Special Features

Dumb & Dumber Spawned a Bizarre Animated Kids Show & That Kind of Thing Used to Be Totally Normal

Today marks the long-awaited (or dreaded) release of a proper Dumb & Dumber sequel re-teaming Jim Carrey’s Lloyd with Jeff Daniels’ Harry. It’s been 20 years since we left those two idiots on the side of a road, unwittingly passing up a bus trip with gorgeous Hawaiian Tropics models who were in a desperate need of a oil rubdown. In the time since then, Jim Carrey’s gone from the 20 million dollar man to the “Um, does Emma Stone need to get a restraining order against him?” creeper. Jeff Daniels has clawed his way back to respectability, putting exploding diarrhea scenes behind him in favor of being Aaron Sorkin’s latest mouthpiece via The Newsroom. The Farrelly Brothers, who made their directorial debut with Dumb and Dumber, are sadly fairly far removed from the halcyon days of There’s Something About Mary. Jim Carrey needs a hit. The Farrelly Brothers need a hit. Jeff Daniels, um, we’re not sure why he’s doing this. Either way, it all adds up to a proper sequel, Dumb & Dumber To.

However, this is not the first time we’ve actually seen Lloyd and Harry since the first Dumb and Dumber. You probably think I’m trying to segue into a discussion of that little-seen prequel Dumb & Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd starring future NCIS: LA star Eric Chirstian Olsen as Lloyd. Well, I’m not. There was a prequel. It wasn’t great, but no one from the original film was really involved with it anyway. You can’t blame the studio for trying to make a buck. That’s kind of what they do. No, I’m trying to segue to something far worse than that prequel. I present to you Dumb & Dumber: The Series!:

That was actually made by legendary TV animation powerhouse Hanna-Barbera, which was in the midst a bit of a comeback at that point, riding high off of Captain Planet for TBS. So, if the style of animation looks familiar but like it was possibly a bit passé by 1995 standards that’s why. Incidentally, this was actually one of the final non-Disney related Saturday morning cartoons to air on ABC.  Featuring Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) and Bill Fagerbakke stepping in for Carrey and Daniels respectively, The Series followed Harry and Lloyd driving around in their dog-like car named Otto, and having adventures with their pet beaver named Kitty. It premiered in ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup in late 1995, lasting for a single 13 episode season, delivering us such unforgettable classic episodes as “Brain, Brain Go Away” and “Top Dumbs.”

The reason all of this happened, of course, is because Dumb & Dumber made a lot of money. Costing just $17 million to make and grossing what would convert to $483 million worldwide at current ticket prices, Dumb & Dumber finished as the 6th biggest film of 1994, trailing the box office hauls for classics like Forrest Gump and The Lion King while improbably finishing ahead of the summer blockbuster Speed.   In fact, even before you adjust for ticket price inflation Dumb & Dumber still ranks in the top 20 of the highest-grossing comedies of the past 20 years.  Obviously, New Line Cinema wanted a sequel. Unfortunately, Jim Carrey’s much-touted ascension to a star demanding a $20 million paycheck as well as a general disinterest on the part of all involved parties made any kind of live-action continuation of the Dumb & Dumber story a non-starter for approximately the next decade. There was absolutely nothing stopping them from doing an animated series, though.

Looking back at it, an animated series wasn’t an entirely terrible idea. While a lot of the humor in Dumb & Dumber trends toward signature Farrelly Brothers gross-out jokes relating to bodily fluids with a side helping of black comedy (that poor blind kid and his pet bird), the actual characters Harry and Lloyd are basically walking cartoon characters. They’ve got the cute van. Give them an animal sidekick, send them on the road for adventures, and bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve got yourself an animated series. There have been far stranger animated spin-offs from the films of our childhood.

RamboThere once was a time when Hollywood thought just about anything could be turned into a kids cartoon. You might look at Rambo and see a sobering examination of post-traumatic stress disorder and the Vietnam War; the rights holders looked at it and saw the potential for a G.I. Joe knock-off. So, we got Rambo: The Force of Freedom. You might look at RoboCop and see an ultraviolent social satire; somebody else looked at it, didn’t pick up on the satire, and made a relatively faithful animated series. The same basic thing happened a decade later with Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles.  The list goes on. Highlander, a film series about immortals decapitating other immortals, got a dreadful, barely related cartoon. The Karate Kid got a cartoon featuring Mr. Miyagi, Daniel, and some random girl chasing down a stolen ancient artifact. Then there are those cartoons that were actually kind of good, like The Real Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice, and those that we know we watched but don’t really remember, like Back to the Future and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Here’s one of 8 minute chunk of Dumb & Dumber: The Series :

This “let’s make a cartoon out of it” idea doesn’t happen that much anymore, and when it does it’s usually a comic book property, like DisneyXD’s forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy series.  In a way, that’s a good thing because most of these old films-made-into-cartoons were very not good.  It also serves as a reminder that at one time American broadcast networks had prime Saturday morning real estate to fill with content.  So, many of us grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, taking the good with the very, very bad (like Dumb & Dumber).  That’s not the case anymore, at least not the way it used to be now with government regulations mandating that the broadcast networks’ Saturday mornings be filed with educational programming  [read about the death of the Saturday morning cartoon here].  As a result, we are under no imminent threat of improbable adaptations like, say, Let’s Be Cops: The Animated Series, or The Animated Expendables or even Dumb & Dumber To.  Yeah, that’s probably a good thing, but, honestly I suddenly really want to watch Let’s Be Cops: The Animated Series.  Two guys who are pretending to be cops getting into shenanigans every week?  Make that happen!  Maybe don’t give them an animal sidekick, though.

Did you ever watch Dumb & Dumber: The Series?  Or is this the first you’ve heard of it?  Do you think it actually looks pretty funny?  Let me know in the comments.

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