Thank You, Hanna Barbera: Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles

Sorry for the brain-rape, kids.

Hanna Barbera was the number one exporter in the world of cartoons that made your children hate their own interests. It’s been debated among researchers whether they were malicious in their intent or simply like an avalanche, crushing and ruining at complete random. However, when you take into the account that someone thought it would be a great idea to cram two terrible shows together as one show, and market it as such, the answer is too clear. HB knew its power and wielded it like a vengeful god, smiting your kid’s Saturday mornings until the slightest thought of “entertainment” gave them cold sores.

Hanna and Barbera playing the game “How much can we hate this nation?” And Yogi “Great, He’s Here” Bear.

Frankenstein Jr. sounds like the title of a short story that someone crumples up before they walk into traffic. The Impossibles is the name of every superhero team that would suck and does. Combining them  should have made a hidden volcano erupt in Midwest U.S.A., killing thousands. However, since I haven’t yet been convinced that Hanna Barbera isn’t some sort of deity, manifesting itself in Korean animation and suicide-watch writers, that day may come. It’s 2012, after all.

The Opening:

You’d be surprised by how much of an afterthought that the Frankenstein Jr. segment seems to be with this opening. Actually, you probably wouldn’t. It’s only natural that people who made cartoons of this quality would forget that one of them exists an eighth of the way through the introduction. We see clips of Frankenstein Jr. and the three heroes and then a countdown, during which the shots change along with the numbers. And then, it switches into full Impossibles mode, and the fact that Frankenstein Jr. is even there is, wait, Frankenstein Jr? Did we…?

Usually the lyrics to the openings of these shows are so straightforward that it sounds as if someone is reading the plot synopsis off a note attached to the creator’s fresh corpse. Here, you get no indication of the danger to come. When describing the superheroes, Hanna Barbera felt it better to keep things as cryptically vague as possible, probably to prevent kids from saying “I’d rather see what happens when you drown a cat in a bathtub than finish this shit.”

“….Coil Man. He makes the scene when things look mean…”

“….Fluid Man. Stays on the spot, the spot that’s hot….”

“….Multi Man. Makes like a crowd, no crooks aloud.”

“…Impossibles. Impossibles. Impossibles!”

The only one who you even slightly get an idea of is Multi Man, but since you’ve decided to tune in for this long, “makes like a crowd” probably sounds like your dad’s new European co-worker instead of actual English.

I almost feel betrayed by how boring this opening is in comparison to all the other one’s I’ve seen in this series. But then again, I have been watching a biblically-named transvestite fight dragons, so I’m pretty spoiled.

The Show Itself:

I don’t have the patience to pretend that any of this crap is good. I can’t even sarcastically enjoy it.

Frankenstein Jr. deals with Buzz Conroy and his father, Dr. Conroy, who have invented a giant robot called Frankenstein Jr. That’s about as much of a basic plot that this show has, since all the other stuff, in true Hanna Barbera fashion, seems to happen at random. Mad scientist appears, wants something, Dr. Conroy leaves, Buzz is annoying, Frankenstein Jr. saves the day. You don’t have to read my articles to know that I hate kid characters in TV and movies. Especially in cartoons. Buzz seems to have been invented to implant the idea in a kid’s heads that spanking is great when used around the head region. He’s so irritating and dull that you’re constantly waiting for Frankenstein Jr. to malfunction and accidently hit the switch that says “Tear Buzz’s Arms Off,” and then hit another switch that says “Slowly.”

Could it be possible to make a robot that looks stupider than Frankenstein Jr? I know that his creators are retarded but Franky (as Buzz calls him, right before, during and after the part where you wish Buzz was dead) looks like a combination of the producer’s kid’s doodles and the angry marker strokes of the recently-fired head animator. I’m not saying that a giant robot isn’t intimidating, but seeing Franky isn’t going to make an army of giant insects think twice before they  A) laugh or B) laugh and then kick Frankenstein Jr’s ass.

Buzz wins, Satan.

The Impossibles are only slightly worse, and I mean that in a bad way. The idea of rock musicians that fight crime is an idea that’s been repeated multiple times in the history of bad television, but I’ve never seen a group as inept as this. They’re secret identities are a joke, as they sometimes change into costume in front of the crowds they’re performing for. I’m utterly impressed with the willpower it took for the audience not to beat them to death while they were on stage, but I imagine that that integrity comes from the place that keeps one from hitting children or the elderly.

Once again, The Impossibles use that trademark Hanna Barbera non-humor, where every pun is free game and you wait for one character to come to his senses and say “But guys, we’re actually fucking idiots.”  I can sum up the dialogue with this:

Coil Man (made of springs): Let’s bounce!

Fluid Man (made of water): Aww, you’re all wet!

Multi-Man (can make multiples of himself): Do I got you seeing double?

Me (power to hate this): Go die, Impossibles.

Dad, do we have to watch TV now?

Side Notes Of The Impossibly Moronic:

*One of the villains, The Bubbler, actually stops Fluid Man by dabbing him up into a single paper towel. It’s the single smartest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do in these cartoons, and keep in mind that I’ve watched a boat of idiots who were able to wield Godzilla at their beck and call.

*In the grand scheme of things it’s of little consequence, but in the first episode of The Impossibles, a Middle Eastern ruler is said to be the “Sha of Shishkabob.” That’s not as much racist as it is mindless. It would be like if you had an Asian character and constantly referred to them as “Sweet and Sour Karate Dragon.”

Necessary:

In the case of The Impossibles, America thought they were very necessary. There were 36 episodes of this thing made. Thirty-holy shit-six. I was right, Hanna Barbera, you were indeed a vengeful god. That number makes it seem like a Make A Wish Foundation scam, where someone posed as a dying child to say “Too many Impossibles episodes” before they were struck down by actual, pissed off leukemia.

Frankenstein Jr. lasted only 18 episodes, which is still 19 too many. However, unlike most HB cartoons, Frankenstein Jr. actually reused some of his villains. I don’t know if HB measured the popularity of certain characters by viewer’s self-inflicted gunshot wounds, but saying to yourself “Man, they sure liked Mr. Menace! Let’s bring him back” is like saying “My mom should be dead, that bitch.”

Legacy:

Frankenstein is classic literature and has had many incarnations over the years, all eclipsing this in terms of watchability, a word I just made up in order to let you know how fucking awful this cartoon was. I haven’t even seen every piece of Frankenstein media but when you have someone inventing words just to say how terrible a cartoon is, you know that it either has to be really bad, or the writer simply wants to mess with your head.

The Super Globetrotters, another HB series that existed to prove just how badly your son didn’t need his art school degree, used all three of the Impossibles powers in its five-man team. HB’s motto at the time must have been, “If it’s broke, use it until they kill us.”

-Daniel

Daniel is funny is expanding! Read more about it here!

4 thoughts on “Thank You, Hanna Barbera: Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles

  1. Great Post-Hilarious..I am also a child of the seventies and enjoyed (suffered through) hours of this wonderful Hanna-Barbera programing. Wasn’t there a show built around racing where they brought numerous cartoon characters from different shows together?
    Anyway-it does appear that Daniel is funny after all..way to go. Oh by the way you should add a follow button..Or have I just missed it

    • It appears that you found the follow button. I’m glad that I didn’t have to awkwardly “okay, scroll down the right side until…”

      That show was called “Wacky Races” and it was just as much about racing as it was about making you dislike it.

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