Childhood Cartoons Revisited

Cartoons from our youth dissected as a young adult

Two Angry Beavers Equal One Great Show

on March 2, 2012

Typically, a nature show about two beavers living together would be perfect television for someone desperately seeking to hibernate. But when Nickelodeon launched “Angry Beavers” on April 19, 1997, I, along with several others, were ready to make the beaver the national symbol of America.

Even as a 21-year-old college student, I still love to watch “Angry Beavers” on a regular basis, as inside jokes are present in every episode that would fly over the heads of young kids. In terms of Nickelodeon cartoons, “Angry Beavers” was always my favorite. Even in the later stages of the show when it was replayed only during the early hours of the week on Nicktoons Network, I would wake up at 4 a.m. just for 30 minutes of enjoyment to keep my mind off of just how tired I was.

“Angry Beavers” was created by Mitch Schauer, who won two awards for his work on the show. He won a World Animation Celebration award for Best Animation Produced by Daytime and won a Annie award for Best Individual Achievement: Production Design in a TV Production. The show ran for four season and 62 episodes, with the series finale airing on August 27, 2006.

The show focused on two beavers, Norbert and Daggett, who were forced out of their parents’ dam after the birth of their twin sisters and told to find their own dam to call home. They take residence in the forest near Wayouttatown (way out of town), Oregon, where hilarious chaos ensues in their newly-built dam. Norbert and Daggett are two polar opposites of one another. Norbert is seen as the more mature older brother, who is a thorough thinker and planner. Daggett, on the other hand, is immature and quick to get himself caught in an undesirable situation.

It’s rare that my favorite character in a cartoon series is not considered to be one of the main characters. While I do like Norbert for his level-headed personality and laid back attitude, my favorite character in “Angry Beavers” was one that never moved or even talked throughout the series. He was a piece of bark known simply as Stump. Stump’s whole existence in the show is hilarious, as he becomes friends with both Norbert and Daggett and somehow receives the reputation around the forest as someone who goes out of his way to help others. Despite not being able to move on his own or communicate with others, he is characterized by the beavers as being self-aware and animate. I feel like Stump is one of the greatest inanimate objects to appear either on television or in the theatre, rivaling Wilson in “Cast Away.’

There are a lot of great episodes in this series, but my personal favorite was “Same Time Last Week,” the first episode of season two. The episode involves Daggett constantly annoying Norbert throughout the week by jabbing him with boxing gloves. Norbert stays calm throughout the week, but come Sunday morning, Norbert has had enough and literally punches Daggett back into the week that he had just experienced. Initially, Daggett does not learn from his mistake and repeats the process for several weeks until he desperately seeks to move on with his life. In an attempt to not be knocked back into last week, Daggett buys a calendar with 365 ways to help your brother. However, in his attempt to help Norbert, he ends up making him angrier than he ever was when attempting to bother his older brother. Norbert’s patience runs out when Daggett gives away the ending to a movie he is watching on Sunday morning, causing him to knock Daggett back into the time of the dinosaurs.

“Angry Beavers” put its touch on several different items and events that either the kids or parents would be able to understand. There are episodes on Woodstock, box tops, disco, zombies, bed wetting (called bed biting), relationships and family matters.

“Angry Beavers” had a strained relationship with Nickelodeon, growing worse with each passing season. The success of the show kept it on the air, much to the dismay of the network. The relationship started deteriorated with the 1998 episode “Alley Oops.” When the episode first ran, Daggett tells Norbert to shut up, which is something you don’t usually hear on children’s television. Now I don’t believe that “shut up” is vulgar compared to some of the other words in the English language. It’s become as common as saying “OK.” The fact that I don’t even remember that phrase being said when watching the episode shows just how mediocre of a problem it should have been. I’d agree it to be offensive if he had said “shut the F**k up. But Nickelodeon demanded that “shut” be changed to “shush” when the episode re-aired. It was the first time the network had changed the script between airings.

The show’s staff got the last laugh, as the series finale poked fun at the way the network operated. Titled “Bye Bye Beaver,” Daggett and Norbert receive a letter in the mail saying that they have been cancelled, breaking the fourth wall by acknowledging that they are just mere cartoons and not actually real people in real life. They poke fun at Nickelodeon saying that the cartoon can still be re-run, making tons of money that won’t find its way back to the creators of the show. I applaud the creators for not being afraid to stand up against the network and speaking out against how backward the field of television can be.

“Angry Beavers” will always be on my Netflix Instant for as long as I have an account. A few years ago I bought my father a Norbert windup toy that chopped wood when engaged. My whole family loved “Angry Beavers” and it has made me greatly appreciate the modern-day beaver.

Here is a video clip of Richard Horvitz (the voice of Daggett) at a convention.

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One response to “Two Angry Beavers Equal One Great Show

  1. Mike,

    Great post! I loved that show too. I really liked how you talked about your favorite episode of the show because it allows us to see more about you personally but still more about the show too. I thought it was funny when you talked about how the show started losing support when they said “shut up.” I’m pretty sure cartoons are A LOT more vulgar now than they ever were…look at American Dad and Family Guy. Not that those are “kids” shows per cay but they are still appealing to young kids so I’m sure they watch them. I also love how you brought up your family and how they all love this show too. Nice work!

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