Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stuff I've Done--5


A Generalist Saves the Specialists

A while back I praised Joe Horne's The Specialists, a forgotten gem from the early days of MTV's Liquid Television. Thanks to a tip from Mr. Bloody Mojo, I found that the entire series has been posted to YouTube. The first episode is here. Seeing the show again after all these years was a treat. It's funny how Joe Horne's designs, a radical departure in their day, look mainstream now--though still better than a lot of the stuff out there!

I'd almost forgotten that the ninth episode of The Specialists featured my one and only appearance as a cartoon voice actor! It happened this way. Joe was assembling episode 9 when he discovered missing dialogue. The actor playing Granfaloon, the millionaire with the missing poodle, never recorded his line welcoming Fifi home. It's easy to see how the line was missed, because after his introduction in episode 1 Granfaloon didn't reappear until the end of the story.

Anyway, Joe burst into the studio in a frenzy. The original Granfaloon was unavailable and Joe needed someone NOW to pick up the line. I happened to be sitting there and Joe said, "Ron! You'll do it!" He whisked me over to the recording studio and stood me in front of a microphone.

I'm not a voice actor, nor for that matter an actor of any sort. For the next half hour I stood there and sweated, repeating the line over and over while Joe pulled his hair out. Finally he got something he could use. Of course my voice didn't sound anything like the original actor. But that didn't worry Joe. He figured no one would remember what Granfaloon sounded like anyway. So in episode 9 when you hear, "Fifi! You're back!" etc., that's me. Once the artwork came back from the animators, Joe presented me with a thank-you gift: a cel of Granfaloon holding Fifi. It was a nice way to mark the end of my acting career.

8 comments:

Gran Pa Orca said...

Ah yes, but you do not mention that you were also a TV drawing-hand-actor -- guess that is another story.

Mr Bloody Mojo said...

That's awesome Ron! Great story!! I gotta admit I never noticed the actors weren't the same, not by the end. I'm gonna watch it later with new insight! Very Cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0DxOYxjVWI That is a Youtube link for the entire series of The Esperanto Family! I don't know if I linked that, last time around or not.

Paul Chadwick said...

Yes, tell the Remington Steele story.

Anonymous said...

"The Specialist" animation was created in the 70's.Long before it was copied for MTV. I used to watch as kid.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing some still sketch episodes in black and white of "the specialists" and narrated by I think the late Ron Gans. His voice has always stood out. And this was way before 1992, possibly in the early 70's. Though I can not find any reference or photos of this.

Does any one remember or know about this?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any idea about the voice talent for "The Specialists"? I know that James Hong was the narrator, but that's about all I know...

Smurfswacker said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure who the voice actors on "The Specialists" were, but the episodes are (or at least were) available on YouTube. You should be able to grab the names off the credits.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the series of "The Specialist" came in to being. In some distant memory I remember it was in the 70's and not the colored version of "Liquid Television". It was a black and white version. There seems to be no trace of this before MTV. Yet I know it was way before the 90's. One was about a mad scientist built bank robbing robot.
It fact,I remember it as B&W stills and a narrator, like in "Bullwinkle". If any one remembers, let me know here. I know I am not going mad !