Animated Graffiti

12 oz. mouse

Alex Churchill3/22/06                                                12 oz. mouse            12 oz. mouse is a cartoon series that airs on Cartoon Network at 1 am on Sunday nights.  It is in its first season with about 7 episodes so far and each episode is 15-20 minutes long usually without commercial interruption.  The animation is of the lowest quality on television.  Most people who see it would believe they could draw better than these animators. The stills are little more than stick figures.  This is a conscious decision by the creators because they occasionally throw in some impressive special effect or a detailed character that looks nothing like the rest of the show.  The show is somewhat serial because the ending of the each show flows right into the beginning of the next like it was created as one long movie and cut up in fifteen minutes segments.  They also introduce one or more new characters every episode. Despite this, each show could effectively stand alone without any introductory explanations because the viewer is occupied with trying to figure out the plot and dialogue.            Each show begins with a fast moving camera barreling through a cardboard city. This tiny city is also overtly cheap, obviously open top cardboard boxes with square holes cut out to look like widows.  The camera movement is accompanied by a heavy metal guitar riff and explicit lyrics, “car full of bitches and a brand new bong!” About halfway through the opening segment the buildings begin to explode in giant bursts of flame and flying debris. There are close ups of bars and strip clubs exploding and the camera passes right through the flames and eventually the whole cardboard city is up in flames.  This opening definitely sets the tone for the rest of the show, which centers on a drunken mouse who likes to drive his jet car through the streets.  The opening also gives the viewer some idea of the production values of the rest of the show.            There are certain themes that run through the series, none of them having any moral or social value whatsoever. For instance, Mouse drinks a lot all the time and likes to shoot other characters quite often.  The producers bring in extremely annoying characters just so Mouse can shoot them.  This pokes fun at traditional cartoon violence because there is never any blood and when someone gets shot they simply bounce around like pool balls. Every episode he goes to the bar and orders twelve beers at once from a floating head that is clearly a cutout of an e-mail or memo of some kind.  The theme of drinking and driving is prominent but somewhat convoluted. For example mouse is driving his jet car, asks for a few beers and his passenger in the back seat says “but you’re driving.”  Immediately mouse is in the back seat, “I’m not driving I’m sitting back here with you.”  The jet car crashes into a bank and mouse proceeds to rob it.            There isn’t really an identifiable plot even for one episode; the stories are structured around the other characters in relation to Mouse.  There are scenes that do connect with each other but often the episodes try to be as a random and inconsistent as possible.  This all part of the humor of the show, which relies mostly on ridiculous dialogue and characters as well as extremely ludicrous situations.  There are relationships that are consistent throughout all the episodes such as “shark” hiring Mouse to do things while Mouse runs off and exploits the situation. Mouse also has a friend named Skillet, and well drawn squirrel who squeaks and vibrates rapidly as well as moving with jets of flame from his paws.            The pacing of the show is very fast, switching from scene to scene often without any transition or connection to the scene before it.  This makes any continuity very rare but the goal of the show is clearly not to present a structured narrative with arching themes and value judgments.  The creators want the viewer to be amused and seem to concentrate solely on that goal, consciously rejecting the normal way to create a structure television series.            The characters are the most diverse group of strange drawings and personalities. There is the blue peanut shaped policeman who is consistently very stoned and unloads his shotgun not infrequently.  There is a pink rectangular box wearing sunglasses, a spy from Seattle, “that’s how you will know him, by his rectangularness”.  There are also countless other strange characters that defy description.  While the characters are hilarious, it is not easy to identify with any of them because they don’t resemble anything in reality and don’t even speak like normal human beings.            The dialogue and the random chaotic nature of the show give it its success as a comedic series.  For example there is a giant eye who pronounces the letter I in hard case.  This is just strange at first but as you listen more and more its starts to grow on you and eventually its so funny you start laughing before the eye even speaks.  Despite the crude drawings, there are many scenes that are ridiculous without any dialogue. In this particular episode Mouse and Skillet have a shoot out with an unseen foe while the peanut policeman laughs hysterically.  The only audio is gunshots, explosion, and giggles. This audio combined with the various weapons and movements of mouse and squirrel makes for a gut-busting scene.            Because of its unique and innovative style it is hard to tell if the series will be a commercial success.  The production values may turn some people off because low production values are usually a sign of poor creativity and value.  Something that could be improved is the general story line because it is very easy to get confused about what is going on.  Sometimes this creates a comedic effect but sometimes it can be too nonsensical and annoying.  It may become a success as a late night cartoon but if the producers want a time slot or channel with more exposure, they may have to change or eliminate some of the politically incorrect content.