If you’re a child of the 1990s, this word probably strikes joy into your heart: Nicktoons.
In 1991, the Nickelodeon network adopted the Nicktoons banner to promote their new line of original animated series. Up until that point, Nick had taken their whole animated lineup from foreign imports. However, Nickelodeon executives decided that they should probably be in the business of making animantion themselves. With that end in mind, Nick launched a vast array of excellent shows. The titles still conjure fond memories today: Rugrats; Hey Arnold!; CatDog; KaBlam!…
In many animation addicts’ minds (or at least mine), Doug is the greatest Nicktoon of ’em all. Drawing heavily on his own childhood experiences, creator Jim Jinkins brought us Doug Funnie, a typical kid living in the typical town of Bluffington. Doug is a sensitive, thoughtful, daydreaming aspiring artist who details his day-to-day life in his trusty red journal. Over the course of the show, we share in Doug’s everyday experiences: summer jobs, dealing with bullies, and putting up with older siblings. Along the way, Doug‘s writers keep things interesting by interjecting Doug’s daydreams into the story, as long as following Doug’s unrequited love for the beautiful Patti Mayonnaise.
There are so many wonderful episodes of Doug, but since I’m both a horror and an animation fan – and since this the Halloween Countdown – you can probably guess what my favorite episode is. It’s ”
Doug’s Halloween Adventure!”
As the episode opens, we find Skeeter Valentine – Doug’s best friend – spinning a scary tale for Doug. The story revolves around Baron Von Hecklehoffer, a dashing millionaire who spends 17 years building Bloodstone Manor, a gigantic mansion for himself and his beloved. Unfortunately, the two only have time to step over the threshold before discovering the home’s fatal flaw: the floor was never installed. The couple plummet to their deaths.
Years later, a mysterious hooded stranger comes to town and purchases the supposedly haunted mansion. He proceeds to make a totally obvious move with the home: he sells it to a theme park! More specifically, the stranger sells the house to Funky Town, where the park’s engineers retool it into a ride. However, rumors persist that the hooded stranger still lives in the house – and is looking for victims.
Skeeter is excited about attending Bloodstone Manor’s Halloween grand opening, but Doug is more hesitant. After seeing a terrifying commercial advertising the Manor, Doug opts that he and Skeeter spend the night trick-or-treating instead. However, when local bully Roger Klotz accuse Doug and Skeeter of being chicken, and after Patti gives Doug an extra dose of confidence, Doug, Skeeter, and Roger decide to tackle the ride…
I’m a big fan of animated Halloween specials that aren’t afraid to get scary, and “Doug’s Halloween Adventure” doesn’t waffle on that point! Two of Doug’s daydreams are particularly striking – with mansions turning into multi-story-tall monsters – and the Bloodstone Manor commercial has stuck with me for years. There’s more than enough humor to keep the episode light, but, in my opinion, the strongest elements of this episode are the scary ones!
The animation is fairly solid; after all, the animators were working with a TV budget, and there’s only so much that can be done with little money. However, the animators really had a field day with the scary sequences. There are lots of transformations, dinners coming to life, laughing moons, and transparent ghosts in those scenes, and they all look fantastic. It’s easy to see that the animators had a lot of fun with those opportunities!
To sum up: most TV shows have had Halloween episodes, and most of them are fun to watch. However, “Doug’s Halloween Adventure” stands head-and-shoulders above most of them. If you haven’t seen the show, please do! You owe it to yourself.