond of the Earthworm Jim cartoon.

hobbyfan said...

Why am I not surprised?