Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? (rare/unreleased original voice audio and unfinished/unknown episodes; 2002-2003)
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|Opening title card to Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?|
Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? is a 'Cartoon Cartoon' that ran for two seasons from 2002 to 2003 on Cartoon Network. The series consisted of 12 shows with two episodes per show and filled a 30-minute time slot. The cartoon was notable for its style, mimicking cartoons produced in the early 80s in addition to many references and plots devices based on fads of the era. For example, an episode based on the Rubik's Cube series of puzzle boxes. Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? Was produced using tradition cel animation when most productions had moved on to computerised animation, furthering the style that was desired. The series was released to praise from critics for its unique animation style.
Robot Jones is a young robot tasked by his parents to attend a middle school for humans so that he may study them. Initially, Jones is hesitant to do so as he finds humans 'inefficient'. After 'dad-unit' has his say, Jones begins life as a typical middle school student with a light bulb for a head. He quickly finds fitting in to be very difficult as most of the school finds him strange, including the students, teachers, and especially a technophobic principal. Shortly after blowing a fuse in front the entire school, Jones loses all will to study humans, until he falls for a mess of a girl in an overly exaggerated set of braces with a metal leg and instantly changes his attitude on the matter. Humans are now interesting creatures that desire 'further study'. As the series progresses, Jones confronts typical middle school issues such as love, fads, bullies, and Physical Education.
For the first season of Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? The titular character had a computer-generated voice that stood out amongst the other characters' voices (with the exception of Jones' parents, also using computer-generated voices). Series creator Greg Miller has stated that he wanted a true synthetic robot voice and researched a lot of speech programs when starting the show, even discussing the topic with Bell Laboratories. Contrary to popular belief, Jones' voice was not produced with Macintosh Macintalk's Junior Speech but was actually produced using Microsoft Word 98's Junior Speech text-to-speech function. Miller confirms this in a Facebook interview. He chose Word because of its controls in speed and pitch. Miller created the Jones Audio himself, even spelling each word phonetically for it to be pronounced correctly and adjusting the pitch to get the "acting" right. The executives at the Cartoon Network found the voice unusual and requested a more 'Hollywood' voice for Jones. This led to Jones's being voiced by an actual voice actor (Bobby Block) at the start of Season 2. In addition, the Pilot and older episodes were re-dubbed using Block's voice for re-runs of the series. Episodes containing the original computer-generated voice are currently being sought after by fans of the series. The voice change was made early in the production of Season 2, but Miller claims to possess a few VHS workprints of Season 2 episodes using the computer-generated voice.
Other Lost Aspects
In addition to the original Jones voice, several small aspects of Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? Are now lost as well. The Season One episode "Growth Spurts" was edited in later airing to remove a poster in the background containing the phrase 'Kick-Ass', changing the phrase to simply 'Kick'. Three episodes are believed to have been put into production before the series was cancelled. The first would have been about the history of robotics, possibly explaining a little more about this robot-assimilated society the series revolves around. The second, called the 'Talk Show' episode, would have had Robot Jones appear on a parody of the Oprah Winfrey show (called the 'Soapy Winfall' show in-universe). Storyboards for this episode have been made available from series writer Chuck Klein's blog spot. The content of the third episode is unknown as of now. Miller claims "it was so long ago, I forget...". All episodes were storyboarded but never actually animated. Two episodes are also rumored to have existed as the fourteenth show of the series: "Risk" and "Robot Grafitti", potentially banned by the executives at the Cartoon Network for excessive violence, harsh language, and sexual and/or scatological jokes.
|Episode||Name||Original Voice||Bobby Block||Episode||Name||Original Voice||Bobby Block|
|S1E1A||Electric Boogaloo||Found||Found||S1E1B||The Groovesicle||Found||x|
|S1E3A||P.U. to P.E.||Found||Found||S1E3B||Vacuum Friend||Found||Found|
|S2E4A||The Yogmans Strike Back||x||Found||S2E4B||Hookie 101||x||Found|
|S2E5A||House Party||x||Found||S2E5B||School Newspaper||x||Found|