|Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode|
Mac, Bloo, Wilt, Eduardo, and Coco are warned of the dangers of their quest to find Frankie.
Robert Alvarez (animation)
Eric Pringle (animation)
|Cinematography by||Ninky Harley|
|Original air date||November 27, 2008|
|Running time||65 minutes|
Max Burkholder as World
"Destination: Imagination" is a television special of the animated television series Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. The plot of the special follows Frankie, who becomes trapped in a huge, mysterious world where she is treated like royalty but forced not to leave. Bloo, Mac, Coco, Eduardo, and Wilt journey through the world to rescue her, facing perils and challenges along the way.
Written by Lauren Faust and Tim McKeon, "Destination: Imagination" was directed by Rob Renzetti and series creator Craig McCracken. The plot was conceived after the crew decided that they wanted to make an episode with adventure, featuring the characters going out on a large quest of sorts. Due to the dark and serious storytelling approach used, the special came out "edgier" than most episodes of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
The special originally broadcast on Cartoon Network on November 27, 2008, on Thanksgiving Day. It was well received and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour or More). It was also nominated for two Annie Awards—one for Best Animated Television Production Produced for Children and another for McCracken and Renzetti's directing.
During the pouring rain, a young boy helps his mother and father leave a heavily chained toy box at the doorstep of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends with instructions to not be opened. The next day, Frankie has grown outraged about her job as the house caretaker; Mr. Herriman has been giving her endless chores to take care day after day without thanking her for any of it. When Frankie discovers the box left on the doorstep, Herriman instructs her to leave it in the attic. In a fit of anger toward Herriman, she intentionally ignores the instructions given in the box and peeks inside it. She falls inside, only to discover it is a vast world filled with anthropomorphic toys and delectable treats. She hears and sympathizes with a young boy's voice (Max Burkholder), later revealed to be the imaginary friend named World (given the name by the crew of the show), who has been living alone in the toy chest since his family left the box at Foster's.
Frankie adores the world and goes to visit it every day, being treated like royalty by the voice. But one day, when she goes to leave, the friend refuses to allow her and locks every exit in the castle they are abiding in. Bloo, Mac, Coco, Eduardo, and Wilt become curious with her sudden disappearance. They go up to the attic and enter the toy box, discovering for themselves the vast world that resides in it. They ask around a small town if anyone has seen a woman of Frankie's description but nobody responds. A group of weeble policemen discover they have entered the world and chase after them, but the gang are saved by a heroic man. He tries to warn them that their pursuit of Frankie will lead through extremely dangerous environments, but they are determined to rescue her. Mr. Herriman, in the meantime, is outraged by Frankie's disappearance and attempts to find a replacement for her, but to no avail.
After failing to cross a musical and colorful bridge, the gang falls into a pit where sticky material becomes their zombie-like doppelgängers and moves to chase them. They escape through a Super Mario World-like environment and go to the house of a toy dog, where they are set up for a trap to eat crumpets with sleeping powder. Mac does not eat the crumpets (since the sleeping powder was thought to be powdered sugar, and he can't eat sugar without temporarily losing his mind) and is able to save the others. As they try to escape, they discover that the weeble policeman, heroic man, and toy dog are all controlled by a single face—World—who can animate and control seemingly anything he latches onto. World is trapped on an apple and the gang leaves it at a desert; but latches on a horse, truly the guise of Mac and the gang rides by, and World is able to move once more. It gallops off to the castle, where the gang find Frankie and attempt to save her. However, Frankie reveals that World never kidnapped her, she was staying of her own free will and is happy to be away from the work at Foster's and Mr. Herriman's constant nagging. The friends then plead with Frankie to come home insisting that they need her to take care of them. She believes their pleas to be selfish and storms off as she is "sick of taking care of everyone and everything without never even receiving a word of thanks, an ounce of help, or a tiny little smidgen of respect". They attempt to console her, but World gasses them and they fall asleep. When they awaken, they find themselves in a fake version of Foster's created by World, who shrank them into it.
Frankie begins to hear their tiny voices calling to her and, though World tries to distract her from it, she finally discovers her friends. World finally becomes upset and scolds Frankie of planning to leave him alone in the toy box forever. She calms him down enough to befriend and unshrink the gang, but Mr. Herriman bursts in, having gotten into the toy box and somehow past the gang's obstacles, and harshly scolds World before preparing to take the gang home and leave World. World's world falls to pieces until it's nothing but a white void. World becomes angry and unstable and turns into a chimera-like creature to attack them all (made of the remaining refuse of his world). The gang manages to escape the toy box. Frankie climbs out as well and tries to convince everyone to let World out of the box. Herriman finally yields and releases World from the box, due to a realization of his long misjudgement of Frankie and newfound appreciation for her during her absence. World gets happy already and shouts that he's free and everyone is really confused; Frankie's answer is: "Well, think of it this way: imagine if you were able to have anything you wanted, except one thing, but that one thing is what you wanted more than anything else. For him, that thing is a friend. That's all he wanted; that's what he was trying to protect. So I brought him here. Here he can have all the friends in the world! I mean come on, isn't friendship what Foster's is all about?" Instantaneously Bloo shouts, "No, it's all about me!"; promptly Herriman slaps him with a glove, to the delight of everyone else.
World adapts to the new environment and lives as a stuffed rag doll in the home. Herriman, having learned a valuable lesson from the experience, creates a new Fair Chore Act to divide the chores between the imaginary friends and thus give Frankie a well-deserved break from her job. All the imaginary friends in the house are free to travel in and out of the toy box, where they enjoy themselves (they go to the toy box in a style similar to the show's theme), with the last to enter being World and Frankie, the latter of who shout out "BOOYAH!".
During the post-credits scene, Madame Foster returns from her vacation only to be greeted by an empty house and wonders where everyone is.
"Destination: Imagination" was co-written by Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends co-creator Lauren Faust along with Tim McKeon. Other series co-founder Craig McCracken directed it along with Rob Renzetti. The special was conceived by the four, along with Darrick Bachman, Edward Baker, Vaughn Tada, and Alex Kirwan, as a means of creating an adventure story, to "send the gang on a fantastic quest."
The character of World was created as a means to have an imaginary friend that was an entire world instead of the usual "sentient being that you hang out with." Baker suggested that the character should be portrayed as a young child, which McCracken agreed because it brought originality to the story, and allowed him to "be more emotional, to not understand the bigger picture, to be confused and vulnerable and like a kid, to throw a fit when they don't get their way."
The special was written with the goal of "telling the story in the most honest and sincere way." The writers attempted to continue the tense and unpleasant relationship between Frankie and Mr. Herriman, which they had begun developing since the series began, but approaching it in a believable and sensible fashion. With the heavy plot running through the special, the writers tried to use Bloo and his companions as a means to add humor into it. They wrote Bloo to be more obnoxious and demanding than previously, but did not want him to be cruel or malicious.
A lot of the special was more "edgy" and dark than what had been done previously on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. A major reason behind this was the peril, danger, and conflict that constructed the plot so heavily. McCracken explains, "When we start a show one of the first things we think about is tone, is this a goofy one, is it a serious one, whatever it may be we stay true to that tone. This one had some higher stakes so we let it naturally unfold that way. This was the first show/special on Cartoon Network to receive a TV-PG rating."
"Destination: Imagination" was originally broadcast on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008, on Cartoon Network, at 8:00 P.M. EST. It followed an afternoon-long marathon of the animated series Chowder and a My Gym Partner's A Monkey Thanksgiving special entitled "A Thanksgiving Carol". The first special for the series, entitled "Good Wilt Hunting," had also aired on Thanksgiving, back in 2006. At the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, the special won the award for "Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour or More)", winning over Spike TV's Afro Samurai: Resurrection. It was nominated for two Annie Awards for Best Animated Television Production Produced for Children and Directing for an Animated Television Production or Short Form. The special lost both to Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender.
"Destination: Imagination" received generally positive reviews from television critics. Newsarama reporter Steve Fritz called it "one of the best and—well—most imaginative chapters, ever." Fritz praised Tom Kane and Grey DeLisle's performance as Mr. Herriman and Frankie, calling it "stellar," along with the dark and "edgy" undertones of the special.
- Fritz, Steve (2008-11-27). "Animated Shorts: Craig McCracken - Back to Foster's". Newsarama. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
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- Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming one hour or more)". Primetime Emmy Awards. Archived from the original on 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Gardner, Jenara (2008-11-27). "Fostering adult imaginations". The Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts: G37.
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- Elber, Lynn (The Associated Press) (2009-09-21). "Mad Men, 30 Rock repeat at Emmys". Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (2009-09-12). "Tina Fey, Justin Timberlake Among Big Creative Arts Winners". Primetime Emmy Awards. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Staff (2009-07-16). "2009 Emmy nominations - part I". Variety. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "36th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (2008)". Annie Awards.org. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Moody, Annemarie (2008-12-01). "Annie Award Nominations Announced". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2009-10-03.