Monday, January 8, 2007

The Duck Factory (TV)

The Duck Factory Main title(1984)
Created by
Allan Burns and Herbert Klynn
Starring Jim Carrey, Teresa Ganzel, Jay Tarses, Jack Guilford, Don Messick, Julie Payne, Nancy Lane.
IMDB Entry

Yes, you read it right.  This was Jim Carrey's first TV series and, despite high quality and the name recognition, it doesn't seem to be available on DVD.

CastWhich is a shame.  The Duck Factory starred Carrey (though it was pretty much an ensemble cast) as Skip Tarkenton, a young cartoonist who had just been hired to work on the production of the Dippy Duck cartoon show.  Trouble is, Dippy's Disneylike creator, Buddy Winkler, has just died, leaving the studio to his young sexy widow Sheree (Teresa Ganzel). Morale is low; Dippy Duck is on the verge of cancellation, and the studio regulars -- writer Marty Finneman (Jay Tarses), director Brooks Carmichael (Jack Guilford), voiceman Wally Wooster (voiceman Don Messick) and others -- are hard-bitten cynics just hanging on until the entire operation closes down.  Skip, of course, believes in Dippy Duck, and Sheree makes him head of the studio.

The show was done by MTM Productions at their peak (for MTM cognoscenti, the cat quacks), but seems to have been sent out and abandoned (even though it managed to win two minor Emmys in its short run).

Carrey is not a wild man here; he is more like his role in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where his charm (Carrey's charm is his greatest asset) gives him a delightful wide-eyed innocence.  But the entire cast is fine.  Tarses (upper right of the picture) -- a writer for The Bob Newhart Show who did a little acting -- is very funny (I wonder if he wrote some of his own lines?).  Jack Guilford (bottom center) shows his years of experience in comedy to good effect, and Messick is funny in one of his few appearances in front of a camera (if the name's unfamiliar, the roles are not:  the voice of Scooby Doo, Bandit on Jonny Quest, Ricochet Rabbit, Hamton Pig, etc. -- that's him in the lower left) as a man who has done so many comic voices that he doesn't know what his own voice sounds like.

I do want to single out Teresa Ganzel, though (lower right of the picture).  She is delightful as Mrs. Winkler, playing the not-so-dumb blonde role to perfection.  The show also did a nice job of showing the kind of "Termite Terrace" life of a cartoon studio.

But my favorite moment was in one of the later shows.  The gang shows up at the Annie cartoon awards, picking up a posthumous award for Buddy.  And among the goings on, the MC is singing cartoon theme songs.  As I watched, I identified them:  Superchicken, Tom Slick.  All Jay Ward (Rocky and Bullwinkle) productions.  And, to my delight, I discovered that the person singing them was Bill Scott (the voice of Bullwinkle, for those who don't recognize the name).

I would love to see the show again, and would think that the Carrey name would make it a project.  Let's hope so.

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