Baby Blues (U.S. TV series)
|Developed by||Jeff Martin
|Written by||Neal Boushell
Julie Sherman Wolfe
|Voices of||Mike O'Malley
|Opening theme||"It's All Been Done" by Barenaked Ladies|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2 (season two completely unaired)|
|No. of episodes||26 (13 unaired) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jeff Martin
Karen K. Miller
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Split the Difference Productions
Warner Bros. Animation
Rough Draft Studios
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
|Original channel||The WB
Adult Swim (episodes 9-13)
|Picture format||4:3 SDTV|
|Original run||July 28, 2000 –
August 24, 2000
January 20, 2002 –
March 10, 2002
Baby Blues is an animated television series, based on the Baby Blues comic strip by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, produced by Warner Bros.. The first eight episodes of Baby Blues originally aired in the United States on The WB Television Network from July 28, 2000 until August 24, 2000, before the series cancellation. Five then-unaired episodes were later aired on Adult Swim in 2002. A season consisting of thirteen episodes was produced but never aired.
The animated adaptation of Baby Blues differs from the comic by having it take place when Zoe MacPherson was still an infant, even though she was the older sister to Hammie in the strip at the time. In addition, it focuses on Darryl and Wanda's relationship with supporting characters created for this series, including the Bittermans (a dysfunctional next-door family with three children), Bizzy (a babysitter for Zoe), and Kenny (Darryl's laid-back close friend and co-worker).
Warner Bros. Animation has produced eight of the 13 aired episodes, with overseas animation done by Varga Studio in Hungary for five of them (including the pilot), and Sunwoo Entertainment in Korea for the three others. Rough Draft Studios in Los Angeles did five episodes, which include "Bizzy Moves In", "Rodney Has Two Daddies", "Hurtin' Inside", "Ugly Zoe", and "Wanda Moves Up".
In another attempt to compete with Fox's popular animated sitcoms, The WB made the show to be more adult-oriented than the comic strip (by having some sexuality, mild swearing, etc.). Because Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott had little creative control over the animated version, they were not completely pleased about this kind of difference, though Scott said he liked "part of it".
The Baby Blues animated series took nearly five years to develop and produce, and what was initially the pilot, "A Baby Blues Christmas Special" was supposed to air on December 1998, but it was postponed more than once, while other episodes were being ordered and completed. The Christmas episode finally aired on Adult Swim on February 24, 2002. In 1999, the show was almost to be retitled Bluesville, with Scott's unawareness but Baby Blues was kept as the title, given how popular the comic strip is with more than 60 million readers.
The WB typically aired two episodes each week, thus enabling eight different episodes to be shown in the five-week run, but abandoned plans to air additional episodes which had been completed. Previously unaired episodes were later aired on Cartoon Network's late night programming block, Adult Swim, and on Teletoon in Canada. The show was canceled after 13 episodes.
The opening theme song was "It's All Been Done" by Barenaked Ladies, from Stunt (album). The title sequence was designed by Renegade Animation, and shows the characters at the Warner Bros. studios.
- Darryl MacPherson (Mike O'Malley) - Darryl is the uptight and responsible father of Zoe and husband to Wanda. He tends to think Wanda's heart-felt ideas are crazy, but will later agree with them if there is an advantage for himself. He wants the best for his baby daughter, but can overly protect her. Despite intending to do the right thing, he has done unexpected selfish things, such as pretending to grieve over going with Carl and their kids to a fun zone, only to watch an attractive dancer at the place singing every time it was a child's birthday. But in the end, he is faithful to his wife and daughter. Darryl often feels that his wife nags him and will always discuss his issues to his friend, Kenny at work. Most commonly, he will talk about a problem, the next day, talk about how happy he is to have solved the problem an easy way, then the next day, talk about how it did not work out. Darryl is quick to express jealousy—particularly of Carl, his next door neighbor.
- Wanda MacPherson (Julia Sweeney) - Wanda is Darryl's wife and Zoe's mother. She is caring, unpredictable, passionate and impulsive by turns. However, just as Darryl does, she loves Zoe and wants only the best for her. Wanda is a stay at home mom. Her closest friends are her neighbor Melinda and a teenage girl named Bizzy, who serves as Zoe's babysitter from time to time. Wanda generally has a cheerful disposition, but she is quick to let her emotions get the best of her. She will usually go through drastic measures to fix something, against her husband's wishes. Wanda is occasionally melancholy about motherhood, as suggested by the title Baby Blues. She is said to have a "crazy spark" in her that never left. This is seen at one point, when she wants to feel young again and escapes with Bizzy and her friends at night and gets caught by the police. Wanda's unpredictable and impulsive behavior is often a source of extreme stress for Darryl. However, in the end, they always settle their differences and make peace after the arguments and problems are resolved.
- Zoe MacPherson - Zoe is the infant daughter of Darryl and Wanda. As a baby, Zoe's curiosity and emotions are expressed in her eyes, which show almost complete understanding when something happens or if somebody talks to her. Although calm and cheerful in the day time, she is very loud and cries nonstop at night, leaving her parents to stay up all night, taking turns rocking her, and carrying her until day time. Zoe appears to have a really close relationship with Rodney, the trouble kid next door who seems to be the only one who could stop her crying and comfort her. Voiced by E.G. Daily.
- Melinda Bitterman (Arabella Field) - Melinda is Wanda's friend and neighbor whose family is dysfunctional. Melinda is always seen smoking in her yard as her husband and kids are working on some bizarre, dangerous or disastrous activity. Any time she sees Wanda, she always greets with the same line, "Hi Wanda, how's the baby?" Seemingly careless or tired, Melinda seems to desire the happiness and relationship she once had before she became a mother and somewhat envies Wanda's stable life, but is still content with her family. She always talks in a calm voice, even when discussing an insane thing that her family is doing, as if it were normal.
- Carl Bitterman (Joel Murray) - Melinda's husky, big-muscled and overweight husband. A seemingly bum like man, Carl claims that he gives his kids strict discipline, even though he has lowered himself to their level many, many times, particularly Rodney, who pesters Carl until he takes aggressive action. Carl is usually envied by Darryl, for his mechanic skills and other things Darryl fails at. Carl can be rude and obnoxious at times, but considers himself the "man of the house". He usually involves his children in several activities, such as practicing to shoot arrows or riding in a hover car without seatbelts. He belittles Darryl's parenting skills, and self-confidence, either bluntly or through his children who have little respect for Darryl. Because of this, Carl and Darryl do not particularly get along, although Darryl has been talked into doing things he would not normally do, because of Carl's forceful insistence.
- Rodney Bitterman (Kath Soucie) - Rodney is the eight-year-old son of Carl and Melinda Bitterman. Rodney is very mischievous and is best known for causing a lot of trouble. However, he's the smartest of his siblings and is street wise. Rodney repeatedly pesters his dad by asking stupid questions, shooting knock-knock jokes to avoid going to bed, and placing his finger an inch from his father's tools immediately after being told not to touch them. Rodney's antics always makes his sister, Megan, laugh. Besides being a menace, he can be very sympathetic, particularly to Darryl and Zoe. The sensitive side of Rodney has shown his somewhat neglected or misunderstood relationship with his dad. At one time, Rodney had tried one of Darryl's cheesy mushrooms and realized how much he cared about good food and wanted to cook. However, his father thought it was silly, so Rodney had relied on Darryl to help him. This preference to Darryl over his own dad led Darryl to pride, despite Rodney's annoying and teasing Darryl many times previously. Rodney's sensitive side also shows through his a caring and loving relationship with Zoe.
- Megan Bitterman (also voiced by Kath Soucie) - Megan is Rodney's younger sister and is very close to Rodney. Megan is most commonly known for laughing out loud at anything Rodney does to pester their father. Megan is almost always seen with Rodney and keeps a huge smile on her face all the time. However, when Rodney is not around, she is seen to get very sad and cry.
- Shelby Bitterman - Carl and Melinda's youngest son who is a sociopath and is always seen carrying a fat, green, baseball bat around which he hits things with, without expression. The episode "Hurtin Inside" revealed he is four years old. He never speaks, but often communicates by pointing, and was once seen to whisper to his mom at a game of baseball in "The Bitterman Hillbillies".
- Bizzy Carey (Nicole Sullivan) - Darryl and Wanda's teenage friend who babysits Zoe on many occasions. The MacPhersons have known her since she was a girl scout. Bizzy seems to look older than she actually is, since Darryl's boss once bought Darryl's lie about her being his wife. She dislikes Drew Carey, her faux morally responsible stepfather. Wanda and Darryl many times have had to question her about her many dysfunctional boyfriends. Bizzy is blond, very thin and has a fast metabolism, as she once claimed when Wanda discovered Bizzy had been sitting on the couch all day, eating a whole bag of chocolate chip cookies, with no worry, while babysitting.
- Kenny (Diedrich Bader) - Kenny is Darryl's smooth-talking friend and co-worker at the office. Kenny is something of a nuisance to Darryl, such as bragging about his life and family, or poking fun at Darryl's personal relationship with Wanda. Darryl normally talks to Kenny about his problems at home, to which Kenny advises with either agreeable or nonagreeble mischievous ideas. Kenny's personality is seen to be laid back and worry-free, however, he grew upset and anxious one time Darryl stopped working for a while. Even though Kenny seems to think his family's normal, it's hinted that his wife was cheating on him with a neighbor, and that he might be a neglectful father, since for one second in an episode he forgot he had a third child.
Minor and recurring
- Rex (Phil LaMarr) and Josie (Wendy Raquel Robinson) - An African-American couple who are close friends of Darryl and Wanda's. Rex is known for appearing in sweaters similar to what Bill Cosby wore on The Cosby Show, while Josie's favorite pastime is gardening.
- Sylvia (Kath Soucie) and Midge (Nicole Sullivan) - A pair of women who are close friends of Darryl and Wanda's. It has never been stated if they are lesbians or not. Sylvia is the one with black hair, while Midge is blonde.
- Mrs. Johnson (Alice Hirson) - An elderly lady, and another one of Darryl and Wanda's neighbors. She has an unseen son named Howard, a "man-child" who still loves to read comics in his treehouse.
- Officer Murphy (Diedrich Bader) - An obese police officer who speaks with a stereotypical Irish accent.
- Dr. Gruber (Steven Weber) - The MacPhersons' big-nosed, big-eared family doctor who likes to make jokes. He appeared in two episodes straight, "Ugly Zoe" and "Wanda Proof".
- Hugh (Jim Cummings) and Maggie Wizowski (Julia Sweeney) - Wanda's parents who appeared in two episodes, "Rodney Moves In" and "A Baby Blues Christmas Special", along with Darryl's parents. Darryl criticized his father-in-law for telling lousy stories.
- Pauline (Arabella Field) and "Mac" MacPherson - Darryl's mother and silent father.
- Bunny (Kath Soucie) - A close friend of Wanda's, and the only character from the comic strip, besides the MacPherson/Wizowski family, to appeared in this show. However, unlike in the strip, where she has a son named Bogart, she has a baby boy with long blond hair named Haget.
Season 1: 2000-2002
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Production
|1||"God Forbid"||Shawn Björklund||Robert Kurtz & Eric Brand||July 28, 2000||225-047|
|After worrying about who should be Zoe's godparents, Wanda designates The Bittermans, their dysfunctional next-door neighbors. However, noting that Darryl and Carl don't get along very well, Melinda invites the MacPhersons to go with her family on a camping trip.|
|2||"Bizzy Moves In"||Rich Moore||Jill Soloway||July 28, 2000||225-048|
|Wanda is upset when Darryl gives her a minivan for her birthday and starts to hang out with their teenage babysitter Bizzy. Darryl becomes worried about Wanda after she and Bizzy's friends get caught sneaking into the aquarium. Guest starring Drew Carey.|
|3||"Rodney Has Two Daddies"||Ron Hughart & Chris Sauve||Leonard Dick, Jeff Martin, Peter Ocko & Jill Soloway||August 4, 2000||225-049|
|After Wanda asks Carl to help with some repairs around the house Darryl began to feels his masculinity is being threatened, so he teaches Carl's son Rodney (who developed an interest for gourmet food after tasting Darryl's stuffed mushrooms) to cook in secret for Rodney's fear of his dad finding out. Meanwhile, Wanda worries Darryl might be cheating on her.|
|4||"Hurtin' Inside"||Susie Dietter||Leonard Dick||August 4, 2000||N/A|
|Wanda tries to find Bizzy a new boyfriend, since her current boyfriend Ray is a selfish jerk. Meanwhile, Darryl wonders why women seem to prefer jerks to nice guys and Rodney feels alone when Zoe begins to hang around Shelby.|
|5||"The Bitterman Hillbillies"||John Kafka||Jill Soloway||August 11, 2000||225-057|
|Darryl becomes insanely jealous of Carl when Carl gets a job installing sprinklers at baseball stadiums and becomes wealthy. Wanda thinks that Darryl is acting too selfish until the Bittermans start hiring Bizzy, the MacPherson's babysitter.|
|6||"World's Greatest Dad"||Bob Curtis||Jackie Filgo & Jeff Filgo||August 11, 2000||225-052|
|When Melinda invites Wanda to her ceramic painting class, Darryl takes Zoe with Carl and his kids to Gumdrop Station, a Chuck E. Cheese-style arcade/pizzeria where the star attraction is a buxom, scantily-clad blonde known as "The Birthday Lady".|
|7||"Rodney Moves In"||John Kafka||Jeff Martin & Peter Ocko||August 18, 2000||225-051|
|Feeling unwanted in his family, Rodney moves in with the MacPhersons, who find that he's the only person who keeps Zoe from crying.|
|8||"Ugly Zoe"||Brian Sheesley||Jeff Martin & Peter Ocko||August 24, 2000||225-205|
|Days before an interview with a prestigious preschool, Wanda freaks out when Zoe gets lesions on her head, a scab above her lip, and pink eye. Meanwhile, Darryl tells his boss that the teenage babysitter Bizzy is his wife to be invited onto his boat.|
|9||"Wanda Proof"||Shawn Björklund||Leonard Dick||January 20, 2002||225-053|
|After accidentally breaking off a thermometer in Zoe's rectum and letting Zoe fall off the diaper-changing table, Darryl hires a baby-proofer to keep the house accident-free (and Wanda away from her baby daughter).|
|10||"The Bad Family"||John Kafka||Matthew Weiner||January 27, 2002||225-054|
|After a series of mishaps (Wanda answering the door waving a bottle of her father's liquor around and holding Zoe and Darryl caught in a tree outside the Bittermans' house), the neighbors believe that Wanda and Darryl are irresponsible parents.|
|11||"Teddy-Cam"||Bob Curtis||Leonard Dick||February 3, 2002||225-055|
|Darryl installs a camera into a teddy bear to spy on Bizzy while she babysits Zoe.|
|12||"A Baby Blues Christmas Special"||Tony Cervone||Adam Barr, Jeff Martin & Peter Ochs||February 24, 2002||475-137|
|In this flashback episode, viewers see how Wanda gave birth to Zoe and how Wanda and Darryl argued over how to raise her kids.|
|13||"Wanda Moves Up"||Peter Avanzino||Bill Frieberger||March 10, 2002||225-203|
|Wanda becomes Melinda's business partner when Melinda opens up a shop specializing in clam-shaped knick-knacks (after misinterpreting the Ku Klux Klan engraving on her father's tombstone) while Darryl becomes a stay-at-home dad.|
A second season's run of 13 episodes was written, but never fully produced.
When Baby Blues aired on The WB, it got moderate to low ratings, resulting into its cancellation in August 2000. The series also received mixed to negative reviews from professional critics. Particularly, on its premiere night, South Coast Today wrote that "'Baby Blues' is hardly perfect. Its teen characters are right out of the MTV/WB playbook; the notion of a nutty family next door is as old as the sitcom hills. But as a slightly silly, slightly sweet summer series that's not afraid to show it has a heart, it more than exceeds even this cranky critic's expectations." David Bianculli of New York Daily News was negative towards Baby Blues, giving it 1 1/2 stars, and called it "depressingly flat". Also in the article, he wrote "Timing and originality, even in comedy, may not be everything - but they count for a lot, and WB's new 'Baby Blues' series doesn't get high marks in either category. First, 'Baby Blues', which premieres with a double header tonight at 8, is an animated prime-time comedy, arriving the summer after a season in which there were too many dull entries in that particular genre. That's bad timing. 'Baby Blues' could overcome that by being funnier than the rest. Unfortunately, it's not. Second, 'Baby Blues', based on the syndicated comic strip by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, is a sitcom in two dimensions. That is, it's an animated show in which human beings engage in everyday activities - working, goofing off, sleeping, fighting and so on. At its best, this particular category of animated comedy gives you 'The Simpsons'. At its worst, it gives you 'Clerks'."
John Kiesewetter from the Television Critics Association wrote a negative article on the show. He calls it "an embarrassment to the newspaper comic's loyal readers, all 60 million", and criticizes The WB for turning "the sweet family musings into a cross between Dennis the Menace and Dawson's Creek", and for having it lack "the charm, wit and insights of the daily strip about weary new parents Darryl and Wanda MacPherson, and baby Zoe."