(Review) The 2016 Pilot of Cartoon Network’s Upcoming Series ‘Summer Camp Island’

You often find an original pilot of a series that is set to be shown on TV screens near you. I find it as a way to prepare ourselves and get a taste of what a series has to offer. Of course, series creators usually do some tweaking and changing to their program and you will most likely always see something different between the pilot and the final product.

Today, we’re looking at Summer Camp Island, which may be exactly what it sounds and much more. This cartoon was created by former animator and writer from Adventure Time, Julia Pott, and was greenlit and set to air on Cartoon Network in Summer 2018. Above anything, Julia is known for her unique animated shorts that can be found on YouTube. I must say that she has done a good job at creating her own style, so much that you can spot a series created by her from a mile away.


So what has Pott unleashed on us with her 2016 pilot of Summer Camp Island exactly? How about a Summer camp full of bizarre and unusual situations? The camp counselors are popular girls who know magic (aka WITCHES), talking pajamas, monsters under the bed that are nosey and more oddities that you just don’t find at a normal Summer camp. Not to mention it’s all on an island. All of these strange happenings seems to overwhelm a fourteen-year-old anthropomorphic Elephant named Oscar, who misses his normal life outside of camp, so he plans a sleepover for himself and his best friend Hedgehog, who he also happens to have a crush on. Bad news for Oscar, because Hedgehog invites some others to the party including Max, an anthropomorphic badger who plays the role of the typical careless and jerk-ish teenage boy in a backwards hat and hoodie. Max is clearly the apple of Hedgehog’s eye and she gives him all of her undivided attention, which infuriates Oscar and ruins his original sleepover plans.

Just like the overall series itself, the world inside of Summer Camp Island is a roller coaster ride of strange and peculiar emotions. You can’t help but empathize with main character Oscar and feeling like a third wheel when someone you’re crushing over is all over someone THEY are crushing over. The series did a great job of totally spinning a kid’s usual experience at a Summer Camp into something out of a trippy dream. Trippy, as in almost everything was coming to life, including a pair of pajamas and a slice of pizza. Although, I do have to say that for a teenager, Oscar is a bit too child-like. So much that if his mother didn’t reveal his age in the beginning, you wouldn’t put him past ten years old. The same goes for Hedgehog, who I think shows her more mature side when Max is around. I’m not implying that they should act reckless, ride skateboards or drink coffee just because they’re teenagers, but the sleepover activities kind of screamed fifth grade.

With all of that being said, my B- rating does not change the fact that I 100% still want to see this show happen on Cartoon Network this Summer. I have to admit that the “nice guys finish last” lesson that came in plain sight at the end of the episode really surprised me. I was expecting the typical “good guys finish first” followed by a monologue from Hedgehog about how she doesn’t really like Max and that Oscar is the one she loved all along. Or Max ends up screwing things up with Hedgehog and her feeling magically bounce to Oscar. Really relieved that things weren’t so predictable with this one, but poor Oscar. The animation is something that is unique, but it’s going to take some getting used to of course. It’s definitely a different style from the series airing on Cartoon Network at the moment, so it makes me wonder whether the series will fit or not. We’ll just have to wait and see! We’ll keep you updated for an official release date for Summer Camp Island.

Fun Fact: Summer Camp Island is set to be the second series in Cartoon Network history to be solely created by a woman.


‘Apple & Onion’ Pilot Review

In early 2017 it was reported that a new show was greenlit and set to emerge on Cartoon Network sometime in 2018. It’s finally a new year and that means a new opportunity to see what will take place in the cartoon world. Apple & Onion takes place in a world of anthropomorphic food with human emotions and struggles. Though the synopsis seems humorous enough, there are some lessons to be learned from this community of food. A literal food for thought.

In a New York or Chicago-esque big city setting, there’s a pair of produce pals who have a lot to learn about growing up. Though they seem to have everything set by having their own place and all, Apple & Onion are two kids at heart and are often failing at attempts to do adult things. The pilot begins with ‘Wake Up Time’, a song made by Apple that apparently helps the two get into the swing of things in the morning. “♫ Wake up time. 5:49. Feeling fine ’cause it’s wake up time. ♫” It was a funny bit that turned into a slight dilemma for the two when they realize they could’ve woke up at a more realistic 8:49, because it fit with the song as well, and the two ended up oversleeping into the afternoon. When Apple & Onion were awaken by the blaring sound of a notification from their computer, they find out that they were invited to a party by Hotdog and Burger. Not realizing that they were invited on accident, Apple & Onion are thrilled and immediately prints out the information to the party. Onion is even more stoked when he notices his crush French Fry on the guest list. As they practice their dance moves on the sidewalk while wearing a number of flashy toy items, they run into Burger and French Fry. Burger, almost pointing out that Apple & Onion were invited to the party on accident, backtracks and tells them the party is a simple, grown-up dinner party. Apple & Onion are slightly discouraged and realize that they have to grow up. The two go on a crazy journey of adulthood that may take them places where they didn’t expect to go.

Apple & Onion was created by George Gendi, who was a former storyboard artist for The Amazing World of Gumball and Sanjay and Craig. Gendi is also the voice of 1/2 of the main characters, Apple. This pilot was originally screened at the Annecy Festival in 2015. It was eventually uploaded online in May 2016. I applaud Cartoon Network for keeping their mini-sodes releases going, as it shows the evergrowing creativity in the animation industry and gives creators solid platforms where their work could possibly be greenlit onto the big network. It’s great that Apple & Onion is getting a chance to premiere as a full series and there’s no doubt that this show is bound to be some sort of success for the network. It’s slice-of-life humor and unique characterizations is already drawing in a positive impression. I’m working up an appetite for these characters. I mean, the appetite of learning more about their backgrounds and development of course. Also, I have a little prediction about some events that may take place in the series. So French Fry is Onion’s crush, but she was seen walking from the store with Burger when they ran into Apple & Onion. They could be just friends… or something more. What usually goes good with a Burger? That’s right. Now we know things went well for Onion and French Fry at the end of the pilot, but if he goofs off and messes things up, Burger and French Fry just might become the pair that they’re expected to be. Looks like we have the first fan theory.

Interesting fact: Eugene Mirman is the voice of Gene Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. Now he’s voicing the character Burger in Apple & Onion.

Another Show Cartoon Network Should Greenlit: AJ’s Infinite Summer

Cartoon Network has released a number of pilot episodes in the past, and most of them have gotten praise from the fans in hopes of them becoming full-time shows. AJ’s Infinite Summer is definitely a story of a spontaneous Summer that we want to be continued.


Released on May 16, 2014, on Cartoon Network’s website, AJ’s Infinite Summer was created by Toby Jones, who’s a former writer and storyboard artist for The Regular Show. The pilot is loosely based on Jones’ 2006 film AJ Goes to France. AJ and his friends reside in the city of Downer, which is inspired by Jones’ hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. In fact, after the pilot was released, residents of Fargo noticed some humorous similarities in their hometown and Downer. It’s touching to know when a creator finds inspiration from their own lives and what they’re used to. It makes the story much more human and realistic, and there’s most likely a lot of viewers that can relate to Jones’ serene hometown.

School is out and AJ, Danny, and Morgan are planning to have the best Summer vacation ever. An upbeat AJ decides that he wants to spend the Summer spontaneously, by getting a job. His friends are confused, as it doesn’t sound like fun for a teenager to get a job in the Summer. Eventually, they go along with it and helps AJ on his job hunt. AJ decides to go for a job in the tallest building in their city, but he must get prepared first. He heads to his dad, who he refers to as “the most employed guy I know”. AJ’s dad gives him an old suit, which is way oversized. When they’re on their way to the job, Danny and Morgan try to talk AJ out of it in fear that it might ruin their Summer, but AJ insists that they should all follow the spirit of spontaneity together. When they arrive at the building and AJ hands the employer his unprofessional resume, he is instantly hired and introduced to a room full of employees who are all wearing oversized suits. AJ announces Morgan as his secretary and Danny as his towel boy, suggesting that just go along with it. AJ is constantly promoted to higher roles in the company and he experiences a power drive. Danny and Morgan confront him about how he’s ruining Summer, but AJ’s ego is much too large for him to listen and he fires them. AJ soon regrets it when he learns the dark side of running the company and goes to apologize to his friends. Danny and Morgan forgive him and the three head out into the sunset to spend the rest of the Summer together.

AJ’s Infinite Summer is a breath of fresh air and nothing like most of the shows on Cartoon Network today. The majority of the network’s series is often based on action, but this series would bring simplicity and balance out the network. AJ’s Infinite Summer is often compared to Disney’s Phineas and Ferb due to both of the shows connecting with the adventures of Summer themes. Hopefully, Cartoon Network will open their eyes and see the potential that this pilot episode has. And no, it wouldn’t be impossible for a pilot episode from 2014 to be resurrected 4 years later, on account of AJ’s Infinite Summer’s main character was based on a film that came 8 years before it did. Will we be seeing AJ, Danny, and Morgan again in the future? That would be pretty noice.

The Mysterious Lost 1996 Pilot of Disney’s Recess

cartoon buzz disney's recess

Photo: The Walt Disney Company

It’s always interesting to explore the earlier work of a finished product. Disney’s Recess is an animated series that aired from 1997 to 2001 on ABC, UPN and Toon Disney. The series surrounded the adventurous lives of six fourth graders (fifth graders in Taking the Fifth Grade) and their anticipation for recess. But T.J., Spinelli, Vince, Gretchen, Mikey & Gus did not have just any ordinary recess period. Instead of the traditional free-for-all that most elementary school kids spend at recess, the kids at Third Street elementary were subjected to a more organized, society-like structure that came with rules, values & a sixth grader named Bob who was made to be the king that controlled the playground. Recess was a show we all loved from the first episode to the last, but like most shows, creators seem to stash away it’s original pitches.

We all remember the pilot that was actually aired in 1997 titled “The Break In” where the gang is destined to break T.J. out of his punishment of no recess with the help of some playground friends – but did you know there was a 1996 version of that very Recess pilot that has never never made it to TV and is deemed to be lost? There is no footage of the original pitch pilot anywhere, but a few scraps of the episode have made it to the internet. On August 4, 2011, YouTube user ‘ReptarOnIce’ uploaded a classic ABC Saturday Mornings sneak peek promo for 101 Dalmations & Recess that aired in March 1997. The sneak peek contained a preview of clips from the original pitched pilot, and there is some early character designs that we just have to take note of.

Why I love exploring the pilot episodes of series as well as lost media you ask? For starters you get to see how animators originally wanted the characters to look like. We all remember Gretchen for having auburn hair & a blue dress. But in this early design she has black hair & a polka dot dress. T.J. has dark red hair, different outfit & overall just a different facial structure and skin color than the T.J. Detweiler that we all knew and loved. The most different character designs were Vince and Spinelli’s when it came to their entire looks, which caught me completely off guard at first. Of course there is no original Gus as far as I know but one can only imagine what he would’ve looked like. Out of all of the main characters, Mikey didn’t look that much different from his final form. It’s so crazy to think that these original designs are what the animators first envisioned the characters to look like compared what they actually evolved to look like.

As for the full original pitched pilot episode, it still remains lost and we have no knowledge or whereabouts of it at this time. The 20th Anniversary of the premiere of Disney’s Recess is coming up at the end of this month, will Disney & the Recess creators release this original pitch as a gift for the fans? We will keep you updated!

Source(s) – http://lostmediawiki.com/Recess_’The_Break_In’_(lost_pilot_episode;_1996)

Hey Arnold’s Unaired 1994 Pilot Episode Is Strangely Awesome


In honor of Hey Arnold making a TV movie comeback this year and my current fascination with unaired pilot episodes of cartoons, I’ve decided to chat about Hey Arnold’s 1994 pilot episode that never made it to the screen. This pilot episode has even been considered lost up until April 22, 2012. I just wanna make a note that this episode isn’t much different when it comes to the storyline. In fact, it’s just the original version of episode 19 from season one titled “24 Hours to Live”. It has almost all of the exact same lines and everything. What’s strangely awesome is how the different some of the characters looked and sounded from how the rest of the show turned out. Arnold had an orange shirt with a blue flannel underneath and more submarine sandwich-shaped head. Gerald had a green jersey,  light brown hair and a slightly lighter skin tone. It’s unable to tell but I think he’s wearing orange pants as well. Harold’s voice sounds a bit sped up & it makes him sound younger than the typical mean bully voice he has throughout the rest of the series. Even some of the background scenery was quite different. It makes you wonder what if the show remained this way throughout the entire series. Just watching the episode made me feel a bit excited like I’ve just discovered this rare gem, even though it’s been uploaded for almost 5 years now.

If you know any more cool pilot episodes of cartoons leave them in the comments below, thanks for reading!