Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop: Season 1 – review

Director: Tony Barnes

First aired: 1994

Contains spoilers

Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of it. This was a fairly obscure UK/French children’s cartoon from the 1990s and I don’t recall having ever seen it at the time it was released. I stumbled over it on Amazon Instant Video (UK version).

Compared to other cartoons, then, it really didn’t get the cult following that many did and that probably has much to do with the fact that unlike, say, Count Duckula it did not have a more universal appeal that could make it open to adults. The jokes are puerile, the situations vanilla and the characters as 2D as their drawings.

Dr Zitbag
You have mad scientist Dr Stanley Zitbag (Kerry Shale) who, having lost his job decides to open his own Pet Shop. He finds a Transylvanian castle in which to house his endeavour and discovers the owner of the castle is the dog, now dead and possessing his own bones. Horrifido, as the skeletal doggy is known, becomes his assistant. His neighbours are the Exosisters (both voiced by Nicolette McKenzie), Sinista and Bimbella, who Zitbag wants to woo. His on-running enemy is Officer Deadbeat (Christian Rodska) who wanted the castle as the new police station, though he also has a mad scientist rival Professor Sherman Vermin, who is an occasionally used character.

vampire froggy
So vampires… Well the opening theme introduces us to our first one – a vampire froggy. Zitbag uses his mad science know-how to create hybrid pets and some of them are listed in the title song. Later in the series he makes a swarm of vampire rodents. We also get a lot of random vampires popping up, be they shoppers in a supermarket, coming in to the pet shop or being the news anchor on TV. Lots of the episodes have random vampires making fleeting visitations.

the Exosisters
Then there are the Exosisters. Whilst clearly designed visually on the Bride of Frankenstein, they both sport fangs and it is clear that they are both vampires. They appear in virtually every episode to a greater or lesser extent, often as the story catalyst as Zitbag wants to impress them. Sinista (who has purple streaks in her hair) is dismissive of Zitbag but Bimbella (white streaks) seems to want to give him a chance. They do not do anything overtly vampiric, however, and the kid-friendly nature of the show is always maintained.

a random vampire
It seems cruel to attack this, especially as it might be a rose-tinted childhood memory for some, but I really struggled to drag myself through the short season. 3 out of 10 is probably fairest – it did have a horror film basis, even if it was watered into nothingness.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: