|I Am Weasel|
Title card featuring the protagonist, I.M. Weasel.
|Created by||David Feiss|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||"I Am Weasel", performed by April March|
|Ending theme||"I Am Weasel" (instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||79|
|Running time||7 minutes approx.|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i)|
|Audio format||Dolby Surround|
|Original release||July 22, 1997 -|
|Related shows||Cow and Chicken|
I Am Weasel is an American animated television series created by David Feiss for Cartoon Network, at the studio of Hanna-Barbera. It is the fourth of the network's Cartoon Cartoons. The series centers on I. M. Weasel, a smart, beloved and highly successful weasel, and I. R. Baboon, an unsuccessful, unintelligent baboon who is jealous of Weasel's success and constantly tries to upstage him, usually failing to do so.
It was originally a part of Cow and Chicken from 1997 to 1999, in the first four seasons, often airing as the third of three segments in an episode (except in one occurrence, where it was a second segment between the two other parts). Eventually, I Am Weasel was spun off into its own series: a fifth season with 27 new episodes aired from June 10, 1999, to early 2000 and joined the original 61 which were previously part of Cow and Chicken; the entire series includes 79 episodes overall.
The series chronicles the random adventures of two funny animal frenemies: I.M. Weasel (Michael Dorn) and I.R. Baboon (Charlie Adler). The first one is a famous, heroic, eloquent, highly intelligent and very talented weasel who always tries to help people out and is thus adored by everybody, constantly shouting his catchphrase "I am Weasel!" while pointing high in the air before going after help. The latter is his total opposite, an ugly and idiotic hamadryas baboon who is envious of Weasel's success and constantly tries to do better than he does (also doing a victory dance to express his joy when thinking he's doing so), and failing miserably after all due to his total stupidity.
Starting from season two, the Red Guy (Charlie Adler), a cartoon devil who never uses pants, assumes multiple personalities and is a main character in Cow and Chicken, also gets that role in I Am Weasel, where he is also referred to as "I.B. Red Guy", an allusion to Weasel's and Baboon's names. His addition to the series makes him gradually take the role of villain from I.R., who becomes more friendly to Weasel, despite still despising him.
As the series progresses, I.M. Weasel, initially showed as an invincible hero, gradually loses the focus to I.R. Baboon, because people are shown to get gradually dumber. In the series finale, I.R. is finally presented as the true star of the show instead of him.
Supporting characters include Loulabelle (Susanne Blakeslee, Teresa Ganzel), Weasel's assistant and kind of girlfriend, who usually dresses herself as a nurse (except in one episode, where she is seen dressed as a laboratory assistant), Jolly Roger (Dee Bradley Baker), a fat man who wears glasses and either a tiny tuxedo or a white T-shirt with shorts and a sailor "dixie cup" hat, and also usually appears suddenly in the episodes and takes some roles similar to the Red Guy's, and Admiral Bullets (Jess Harnell, Michael Gough), a short naval officer who often relies on Weasel's help and is often seem over a small bench. Many characters from Cow and Chicken make cameo appearances in I Am Weasel from season two, these include: Cow, Chicken (Charlie Adler), Mom, Teacher (Candi Milo), Dad (Dee Bradley Baker), Flem (Howard Morris), and Earl (Dan Castellaneta).
While season one does not have any link to Cow and Chicken universe, from season two, I Am Weasel usually happens in the same universe of that show, as its characters (mainly the Red Guy) usually appear, but, in most of the time, in different places. David Feiss, in fact, crosspopulated both series as it made the work easier and he felt it was always the same universe. An episode, though, does present I Am Weasel as a TV show airing in Cow and Chicken world, suggesting another universe, but Weasel and I.R. are both taken out of TV after all. The same occurs in another episode, but with the characters in the same universe.
Humor relies on slapstick comedy and moderate off-color humor, as typical of many 1990s cartoons, and is based on the existent gap between the central characters, with I.R. Baboon being the center of most running jokes, which are mostly about his stupidity and big red butt, though some episodes show I.M. Weasel or the Red Guy also taking this role. Butt jokes are also more frequent when the Red Guy is around and parodies of popular culture and other shows and crossovers also take place in some episodes. Despite all the comedic style, important and meaningful messages about friendship, social differences and general lessons for life are given to children through stories or when I.M. Weasel directly talks to the audience.
Season one shows Weasel as a "perfect" character, not leaving a single shortcoming, and Baboon as exact opposite to this, but that gradually changes throughout the series, with Weasel later starting to show some misbehavior and inefficiency, mostly because he notices people around him are getting dumber, and thus I.R. even being dimwitted gets a hero status. From season two onward, the Red Guy incorporates the style of humor found in Cow and Chicken, taking the role of villain, but also appearing as a third wheel. In season five, Jolly Roger also starts to fill both roles.
Some episodes titles make fun of Baboon's misspelling, with grammatically incorrect names such as "I Are Big Star", "I Are Good Salesmans" and "I Are a Artiste". The titles also tend to reference the name of the show and Weasel's catchphrase, often being written in first person.
Cow and Chicken started out as the pilot episode "No Smoking" on What a Cartoon! in 1995, and was greenlit to become a series. Cartoon Network demanded a second cartoon to join Cow and Chicken in its half-hour time slot, so David Feiss came up with I Am Weasel, based upon the novel I Am Legend, one of his favorite books as a teenager. "I was doodling one day, and drew a weasel, with the title 'I Am Weasel', off of one of my favorite books as a teenager, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. I thought against type, that instead of a weasel who was a weasel, this guy would be smart and heroic".
According to Feiss, the idea for creating the show begun as a single drawing of I.M. Weasel with the caption "I Am Weasel" and that suggested many stories to him. The concept for the rivalry between a weasel and a baboon came up from the classic nursery rhyme "Pop Goes the Weasel", where a monkey is said to be chasing a weasel. Also, the fact that the Red Guy doesn't wear panties was controversial for many people, as he said: "The thing that I never thought that I'd get approval for was the Red Guy. The mere fact that he didn't wear pants was a challenge for a lot of people and I am glad Cartoon Network let it go - he's my favorite character".
Production began around April 1996 and the show was inserted as a series of segments in Cow and Chicken until mid 1999. Right after the end of that show, it was spun-off into a new separated series produced until September 16, 1999, with all the previous episodes incorporated and removed from Cow and Chicken.
General production took place at the studio of Hanna-Barbera, with the series being labeled as part of both the collection of cartoons of that company and Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons. Animation production was made overseas at Rough Draft Studios, in South Korea.
From season two onward, the show's story, recurring characters and art style suffered significant changes. I.R. Baboon went on to become gradually more friendly to Weasel and less seen as antagonist, as that role was taken over by the Red Guy. Supporting characters from seasons one to three, such as Loulabelle and Admiral Bullets, became less and less seen, completely disappearing from season four. Many characters from Cow and Chicken were added as supporting or recurring characters. That was explained by Feiss: "There was a lot of pressure to complete Cow and Chicken quickly, and I felt that I couldn't dedicate enough time to the second show. But Cartoon Network wanted to spin off Weasel, so we did. I don't really remember asking if I could or could not cross populate the two shows--I just did it because it felt like the same universe, plus I thought it was funny to have the Red Guy in I Am Weasel".
The story started to show more of Weasel's shortcomings and turned him into a wise fool, suffering similar gags as I.R., as opposed of the invincible folk hero role he played on season one. I.R. Baboon started to become more like a hero than a villain, also taking that role from Weasel in some episodes from season five, leading to the finale where he definitely turns out as the protagonist.
The exact same art style of Cow and Chicken is used starting from season two. Season one is a bit different, including the title cards for episodes, which feature animation and Weasel saying the name of the episode with additional commentary and/or events, contrasting with the style also used for Cow and Chicken, with static image.
The title sequence features I.M. Weasel using constantly his catchphrase "I am Weasel!" and I.R. Baboon with his trademarked victory dance. The series ending credits were only created in 1999, with the separation; it shows all the three years of production and the theme song is played instrumentally in a pop rock style, with additional arrangement.
Michael Dorn provides voice for I.M. Weasel and Charlie Adler does both voices of I.R. Baboon and the Red Guy. Loulabelle is voiced by Susanne Blakeslee in season two and Teresa Ganzel in season three, Jolly Roger by Dee Bradley Baker, and Admiral Bullets by Jess Harnell in season one and Michael Gough in season two.
A sneak peek for the series was aired on July 15, 1997 with the eleventh episode, "Law of Gravity", and then it started its original run from July 22, 1997 with the second episode, "I.R. on Sun", all yet as a series of segments on Cow and Chicken. After four seasons, it was separated and premiered as a half-hour show on June 10, 1999, and the 52 episodes originally aired on Cow and Chicken began to air on the show's own time slot, being either in or outside the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays programming block, and getting joined by 27 new episodes, totaling 79. The original run ended in early 2000.
Reruns aired prominently from early 2000 to 2003, including on Cartoon Cartoon Fridays. From September 2005 to April 10, 2006, it returned sporadically as segments on The Cartoon Cartoon Show, along with other Cartoon Cartoons from that era. On April 13, 2012, the series returned on Cartoon Planet before being removed in 2013. It was also aired on Boomerang, but only with seasons 1 to 4 along the Cow and Chicken segments, and on Cartoon Network Too in the United Kingdom. Some episodes were also made available on Cartoon Network Video in the early 2010s. From June 25, 2017, season one was made available on Netflix in Australia, along Cow and Chicken.
In Brazil, an animated miniseries named Terra à Vista ("Land in Sight") was produced in 2000 for Cartoon Network, and tells the story of the Portuguese arriving at Brazil with a humorous take, using characters from Cartoon Cartoons, including I.M. Weasel, I.R. Baboon and the Red Guy. It was broadcast on Cartoon Network Brazil from March 6 to April 22, 2000 and has 8 episodes. This series was also the first-ever Cartoon Network production exclusively made for Brazil.
The series consists of five seasons and 79 episodes. The first four seasons contain the segments that originally aired during broadcasts of Cow and Chicken, while the fifth contains a further 27 episodes produced independently of that show. They were all eventually mend up into the whole I Am Weasel series, although they still air sometimes within Cow and Chicken timeslots.
There was a case of censorship in the episode "I.R. Mommy", in which the letter "N", present on an American football helmet used by I.R. Baboon (a reference to the Nebraska Cornhuskers), had to be digitally removed after Cartoon Network was sued by the University of Nebraska, who alleged the reference was derogatory for their institution. No other episode suffered censorship so far.
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||13||July 22, 1997||December 16, 1997|
|2||13||January 13, 1998||April 7, 1998|
|5||27||June 10, 1999||2000|
It became one of the most successful Cartoon Network original series of its time, usually being remembered along other major Cartoon Cartoons and recording high ratings for the network in both incarnations of season one and seasons two to five.
The premiere of season five on June 10, 1999 reached 1.8 million viewers in households, acquiring 4.4 with kids 2-11 and 4.6 with kids 6-11. It was also the fifth most watched show on Cartoon Network in 2000, with an average rating of 1.8 million viewers, only and not far behind The Powerpuff Girls (1.9), Tom and Jerry (2.0), Courage the Cowardly Dog (2.1) and Dexter's Laboratory (2.3).
Media releases have been made in both VHS and DVD formats. In the United States, no media containing complete seasons was released as of 2019, but some episodes were launched on a Cartoon Cartoons VHS from 1998, dedicated exclusively to the show and containing the episodes "My Friend, the Smart Banana", "I.R. Pixie Fairie" and "I.R. in Wrong Cartoon", and Cartoon Cartoon Fridays VHS in 1999, but along other series. As for DVDs, also in USA, Cartoon Network released special ones for Halloween and Christmas holidays in 2004 and 2005, distributed by Warner Home Video, containing one or two episodes. In the United Kingdom, there was a release of a compilation DVD of Cartoon Network shows containing one episode of the series.
In Thailand, complete seasons have been released on DVD since 2009 by MVD Company; the season one's was launched on December 23, 2009 and a release for season two was also planned. In Australia, a two-disc season one DVD was launched on July 6, 2011, distributed by Madman Entertainment. The same release was also launched in New Zealand on August 11, 2011.
|Title||Format||DVD Region||Country||Content||Distributor||Release date||Ref.|
|Cartoon Cartoons: I Am Weasel||VHS||N/A||United States||3 episodes||Cartoon Network||1998|||
|I Am Weasel - Season 1 / - 1||DVD||3||Thailand||Complete season one||MVD Company||December 23, 2009|||
|I Am Weasel - Season 2 / - 2||Complete season two||N/A||N/A|
|I Am Weasel - Vol. 1||4||Australia||Complete season one||Madman Entertainment||July 6, 2011|||
|New Zealand||August 11, 2011|||
|Title||Format||DVD Region||Country||Episodes||Distributor||Release date||Ref.|
|Cartoon Cartoon Fridays||VHS||N/A||United States||"My Friend, the Smart Banana"||Cartoon Network||1999|||
|Cartoon Network Halloween: 9 Creepy Cartoon Capers||DVD||1||"I Am Vampire"||Warner Home Video||August 10, 2004|||
|Cartoon Network Halloween 2: Grossest Halloween Ever||"Power of Odor"||August 9, 2005|||
|Cartoon Network Christmas: Yuletide Follies||"I.R.'s First Bike"||October 5, 2004|||
|Cartoon Network Christmas 2: Christmas Rocks||"Happy Baboon Holidays"||October 4, 2005|||
|Cartoon Network: Toon Foolery - Laugh Your 'Ed Off!||2||United Kingdom||"I.R. in Wrong Cartoon"||Cartoon Network||N/A|||
The show also has two audio tracks featured in Cartoon Medley, a compilation album made by Kid Rhino for Cartoon Network, containing tracks from many animated series from the network and others. It was released on July 6, 1999, in CD and cassette releases, and contains the show's audio tracks "I Am Weasel", which is the theme song, and "I.M. Weasel's Poem", an oral text spoken by I.M. Weasel.
From 1999 to 2005, I Am Weasel had stories featured on three collective comic series published by DC Comics: Cartoon Network Starring (1999-2000), Cartoon Cartoons (2001-2004; having lead stories on issues #5 and #19) and Cartoon Network Block Party! (2004-2009). It was presented along stories from many Cartoon Network original series, such as Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Courage the Cowardly Dog, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Sheep in the Big City, among others. The characters also appeared in the crossover comic series The Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up!.
On the kart racing video game, Cartoon Network Racing, available for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS, I.M. Weasel is a playable character, while I.R. Baboon and the Red Guy must be unlocked to play with, but the first is available in the DS version only. Also, only in the PS2 version, the episodes "Enemy Camp" and "My Friend, the Smart Banana" are available as extras which can be unlocked by winning the "UR Challenged Cup" and "I.M. Weasel Super Tournament" modes, respectively.
In a scene of the episode, the Red Guy repeatedly sings switches from the series theme song and "Pop Goes the Weasel".