Remember the late night TV wars? If you do then you probably remember the feud between Jay Leno and David Letterman getting into spats because both of them wanted to fill the larger than life shoes of Johnny Carson. It was a huge mess of an affair and Jay Leno won out and got the job on The Tonight Show. Late night talk shows were really big back when I was a lad, though I could never really figure out why. I never got the jokes Carson made, and the Top Ten list was only funny when Letterman mentioned “Buttafuco” (remember that guy?)
Cut to 1994 and something amazing happened. A show premiered on cartoon network that paved the way not only for outstanding programming on Adult Swim, but signaled something of a transition from old school cartoons being played on an endless loop, to original programming and what we got was Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
The premise is very simple. Former superhero and Hanna-Barbera mainstay Space Ghost is no longer a superhero and, in trying to stay in the spotlight, starts a late night TV show. Featuring live guests such as Slash, Jim Carrey (back when he was funny,) and Adam Corolla (still waiting for him to be funny) Along with Moltar, Zorack, and Brak, former supervillians now working on the show, it was a recipe for entertaining disaster.
The show itself was poorly edited on purpose, I think. They used stock footage to simulate the conversations but the dialogue was usually pretty good, if not completely random. The guests always seemed bemused by the notion of talking to a cartoon superhero. The questions were absurd (like Space Ghost asking “Do you like toast?”) but you could tell the guests were really having fun. It was almost as if they were playing characters of themselves, which made the show really fun to watch.
Technical problems usually arose and when they did, Space Ghost became a diva and often abused poor Moltar, who was clearly doing a job with very limited resources. Zorack was sort of like the Paul Schaeffer of the show, though his banter was a bit more abrasive than supportive and witty (and I’m fairly certain he couldn’t play the piano as well as Paul could,) and Brak was just…Brak.
This show, I think, could only have been made in that crazy decade of the 90’s and I’m really glad they did because it marked a really nice transition from reruns to original content on my favorite channel on TV. Don’t get me wrong, there are days I want to watch the Pink Panther and Yogi Bear, but the original cartoons being aired now will one day be classics and we’re lucky we can now count Space Ghost Coast to Coast as one of them.