Cult Classics Redux - SCREENLAND S1 E5
The internet cartoon "Homestar Runner" and the kid's television show Knightmare both have huge cult followings that go back decades. Now both are receiving modern day tributes, a testament to their impact on pop culture.
Interviewees include The Brothers Chaps (Matt Chapman and Mike Chapman), Paul Flannery, Tim Child and Hugo Myatt.
I'm gonna take this interview... to the top! How's that?
I'm gonna eat this! I'm gonna eat this thing!
I'm sorry! This 20th anniversary thing is stressing me out.
MATT: There's no elevator pitch.
It's a bunch of weird, non-human, non-animal characters
talking to one another at length.
-We gotta head for the hills! -Hills? I thought they was bushes.
But actually I never walked a couple of feet to find out for sure.
-I meant it figuratively! -Hey! Let's do it right now! (CRASH)
-Bush! MIKE: It's pretty amazing.
Something we did out of boredom 20 years ago has become--
or became such a part of my life.
Homestar Runner started in 1996.
Went to a bookstore to look at kids books and they were all terrible,
so we went home and decided to make our own.
When you're making children's books in the early to mid 90's,
you did what was there and different.
Computer software became available starting with Mario Paint.
It was restrictive but great, you could animate a character.
At the time that was amazing.
Making little Mario Paint cartoons was fun but there was a lot more
the characters wanted to do and say.
When we discovered Flash in the 90's, the lightbulb really went off.
First thing we did, we were trying to teach ourselves Flash.
Homestar seemed like the go to because we had established them,
liked those guys and wanted to see them move more.
MIKE: We started putting the animations online and somehow,
after some months, hundreds of thousands of people were watching.
Homestarrunner.com, Welcome Speech, take one!
-Action! -Oh, welcome to homestarrunner.net!
-It's dot com. -Oh, right.
-homestarrunner.net, "It's dot com!" -Cut!
One of my favorite things about the website,
was that we could always do whatever we wanted with it.
STRONG BAD: Oh dang... oh dang muffins... oh dang muffins pie!
Oh dang muffins pie à la mode!
This is gonna be the best April Fools' Day prank call, ever!
At the time, we thought there was enough out there.
I remember you would watch this two-minute Flash animated cartoon,
afterwards it would roll the credits like, it took 60 people to make that?
Four sound guys? Like, we sorta were doing the same with just two of us.
20 years later, still making this cartoon, people are still watching.
Let's see what kind of old crap we have in here.
This is a heavy box.
Here's a drawing of The King of Town as a member of ZZ Top.
MIKE: For the 20th anniversary, celebrating the beginning.
We looked through old sketchbooks to see if we had forgotten something.
-This-- We could do this? What's--? -It's a...
-...a good picture I took of myself. -This is too new.
-All the stuff I've got is too late. -Here's something, page 16.
That's the second story, "Homestar Runner Goes for the Gold".
Should we do like, animate this in the classic style?
Found a treasure trove of stuff from way before the website, 1996.
We found in there the unproduced second children's book,
"Homestar Runner Goes for the Gold"
We had no idea it was still laying around.
We should do it either in the storybook style or...
-...Mario Paint. -We could dust off the SNES, true.
Anytime that we find something old like that, we'd love to exploit it.
So, seems like perfect timing.
So, essentially, I'm a lord in a castle
and the basement is riddled with evil.
The way I've chosen to combat this,
is by sending blind children up against, you know, booby traps
and-- and monsters.
Seems legit, mate. Yay! (LAUGHING)
Knightmare is a cult-classic TV show from the 80's and 90's.
It's essentially a fantasy game show.
A team of four friends will go on a perilous quest,
one of them will be blind inside the Helmet of Justice,
put into a green screen environment where they travel around, interact,
solve riddles, cast magical spells,
their three friends will be watching and directing them around,
telling them what to do.
Proceed with care, but don't delay! (DUNGEON CREAKS)
Side step to your left.
(CREAKING) (BELLS RINGING)
The rating were huge, six million, for a kids' TV show, that's massive.
Knightmare was ahead of its time, I was thinking of a new theater show.
We thought, maybe we can bring this back, do it in a live theater,
pay tribute to a cult classic we all love.
Your intentions are good so I'll take you to level two!
The initial idea of Knightmare Live came from a pub conversation,
as all good ideas do.
Talking about what TV shows we liked as kids would make good theater.
Knightmare was the only one that seemed to work
in fringe theater and also best on stage with an audience.
And getting involved.
With the show only a week away, we're rehearsing all the new stuff.
Let's do it from, "A man whose only hobby..."
-A hobby leading children to death! -It's not a hobby!
The unsheathing is good and the stab that goes, (UGH), just on the back.
I play Treguard, Lord of Dunshelm, the dungeon master.
I'm sorta a good guy, I help guide the team
and host the show.
Hop aboard, I'll take you to level two! (HUMS MUSIC)
PAUL: Then roll, I wanna see a dragon fly.
However when you look at it, once you have the theme tune,
the character of Treguard, the catchphrases, the helmet
and the structure, a lot of other stuff you can start making up.
Hi guys, good. That's good. Let's keep it exactly like that.
Obviously, Tim's coming. You guys haven't met him,
but I really want to impress him.
-So we can continue doing this. -Yes, please. (LAUGHS)
Keep it tight, that was good.
-Which was your favorite episode? -Of what?
-Which was your favorite episode? -You're a bad interviewer...
Hey guys, I was given a pile...
You're a pile!
A pile of scrawl.
We are given a pile right now and it is you, in that chair.
You're the pile!
Once we get the idea, talk about it for an hour or so,
some bare-bones ideas how an episode would work.
The first event is running, the second event is swimming,
and the third event is flying... (LAUGHS)
Of course, a triathlon.
Strong Sad mopes, "What's wrong?", he got replaced with Dijjery Doo...
Is this the only drawing of Dijjery Doo we have?
This is the only one.
He says, "Tee-hee" (SNORTS) and he's got walrus fangs...
-This makes no sense. -Yeah, that's why we didn't make it.
(LAUGHING) So glad we decided to make it now.
The most difficult part of making an episode is probably the early stage.
We're trying to just get the idea going.
Next step is to do a table read and figure out just how broken it is.
We gotta figure out--
We should either make it in all of its terribleness or,
make a few changes and make it make some sense.
-No, it shouldn't make any sense... -Be entertaining.
Mike and I have been working together since we were kids,
we finish each others' sentences, so to an outside observer,
it would probably be pretty baffling, like, "Wait, there was no point...?"
Like, "Yeah we know. We're good. Let's move on."
We are going to do a table read of the second ever Homestar Runner.
It's called, "Homestar Runner and the Brothers Strong".
Woah! That sounds pretty good.
The introduction of Strong Mad and Strong Sad.
Dijjery Doo was being passed by the high-flying Strong Sad.
-Dijjery Doo?! -Remember, he replaced Strong Sad.
-That's right! -All teams lined up for the event.
Ready... set... go!
Strong Mad gets an early lead and wins!
Yes! In your face!
At the table read I firmly believe I was the only good thing about it.
That script was a steaming pile!
My hands are getting real tired Mike.
-How you doing, Matt? -Uh, I think this--
I'd like to go on the record that this is terrible.
-Yeah, it's not very good. -Yeah, yeah, it's rough.
-It's a rough scene. -It's not very entertaining but...
Do you think we can make it into something that's entertaining?
Maybe if we used the same technology that was available when first written
-in 1996. -In '96? Yeah.
It'll cover up some of the shortcomings of the story.
Yeah, it's like story spackle.
-I'm gonna tell these guys. -Okay, let them know.
-All right guys. -What's the deal?
-So we're gonna... -That was a heated discussion there!
-We're gonna make this, gonna do it! -We're gonna do it!
-Sold! It's been greenlit! -All right!
-Yeah, greenlit to Mario Paint! -Woah, that's the best!
I've never looked better than in Mario Paint!
-Should we draw Dijjery Doo first? MATT: Yeah.
-He's the new asset. -All right.
MIKE: I would say, just make his arms wave, maybe.
MIKE: Yeah, it's so... restrictive. MATT: No way!
This opened up new worlds to us.
Yeah, just... eyeball it.
MATT: Oh! Look at that!
MIKE: Just... give him the classic...
...Homestar Runner background.
The thing is gonna be singles, just all single shots of everyone.
There's never gonna be more than two characters at the same time.
It seems like it might be...
-...way more work than it's worth? -Took a bad idea and made it worse.
What if we did it in Flash but did it in Storybook?
-That'd be good. -Sorry, Mario Paint.
At the time we thought Mario Paint was a revelation,
we were animators as a result of using it.
Now it looks like...
a death sentence.
PAUL: I'm to go meet Tim, it'll be nice to see him, been a while.
Apparently he's got a few ideas for the show which is always good.
Him being the original creator.
It's nice to get input from someone who knows what they're doing.
-Oh it's too good. Far too good! -It's too good, I'll take it back.
-Like a museum piece, I'm not worthy. -No?
I got you a drink, it's a "KPA", a Knightmare Pale Ale.
-So, this year's show revision. -Hm?
One thing that worries me is I got a lot of flak from the fans
for changing anything. (LAUGHS)
They don't like change. You and I worry about refreshing and developing
and they're thinking, "Don't you dare change that!"
-So, you're coming to the show then? -Absolutely!
-I shall need tickets. -Sure.
-It'd be weird to charge you. -Freebies are good.
-Indeed. -Cheers. (GLASSES CLINK)
PAUL: Now we got Tim involved, I thought it'd be really great
to reach out to Hugo, see if we can get the original Treguard,
to come and make an appearance.
-Hi Hugo, it's Paul. -Hello Paul!
I'm good, how are you sir?
-Okay. -We've got a show coming up...
-Yeah. -...quite soon, up in London.
I was wondering if you uh...
if there's any chance you wouldn't mind joining in, being a part of it?
Well, the most difficult, critical casting had to be the dungeon master.
I don't think we called him Treguard straight away,
but he quickly became Treguard.
We had to have somebody who was absolutely an authority figure.
Well, I'm basically a jobbing actor.
I knew Tim Child, the creator, producer, director, brilliant man,
he explained it to me and I didn't understand a word.
Not a single word, but being an actor I just said, "Yes of course."
-Oh! Well, that sounds fantastic. -Yeah?
-A sort of, cameo type thing? -Yeah, that would be ideal.
-There's only one other thing... -Yeah?
-Tim's gonna be there. -Yeah.
-I thought maybe keep it a surprise? -That'll be wonderful.
They've been friends for a long time but I want his cameo to be a secret.
I want Tim as surprised as everyone in the audience.
Join us again for Knightmare...
...and just keep telling yourself, "It's only a game."
Of course, in the original Tim is able to use Chroma Key, green screen
that sort of technology, where we have to do everything live.
Up to now what we've had is a live set made of wood,
like a live stage set.
But this year I've designed a brand-new backdrop
that's light-sensitive so depending which color light you put on it,
it shows up a different background.
I found some large picture files of various dungeons and forests,
then I have to layer them, work out what the past is going to be.
That-- That took time.
That took a lot of trial and error. (LAUGHS)
There's immense trepidation when you have an idea that works in your room,
but then you have to hand it over and a huge sum of money to a company,
and they'll send it back, made real.
You don't know until you've got it into the theater, under the lights.
No idea whether it's gonna work.
So, I would have been killed. I'm down here, lying down...
...dead for all that we know.
Perhaps I can assist you...
Hopefully somebody might recognize me not wonder who this old man is.
If they do, that would be good.
Dun dun dun... river blades happens, they get killed.
(GROANS) Oh, nasty!
Everyone loses their shit.
That's all fine, hangers are on the table.
I make it up at the end, don't know what I'm doing.
You could call it a rehearsal, fairly brief.
Let's hope I remember everything.
It's a fluid show.
I'm never sure what anybody will say.
(HUMS MUSIC) We come on, bow, we all wander off.
HUGO: Right. PAUL: Yeah, this'll be great.
That should happen a lot. (LAUGHING)
His teeth should just fall out every scene.
What's kept us going for so long has been the ability to do whatever.
If we burn out on this character or feature, we can do anything we want.
I have no idea if anybody likes that variety or not but for us,
it helps us keep fresh and excited and have fun.
-Let's make a new song. -Yeah, just start from scratch.
MIKE: I don't think it feels...
completely thrown together but there's a homemade quality.
Hard to nail exactly what it means but I think people can tell
there's an intimacy, that it's not done by a huge team of 60 people.
-We're not gonna do line by line? MIKE: No, just go.
I think it's...
not just the animation, it can be a bit crude, music can be sloppy,
but the writing, all that stuff comes together. There's a charm,
somehow that was not intended.
Strong Sad was now an all-star!
I don't want to tell you this Matt, but it had stopped recording.
That's great news. Great news for me.
(KEYBOARD MUSIC PLAYING)
Oh man Strong Bad, you're not gonna believe this. Wait til you see this!
This is gonna change your life, blow your mind, wipe your nose...
Then shut the dang up and let's see it already!
Homestar Runner and the Brothers Strong
AKA "Homestar Runner Goes for the Gold"
AKA "Old Glue Turns Gross and Brown If You Let It Sit for 20 Years"
MIKE: After making Homestar cartoons for 20 years,
The future of cartooning comes from someone in their parent's basement,
doing dumb animal voices to entertain themselves more than anyone else.
(TICKING SOUND) (EXPLODES)
That was some premium, grade-A old Homestar Runner crap!
Hey, look! I found my old whistle! (MAKES WHISTLE BLOWING SOUNDS)
So begins a great new era in Homestar Runner talk!
(MAKES WHISTLE BLOWING NOISES) Oh... fantastic.
I sure hope this continues for the next 20 years...
It will! (WHISTLE SOUNDS)
PAUL: Just before the show, about 10 minutes before
we start I'm in full show mode, waiting backstage.
I'm not nervous but there is sorta like, a focused energy to it.
I peek through the curtains, have a look to see how many are in.
It's a good one tonight, full house. I see Tim,
just in the corner and he's in perfect position to see Hugo
when he comes on.
Welcome watchers of illusion to my castle of confusion.
Three friends shall face a perilous quest.
One shall be blind to the world inside the Helmet of Justice.
Our quests begin as quests often do in Level One.
(CROWD CHEERS) Yowza!
Daddy got a new toy!
As we're going through the lights, yeah the blue comes up, I just--
I start whooping and cheering and dancing around, it's so pretty.
Such a relief after a long time planning and working.
Ah! There's a bad thing. A bad thing.
It's a Fright Knight! Uh, quickly--!
Sidestep to your left!
Fight Knight, no! (CROWD SHOUTS AND GASPS)
Now the forces of evil will be unbalanced!
Who will lead the team on their journey?
(CROWD CHEERS WILDLY)
Perhaps I can be of assistance...
(CROWD WHOOPS AND CHEERS)
I think it's fantastic, this live show. It's full of fun.
Well I thought-- I was suspicious you were going to be there.
-Yeah? -I was saying to Jenny and to others,
"I bet you Hugo's going to be there." When I arrived and saw Jackie,
"I said, Where's Hugo?" She said, "He's not here." (LAUGHS)
And I thought, "Oh well."
TIM: As soon as I saw it I thought,
"Oh thank goodness." I had a great fear I wasn't going to like it.
Even more so, I had a great fear the fans of the original show
would not be entertained.
The fact remains it's still funny and still very, very affectionate.
So currently, I'm Captain Nostalgia.
If you have a defunct 90's game show that you want to bring back,
into a live theatrical experience, I'm apparently the guy to do it.
If our version lives up to the original in the fans eyes,
and worthy of this cult-classic status,
that makes everything worth it.
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