Mixels is a 1960s American animated television series, spearheaded by Garrett Bishop, Merle Moss, Woodrow Olson, Hap Shaughnessy, and William Dozier, and produced by Bilsonessy Studios (which went dormant in 1963 and was later acquired by the newly-relaunched Warner Bros. Animation in 1986). It featured stories revolving around the Mixels. The main antagonists were the Nixels. It aired on the ABC network for three seasons from January 11, 1961, to March 10, 1963. The show was aired twice weekly on Wednesday and Thursday nights for its first two seasons and weekly on Sunday nights for the third, with a total of 120 episodes produced during its run. The program was known for its upbeat theme music and camp moral lessons among children, which included championing the importance of good education (commonly seen with the Electroids) and eating fruits and vegetables (commonly seen with the Fang Gang and Frosticons) and was also notable in launching the careers of two young stars who would later appear together in the two Ghostbusters films: an 11-year-old Sigourney Weaver was cast as Scorpi and a 16-year-old Harold Ramis was cast as Flain, Teslo, Tentro and Dribbal.
The typical story begins with an opening narration that told the date that the story begins on, followed a Nixel villain (often one of a short list of recurring Nixel villains, including Muscle Nixel, Boomerang Nixel and Flyswatter Nixel) committing a crime, such as stealing a fabulous gem or taking over the Mixel Land. This was followed by a scene inside a control room cave beneath the Magma Wastelands, where Flain would deduce which Nixel was responsible. Flain would then pull out a sheet with a list of every Mixel, pick two random ones, and then speak through two intercom speakers connected to the homes of the two Mixels (unless Flain chose himself as one of the two, then he would only speak through one). The scene would then cut to a split-screen scene, with each side featuring the two character's homes, where the two would answer the intercom, which sat like a normal everyday radio on a table. Frequently, the tribal members would be found talking with the other two members of their respective tribes, but they would then excuse themselves to go to their intercoms. Upon learning from Flain which Nixel they would face, they would dash to their front doors and walk out. When the doors closed, the title sequence often began.
The title sequence began with another split-screen, this time with eight scenes, each with all three members of eight of the tribes (minus the Infernites) riding on something specific to their tribes or running towards the side of screen, this was then followed by a scene with the Infernites running towards right of screen. Flain would stop, turn towards camera, and point up, and the camera pans up and reveals the Mixels logo. It then cross-fades to scenes of various Mixes fighting an assortment of Nixels, including Major Nixel. The Mixels logo itself was identical to the current one, but orange, it wouldn't be changed until July 2013, when it was given a hip update and changed to an orange-yellow gradient before it became solid yellow not too long afterwards.
The two main Mixels of the two-parter would meet up with each other. While the episode credits are shown, they would then be summoned to the Magma Wastelands control room by the intercoms. Flain would them hand the two a package of five Cubits with their tribe's colors, then the initial discussion of the crime usually led to the two Mixels conducting their investigation alone. This investigation usually resulted in a meeting with the villain, with the heroes using a Cubit to Mix, or, if all three tribal members were involved, Max, and then started attacking the villain's Nixel minions, and the villain getting away, leaving a series of unlikely clues for the two to investigate. Later, they would face the villain's minions again, and he would then de-Mix both Mixels, even going as far as to force them to Murp in a few instances. Major Nixel then arrived, captured one or both of the heroes and placed them in a deathtrap leading to a cliffhanger ending, which was usually resolved in the first few minutes of the next episode.
After the cliffhanger
The second part of the episode (until late in Season Two) would begin with a brief recap of part one. After the title sequence, the cliffhanger was resolved.
The same pattern of plot was repeated in the following episode until the villain and Major Nixel were defeated by the re-Mixed heroes in a major fight.
The series utilized a narrator (Ramis, who used his Flain voice) who parodied both the breathless narration style of the 1940s Batman serials and Walter Winchell's narration of The Untouchables. He would end many of the cliffhanger episoes by intoning, "Tune in tomorrow -- same rad-time, same Mixel-channel!"
In Season 2, the show featured repetition of its characters and its formula. Shaughnessy's non-voice-acting participation in the series decreased significantly.
According to a 1997 Chicago Sun-Times interview given by Olson, that when beginning work on the second season, Dozier, his immediate deputy Moss, and the rest of the cast and crew rushed their preparation for the second season, failing to give themselves enough time to determine what they wanted to do with the series during that season. This explains why the animation of season 2 episodes is slightly choppier.
Early on in the second season, the characters that Mel Blanc voiced were voiced by the other voice cast members instead while Blanc was incapacitated by a near-fatal car accident. However, Blanc was able to return to the series much sooner than expected, as a temporary recording studio shared by both the voice cast members of this show and the voice cast members of the other ABC series Blanc served on, The Flintstones (where he portrayed Barney Rubble), was set up at Blanc's bedside.
Major changes took place in Season 3.
Ratings were falling and the future of the series seemed uncertain. To attract new viewers, Dozier and Bishop opted to introduce nine new characters: three new Infernites (Burnard, Meltus and Flamzer), three new Frosticons (Krog, Chilbo and Snoof) and three new Glorp Corp (Dribbal, Gurggle and Slusho) and expand the main Mixel number from two to four. To convince ABC executives to introduce the new characters as regulars on the show, a promotional short where the three new Maxes introduced joined forces with Flain and Flurr to fight Boomerang Nixel and Major Nixel was produced and released to theaters. The show was reduced to once a week and moved from its successful 7:00 time slots on Wednesday and Thursday to Sunday 7:00 to be used as a lead-in to new animated series The Jetsons (and allowed affiliates to resume syndicated or local programming in the 7:00 Wednesday and Thursday slots), with mostly self-contained episodes, although the following week's Nixel would be in a tag at the end of the episode, similar to a soap opera. Accordingly, the narrator's cliffhanger phrases were eliminated, with most of the episodes ending with him saying something to encourage viewers to watch the next episode.
Virtually the entire writing staff, except for Bishop, Olson, Moss, and Dozier, was fired after season 2, and replaced with newcomers. The nature of the scripts and animation started to enter into the realm of surrealism, and the third season was much more topical, with references to current events of late 1962 and early 1963, which the previous two seasons had avoided.
Season 3 was also the first season to be aired in color (in contrast, even though the entire series has always been produced in color, it originally aired in black and white almost everywhere except in Detroit, where then-ABC-owned-and-operated station WXYZ-TV broadcast the show in color from the beginning), though only a handful of ABC affiliates were capable of airing programs in color in the early 1960s.
Near the end of the third season, ratings had dropped significantly, and ABC cancelled the show. NBC considered picking up the show for a fourth season, on the condition that it would add eight new tribes (Orbitons, Glowkies, Clinkers, Lixers, Weldos and Munchos) and increase the main Mixel number to six, but Bilsonessy had already shelved all Mixels production items. Dozier would later take several ideas from Mixels and use them in the Batman TV series, which also ran on ABC from 1966 to 1968.
Chicago station WFLD was one notable station that ran two back-to-back reruns of Mixels weekdays during its 6-7 PM time slot since the station's 1966 sign-on. This unprecedented run ended on September 4, 2012, long after the passage of the Children's Television Act of 1990, when WFLD ceased airing the show. It continued to be aired on WPWR-TV, the sister station to WFLD, in the 8 AM time slot through September 12, 2014. After then-owner Field Communications acquired Kaiser Broadcasting in 1977, Field expanded this tradition to former Kaiser stations in San Francisco, Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia. When Field Communications itself was dissolved in 1983, all but WFLD stopped airing Mixels.
Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS-TV also scored huge with back-to-back airings of Mixels, originally at 7-8 PM weeknights from 1963 to the 1980's and then at 11 AM-12 PM until December 29, 1989, when WBNX-TV began airing the show at 3-4 PM Saturday afternoons. On January 7, 2008, the show returned to WEWS-TV, where it remains to this date, albeit in an early-Sunday-morning graveyard slot.
Reruns of the series have been seen on a regular basis in the United States and much of the world since 1963. In America, syndicated reruns were offered to a number of stations across the country until January 1997, when it was removed from nearly all stations as a result of a combination of it joining Cartoon Network's lineup after Warner Bros., which purchased Bilsonessy in 1986, purchased CN's parent Turner Broadcasting; changing tastes in the industry, and E/I regulations; and are currently shown on the classic cartoon network Boomerang on Saturday nights, although since 2015 it has been bumped several hours forward into a graveyard slot as a result of the network's near-complete conversion into a general kid's entertainment network.
The franchise continued to be owned by Bilsonessy, which was now dormant out side of producing new Mixels-related animation for commercials at irregular intervals, until it was acquired in 1986 by a newly-relaunched Warner Bros. Animation. Olson and Bishop subsequently joined the Warner Bros. Animation staff as a result. Warners continues to own the franchise today and in the future plans on integrating it's universe with the universes of Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, and the pre-1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoons, all also owned by Warners.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (U.S. dates)|
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||34||January 11, 1961||May 4, 1961|
|2||60||September 6, 1961||March 29, 1962|
|3||26||September 16, 1962||March 10, 1963|
- Jim Backus - Chilbo, Gurggle, Footi, Shuff, Slumbo
- Mel Blanc - Burnard, Krog, Major Nixel, Mesmo, Nixels, Seismo, Volectro, Zorch
- Daws Butler - Flurr, Jawg, Lunk, Meltus, Slusho, Torts, Vulk, Wizwuz
- George O'Hanlon - Balk, Chomly, Krader, Magnifo, Snoof, Zaptor
- Harold Ramis - Dribbal, Flain, Tentro, Teslo
- Hap Shaughnessy - Flamzer, Gobba, Glurt, Hoogi, Kraw
- Sigourney Weaver - Scorpi
In 1959, Savannah, Georgia electrician Garrett Bishop contacted close friend Merle Moss, a high-school basketball coach at a New York City high school, with the idea of producing an action-packed hour-long primetime television series. Bishop and Moss then came across Woodrow Olson, an usher at a Chicago theater. Olson had himself decided to come up with an idea for a cartoon series that would feature a new concept involving small, unique creatures, based on what he had worked on in elementary school. The three then decided to merge both concepts into one and presented it to ABC executives Hap Shaughnessy and Thomas W. Moore, both of whom were planning on developing a television series based on small creatures themselves. In November 1959, the five then suggested locations and characters and in January 1960, had finished developing ideas for a television series based on small, unique creatures, the "Mixels," which would be the main characters of the show, which would be a comedy show that would satirize the superhero, crime-fighting and action genres, similar to Get Smart, which premiered two years after Mixels' cancellation. In March 1960, Bishop, Olson and Shaughnessy formed an animated studio, Bilsonessy Productions, in a Los Angeles hotel room, that would produce the series. Olson also hired actor William Dozier as the program's executive producer.
In April 1960, Bishop, Dozier, Olson and Shaughnessy began writing storylines for and animating an abbreviated first season, which was scheduled for a January 1961 premiere, where it would be used to complement the network's already succesful animated primetime show The Flintstones. Originally intended as a one-hour show, ABC found out that the only way the show was going to work was if it was split into two parts, airing twice a week in half-hour installments with a cliffhanger, thus connecting the two episodes together. This was because ABC only had two vacant early-evening timeslots where the show would air.
In the same 1997 Chicago Sun-Times interview mentioned above, Olson explained that selling the show to ABC wasn't an easy task.
- Mixels (1961-63) (120 episodes) (3 seasons)
- The Mixels Show (1993, 1995, 1998-99) (27 episodes) (3 seasons)
- Mixels (2014-) (23 episodes) (2 seasons)
Home video releases
In 1992, Warner Home Video released the entire series on VHS. There were a total of 60 VHS compilations, with two episodes per tape. However, they were available only as part of a promotion at Shell gas stations in the United States and were soon placed out-of-print.
In January 2014, David P. Smith posted on the mixmaxmurp.org forums, later confirmed by Warner Bros., that Warner Bros. would release an official DVD and Blu-Ray box set of the complete series later in 2014.
On April 10, 2014, Hap Shaughnessy was quoted on tvshowsondvd.com, saying that the complete series would be released on November 11, 2014, to coincide with the Christmas season and that he and Woodrow Olson, along with the current voices of Flain, Seismo and Teslo, Tom Kenny, would cooperate on special features for the release.
On November 11, 2014, Warner Bros. released the full, 120-episode Mixels: The Complete 60's Series on Blu-Ray and DVD. Both sets include a 32-page episode guide and three Nixel building sets, while the Blu-Ray also includes a Shaughnessy/Bishop/Olson Scrapbook.
Warner Bros. also launched a dedicated website, 60smixelsdvd.com, which also includes a website-exclusive DVD set which contains the entire contents of the Blu-Ray release, but also includes all of the LEGO sets from Series 1-3 and the complete transcripts for "A Hot Nixel!"/"Fighting Fire with Fire". Clips from both this series and The Mixels Show are also viewable on Calling All Mixels.
Various disagreements are the reason why the VHSes were only released in a limited promotion and why there was no official DVD or Blu-Ray release prior to 2014.
- Disagreement between Warner Bros., the current half-owners of the Mixels characters, split with LEGO, which purchased those half-rights in 2000 for the sole purpose of having the sole rights to release franchise-based toy merchandise.
- Bilsonessy/ABC rights issues. Mixels was conceived as a Bilsonessy production in 1959, before it entered into a separate agreement with ABC to produce the series in 1960. With these companies involved almost from the outset, there is some speculation that these rights are tangled even before Warners/LEGO character ownership rights are to be considered.
The series, under ABC rights, is still in syndication, and regularly shown on a number of channels around the world, currently appearing in the United States nationally on Boomerang, as well as on a scant number of low-powered stations and in the Sunday-morning graveyard slot on WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.
With Mixels being unavailable on home video until early 1992 and between late 1992 and 2014, an unusual situation occurred in which material that would be considered DVD featurettes was released separately.
However, even before the official release in 2014, illegal Asian DVD bootlegs were, and still are, sold on Ebay. Bootleg Asian "four-pack compilations" with the 1966 Batman series, Adventures of Superman and Wonder Woman have also appeared. The video quality of these bootlegs was questionable.
A Mixels comic strip began on February 26, 1962. Illustrated by Perry Wood and Thelma Graham, and distributed by the McNaught Syndicate, it ran from 1962 to 1990.
- Mixels, for NES, released in 1989 by Michigan-based Media Rainbow Entertainment.
- Mixels: Mixing It Up, for Super NES, released in 1992 by Media Rainbow Entertainment.
- The Mixels Show: Frostlympics, for SNES, released in 1994 by Media Rainbow Entertainment.
- Mixels 64, for Nintendo 64, released in 1997 by Media Rainbow Entertainment.
- Calling All Mixels, for mobile devices, released in 2014.
- Mixels Rush, for mobile devices, released in 2015.
- Dragnet - Flain's opening narration at the start of every first part of the two-parter is a parody of the opening narration of the Dragnet radio and television shows.