The Cool Adventures of Chocodile (Johnsonverse)
The Cool Adventures of Chocodile is an American live-action television series that aired on JTV from September 15, 1984 to April 25, 1987. The series, based on the Ludicrous Limericks series, is the third live-action TV series based on the character Chocodile, though unlike the previous series, this was done entirely in live-action. It was developed by then-Johnson Industries CEO Phil Stacker, and was produced without the involvement of either Chocodile creator Randy Perkins or original Ludicrous Limericks director Gerald Jankowski; the latter had retired in 1979, before coming out of retirement after the series' end until his death in 1996.
Upon release, the series was derided by critics and viewers alike, with nearly everyone involved having since disowned it. It has frequently entered various "worst TV series" lists since its cancellation, and has rarely been rerun since then, with various jabs towards the series in Ludicrous Limericks media. However, it has gained a large cult following in the years since its cancellation, and is widely considered a "so bad, it's good" television series.
The series focuses on the exploits of Chocodile, and his "friends" Vanillagator and Caracaiman, with Chocodile coming up with various schemes in an attempt to take them out due to his open hatred of them so he can go back to being a solo act. He also has to deal with a myriad of other characters with the help of his other friends.
In 1981, Stacker and Associates acquired Johnson Industries. Phil Stacker sought to create a "more timeless" take on the Chocodile character that was "positioned for long-term success", and greenlit three seasons in late 1982, the series beginning with 1983's Chocodile's Cool Movie, which he personally directed. He had no input on the series, however, only giving the series an extremely small budget to "save costs", and made Chocodile a deadpan snarker with a chip in his shoulder as a caricature of his critics, something most of the writing team took full advantage of. The writers also made their scripts badly-written on purpose as a way of testing Stacker, something he never caught on to until he canceled the show.
This was the voice acting debut for Tom Kenny, who voiced Darrell Dog. He would later be known as the voice of the titular character on SpongeBob SquarePants, while he still voices Darrell to this day. This was also the acting debut for then-12-year-old Robby Victors, who would later go on to become a writer for many Johnson Studios productions.
- Chocodile (voice of Mel Blanc) is the leader of the Chocodile Gang; he just barely tolerates Vanillagator and Caracaiman's presence, and is always trying to get them killed so he can go back to being a solo act, yet they always survive either through dumb luck or some other unforeseen circumstances. Even if he can't get his "friends" killed, he always gets back at everyone else in what he views as "a world gone dumb". He appears at the end of each episode watching his old animated shorts from the 1930s to the 1970s, wistfully remembering the good old days before his corporate overlords forced sidekicks on him.
- Vanillagator (voice of Don Messick) is Chocodile's so-called "best friend". He is, by all accounts, an idiot who is incredibly gullible and easily fooled. The only reason he survives Chocodile's attempts to kill him and Caracaiman is stupid luck or other factors acting against Chocodile.
- Caracaiman (voice of Tony Pope) is Chocodile's other "friend". He's every bit as stupid as Vanillagator, to the point the two are basically interchangeable. Like Vanillagator, he survives Chocodile's plans by dumb luck or other outside factors.
- Larry J. Crock (voice of Mel Blanc) is Chocodile's rival. He still runs numerous scams that Chocodile happens upon, only he actually succeeds more often because Vanillagator and Caracaiman are too stupid to understand when they're being had. Chocodile usually lets Larry finish duping them, then wallops him like usual.
- Cherridile (voice of June Foray) is Chocodile's girlfriend. Like Chocodile, she barely tolerates Vanillagator and Caracaiman's presence, and often helps him find new ways to be rid of them.
- Solomon (Larry Storch) is Chocodile's nemesis. Ever since the crocodile skin trade fell under government oversight, Solomon has been finding it harder and harder to turn a profit, forcing him to turn to other means. Oftentimes, he teams up with Chocodile to take out Vanillagator and Caracaiman, as even he wouldn't wish such torture on his nemesis.
- June Stanford (Sara Gilbert) is Solomon's little daughter. Unlike in other incarnations, June is an aspiring safari hunter who continually helps her father try to hunt Chocodile.
- Bobby Bear (voice of Mel Blanc) is a bear who
- Lisandra (Drew Barrymore) is June's best friend.
- Phil Sourfox (voice of Avery Schreiber) was a recurring antagonist in the first two seasons, and is the leader of the corporation that hired Vanillagator and Caracaiman to be Chocodile's sidekicks, as well as helping Larry with his schemes. It is rumored that he's modeled after Stacker himself; the villain made no appearances in the third season after Stacker ordered the character to be written out due to an episode mocking JTV's decline at the time in the banned episode "SBC Goes Loud".
- Lachlan (voice of Billy Dee Williams) is a crow. He wants to get rid of Chocodile.
- Cashew (Jason Carmichael) is a leprechaun. He is a trickster who continually screams with an extremely high-pitched voice, annoying Chocodile, Cherridile, and all the other old characters in the process.
- Son of Cashew (Robby Victors) is Cashew's son. He's the same as his father, but as a child.
- Tora (voice of Janet Waldo) is a tiger who hates Chocodile and seeks to get him. Too bad for her that Chocodile has no problem with hitting women.
- Officer Thomas Mondo (Erik Estrada) is a cop. He typically helps Chocodile with his plans. He was the only new character who was praised, to the point where he was introduced into the Ludicrous Limericks series in 1988 beginning with "Chip Off the Block", with Erik Estrada reprising his role. He was directly based on Estrada's character in the 1970s television series CHiPs, Officer Francis "Ponch" Poncherello, and it is implied in a few episodes that Mondo is indeed Ponch, using an assumed identity to conduct more shady business.
- Darrell Dog (voice of Tom Kenny) is a dog. He is a washed-up, struggling actor who is trying to kill Chocodile so he can take his spot back. This was the voice acting debut for Tom Kenny.
- Dorothy Dog (voice of B. J. Ward) is
- Creighton Cat (voice of Larry Storch) is
- Stanley Price (Braden Danner) is a schoolboy. Unlike his other portrayals, Stanley is a selfish brat who will often try to trick Chocodile, to little success. He is
- Dr. Ricardo ("Captain" Lou Albano) is a mad scientist. He still gets outwitted by Chocodile and Cherridile... whenever Vanillagator or Caracaiman don't come along, that is.
- Kerry (voice of Rodger Bumpass) is a caracal who
- Mikey (Seth Green) is a
- Countess Carly (Roseanne Barr) is a vampire.
|1||September 15, 1984||February 25, 1985||26|
|2||September 7, 1985||March 1, 1986||26 (1 unaired)|
|3||January 31, 1987||April 25, 1987||13|
- Sourfox Corporation (aired September 15, 1984) - Phil Sourfox, CEO of the Sourfox Corporation, promotes Vanillagator and Caracaiman to Chocodile's permanent sidekicks after the events of Chocodile's Cool Movie, much to Chocodile's dismay.
- Message gag: "Remember viewers, it's never too late to change the channel."
- Chocodile Strikes Out (aired September 22, 1984) -
- Message gag: "There's still time, people. I assure you."
- Larry Fools The Duo (aired September 29, 1984) -
- Message gag: "You can always touch the dial at any time during the show."
- Chocodile vs. Dumbness (aired October 6, 1984)
- Message gag: "DEPRIVE US OF RATINGS!"
- Vanillagator Does It Again (aired October 13, 1984) -
- Message gag: "If you plan to watch, don’t bother."
- Solomon the Janitor (aired October 20, 1984) -
- Message gag: "Don’t support the higher-ups, I warn you."
- Chocodile’s Cool Halloween (aired October 27, 1984) -
- Message gag: "This episode will haunt you for the rest of your days; just go watch the Chipmunks instead."
- Caracaiman Gets Fooled (aired November 3, 1984) -
- Message gag: "If you watch this show, your brain cells will be melted to the level of these two idiots."
- Cherridile's Trap (aired November 10, 1984) -
- Message gag: "This is a ratings trap. Use the remote or touch the dial."
- Sourfox's Big Fumble (aired November 17, 1984) -
- Message gag: "This series is one big, giant fumble on the network's part."
- Chocodile's Cool Thanksgiving (aired November 24, 1984) -
- Message gag: "If you skip out on this episode, I thank you."
- Vanilla Claus (aired December 1, 1984) -
- Message gag: "Skipping this episode will be a great Christmas present to me."
- Ready for Christmas (aired December 8, 1984) -
- Message gag: "One thing's for sure: the makers of this show are on the naughty list."
- Christmastime in the Pizzad (aired December 15, 1984) -
- Message gag: "What is a pizzad, anyway? A pizza place, maybe?"
- Happy Holidays! (aired December 22, 1984) -
- Message gag: "I'm feeling just like the Grinch. All because of these two idiots I'm stuck with."
- The New Year (aired December 29, 1984) -
- Message gag: "Great, another year of dealing with these buffoons."
- June's Dog (aired January 5, 1985) -
- Message gag: "That's right, people, I will be MIA for once. But why did they have to do this to June? Why?"
- Strikes at SBC (aired January 12, 1985) -
- Message gag: "Oh, no. Another episode starring the man who's ruining my reputation."
- Caracaiman is an Idiot (aired January 19, 1985) -
- Message gag: "At least we finally have a truthful title for once. Still a terrible experience, though."
- Here Comes Cashew! (aired January 26, 1985) -
- Message gag: "Two generations of annoyance on full display!"
- You Blew It! (aired February 2, 1985) -
- Message gag: "What did I do to deserve these two? I really must have done some bad things in my past life."
The Cool Adventures of Chocodile premiered on September 15, 1984 at 10:30 a.m. on JTV, against NBC's Alvin and the Chipmunks. Once that series scored much higher ratings, JTV gave it as much promotion as possible, with one advert even openly insulting Alvin as "that heinous show with these annoying high-pitched voices", but ratings continued declining. The final season moved from the 10:30 a.m. timeslot (against NBC's Alvin and the Chipmunks) to 9:00 a.m. (against CBS' Muppet Babies and NBC's The Smurfs), seemingly in a move to burn off the remaining episodes, as there were no commercials promoting the series throughout the 1986-87 season.
The series received average ratings at first. However, once word of mouth began to spread about the series, ratings slowly went down, and soon never went above a 1.0 in the Nielsen ratings. By the show's end, its ratings were only at 0.3.
Upon release, the series was decried by critics for its sets, unlikable characters (the only ones who were deemed likable were Chocodile, Cherridile, Larry, Solomon, Phil Sourfox, and Officer Thomas Mondo), unnecessary alterations of other characters, inconsistent writing, toilet humor, and overall violation of the rules set up by Perkins. The New York Times called it "a perversion of the beloved franchise", while Forbes called it "Johnson's biggest blunder yet". Future Johnson CEO Sheldon Johnson, Jr. has gone on record as calling the series "misbegotten" and unfavorably compared Vanillagator and Caracaiman to Scrappy-Doo, a character from the Scooby-Doo franchise that was also hated by many. Nearly everyone involved, including Blanc, Messick, and Pope, also disowned the series as well. The book What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History has this show listed as second. It is considered one of the worst TV series of all time, and is considered the nadir of the Phil Stacker era of Johnson Industries.
It is rumored that the series was so bad, that after Stacker's resignation, Johnson burned all master copies of the series; this was denied when Johnson released the below-mentioned Save Your Money box set. It was never rerun after its cancellation, and Stacker has gone on record as denying the series' existence. Perkins was so appalled at the show, that he personally oversaw all future live-action adaptations after this show's cancelation until his 2007 death (his son Sean Perkins has overseen all live-action adaptations ever since), though only live-action/animation hybrids were allowed. Ludicrous Limericks creator Gerald Jankowski went on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1986 and made a six-minute rant about the series, calling it "the worst TV show I've ever seen in the 81 years I've lived" and even came out of retirement to work on Chocodile and Friends and all future Ludicrous Limericks projects from 1987 until his 1996 death, though Jankowski did not return to voice Darrell, explaining that his voice had significantly weakened due to age; he fully approved of Tom Kenny's performance.
In recent years, however, the series has gained a cult following, and is considered a satire on the 1980s as a whole. This led to the release of the below-mentioned Save Your Money box set on April 1, 2014.
When the character designs were announced, they were mocked as uncanny valley-type, namely the characters' realistic designs, a stark contrast to Chocodile's classic design. Their reflective black eyes were also mocked for being creepy. Stacker defended this choice, stating that the characters needed to be more real, and even insulted his critics, referring to them as "slander monkeys". Blanc, Messick, and Pope all disowned the designs as well, as did Perkins, who famously called it "the things that only lesser men would make". In addition, Darrell's design was mocked for its overly realistic nature, lacking his iconic outift, Cherridile's design lacked her hair, bow, and red dress, making her a pallette swap of Chocodile, but the most infamous was Larry's original design in the first six episodes, which reportedly frightened kids who watched the series, to the point where Larry ended up having three different designs throughout the rest of the series, all of which were considered only slightly less horrifying. The only design that wasn't criticized was Tora's, as the costume was considered impressive, though still overly realistic (it was rumored that Tora's costume was bought from a costume shop due to the costuming team only being given an extremely small budget, with the rest being outsourced to amateurs; Stacker himself confirmed this in a 2004 interview). Additionally, none of the mascots' mouths moved, only having two heads: one with an open mouth and one with a closed mouth. In addition, Solomon was no longer fat, another change which was criticized, and lacked his handlebar mustache.
Controversy was also leveled at June's character, as she was subjected to the "Ron the Death Eater" treatment. In the original shorts, June was a friend of Chocodile with a sweet personality, but The Cool Adventures of Chocodile depicted her as one of his enemies, something Chocodile himself was confused with. June was also changed to a disgusting, savage character; the official explanation was that she was "too bland" and a "one-dimensional stereotype", despite June being praised for being a fully fleshed-out, strong female lead. The character Bud also received a new design and personality; in the shorts, he was June's eight-year-old best friend who was implied to have a crush on her. In the series, he states that he's "too cool for love", is 15 years old, often behaves in a "radical" way, and wears an entirely different outfit. Again, Chocodile was confused with this choice. Both these characterizations were mocked in the 1996 short "Parallel Chocoverse", which uses these characterizations as alternate universe counterparts to June and Bud, whom Chocodile displays a psychotic loathing for that transcends his hatred of far-leftists and far-right Republicans, to the point where Cherridile and June need to calm him down every time he sees them.
All 65 episodes of the series were released on video in various compilations after the series ended, though they were only sold in bargain bins due to the unpopular nature of the show. After the Johnson family retook control of the company, all remaining stock and most other unsold merchandise was returned and destroyed, the few remaining commanding exorbitant prices on sites such as eBay. On April 1, 2014, without any advertisement, a DVD box set containing all 65 episodes (plus Chocodile's Cool Movie and including the unaired episode "SBC Goes Loud") was released, entitled Save Your Money: The Worst TV Series Ever Made, also known as Chocodile: A Big Box O’ Crap, with a cover featuring Chocodile and current Johnson CEO Tim Johnson dressed in fedoras and trench coats in front of an opened vault, the former dumping the tapes from a box into a fire and the latter roasting marshmallows over it (which is ironic, as Tim himself doesn't like marshmallows); an early version of the cover art featured Cartman from South Park urinating on the tapes (no genitalia is seen, as Cartman is shown from behind), but this was cut from the final product for censorship reasons. It contains bonus features such as commercials, interviews with cast and crew, Tim introducing each episode, etc. The Blu-ray set, released on the same day, has more bonus features and Easter eggs, such as an optional "commentary track" where characters from other Johnson shows (i.e. Monster World and Detective Jenny) riff on the episodes like they would on WBC Movie Night, as well as the current riffing team from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Jonah Ray as Jonah Heston, Hampton Yount as Crow, and Baron Vaughn as Tom Servo), also riffing on the episodes. Both sets were produced in secret (to the point where all boxes containing copies were unmarked, while everyone involved had to sign non-disclosure agreements) and sold exclusively in Blockbuster locations. Word of mouth began to spread on social media and various forums, and the set became one of the most-demanded items by the end of 2014. It was released worldwide on January 1, 2015.