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Little Shop: The Saturday Morning Cartoon Series

edited August 2011 in Theater
As an animation aficionado, I can tell you that this cartoon reeks of the Dark Age of Animation. The dark age, a term coined by animation fans, refers to the 1970s and 1980s, during which creativity was forbidden in animation. There were no wacky drawings. Every pose had to be re-used. The cartoons weren't made by cartoonists, and often not even writers. They were made by executives.

Nickelodeon rescued us from televised hell in 1991 with the premiere of their animation block, featuring Doug, Rugrats, and of course, Ren & Stimpy.

I'm not here to give everyone a lecture on the history of animation, though.

I'm here to tell everyone about Little Shop.

During the 1970s and 1980s, every cartoon had to be based on a pre-existing property. According to John Kricfalusi, who tells us many horror stories of his time working as an animator in the 80s, this was called "marquee value". While this was eliminated in the 90s, there were still a few lingering threads.

For example, Fox ran a cartoon based on Little Shop of Horrors for approximately one season. It was dubbed "Little Shop", and it featured Seymour and Audrey (who is now a brunette) as kids.

The theme song:

Episode 1 part 1:

Episode 1 part 2:

Episode 1 part 3:

Unfortunately, the other twelve episodes are lost, for now at least. It's possible they still exist in some vault.

I don't think the cartoon (the first episode, anyway) is that bad, unless you compare it to the play. It doesn't have the creativity of the 90s animation renaissance (this aired in 1991), but it's still better than most dark age cartoons.

Where things get interesting is when Audrey Junior (the name is ripped from the Roger Corman film) states that 200 million years ago, plants used to rule the Earth, and that people like Seymour would be lunch. This is just a throwaway line, and nothing is made of it.

*puts on Wild Mass Guessing hat*

As me and Omega discussed once on AIM, it's possible that this show takes place 200 million years after the play. The humans look like drawings because of how the species has evolved (or de-evolved), and the reason there are Seymours, Audreys, and Mushniks are because the names are now folk lore embedded in the public consciousness.

*takes off Wild Mass Guessing hat*

Omega can probably explain it better.

I'm guessing the show was made to profit off the buzz created by the movie, which we should pretend doesn't exist until a Director's Cut is released. The new ending plays off Seymour's murders as "wacky shenanigans/hijinks/tomfoolery", so it removing the murders entirely from the story almost makes sense. Almost.

I think it's mildly humorous how Seymour is trying to be a nerd so that he can be smart. Other than that, there's not much humor in this show, in my opinion.

Anyway, yeah. Little Shop.

Comments

  • While rewatching the first episode I found the exact quote.

    Context: Audrey Junior is singing to the plants to make them grow, come alive, and revolt against the humans.

    Seymour: Junior! What are you doing?

    Audrey Junior: Trying to bring back the good old days when plants were plants, and you were lunch.
  • Ooh, there's a cameo from the guy who eats flowers in the Corman film. I never noticed that before.
  • I acutely remember watching this cartoon, but not too much of the show itself. But after watching the first episode here, while it's not bad as you say, I would still like to quote the Nostalgia Critic when I say it's, to an extent, A Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • To be a Big Lipped Alligator Moment it has to be a scene in the middle of a story that has nothing to do with the rest of it.

    I guess this show is a BLAM in the context of the LSOH canon. :-P
  • Hahahaha one of my castmates from Little Shop last summer found this on YouTube. We weren't sure whether to be amused or appalled (we were a bit of both, probably), but our catch phrase for most of the run was "Word! Little Shop!"
  • Just so you know, we had nothing to do with this. I think Warner licensed the rights (or maybe Corman) whatever, it wasn't us.
  • Maybe Musical Theater International licensed it. I know they own they're the ones who authorize productions of the show. Actually, who owns the rights to the play as a work that can be reproduced/redistributed/adapted? I hadn't thought about that before.
  • Music Theatre International only licenses stock and amateur stage productions of Little Shop of Horrors and only in the United States. Everything else would be ultimately to Howard's estate and Alan Menken, and they probably have representation/lawyers to act as middle men there. Warner Brothers could have secured the screen rights or something, giving them the right to make that show without further permission from Howard and Alan, or it could have been through the Corman camp as Sarah said above.
  • We have total control over the stage show, with Alan, of course. But you'll note that, other than the character names and the plant, there's nothing in the TV show that relates to the musical. The musical popularized more broadly what was a cult favorite b movie, remember, which even had a different title THE Little Shop of Horrors.

    Of course, don't go reproducing/redistributing or - heaven forfend - adapting Little Shop of Horrors (or anything else) without checking out rights. If in doubt, check out our resources page.
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