Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?
|Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?|
|Genre||Comic science fiction|
Slice of life
|Created by||Greg Miller|
|Developed by||Mike Stern|
|Theme music composer||The Invisible Car|
|Opening theme||"Do the Robot"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||13 (and 1 pilot)|
|Executive producer(s)||Greg Miller|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i)|
|Original release||July 19, 2002 –|
November 13, 2003
Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? (usually shortened to Robot Jones and WHTRJ?) is an American animated television series created by Greg Miller for Cartoon Network. It follows a robot named Robot Jones who attends the fictional suburban Polyneux Middle School in a retrofuturistic 1980s world. Every episode deals with Robot Jones obtaining research on an aspect of human life, which include music, facial hair, gym class, etc. He is guided by his three friends, who go by the nicknames Socks, Mitch, and Cubey. Robot Jones is often smitten with his crush, Shannon Westerburg, a tall young girl with orthodontic headgear and a prosthesis. In school, Robot Jones interacts with his teachers, Mr. McMcMc, Mr. Workout, and Mrs. Raincoat; the principal, Mr. Madman; and janitor Clancy Q. Sleepyjeans. His arch-rivals, Lenny and Denny Yogman, try to sabotage Jones's research by making school more difficult for him.
Miller's pilot for the series first aired on Cartoon Network on June 16, 2000, as part of a contest called "Voice Your Choice Weekend", in which new series pilots were shown on the network for viewers to decide on which would be the best one to eventually become its own full-fledged series. Despite the Robot Jones pilot coming in second to the Grim & Evil short, Robot Jones was greenlit for its own series, which premiered on July 19, 2002. The titular character's voice in the first season was created with a Microsoft Word 98 text-to-speech function. Beginning with the second season, Robot Jones's voice was dubbed over by child actor Bobby Block, and reruns of the first season were re-dubbed with Block's voice as well. The series ended on November 13, 2003, after 26 episodes and 1 pilot.
The series centers on Robot Jones (voiced by a text-to-speech program in the pilot and season 1; Bobby Block in season 2), a teenage robot who lives in a small city in Delaware in a version of the early 1980s where robots are commonplace. Robot attempts to learn of human nature by attending Polyneux Middle School where he makes three new friends: Timothy "Socks" Morton (Kyle Sullivan), a tall boy who loves rock music, Mitch Davis (Gary LeRoi Gray), a headphones-wearing boy whose eyes are hidden by his long hair, and Charles "Cubey" Cubinacle (Myles Jeffrey), a shorter boy who loves video games. He also meets Shannon Westerburg (Grey DeLisle), a girl he develops a crush on, because of her large retainer and metal prosthetic leg.
In each episode, Robot, sometimes prompted to by his parents, explores a concept average teenagers usually face in their everyday life such as gym class or taking a part in a competition. Robot must submerge himself in the episode's title subject in order to fully understand it, while doing as much as he can to fit in with his human counterparts. The situations he finds himself in are very much like those most awkward adolescents can relate to, but are made worse by Robot's social ineptitude and others' lack of understanding. As Robot gets settled in at school, he begins taking part in exploring humanoid concepts of his own will. Many of the situations Robot finds himself in, which are not due to his parents insisting, are a result of Robot trying to get closer to Shannon. Examples of this include Socks convincing him to go camping in Summer Camp and discovering the ability to feel jealous. While most of the school tends to avoid Robot, they often are oblivious to his existence, due to his polite nature and shortness. His good grades, poor social skills and status as a robot earn him Principal Madman, a technophobic principal, Mr. McMcMc, a jealous and insecure math teacher, and Lenny and Denny Yogman, two genius twin brothers. At the end of most episodes, Robot makes a "data log entry" in which he states what he learned that day and what conclusions he has arrived at on humanity.
The opening sequence of the show, in which Robot Jones is assembled in a factory and then inserted into a school bus, is a homage to the opening sequence of 1980s children's show You Can't Do That on Television. At the beginning and end of the intro where the title of the show is spoken, a group of young children voices say the "Whatever Happened to..." part in unison while the "Robot Jones?" part is done by a Macintosh Macintalk voice known as Trinoids. The first season has children speaking out the episode titles while season 2 episode titles are spoken by voices of the characters.
- Robot Electro Jones (voiced by a text-to-speech program's 'Junior' voice in season 1; Bobby Block in season 2 and redubbed reruns of season 1), as his name suggests, is a short teenage robot who does whatever he can to fit into human society and often encounters problems in doing so. He is specifically Unit KX-8, as he mostly claims to be in the episode "Jealousy" (and referred to as such in "Cube Wars"), created by JNZ Robotics. Although his real age is unknown, it is presumed that he is an adolescent, thereby fitting in with the middle schoolers he is observing. His body is painted red with black stripes on the bottom. Among his humanoid features, he has a set of large yellow eyes, which also function as "cameras" to analyze objects and humans as well as for X-ray vision. Robot's eyes also flash on and off when he talks, rather than his mouth moving. His "brain" resembles a giant light bulb which screws to the top of his head. The Yogman Twins make it one of their great missions to obtain Robot's brain, implying that it contains all of Robot's life essence, although being without his brain does little but slows down Robot's thought process, as seen in "Electric Boogaloo." Whenever a day ends, he adds something to his memory called a "data log entry" which he uses to recall what he learned through the experience.
- Timothy "Socks" Morton (voiced by Kyle Sullivan) is the best friend of Robot Jones. He is quite a fanatic to rock music. Though he typically mentors and provides Robot with reassurance as best as he can, he has a realistic cap to his understanding and can lose his temper with Robot, as shown in "Family Vacation." In his first appearance in the first pilot, he was a student in Mr. McMcMc's class who commented positively on Robot challenging him and had no name. Unlike Mitch and Cubey, it is never revealed how he became Robot's friend, let alone his closest. He has blond curly hair and wears a green jacket. He is roughly 12 years old.
- Charles "Cubey" Cubinacle (voiced by Myles Jeffrey) is the short boy with dark, straight hair, a Dot-Man T-shirt, sunglasses with window blinds for lenses and roller skates. He is roughly 12 years old.
- Mitchell "Mitch" Freeman-Davis (voiced by Gary LeRoi Gray) is a boy often seen wearing headphones, a red sweater and sandals. His eyes are obscured by his long hair. Like Cubey and Robot, he also enjoys video games and appears more often with Cubey than either appear without each other. It may be assumed from this that Cubey and Mitch are best friends. Mitch is roughly 12 years old.
- Dad Unit (voiced by a text-to-speech program's 'Fred' voice) is Robot's father, specifically a KC213-series model. When he says something, he often says it three times; one example would be "Listen to your mother! Listen to your mother! Listen to your mother!" as said in the second pilot "Electric Boogaloo". He has only one arm on the top of his head, wears a tie and in his focus on tasks he often gets into shenanigans such as smashing through walls. He is very no-nonsense and easily annoyed, which often results in him causing destruction of some kind. He is very protective of his family, and will punch out a supposed peeping tom spying on his wife, as seen in Hookie 101, or threaten anybody who comes too close to Robot's house such as the mailman in "Parents".
- Mom Unit (voiced by Grey DeLisle) is Robot's mother, specifically a JUN77-series model. She is pink in color and has one eyeball which is a red camera lens, and her arms are gas pump hoses with nozzle-like hands which she uses for giving fuel to her fellow units. Like Dad Unit, she seems to generally have a no-nonsense attitude. Mom Unit also spends time at home drilling holes in the front yard looking for more sources of oil whenever she runs out, as shown in "Parents". She is more verbose than Robot's father, and often it is she who is explaining or instructing Robot on what task he will complete in a given episode. Though very intelligent, she herself is bewildered by human behavior, and uses her own questions to prompt Robot's next social assignment such as in "Cube Wars".
- Shannon Westerburg (voiced by Grey DeLisle) is a girl whom Robot becomes a crush with because she has more mechanical attachments than any human he has ever seen, specifically a large orthodontic appliance and a prosthetic leg. Shannon talks with a lisp. Although she is sometimes friendly to him, as seen in "Embarrassment", "Garage Band" and "House Party", Shannon does not socialize too much with Robot unless he approaches her. Depending on the episode, it is unclear if she realizes that Robot has a crush on her. Depending on the episode, again, she may consider him anything from a close friend, to a pest, to a nobody. Despite this, there is some evidence that Shannon may be harboring at least a fondness for Robot in return, if not romantic feelings. Because Shannon's better treatment of Robot comes about when she is alone with him, it may be speculated that she actually likes Robot and is afraid of anybody finding out, lest her own social reputation be worse. However, too little episodes exist to truly prove this as what drives her erratic behavior throughout the series, and some people chalk it up to disagreeing writers. Shannon is not a technophobe, as seen in "Jealousy" when she had a crush on a handsome KX-8 series android named "Android Finkman", and she also gave Robot a kiss on the head in "Scantron Love" and "Popularity". Shannon is socially awkward herself, as seen in "Hair" when she pestered a boy named "Frederico". She is roughly 12 years old and it has never been revealed how her leg became amputated.
- Lenny and Denny Yogman (voiced by Josh Peck and Austin Stout respectively) are notorious young genius brothers and they are the main antagonists of the show. They wear red hats that resembles the 1980s band Devo's energy dome hats, yellow shirts, green shorts, and black/white sneakers. Lenny is tall while Denny is short. They do whatever they can to take Robot's brain, as they believe that stealing it will allow them to "rule the school". Lenny mentions in "The Yogmans Strike Back" that he plans to it to brainwash Principal Madman and abolish PE forever.
- Principal Samuel "Sam" Madman (voiced by Maurice LaMarche in the pilot and Jeff Glen Bennett in the series) is the principal of Polyneux Middle School. His mustache and haircut resembles that of Adolf Hitler; as such, he is very tyrannical to Robot. He is afraid of technology as a whole, as seen in "Sickness", "Parents" and the pilot episode. Principal Madman was based on Les Lye's Mr. Schidtler character from You Can't Do That on Television. Although Miller wanted Lye to voice the character, location and contractual restrictions led the character to be recast.
- Mr. McMcMc (voiced by Maurice LaMarche in the pilot and Rip Taylor in the series) is Robot Jones's math teacher. Like most of the staff at Polyneux, he is very childish and also extremely insecure about his intelligence, as seen in "Math Challenge". Mr. McMcMc was based on Mike Stern's Algebra teacher at school, Mr. McManus.
- Clancy Q. Sleepyjeans (voiced by David Koechner) is the school janitor. He owns a vacuum cleaner named "Dust Buddy" who Robot built friendship with after coming to the conclusion that humans and robots were never designed to coexist. Clancy also has a job in the school's safety patrol. He once let Robot take part in the school's safety patrol in "Safety Patrol", but Robot turned out to be enforcing the rules very strictly which soon leads the entire school to be thrown into detention. Clancy also partnered with Mr. McMcMc in a math competition in "Math Challenge".
- Mr. Workout (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) is the PE teacher in Polyneux Middle School. He forced Robot to take a shower in "PU to PE", resulting in him being electrocuted inadvertently by Robot. He later appeared in "Growth Spurts" with little impact on the plot, alongside an unnamed mustached coach.
- Mrs. Raincoat (voiced by Grey DeLisle) is the English teacher. Robot struggles in her classes, and she sometimes has to discipline him for causing havoc.
- James Nob (voiced by Gedde Watanabe) is the owner of Nob's Arkaid where Robot and his friends hang out. He keeps telling kids that they're breaking his arcade machines, every time they play with them. In "Hookie 101", it is revealed that his arcade gives a discount on game tokens during school hours.
- "Grampz Unit" Jones (voiced by a text-to-speech program's 'Trinoids' voice in season 1, and 'Zarvox' in season 2) is Robot Jones's grandfather. It is shown in "Vacuum Friend" that Grampz Unit strongly dislikes humans and wishes for machines to take over mankind. However, he cares deeply for his grandson, as seen in "House Party".
Greg Miller's original series pilot aired on Cartoon Network on June 16, 1999, in a contest featuring 11 animated shorts to be chosen for a spot on the network's 2000 schedule. During the weekend of August 25–27, 2000, all 11 pilots aired as part of a 52-hour marathon called "Voice Your Choice Weekend", in which viewers would vote for their favorite pilots. While Grim & Evil won the contest with 57% of the vote, Robot Jones came in second place with 23% and was given its own series run beginning July 19, 2002.
Robot Jones's animation style can be seen as a throwback to 1970s and 1980s cartoons such as Schoolhouse Rock!, with an intentionally messy and rough look. The artistic style seems to be influenced by Paul Coker and Jolly Roger Bradfield. The series' animation technique is different from most American cartoons from the early 2000s; it was animated with traditional cel animation, at a time when many American cartoons had switched to digital ink and paint (possibly due to the 1980s settings). The show was animated at Rough Draft Studios at Seoul, South Korea.
Greg Miller stated in an interview on Facebook that he used a Microsoft Word 98 text-to-speech software for Robot's voice during production for season one, but after the first season was completed, the executives of Cartoon Network disliked how it sounded. Bobby Block was chosen to take the role of Robot in season two. Robot Jones's text-to-speech voice was also recorded for production of the second season, but because the voice change happened during the production of those episodes, this voice was never dubbed into the final prints. In that interview, he also said that he would want to do a revival of Robot Jones, but it would be up to Cartoon Network.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||June 8, 2000|
|1||6||July 19, 2002||September 13, 2002|
|2||7||October 3, 2003||November 14, 2003|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|0||0||"Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?"||Greg Miller and Rob Renzetti||Greg Miller||June 8, 2000|
Robot Jones is informed by his parents, Mom Unit and Dad Unit, that he has been put into a human public school that he must now attend. While in math class, he believes that the problems are too easy for him, which results in him getting sent to the principal's office for being condescending to the teacher. Later the same day as all of the school kids are eating lunch, Principal Madman trips on a wire which he later finds out is Robot's charger cable. After finding out it was Robot Jones, he gives him three months detention for tripping him, which angers Robot so much that he starts malfunctioning and firing lasers out of his eyes and scaring away everyone. Later, he rants about the humans in the hallway and almost gives up completely on them, until he develops a crush on a girl with what he calls "high metal content". He then supposes that humans are not all bad and decides to study more on them.NOTE: This episode was later aired as the first segment along with "Electric Boogaloo" and "Groovesicle."
Season 1 (2002)
|Title||Written by||Storyboarded by||Directed by||Original air date|
|1||1||"P.U. to P.E. / Vacuum Friend"||Greg Miller||Kevin Kaliher and Mike Stern||Greg Miller||July 19, 2002|
P.U. to P.E.: Robot Jones fears taking a shower in gym class because he thinks he will rust.
Vacuum Friend: Robot Jones befriends a vacuum cleaner after thinking humans and robots cannot be friends.
|2||2||"Cube Wars / Sickness"||Greg Miller, Kevin Kaliher, and Mike Bell||Kevin Kaliher and Mike Bell||Greg Miller||July 26, 2002|
Cube Wars: Everyone becomes obsessed with solving their Rubik's Revenge (called Wonder Cubes on the show), but Robot Jones' superior mind allows him to solve it almost instantly. The Yogmans sabotage Robot's cube, however, and he begins to malfunction.
Sickness: The Yogmans prank Robot Jones by inserting a virus-filled floppy disk in Robot's disk drive, and he becomes very ill.
|3||3||"Parents / Embarrassment"||Greg Miller, Dave Smith, and Paul Tibbitt||Dave Smith and Paul Tibbitt||Greg Miller||August 2, 2002|
Parents: Robot Jones must bring his parents to parent-teacher night at the middle school. When his parents embarrass him, Robot Jones attempts to manually override them to control their behavior, but fails.
Embarrassment: Robot Jones wants to ask out Shannon to the Harvest Dance, but his nervousness causes his exhaust to malfunction whenever he gets near her.
|4||4||"Politics / Growth Spurts"||Greg Miller||Kevin Kaliher and Mike Stern||Greg Miller||August 9, 2002|
Politics: Robot Jones runs for student council president.
Growth Spurts: Robot Jones modifies himself to be tall enough to be on the basketball team.
|5||5||"Electric Boogaloo / The Groovesicle"||Greg Miller||Greg Miller and Mike Stern||Greg Miller and Rob Renzetti||September 6, 2002|
Electric Boogaloo: Lenny and Denny Yogman try to trick Robot Jones into being his friend so they can steal his brain.
The Groovesicle: Robot Jones and Socks watch an episode of "The Groovesicle", a music video TV series featuring a performance by a band called "The Lavender Fudge Experience".
|6||6||"Jealousy / Scantron Love"||Greg Miller and Walt Dohrn||Walt Dohrn||Greg Miller||September 13, 2002|
Jealousy: Robot Jones feels jealousy towards an android named Finkman, who manages to make Shannon fall for him (as well as the rest of the school).
Scantron Love: Robot befriends the school's Scantron machine in order to get the answers for his history tests, and soon passes out the answers to the rest of the students in class.
Season 2 (2003)
|Title||Written by||Storyboarded by||Directed by||Original air date|
|7||1||"Gender / Math Challenge"||Greg Miller, Kevin Kaliher, and Charlie Bean||Kevin Kaliher and Charlie Bean||Steve Socki||October 3, 2003|
Gender: Robot Jones struggles to understand the differences between human boys and girls.
Math Challenge: Mr. McMcMc challenges Robot Jones to a math competition to determine who is the smarter one of the two.
|8||2||"Family Vacation / Hair"||Greg Miller and Chuck Klein||Chuck Klein||Steve Socki||October 10, 2003|
Family Vacation: Socks goes on a spring break vacation together with Robot and his family, but Robot's parents have an unusual idea of what a vacation entails.
Hair: Seeing other boys in school with hair makes Robot want hair of his own to impress Shannon, but he must find a creative way to generate some on his metallic body.
|9||3||"Garage Band / Work"||Greg Miller, Brian Larsen, and Mike Stern||Brian Larsen and Mike Stern||Steve Socki||October 17, 2003|
Garage Band: After witnessing girls at their school get excited for a garage band, Robot, Socks, Cubey, and Mitch decide to form a band of their own. But they focus more on being cool rather than actually practicing their instruments, which confuses Robot as to what being in band is about.
Work: Robot Jones gets a job at JNZ to make extra money, but finds it increasingly difficult to stay awake juggling a job, school, and time at the arcade with friends.
|10||4||"The Yogmans Strike Back / Hookie 101"||Greg Miller, Kevin Kaliher, and Charlie Bean||Kevin Kaliher and Charlie Bean||Steve Socki||October 24, 2003|
The Yogmans Strike Back: After another failed attempts to corner Robot, the Yogmans hypnotize Robot's friends and turn them into an amalgamation robot called the "Yogstrosity".
Hookie 101: Robot, Socks, Cubey, and Mitch all play hookie.
|11||5||"House Party / School Newspaper"||Greg Miller and William Reiss||William Reiss||Steve Socki||October 31, 2003|
House Party: Robot Jones throws a big party at his house while his parents are away, but worries about getting caught by Gramps Unit, who dislikes humans.
School Newspaper: On Madman's order, Robot Jones gets a job for the school newspaper and ends up writing stories that embarrass the principal.
|12||6||"Safety Patrol / Popularity"||Greg Miller||Greg Miller and Mike Stern||Steve Socki||November 7, 2003|
Safety Patrol: When Robot Jones is put on the school's safety patrol, his programming for perfection causes him to go overboard with enforcing the rules.
Popularity: Robot Jones sends a decoy version of himself to school so that he can attend a robotics expo, but the decoy ends up becoming popular with his classmates.
|13||7||"Summer Camp / Rules of Dating"||Greg Miller, Chris Reccardi, and Paul Tibbitt||Chris Reccardi and Paul Tibbitt||Steve Socki||November 14, 2003|
Summer Camp: Despite disliking the outdoors, Robot Jones tries to impress Shannon by showing off his nature skills at a summer camp.
Rules of Dating: Robot attempts to impress Shannon, but his efforts are marred by restrictions enforced on him by the "Laws of Robotics".
After production for the show ceased, before being removed from the network's schedule. Despite the show's short-lived run, the series was also available for viewing on Cartoon Network Video for short periods of time before being removed. Unlike other Cartoon Network shows, this show was not included as a bonus cartoon on any Cartoon Network VHS releases.
Beginning in 2015, reruns air on Cartoon Network's Latin-American sister network Tooncast.
As of 2018, Cartoon Network has no intention of releasing the show for consumer purchase on digital retailers such as iTunes, Amazon.com, Hulu, and Netflix, moving the show to its sister channel Boomerang, or even physically releasing the show on a DVD set anytime soon despite its major cult following.
Robot Jones made a cameo appearance on the OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Crossover Nexus" that aired October 8, 2018, along with other Cartoon Network characters from current and ended shows. This is the first time that Robot Jones' character had appeared in the nearly 16 years after its last episode. This is also the first time where the character's voice is provided by the Microsoft Word 98 text-to-speech programmed voice since the original airing of the original show's first season.
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