Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Old School Lane's Top 10 ChalkZone Songs

Time to conclude my discussion of ChalkZone with a countdown! As I mentioned in my ChalkZone review, one of the main highlights of the show were the songs. All the songs in ChalkZone were written by Bill Burnett and each of them are very memorable, catchy, and quick. Some people don't like them and think that they're pointless, but I never hear them complain about the songs that would feature in Animaniacs or Histeria! Oh well, nonetheless, here's my top 10 favorite songs from ChalkZone.

10. Amazing River

This was one of the first songs that was ever brought in ChalkZone and it's one of my favorites. It's about Rudy and Snap traveling around the Amazing River where the song begins with the description of the people, the Mumbo Jumbo Jungle, and the sewage plant ruining the river. It ends with Rudy plugging a cork at the end of the sewage pipe and the sewage spewed all over the town. It's a very nice country song that's energetic and catchy.

9. Rapunzel

Before Tangled came out, ChalkZone had its own version of a Rapunzel musical. It plays into the episode where there's a play involved and it goes wrong with a huge storm wiping away all the chalk in the world. It's up to Rudy and the gang to stop the storm cloud from erasing Chalkzone. Nonetheless, it's a hip-hop style musical that brings out an interesting question. If the witch can fly, why does she needs Rapunzel's hair to climb up the tower? I don't know.

8. All Day Jam

Yeah, it's about Rudy and the band just jamming. Nothing more, but still, pretty rocking! Next song!

7. Lollipoppian Rhapsody

This is a very tribal sounding song that's nothing more than chanting. However, it's very catchy and it astonishes me on how the voice actors can sing this without getting tongue tied. I wonder what the lyrics looked like after Bill Burnett wrote it. Nonetheless, it's a bit silly, but it's fun.

6. What's My Line

This is a song that appears in a Snapisode. It involves with Snap and Blocky, Rudy's first drawing, relaxing and playing pool when one of the pool sticks refuses to be used by Blocky. The reason why is because Blocky is nothing more than just a bunch of lines. Snap tells him that lines can do anything and up comes a song about lines. It's very creative and catchy about all the different types of lines. It just goes to show that something as simple as a line can be useful and versatile. It's pretty cool.

5. Please Let Me In

You've probably recall this song in episode 1 of Nick Jukebox. It's a jazzy tune about Snap dropping his keys to his apartment down the drain and asking his neighbors to open the door. No one will let him in and he's begging them to open the door or else he'll get rained on. It's very quick, catchy, and has a really good beat. It shows what a really great singer Candi Milo is in this song. 

4. Mumbo Jumbo Jump

Again, another silly song about partying in the Mumbo Jumbo Jungle by jumping. It was one of the first songs that I listened to where I couldn't get it out of my head. It was stuck on my mind for a week. It's very light hearted, catchy, and makes you want to jump. It's a lot of fun when something can make you dance along to a fun song.

3. Dream a Lotta Dreams

This is a very soothing song taking place in the beach at night. It involves with dreams and clear nights and bright stars. It's relaxing, it's calm, and very peaceful. Looking at the animation is gorgeous to go along with the song matches very well. 

2. There You Are

This was one of Bill Burnett's favorite songs that he ever written for ChalkZone and I can understand why. It goes back to songs that used to be popular in cartoons from the 30's and 40's in which they included a song in every cartoon short. The animation captures it well with it taking place in a run down theater where animals would see the performance. Then it goes on a crazy trip with sideways waterfalls, flying flaming shoes, and a monkey cafe. It symbolizes a time period that's been long gone and ChalkZone has proven that it can still be shown in a fun way. So much so that it was included in episode 2 of Nick Jukebox.

1. Golden Thumb

While "There You Are" is my favorite bouncy, catchy song, "Golden Thumb" is my favorite calm, serene, peaceful song with a great message. It involves to look for the golden thumb whenever you feel out of luck or  unhappy. It's a song that can pick you up and give you a boost of happiness when needed. It's one of Bill Burnett's favorites and it's my #1 pick for all the over 100 ChalkZone songs.

A few honorable mentions are "Oh My My", "Chunky", "Fireplug Ballet", "Scat", and "Puttin' on the Dog". What are you favorite ChalkZone songs? Post it in the comments below. 

Tune in next time as we go back into reviewing Nickelodeon movies with Clockstoppers and Hey Arnold: The Movie.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Take care.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Interview with Candi Milo

What better way to conclude our discussion with ChalkZone with an interview with one of our favorite voice actors of all time! Candi Milo started off with performing in theater performances at the age of 11. As time went on, she appeared in numerous TV shows, plays, was an opening act for Howie Mandel and Joan Rivers, appeared in The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and commercials. Remember the lady at Mervin's who said "Open, open, open"? Remember the lady who would do multiple characters in the Rhoades Furniture commercials? That was Candi!

Nowadays, she's a very prominent voice actor who's done hundreds of cartoon characters such as Lonette from Cool World, Sweety Bird from Tiny Toon Adventures, Madame Foster, Coco, and Cheese from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the second voice of Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, Astro Boy from the 2003 animated series, The Flea from Mucha Lucha, Nick Dean from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Snap from ChalkZone, Mrs. Wakeman from My Life as a Teenage Robot, and so much more! K

Kevin and I had the opportunity to interview Candi. We hope you enjoy it!

Kevin- What made you decide to be a voice actress? 

Candi- I lucked into an audition for Tiny Toons and just sort of wound up with the job.

Patricia- Who were your influences? 

Candi- I draw all of my characters from my experiences.

Kevin- What were your favorite shows/cartoons growing up? 

Candi- Josie and The Pussycats. Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Fractured Fairy Tales.

Patricia- What does your daughter think of you voicing all these cartoon characters? 

Candi- She went to thinking I walked on water. To thinking it was dumb. To thinking she might be really good at this!

Kevin- What was it like working on Cool World

Candi- Hot. I was in the last trimester of my pregnancy - and it was summer. Brad Pitt was adorable. Loved Brad! Gabriel Byrne was amazing. Kim Bassinger? Meh.

Kevin- What was the audition process for Cool World like? 

Candi- I didn't audition. I was given the role after meeting with creator Ralph Bakshi.

Kevin- What was it like working with Ralph Bakshi? 

Candi- Very difficult. He is a cartoonist. An artist. Now a director. And I think the process frustrated him. I adore him.

Kevin- What did you think of the movie after you saw it? Loved it and thought it was way ahead of its time.

Patricia- What was the audition like for Sweetey Pie at Tiny Toon Adventures

Candi- I went in and read a fairytale for the voice director Andrea Romano. At the last minute I decided to give all the characters in the book different voices. It didn't seem to impress her as much as it impressed Steven Spielberg!

Kevin- What was it like doing Loonatics Unleashed

Candi- So fun - great cast of actors. Really great animation and wonderful scripts.

Kevin- When you first auditioned for Loonatics Unleashed, what did you think of the new modern look of the Looney Tunes characters? 

Candi- I was worried fans couldn't connect - but knew they were incredibly beautiful.

Patricia- How did you get the part of Mrs. Wakeman from Teenage Robot

Candi- By audition.

Patricia- What was it like working with Janice Kawaye? 

Candi- She was lovely.

Patricia- Who's your favorite character that you voiced? 

Candi- Cheese from Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends.

Patricia- What was the audition process for ChalkZone like? 

Candi- Just the same as all the others. You do your take - you get a callback and you tweak it.

Kevin- Did you like the concept of ChalkZone? Did it kind of remind you of Toon Town from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 

Candi- I loved the concept and I think they should bring the show back. I did not think in any way that it reminded me of Roger Rabbit. Cool World reminded me of Roger Rabbit.

Kevin-Do you own any memorabilia from any of the characters you voiced? Yes I do. I always buy anything with my voice in it - and my characters on it.

Patricia- When you voiced the 2003 remake of Astro Boy, did you watch the original to figure out the voice? 

Candi- The original cartoon show that premiered in the 1960s is no where to be found. I created the voice of Astro Boy and then it was copied by another real boy for the movie.

Patricia- What advice and tips would you give to someone who wants to be a voice actor? 

Candi- Take acting classes. Learn to read with clarity and distinction...

Patricia- Do you have to take frequent breaks for your voice after you've completed a recording? 

Candi- No. I am a trained singer. So far so good.

Kevin- What is your favorite movie? 

Candi- The original Arthur.

Patricia- What was like meeting Johnny Carson? 

Candi- A wonderful man. Much like being introduced to Oprah - there is just something about them!!!

Kevin- What is the key of telling a good joke? 

Candi- Remembering it.

Kevin- If you could be in any movie, what would it be and why? 

Candi- I would have loved to have been in any of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films. Devilishly good scripts!

Kevin- Who would win in a fight: Astro Boy or XJ9? 

Candi- Astro Boy

Kevin- What do you think of today's cartoons? 

Candi- I think they are pandering to toys and not understanding the intelligence that children have today.

Kevin- Which cartoon character is the closest to who you are in real life? 

Candi- Cheese.

Patricia- If you didn't have voice acting as your career, what other career would you had pursue? 

Candi- Law

Patricia- Whenever you're out and about, do people recognize you? 

Candi- Nope. Thank goodness!

Patricia- Which character do people demand that you do the voice of the most? 

Candi- Dexter. Cheese.

Kevin- When doing the voice of Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory, did you talk to Christine Cavanaugh about how to do the voice or did you do it on your own? 

Candi- Christine was long gone by the time I took over. The creator helped me some - but really they just played me clips of Chrissie and said, "get close..." hahahaha! 

Patricia- How did you become to be such a versatile voice actress? 

Candi- Thank you for that compliment. I only do characters that are real to me - and I stay as flexible as I possibly can in the recording room, taking in other people's ideas and direction...

Patricia- Alright, that's it! Candi, thank you so much for taking the time answering our questions!

Candi- Thank you for asking me these questions! Good luck!

For more information about Candi, check out her official website at Also check out her Facebook and Twitter account @candimilo. That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Take care!

-Patricia and Kevin

Monday, January 28, 2013

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Interview with Bill Burnett

What better way to make our discussion with ChalkZone better than to interview one of the co-creators of the show! Bill Burnett was the creative director for Fred/Alan Inc. writing the songs for the ads and promos for MTV, Nick at Nite, VH1, and Comedy Central. In fact, he even came up with the name of Comedy Central. Around the 90's, he became the vice president of creative director for Hanna Barbera under Fred Seibert and was the story editor for Cow and Chicken. Eventually, he and his partner Larry Huber created the Nicktoon ChalkZone!

Kevin and I had the opportunity to interview Bill so I hope you enjoy it!

Kevin- What were your favorite cartoons/shows growing up?

Bill- The Fleischers (Betty Boop etc.) The Warner Bros. Termite Terrace cartoons. Jay Ward's stuff (Rocky and Bullwinkle etc.)

Patricia- At what age did your love for music come about?

Bill- Well I always loved music but I personally got into it and started making music of my own at 16, when my parents inexplicably brought home a guitar from a trip to Mexico. Somehow they had managed to purchase me a decent guitar…not easy to do if you don't play…and I just fell on that thing. Played it 6, 7, 10 hour a day. I would learn a new chord and then write a song using that chord combined with the ones I had learned before. I started immediately writing songs.

Patricia- Who are your influences for your music?

Bill- It's very varied. Beatles, of course, but also Incredible String Band, Tom Lehrer, Gilbert and Sullivan, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Later, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell (who i consider to be the best of all that singer/songwriter genre) Stones, Lieber and Stoller, Harold Arlen…really this list could go on for pages. I'm very steeped in all forms of songwriting and don't really draw distinctions between them the way some people do. Some people can say "I'm into blues, or I'm into heavy metal". I'm into songs. Period. But then also instrumental and classical, which aren't songs per se. I'm complicated.

Patricia- What made you decide to write music for cartoons?

Bill- I have always solved creative problems with music. Come to a place where the story seems to just sit there, throw in a song. I think songs are dramatically underused in cartoons today, which is funny because cartoons were originally invented to be an excuse to put music on the screen. That's why they were called Silly Symphonies, Merrie Melodies, Looney Tunes. Look at all the old Fleischer stuff, it was great jazz songs by Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong being set to pictures. So I just naturally started putting songs into everything I did. It has become harder now because young cartoonists don't know now to match animated action up with music they way the masters did. Bill Hanna used to actually do his storyboards on music paper, and plot out his timing for the Tom and Jerry cartoon so that it matched he beats of the music. That's why those cartoons are so fluid and enjoyable to watch even though it's just a cat chasing a mouse.

Kevin- What are your favorite songs from the cartoons you did the music for?

Bill- I love "Ugliest Weenie" from the Cow and Chicken show of the same name. That was a full out musical. I love "I'd Pick Your Nose", the song I wrote for Casper. I love ALL the songs I wrote for ChalkZone, but am partial to "There You Are", "Chunky", "Escucha Mi Corazon". I think the CZ "Rapunzel" show is very good. Ethel The Merman was a fun one for Oh Yeah! Cartoons, another almost full out musical. "RV Having Fun Yet" is inspired but might not be everybody's cup of tea.

Patricia- What inspires you for writing the lyrics for your songs?

Bill- Sometimes it just comes out of the blue, like "The Fireplug Ballet" for ChalkZone. Just a crazy idea and I run with it. Other times it is dictated by the plot. The song "I'm Out of Time" I wrote for "The Day ChalkZone Stood Still" was a way to explain why Old Father Time had stolen the hands of the clock…because he didn't want to give up his throne and crown to the new baby time that was coming in. So that was kind of expositional.

Patricia- How did you and Larry Huber meet?

Bill- Larry was the head of production at Hanna Barbera and I was VP Creative Director. I wanted to get into making cartoons, not marketing them. Larry wanted to make cartoons too but was busy doing his producer thing. So we would get together for quick meetings and we came up with the idea for ChalkZone.

Patricia- Is it true that the inspiration for ChalkZone was Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings? If not, where did you and Larry get the concept of ChalkZone?

Bill- NO! Absolutely not! I don't know who is writing those write-ups or why they keep defaming ChalkZone like that. The only thing I'd ever seen of Simon and the Land of Chalk Drawings was Mike Meyers sketches on Saturday Night Live and I didn't even know what he was doing. Since then I have checked Simon out and also Harold and the Purple Crayon and the thing is that yes, there is an obvious similarity in basic idea, but our show was an comedy/action/adventure show combined with a high concept alternative universe. I see our ancestors as Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Phantom Toll Booth. THERE IS A WORLD ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CHALKBOARD where everything that's ever been drawn in chalk and then erased comes to life, and lives forever, with the soul that the artist intended for it. Is that the premise of Simon? Or Harold? No. In fact, it is not the premise of anything except ChalkZone. And then there's a boy who finds a magic piece of chalk that allows him to enter this world and draw things in thin air. In that one respect it is like those other stories. But I see our story as being much more like Harry Potter…the ordinary kid who discovers he has extraordinary gifts. For Harry it's that he's a Wizard and has a wand. For Rudy it's that he's an artist and has magic chalk. Rudy also has a brilliant girl and a street-wise, wise guy as teammates, just like Harry. We didn't copy Harry. Our show and Harry Potter came out at the same time. But the similarities are remarkable. I think Nick should bring back ChalkZone and stress the Harry Potter relationship, since the Potter franchise has gone out of business.

Kevin- How was the voice casting like before you decided to choose the main actors in the end?

Bill- We held auditions and worked out the characters with the actors. It was a very creative collaboration. I remember jamming with Candi Milo on Snap and suggesting that kind of 1930s snappy way of talking, with Mid-Atlantic accent, kind of like Barbara Stanwyck and Katherine Hepburn. And she got it right away and that became Snap.

Patricia- It's interesting to note that E.G Daily and Candi Milo, the voices of Rudy and Snap, are also singers in real life. Was that partly the reason you casted them in their roles?

Bill- No, didn't know they sang at all until after the show started.

Patricia- What was it like E.G Daily, Candi Milo, and Hynden Walch on the studio?

Bill- Well EG and Candi are old pals and old voice over pros and Hynden comes from another world and was going to college. They all got along but Hynden was in her own space. Which is kind of how their characters were too. Rudy and Snap were good buddies and Penny was always saying "I don't know if this is a good idea, Rudy." and being smart and seeing the dangers.

Patricia- What is your favorite episode?

Bill- I love so many. "The Wiggies" was great fun, and "Portable Portal", where Rudy carries around a little iPad size chalkboard and converses with Snap while eluding Miss Tweezer. And the Halloween special. And "The Big Blow Up". Again, I could go on and on.

Patricia- What are your favorite songs on Chalkzone?

Bill- "There You Are", "Golden Thumb", "Let's Go Wandering", and "Lollypoppian Rhapsody". 

Kevin- What was it like working for Fred Seibert?

Bill- Fred is one of those true visionaries who create the circumstances for great things to happen. He himself doesn't write or draw but he makes the situation for people who can to do great work. And he has the soul of an artist and respect for an artist. Others in history like him are Walt Disney, Barry Gordy of Motown, Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live…in other words people who created the canvas for others to do great things.

Kevin- What do you think of cartoons nowadays?

Bill- I think cartoons today have gone waaaaaay downhill. The business has been taken over by amateurs and bean-counting executives and you can see it in the ratings plunge that Nick is experiencing, in the fact that The Hub isn't doing any animation to speak of, that Cartoon Network, of all places, has gone live action. It could come back. You just need people who know and love the form to retake control. People still like animation.

Patricia- What are your upcoming projects?

Bill- I'm working on a big musical that should start showcasing in the fall of 2012. I'm writing for the launch of a new animated rock band. I'm creating branded entertainment for clients of my company Stretch Media. And I'm always writing songs

Patricia- That's all, Bill. Thank you so much for your time. Take care.

Bill- Thank YOU!

For more information about Bill Burnett, check out his website at That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Take care!

-Patricia and Kevin

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: ChalkZone

With the exception of The Fairly Oddparents and Invader Zim, Nicktoons in the early 2000's weren't doing very well. Butt Ugly Martians was cancelled around February 2002 after low ratings. With the success of The Fairly Oddparents, it was time for another cartoon short from Oh Yeah! Cartoons to get its own TV series. On March 22, 2002, ChalkZone debuted on Nickelodeon. 

The show was about a 10-year-old boy named Rudy Tabootie (voiced by E.G. Daily) who has a love for drawing cartoons. One day while going through detention due to something he didn't commit, he comes across a stick of magic chalk. He draws a hole into the chalkboard and discovers a world made out of chalk. One of Rudy's former chalk drawings, Snap (voiced by Candi Milo), explains to Rudy about chalk world known as Chalkzone. It's where everything that was ever erased end up and live. Rudy becomes accustom to hang around there and have fun adventures with Snap. Along the way, Rudy makes a new friend in school named Penny Sanchez (voiced by Hynden Walsh), a smart, intelligent girl who mostly focuses on math and logic than anything. She tags along with Rudy and Snap on their many adventures in Chalkzone. In every episode, we have a quick episode involving with Snap known as "Snapisodes" and a 1 minute music video with Rudy and the gang singing different songs from different genres. 

The show was created by Bill Burnett and Larry Huber. Burnett was the creative director for Fred/Alan Inc around the 80's doing the ads and promos for Nick at Nite, VH1, MTV, and Comedy Central. In fact, Burnett himself came up with the name of Comedy Central for that channel. In the mid 90's when Fred Seibert was the last president of Hanna Barbera, Burnett was hired to become the Vice President of Creative Director for the company. During his time, he was a story editor for Cow and Chicken. He wrote one of the most iconic episodes The Ugliest Weenie. He even wrote the lyrics to the song.

Larry Huber had worked on Hanna Barbera for many years working on the animation for Wacky Races' spinoff show The Perils of Penelope Pitstop before he left to work for Ruby-Spears. Around 1990, he came back to Hanna Barbera working on Two Stupid Dogs and Fish Police. In 1994, he was hired to oversee production for Fred Seibert's What a Cartoon. He even created a few cartoon shorts for the program. When Hanna Barbera was bought by Ted Turner in 1996, he went to oversee production for Seibert's other cartoon series Oh Yeah! Cartoons. That was where he and Burnett met and eventually created ChalkZone. 

"It would be hard to find two guys with such incredibly diverse opinions–political, social, and otherwise–who work so well together that they can make a show as creatively in sync as ChalkZone. We drew on each other’s talents and styles, as well as our own eclectic viewpoints, to produce an entertaining, well-rounded show that features many different perspectives. My specialty is graphic drawing, and Bill’s is music. As a musician and performance artist, Bill is a boisterous, outgoing type of guy. I’m a little more laid-back and reserved. But our personality differences are really the strength of ChalkZone, because if two partners think the same way, then one of them is certainly unnecessary", said Larry Huber in a 2007 interview with Frederator Studios. 

"ChalkZone is where Larry’s interests and mine converge. It’s a high-concept show about an alternate universe that’s really trippy when you think about it. In this universe, any place on Earth–a classroom, the “specials” board at a restaurant, or a hopscotch court–can be a portal to another world, where all the things that people have drawn over the centuries still live. The idea of ChalkZone is very empowering to kids: when they create a work of art, they’re actually bringing something to life", said Bill Burnett in the same interview.

When ChalkZone debuted, it had the highest ratings for a new show during that time with over 4 million viewers tuning in. It continued to become one of the most popular Nicktoons to air during the time alongside with Rugrats, Hey Arnold, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Oddparents, and Invader Zim. The show lasted for 4 seasons ending its run on November 21, 2009. As time went on, the show garnered a ton of hate from many people. I'm not kidding when I say that I have never seen this much hatred for a Nickelodeon show when doing this tribute, with the exception of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee. The following reviews were and I quote:

"Here we go again another dumb show from Nick. Except this one involves a boy and a piece of pathetic chalk. Everything about this show is horrible: the animation, the characters, and especially the music videos. The theme song is the most annoying song I've ever heard. There was a time when Nick aired good shows. Some of my favorites include: Rugrats (pre-Dil and Kimi), Are You Afraid of the Dark, Rocko's Modern Life, and Double Dare. These shows made Nickelodeon what they are and Nickelodeon doesn't even air them anymore. That's not right. Nickelodeon should really go back to what it used to be. 

Overall I give this 0/10 stars and hope that they take it off Nickelodeon and put it on Noggin. That is where it belongs."

"I decided to quit life and do drugs when I saw ChalkZone. My summary lied. Don't do drugs. Now that the public service announcement is out of the way, now I can say how bad this show is. This show TRIES to be cool, but they stank. I bet even Satan hates Chalkzone. The animation is bad, the music is bad (Oh GOD the music is bad.) The Voice acting is terribly cheesy, as are the jokes. Now here's the worst part. In every episode, they have a music video. The music is so bad, it's insulting to every insturment in the universe. NOW here is an example of Chalkzone music lyrics "WE LIKE TO BOOGY! WE LIKE TO BOOGY! WERE IN A ZONE!" Now Sing that ten times, and there is your song. Every little child I know despises this show, including everyone ELSE I know.

I give this show a -5 out of 10".

"Chalkzone is a cartoon that sounded really good and creative, but when shown it just fails. The show is about a kid named Rudy, who one day while in detention comes across a piece of chalk that allows him to enter into another world called Chalkzone. There he meets one of his many creations named Snap and with his best friend, Penny, they go on adventures through the zone and try and keep Chalkzone a secret. Idea wise, this show had a promising future, but the show is executed in a manner that destroys the charm of this show. The characters in this show are just boring and underdeveloped. The teacher is a generic jerk who hates fun, Penny is a stereotypical smart girl who always enforces rules, Snap is annoying, the bully is just generic, and Rudy is also annoying but not as bad as Snap. As for the stories, they are actually pretty decent and has some creativity to them, but I have seen better. I never found a funny moment in this show at all, and I wasn't expecting a lot, but I never heard or saw anything that made me laugh, maybe a chuckle or snicker here and there, but nothing else. Then at the end of each episode, we are treated to a music video with the gang, and the songs are really irritating and bad. So what's the purpose of them at all? They aren't entertaining at all. This show was just a disappointment and a failure. It could have been an instant classic, but Chalkzone was marred by bad humor, terrible characters, and unnecessary music videos. There's no real value to this show at all."

Come on, people. The show isn't that bad! Trust me, I've seen WAY worse when working on this tribute. Watch one episode of The Brothers Flub, Pelswick, and Butt Ugly Martians and you'll see what a really bad Nicktoon is. While it's not up-to-par with the classic Nicktoons such as Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and Rocko's Modern Life, the creativity is really something to behold! This is one of the most unique concepts of a cartoon that I've ever heard of. While the characters are very basic, they're still solid nonetheless. I absolutely love the animation and the most of the music is actually really good. In my opinion, it's very underrated and doesn't deserve the hate it has been getting over the years. Yes, it's not perfect by any means. Yes, some of the jokes fall a little flat and it does tend to be slow in each episode, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's very atmospheric and artistic. It combines Huber's artistic background and Burnett's music background and the end result is a really solid Nicktoon. I recommend that you check it out if you haven't seen it in a while. 


That's all for now. Tune in next time as we have two very special interviews from the people behind ChalkZone. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading. 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: The Nick Cannon Show

The year is 2002. Spiderman, Ice Age, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and The Pianist were released in theaters. The Osbournes, The Bachelor, American Idol, and Code Name: Kids' Next Door debuted on TV. With the huge success of Kenan & Kel, and The Amanda Show, one of the main cast members of All That, Nick Cannon, decided to have his own TV show after he left the show. Cannon's show was none other than The Nick Cannon Show which debuted on January 19, 2002.

The premise is that Nick Cannon would come across a situation or a setting such as a school, the circus, or the beach, and try to make it "better". He would portray skits, funny jokes, or his characters that he used to play as in All That, and try to include his style in it. Similar to All That, Kenan & Kel, and The Amanda Show, there were former members of All That that would appear as guests such as Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. Not to mention there were celebrity guests that were popular at the time such as Romeo, Mary J. Blige, Willy Santos, and 3LW. Every episode was pretty much the same: Nick would appear in a place and does various jokes and skits in order for something that he feels that is boring or typical to be "better", have something to make it pop for the younger audience.

As time went on, the majority of the production and film crew left after the first season, the ratings were lower and lower as time went on, and the show was eventually cancelled one year later on February 1, 2003. Overall, the premise is pretty cool and kind of unique, but the execution of it was very mediocre. The main problem is with Nick Cannon himself. He's not a really funny comedian and most of the jokes and skits that he did were a bit flat and awkward. If the jokes and skits were more tightly written and the show starred on one of the more funnier members of All That during that time period such as Gabriel Iglesias, Mark Saul, Danny Tamberelli, or Jack DeSena, maybe it would've done 10 times better. Nick Cannon wasn't really one of the more popular cast members of All That and if he was, it was because he was performing with more better actors such as Kenan Thompson when they did their skit "The Inconvenience Store" .

As of now when it comes to TV shows or series involving with taking something and making it better, it hasn't been done right or the way it could have been presented. Take Demo Reel for example. It sounds like a fantastic idea on paper, but hasn't been executed the way it should have been. 

With The Nick Cannon Show, I felt the same way. Now to his credit, Nick Cannon looks like he's trying and I give him an "A" for effort on that. When it comes to interacting with people, he's very natural and very energetic. I feel that being a radio personality and one of the hosts of America's Got Talent brought that out more and he feels more in his natural habitat. 

But as an All That spinoff, this is one of the weaker ones. I wouldn't recommend checking it out.

That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nick Jukebox Episode 2: Electric Bugaloo

In the second episode of Nick Jukebox, we take a look at songs from classic Nickelodeon shows from the 80's, 90's, and 00's. Expect songs from Spartacus and the Sun Beneath the Sea, Clarissa Explains it All, Taina, and more.

All the songs are owned by Nickelodeon, Viacom, and their respected owners.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Interview with Thad Komorowski

At some point in our lives, we see a movie, play, or TV show that's a standalone compared to all the others. On August 11, 1991, Nickelodeon debuted its first three Nicktoons: Doug, Rugrats, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. While each of these cartoons was unique compared to all the other cartoons that were showing at the time, one of them would be an influence to hundreds of other cartoons even to this day. The Ren & Stimpy Show was a benchmark to cartoons with its classic animation mixed with fast paced comedic humor, bodily humor references, and off-color jokes. It was one of the most popular cartoons of that year and had gained a huge following for kids, teens, and adults. To this day, The Ren & Stimpy Show is not only one of the most greatest cartoons of Nickelodeon, but one of the greatest cartoons of all time. 

The Ren and Stimpy Show Title Card.jpg

Author Thad Komorowski is currently writing a book called Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story which features the story of how one of the most influential cartoons of all time came to be. Interviewing over 60 people including writers, animators, producers, and voice actors behind the cartoon. Sit back, relax, grab your Happy Helmets and Powdered Toast, and enjoy our interview with Thad Komorowski.

Patricia- What made you decide to write a book about The Ren & Stimpy Show?

Thad- In some ways, it's the TV cartoon that will never die. It was an extremely important part of animation history, one that single-handedly changed industry and audience standards. The story of its rise and fall has been direly needed for years. When I was younger, I'd been corresponding with Bob Jaques about the styles of various Golden Age animators. I didn't realize he was the same Bob Jaques who worked on Ren & Stimpy until he started telling me random anecdotes about the series. Some of his stories about directing the animation for the show were absolutely insane - the tribulation of actually animating R&S is one aspect of the saga that's never been given proper coverage. Bob is the one who suggested I use my energy and skill to research the show and write about it.

Patricia- What made Ren & Stimpy a standout compared to the cartoons that were coming out in the 80's and early 90's?

Thad- There's a certain timelessness to it that the others don't have. I hate that word, given the saccharine attached to it, but that's really what it is in a nutshell. Ren & Stimpy embodies all of the aesthetics of classic animation, however different it is in writing and drawing. There's nothing dated about energy or solid character acting, drawing and animation, which is why the best episodes hold up as well as they do.

The Disney feature people (THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN) did a great job of capturing past standards, but, being Disney, they couldn't really transcend what had been done before. 

The new Warner shows (Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs!) tried too hard to be trendy; those are definitely top-drawer shows on their best days, but this huge wave of nostalgia for animation of that era keeps them alive more than their merit does.

By comparison, Ren & Stimpy not only transcended creative standards, but the concept of "target audience." The Disney movies were aimed at families and the Warner shows at kids. The Simpsons made the leap from adults to tweens, but that's typical of any popular sitcom (Seinfeld, etc.). Since the show's creators basically did the cartoons for their eclectic selves, here was a studio product that was able to appeal to an unbelievably broad audience: children, teens, stoner college students, and hardcore animation geeks. Nickelodeon hated the show for that reason, as it caused all kinds of problems finding the right advertisers.

Patricia- What were some of the most shocking stories you've heard when working on this book?

Thad- There really isn't anything shocking in the story of Ren & Stimpy if you understand the kinds of personalities involved. What I found most intriguing was the naivety of it all - both on the part of the network and creators. Things happened in the production that any seasoned pro would see as danger signs, but they let them happen anyway. Naivety played a huge role in the existence of Ren & Stimpy.

Patricia- Besides John K., who else should be credited for how the show turned out?

Thad- This is hard to keep brief, and I'm sure some people will be mad at me, but I'll cover myself by saying that everyone's job on that show was important. The cartoons were simply too hard to make to allow anyone to give any less than 110%.You can't understate John Kricfalusi's role in making the show what it is. Without him, Ren & Stimpy wouldn't exist. He's the one who rallied everyone together and captured that lightning in a bottle at Spumco for a brief period of time. Whatever you think of him personally, the fact that John K. changed animation for the better is undeniable.

Lynne Naylor was probably the other most important artist. She fleshed out the characters' personalities with Kricfalusi (along with Jim Gomez and Felix Forte), as well as the design work. Stimpy was actually based in part on one of Lynne's cats. I daresay her influence on the TV animation industry is as big as John K.'s.

Jim Smith and Bob Camp were also very much involved with the characterizations, stories, designs - really, everything. There's an awful lot of Jim and Bob's sweat and blood in those shows. I know when Jim left the series it was as big a blow as John K.'s departure was, since his drawing and example could solve just about anything. Bob's sense of comedic writing, drawing and timing were inseparable from the show's flavor. His absence really affected how those later Adult Party shows came out just the same as John K.'s absence affected the ones at Games.

Chris Reccardi is a vastly underrated artist and was a shining light throughout the entire run of the Nickelodeon series. Vincent Waller was another brilliant draftsman and writer; the episode BIG BABY SCAM is basically all him. Mike Kim did layout on some of the best Spumco scenes and really came into his own directing at Games. Tom McGrath didn't work at Spumco, but he really gave a lot of vigor to the episodes at Games. His sole directorial effort, I WAS A TEENAGE STIMPY, is easily one of the best R&S cartoons ever done. Bill Wray is almost singlehandedly responsible for the profusion of good color styling and painting in modern animation. Billy West's voice acting was, and is, the gold standard for the entire voiceover industry. Other R&S greats were Don Shank, Mike Fontanelli, Carey Yost, Charlie Bean, Rich Pursel, Elinor Blake, Glenn Barr, and Scott Wills.

Bob Jaques, Kelly Armstrong, and their crew at Carbunkle Cartoons are also unsung heroes of the series. They're the reason why any of the animation hangs together. There are great cartoons without their involvement, absolutely. But all of the ones that are tour de forces (STIMPY'S INVENTION, SPACE MADNESS, MAN'S BEST FRIEND, SVËN HÖEK) are so largely because they animated them.

And Vanessa Coffey. She's the one who believed in John K., let him make the show that he wanted, and gave him as much rope as she could possibly give him. Her green-lighting of not just R&S but the entire Nicktoons lineup has had more of a positive influence on animation than any other single act I can think of.

Patricia- What was the hardest thing to accomplish when writing this book?

Thad- Other than actually writing it, probably dealing with my own maturity - or lack thereof. As everyone knows, John Kricfalusi wasn't involved with this book, due in part to my own immaturity and online brickbats with the man. In retrospect, I wish I'd have learned that keeping your mouth shut is often the best response, but I highly doubt John K. would approve of any history of the show that wasn't under his direct control. He had his own art book coming out, which would have been a welcome addition to any animation library (my book has very few illustrations), but that exploded for the same reasons his show did.

There was also the fact that a lot of the R&S history isn't very pleasant and people are often reluctant to talk about it in the first place. But I was able to find a sizable assortment of people involved with it (over sixty), and saw that there was great corroboration to their recollections. Some people will obviously argue otherwise, but this is a far more balanced account of what happened than anything else has been.

Patricia- How do you feel about Mathew Klickstein's upcoming book Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age talking about the early years of Nickelodeon?

Thad- I think it's a great idea for a book, and I'm looking forward to reading it. That period of the network was unlike any other in television history and an account of how everything came to be could be utterly fascinating.

Patricia- What are your favorite episodes and characters?

Thad- Characters: Ren and Stimpy, first and foremost, of course. George Liquor was brilliant in MAN'S BEST FRIEND and DOG SHOW, but unfortunately, he hasn't really gotten the opportunity to shine since (though I hope CANS WITHOUT LABELS changes that). I also have a soft spot for Ren's cousin Svën, Kowalski the seven-year old convict, and Wilbur Cobb too. And the Salesman!

Episodes: STIMPY'S INVENTION is easily one of the best cartoons ever made, period. It's so compelling I needed to give it its own chapter. SVËN HÖEK, MAN'S BEST FRIEND, and SPACE MADNESS would be next. Spumco-wise, I also love OUT WEST, MAD DOG HÖEK, BIG BABY SCAM and SON OF STIMPY.

From the Games era, my favorites are STIMPY'S CARTOON SHOW, HARD TIMES FOR HAGGIS, REN'S BITTER HALF, DOUBLE HEADER, REN'S BRAIN, I WAS A TEENAGE STIMPY and REVEREND JACK. From the Adult Party series, REN SEEKS HELP has some of the finest moments in the whole R&S canon.

Patricia- Looking back on Ren & Stimpy, do you think that the show has held up well 22 years later?

Thad- Absolutely. As I stated earlier, it's "timeless" (ugh). It's kind of a shame, though, that the history is the Shakespearean tragic story it is. Ren & Stimpy really deserved the opportunity to evolve for an extended run like The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, South Park and even Rugrats did. But better a show to have been short-lived and mostly awesome than long-lasting, briefly brilliant and suck for more than half its run.

Patricia- Besides Ren & Stimpy, what are your favorite Nickelodeon shows?

Thad- Rocko's Modern Life had some truly brilliant moments (Heffer the cow's trip to hell, Rocko's nudity being the subject of an avant-garde film, Wacky Delly, doorbell ditch) and voice acting. SpongeBob Squarepants, the show Nickelodeon always wanted Ren & Stimpy to be, was very funny in its early years. I liked and watched most of the 90s Nickelodeon lineup as a kid, but I can't say I've had any desire to revisit the others.

Patricia- What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

Thad- To give balance and perspective to one of the most important stories of twentieth century animation. To inspire others to write about animation of the early 1990s, because there are still tons of untold stories out there, and those involved deserve to have their recollections recorded and put to good use. And to get opportunities to write even more on animation! I should also hasten to add there's an extensive episode guide in this book, which includes credits, air dates, plot descriptions and notes on censorship. Since the current R&S DVDs are the biggest con job on the market ("UNCUT", with edits!), I hope whoever assembles the next R&S video release uses my notes carefully to ensure that kind of vandalism (not just censorship, but time-compression and fake fade-outs/fade-ins) is never perpetrated again.

Patricia- What are your upcoming projects?

Thad- I just started seriously working on another animation history book, but it's far too early to reveal what it's about. It involves almost entirely dead people, so the animation community can rest easy that this writer is not going to feast any further upon their livelihoods.

For more information about Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story, check out Thad's Facebook page at 

Are you looking forward to Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story? Did you liked The Ren & Stimpy Show when you were a kid in the 90's? What were your favorite episodes? Post it in the comments below! Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Take care!