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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beetlejuice - The Animated Series

Last year, I did a blog entry on the 1988 movie “Beetlejuice”. I make no secret in telling all of you that it remains one of my all-time favourite movies. I think I was eight years old when I first saw this movie, and I fell in love with it almost instantly. I suppose in some ways, that movie was also my introduction to the wonderful works of Tim Burton.

And the movie didn't scare me...much. Okay, the sandworms were a little bit creepy, but for the most part, I enjoyed the storyline of the dearly departed Maitlands trying to make sense of their deaths. Through it all, they ended up befriending a young goth girl named Lydia Deetz despite the fact that they unleashed the powerful, scary, and unpredictable Betelgeuse (otherwise known as Beetlejuice).

So when I heard that there was a cartoon series that was airing on ABC at the same that that I saw the movie for the first time, I knew that I had to find a way to see this cartoon just to see how it compared to the movie.

Only there wasn't really any comparison at all...mainly because the only things in common between the movie and the cartoon were characters and settings.

The “Beetlejuice” cartoon is unique in the sense that the cartoon at some point aired on two different networks at the same time. First, the show debuted on ABC during its Saturday Morning cartoon block between September 8, 1989 until October 26, 1991. Meanwhile, FOX decided to pick up the series in September 1991, and aired new episodes until May 7, 1992, meaning that there was a time in the fall of 1991 that the show aired on both ABC and FOX.

The cartoon was also developed by Tim Burton, and featured the voices of Stephen Ouimette as Beetlejuice, and Alyson Court as Lydia, and for the most part, the setting remained the same (aside from the name change from Winter River to Peaceful Pines for the name of the town Lydia and her family live in).

But there were far more differences than similarities between the film and the cartoon series. It was like we were watching a completely different show.

Not that I minded very much, as I loved the cartoon just as much as the movie.

So, let's take a look at the differences between the film and the movie, just to showcase what I mean.

Remember how in the movie, the Maitlands vanquished Beetlejuice back to the Neitherworld and they remained in the house living side by side with Lydia? Somehow, the Maitlands must have found a better mansion to haunt because neither Barbara or Adam make an appearance in the cartoon at all. I thought that it was a shame to not have them make at least a cameo appearance, but then again, the whole point of the cartoon was to focus on the life of Lydia...which then leads to difference number two.

In the film, Beetlejuice and Lydia were far from friends. But somehow in the cartoon version, they are BFF's. Well, okay, so one of the friends has been dead for hundreds of years, but still, when they get together, they often have a lot of fun and laughs (even though Beetlejuice sometimes gets a little too out of control).

And unlike the film, in which Lydia remains in the human world the entire time, Lydia can come and go between the real world and the Neitherworld whenever she pleases. All that Lydia had to do to summon Beetlejuice (or take a trip to the Neitherworld) was utter the following chant.

Though I know I should be wary,
Still I venture someplace scary,
Ghostly hauntings I turn loose,
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, BEETLEJUICE!!!

Once inside the Neitherworld, Beetlejuice and Lydia ended up getting involved in a lot of adventures together, some of which were scarier than others. Here are just a few examples of some of the mishaps that they ended up getting involved in while in the Neitherworld.

  • Beetlejuice and Lydia take on a job babysitting Neitherworld babies, which almost got Beetlejuice sent to be fed to the sandworms!
  • Neitherworld's Prince Vince falls in love with Lydia, and asks Beetlejuice for assistance in getting her to fall in love with him back.
  • Beetlejuice finds a new career as an armpit musician, and the success goes to his head, leaving Lydia and his friends on the outside.
  • Beetlejuice takes Lydia and her friends camping in the Neitherworld
  • Beetlejuice takes Lydia to a Neitherworld Wild West town where she almost ends up marrying a bull!
  • Beetlejuice uses an abnormal brain when he helps Lydia build a car...the result is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde car named “Doomie”.
  • Beetlejuice hosts a children's show named “Uncle B.J.'s Roadhouse”.
  • Lydia is forced to help Beetlejuice pass kindergarten in the Neitherworld.

Now what makes these storylines hilarious is the sight gags and visual puns. For instance, ice cream in the real world is a bunch of screaming eyes in the Neitherworld. And pumpkin pie becomes “Punk-in-Pie” in the Neitherworld. There's loads more examples than this, but I'll save the rest of those for later.


(Inside joke there in relation to the show. If you watch enough episodes of the series, you'll figure it out.)

Oh, and Beetlejuice often makes appearances in Lydia's world as well. Despite the fact that nobody in the real world is aware of his appearance aside from Lydia herself, Beetlejuice often uses his con man background to bilk the live savings out of everyone in Peaceful Pines. He masquerades as Betty Juice in order to win the student body president election at Lydia's school. He causes a lot of problems when he brings a “Party in a Can” to Lydia's Halloween party, and as Cousin B.J., he ended up getting Lydia's father to open up his wallet more times than ever before. Don't worry though, Lydia would often bring Beetlejuice back down to earth and come up with a solution to help fix everything.

I guess another reason why I enjoyed the cartoon so much was because of all of the new characters that were introduced in the story. The movie spent so much time focusing on the Maitlands that we never really got to see much of Beetlejuice or Lydia's personal lives or connections.

In the cartoon, we are introduced to both characters' circles of friends. In Lydia's case, her friends are made up of best friends Bertha and Prudence, as well as her nemesis, the spoiled, stuck-up Clare Brewster. Beetlejuice isn't really a fan of Lydia's other friends, but he does tend to leave Bertha and Prudence alone. His real ire is directed towards Clare, which causes Lydia to get the ultimate revenge on Clare through Beetlejuice in more ways than one.

Beetlejuice's friends, on the other hand, aren't really all that chummy with him. They tolerate him, but are absolutely charmed by Lydia whenever she pays a visit. These include Jacques, a skeleton who despite having no muscles or skin still works out in order to maintain his physique, Ginger, a tap-dancing spider, and the Monster Across The Street, a big, burly eyeless beast who frequently causes Beetlejuice trouble, along with his pet, Poopsie.

That's about all that I have to say about Beetlejuice the cartoon. I think to end this blog entry off...we'll watch an episode now.

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