Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mixed Nutz: The Greatest Show That Never Was

There are a lot of shows pitched to networks every year, and more often than not, they get turned down. Some of them, however, have a chance of being great. One of them is Tom Ruegger's Mixed Nutz. He's written about it on his blog, Cartoonatics, and I thought it was the best idea I ever heard. Get more below the break.

I'll start by telling you who Tom Ruegger is in case you don't already know. Ruegger is an animator that started his career at Filmation in the early 1980s, where he helped develop He-Man. But he never really warmed up to it. He hated the title, preferred the funny stuff unless the action has some depth built into it, and thought He-Man seemed like a 22 minute toy commercial, which was the kind of work he generally wants to avoid. He left Filmation before production began. He did write one script called The Cosmic Comet, which did become an episode, but he barely remembers it, and he never saw it, so he doesn't know how much was changed.

After leaving Filmation, he went to work at Hanna-Barbera. At least half of what he did there involved Scooby-Doo, including developing A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. In 1989, he left Hanna-Barbera and went to Warner Bros., who brought him on to create Tiny Toon Adventures, and later on, Animaniacs, which were both executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Ruegger hasn't done much since the 90s, in 2012, Disney brought him on to executive produce The 7D, which started airing on Disney XD this past July.

Now for Mixed Nutz. Ruegger pitched the idea to Warner Bros. back in 2008. The show would be about characters from Hanna-Barbera and Looney Tunes appearing in cartoons with each other. He first pitched it to Brad Globe, head of Warner Bros. global licensing (pretty fitting name, isn't it). After seeing some pieces of Ruegger's art, he said to him "We're making this show.  I've been waiting for someone to walk in with a concept like this for at least three years.  And now you've done it.  We're going to make this show." Most pitches don't normally go this well. A week later, there was a follow-up pitch with Globe, Warner Bros. Animation president Peter Roth, and president of the Warner Bros. Television Group Bruce Rosenblum. They liked Mixed Nutz so well, that al three execs committed to making a pilot.

So what happened to Mixed Nutz if the executives liked it so much? About a month after the initial pitch, Sam Register was hired as Vice President of creative affairs at Warner Bros. Animation, and he wanted to do his own thing with Looney Tunes (that would eventually be The Looney Tunes Show), so he pulled the plug on Mixed Nutz, and Ruegger hasn't heard anything about it from anyone at Warner Bros. since.

So what do I think about all this? I'll start by saying that my all time favorite animation studio is Hanna-Barbera, with Warner Bros. being a close second. Seeing this show would've been a dream come true. And Tom Ruegger was the right person to do something like this. Yeah, kids today aren't going to know who most Hanna-Barbera characters are, but this would've been a great way to introduce them to the new generation. Below, you'll find concept art I got of off Ruegger's blog. Tom, in the unlikely event you're reading this, I hope you don't mind me using these pictures and basically copying the captions. If that does bother you, and you want me to remove them, tweet to me, or leave it in the comments. You can comment through Twitter. Let me know somehow. Just don't comment as a guest or I won't know whether or not it's you. And once The 7D wraps up, I think you should give Mixed Nutz another shot. It had potential. Here are the pictures:

The header of this post was one.

Bugs Bunny makes a wrong turn in Albuquerque and ends up in Bedrock.

Daffy subs for Shaggy in this Scooby-Doo segment.

El Kabong is hired by the Highway Patrol to put the kibosh (and the "kabong") on the Road Runner.
Rosey the Robot returns from the future to prevent Daffy from screwing up the world.
Yogi overstays his welcome at Bugs' Malibu beachfront home, so he gives him a nudge toward the door.
Duck Twacy teams up with detec-a-tives Snooper, Blabber and Huckleberry Hound in this comedy spin on Law and Order.
Viking Elmer Fudd arrives in Bedrock to conquer this stone-aged civilization.  But it's Elmer's incessant singing that drives Fred and the rest of the Flintstones out of their minds.

Taz seriously considers drastic options when trapped on a cargo plane with someone that won't stop talking.

Bugs meets Boo Boo.
Bamm-Bamm Rubble takes a liking to the noggin of babysitter Yosemite Sam.
After Daffy replaces an injured Shaggy, Scooby quits in protest and is replaced by Dino, much to Daffy's consternation.

Bugs upstages and confuses the daylights out of the Mystery Inc. gang during a mystery that takes place inside  the Motion Picture Hospital and Animators' Retirement Home in Calabasas.

The Bugs/Daffy/Elmer Hunting Season trilogy gets a new chapter during bear season.

Yosemite Sam develops a crush on Wilma Flintstone, but the outcome is the same as the Bam Bam incident pictured above.

Read this. It would take me too long to explain in a caption.
Marvin's plans to overthrow Orbit City disintegrate when he becomes the focus of attention for Judy Jetson.

Scooby encounters Gossamer, who's the pet of the local mad scientist veterinarian.

Daffy and Yogi argue over their own respective studliness and the kind of music they want to listen to during a cross-country road trip. 

Elmer Fudd goes hunting, and so does Jabberjaw.

Ruegger's alternate title for Mixed Nutz was Toonotopia. Read more here.

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