The Weasel Patrol (unsold Nicktoon pilot; 1990)
The Weasel Patrol was an unsold animated pilot that was pitched to Nickelodeon.
In 1989, kid-oriented cable network Nickelodeon decided to launch their own original animated programming, which they dubbed "Nicktoons." They commissioned eight pilots, and planned to choose the four best pilots to make it to series (though in the end, only three were chosen), with a targeted premiere in August 1991.
The Weasel Patrol was created by Ken Macklin and Lela Dowling for Mark Zander Productions, based on the humorous comic book of the same name. The Weasel Patrol consisted of seven weasels who fought crime. They were lousy crime fighters, despite their claims to the contrary, and only ever won due to random circumstances that worked to their advantage. The original comic series, however, was adult-oriented, and each story contained an adult element that would be inappropriate for the target audience. To try and make the show family-friendly, the plot of the pilot was cobbled together from several issues of the comic.
The story involved the Weasel Patrol trying to keep top secret hot chili peppers from a duo of smugglers. The peppers were intended to be used for rocket fuel, and an alien creature was also involved. Both the Weasel Patrol and the smugglers were incompetent, and the Weasel Patrol only won accidentally, and in the most confusing way possible.
The test audience's reception of the pilot was overwhelmingly negative. One nine-year-old boy stated that he'd rather watch a blank television screen. The comics were funny, but the pilot, which was an adaptation thrown together from a handful of unrelated stories, was convoluted and confusing, and an entirely new story would probably have been a better idea. Seven weasels, two smugglers, and an alien creature were too many characters to introduce in a five-minute pilot. The weasels, while funny in the comics, also lacked developed personalities, and some didn't even have names given.
The Weasel Patrol pilot was never shown to anyone outside those involved in its production and the test audiences, nor has it been shared by its creators since, save for a presentation given by Linda Simensky in 1995 at the Society for Animation Studies Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she showed the five failed Nicktoon pilots, as well as four others, to an audience of animation professors and historians.
Created by Ken Macklin and Lela Dowling
Directed by Norton Virgien