Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Adventures of Captain Buzz Cheeply in: "A Clean Getaway"

Created, Written and Directed by: Meinert Hansen
Layout Design: David E. Merritt
Background Design: Brian Anderson, David E. Merritt
Animation: Jean Lacombe, Mario Lord, Richard Vallerand
Music: Charles Guerin
Voices: Richard M. Dumont, Rick Jones, Paul Zakaib, George Morris
Production in Association with: Buzz Image Group Inc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Most of what we've seen so far in WAC has been heavily influenced by Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, relying heavily on slapstick humor and visual gags. But along comes this cartoon, which despite its sci-fi setting, it's mostly centered on verbal humor and 4th wall-breaking jokes, borrowing lots of trademarks from Jay Ward cartoons such as George of the Jungle and Rocky and Bullwinkle. It's certainly not a bad thing, and I'm definitely not downplaying the previous shorts, but when compared to any of those, this cartoon is a real breath of fresh air as it not only tries to stand out, but succeeds at it too.

Captain Buzz Cheeply and his robot cadet Slide crash into a planet populated by Blubnoids, a race whose heads evolved faster than their brains. When the Blubnoids get a hold of Slide in order to transfer all his data to their brains and thus become a super race, Buzz must save his aluminum buddy, but not before taking care of his dirty laundry (literally). Fortunately for our heroes and the universe, Slide's database is nothing but useless movie trivia, foiling the Blubnoids' plan.

I'll start by saying that there's a lot going on in this short. In fact, I'm surprised they were able to condense it all into seven minutes and still have the cartoon not feel rushed. We have Buzz handling the two plots with him trying to find a place to do his laundry as well as having to rescue Slide, all this while checking on Slide and the Blubnoids. For its running time, it's pretty well streamlined, and the short never drags or gets boring. The constant jokes and witty dialogue certainly keep the viewer interested, and they're what pretty much move the whole cartoon. I could list a lot of them, but some of the most memorable moments in this cartoon are the 4th wall breaking jokes. The "Is this the end of our heroes?" card right at the start, the constant butt-ins by the Narrator (and Buzz later telling him to shut up), and of course, the scene where Buzz has to buy a replacement spaceship, which is easily one of the best 4th wall breaking jokes in history.

Perhaps the one downside to this cartoon is the animation. It's certainly not terrible, but there are several moments that seem like shortcuts were taken, like in most conversation scenes, when one character is talking, everyone else is standing perfectly still or barely moving. There are some nice expressions and poses here and there, but if it wasn't for the fact the dialogue and humor is very good here, this would be a pretty boring short.

The characters are funny and likable for the most part. I do like how Buzz puts personal hygiene over everything (even saving his robot teammate), and I also like how the Blubnoids are all identical, even to the voice (Paul Zakaib voices all of them) and the clothes they wear. There are subtle differences, like a high-class Blubnoid who wears a propeller-belt on his head to keep it from falling. Clever stuff.

As for Slide, I feel I should dedicate a whole paragraph to him. Slide is awesome. I love his design and voice, but specially how he manages to connect everything to some movie or TV show. I mean, he's a robot whose entire database is composed of movie and TV trivia. Is there any sort of geek out there who wouldn't love to have a sentient robotic version of TVTropes? It's like they were totally aiming it at the Internet crowd (who was in its early stages back then), but man, I just love that robot.

I will go more in detail on certain scenes and jokes in the screenshots section, but I can definitely say "A Clean Getaway" is among the good WAC shorts. It may not be an absolute masterpiece, but even its biggest drawback is nothing terrible. It's a fun ride from beginning to end, with funny characters and great use of humor, and still manages to tell an entertaining and clever story. Definitely give it a watch.

I have to wonder just how long has Buzz been wandering in space to accumulate so much dirty laundry.

After Buzz asks Slide what's going on in the spaceship, Slide says it could be like what happened in an episode of Star Trek before Buzz stops him and plugs him into the Robot Input (which seems to give Slide a better view of what's going on)

There's something stuck in the reactor. Should have seen coming it was something like this.

I do love the expressions here when Slide announces there's only two seconds before a total blackout, followed by the spaceship abruptly stopping and falling to the nearest planet.

The Narrator reads the above message, followed by Buzz saying "No...". Classic 4th wall breaking stuff.

I do like the fake out with the close-up of the wheels, followed by the rather dull reveal of the Blubnoids. It's actually pretty funny on execution, since you don't expect a group of guys that look like THAT.

Great expression on Slide here.

Fun moment when Buzz sells Slide for 50 bucks. Buzz looks like he made the best deal ever, but Slide is all "That's what I'm worth to you, you jerk?!"

Didn't talk about this in the review proper, but this cartoon probably holds the record for the most mentions of beer in anything Cartoon Network ever did (not counting Adult Swim, obviously). There's no way they could get away with a running gag like this one nowadays.

As mentioned, I love the scene where Buzz buys a spaceship, easily the best joke in the cartoon. All he can afford with the 50 bucks he got earlier is a ship so bad you can see the strings that keep it up. It's a great 4th wall joke, and to add to it, Buzz's expression when the strings break is priceless.

After Buzz gets another spaceship from the high-class Blubnoid, I love how the Beer & TV running gag even shows up in the spaceship's dashboard. If any of my faithful readers ever gifts me a car, make sure it has those buttons.

Some good dissolving animation as Buzz travels in the lightning-fast spaceship.

I'm not sure what causes the washing machine to explode when Buzz crams the laundry in. Guess there were too much toxic waste in those clothes. I do love his reaction after the explosion, though.

Hard to tell in pictures, but the animation on Buzz's arm when he's cutting the ropes on Slide is pretty interesting.

A couple of shots with great expressions on Buzz.

Perhaps the best bit of animation in the whole cartoon is the part where Buzz realizes the thing he's wearing to disguise as a Blubnoid is a bomb, so he instinctively hides inside Slide. Very fluid AND expressive. 

I do love the twist at the end where all the data the Blubnoids absorbed from Slide turns out to be useless movie trivia. As Slide states, they'll spend decades arguing about TV and movie crap nobody cares about. Ladies and gentlemen, Internet Forums before they became popular.


  1. Always loved this short. And yeah, this pretty much predicted internet message boards.

  2. I also like to point out this was the first "outsider" production for the WAC initiative, namely that it was done outside H-B alone (in this case, a studio in Montreal), more would follow from others like Bakshi, Bozzetto and more. It was interesting Seibert allowed for this to develop as well.

  3. Thank you for your kind comments on the scene I animated with the ship on the strings.

    Ron Lamarre