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April 22, 2024, 08:00:41 AM

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Stressed Eric (1996 Mark Heap Cartoon) - Does it hold up?

Started by Retinend, January 24, 2024, 07:39:59 AM

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Retinend

@George White posted this in the YouTube thread in Picture Box and it reminded me of the existence of 1998 BBC2 show, Stressed Eric. If I recall correctly it came on in the pre-Simpsons slot.

Quote from: George White on January 23, 2024, 05:10:35 PMA Stressed Eric ad from NBC, unusually using the original Mark Heap dub and not the US Hank Azaria dub. 

I watched episode one again and it hasn't aged that badly IMO. I remember my dad being massively put off by it - for being too depressing basically. But being depressing isn't a fault of it if that was its intent. And although it isn't riotously LOL-funny, it is funny in a "grim smirk" kind of a way.

As a child I thought it was funny to see this guy go mental / spaz out (choose your favourite 90s expression), but as an adult I can relate more to Eric and his insecurities. The jokes about smug, firmly middle-class neighbors and having "Mr. Power" as a boss are relatable now. I may not be a single father, but, I recognise that the stresses of having normal children with normal deficiencies (allergies, strange habits) is accurately depicted.

In summary - not funny, but accurate.

jobotic

I used to like it at the time and I'm sure I will again. Me and my housemate watched it regularly.

The only thing I couldn't stand was the attempt to make the boss saying "arseburgers" a thing.

Retinend

Some interesting names from the voice credits:

Doon McKichan [sic - should be Mackichan]
Alison Steadman
Rebecca Front
Morwenna Banks

thr0b

Quote from: Retinend on January 24, 2024, 08:04:12 AMSome interesting names from the voice credits:

Doon McKichan [sic - should be Mackichan]
Alison Steadman
Rebecca Front
Morwenna Banks

Aye. It was an Absolutely production. It was far from great, though I loved it at the time.

And the donkey episode has one of the funniest sequences in anything ever.

Retinend

Quote from: thr0b on January 24, 2024, 08:42:39 AMAye. It was an Absolutely production.

Ah, that's the first time I'm aware of this name (wikipedia).  It's funny that there are two notable comedy production companies with that name (the other being Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's Abso Lutely Productions - wikipedia).

Wezzo

I rewatched it all when the DVD set came out in 2011, I remember being surprised it was deemed worthy of a disc release (especially at that relatively-late date). I enjoyed it a fair bit but 13 episodes was probably enough, some repetition was creeping in by the end.

madhair60

it's really bad. massive tonal mismatch between the stories, performances, visuals. the incredibly cheap sounding music. it just sucks, it's one of the wave of totally point-missing "adult animations" out of the UK. having klasky-csupo worked for Duckman, but Duckman was well-written and consistent.

JaDanketies

I really enjoyed it when it came out. I've watched it a bit as an adult and it's okay, it's got a charm to it. It's got something for everything, when you're a kid you like the kids and the wackiness and the repeated jokes, and when you're older you relate to Eric.

dontpaintyourteeth

#8
I liked it at the time but at the time I was a kid and kids are stupid


edit: I've never rewatched it lol it's probably fine

idunnosomename

The first series was aired at the extra-depressing slot of 10 PM on a Monday in 1998. The second series in 2000 went out at Simpsons-adjacent slot of 6:45 on Wednesday, with weekend lunchtime repeats.

No further repeats except on BBC Choice in 2001.

The ending of "Pony" is just stunning, it gets a pass for that alone.

neveragain

I really like it and would say the first series is quite good. Some great set pieces and comical resolutions. Too much repetition of ideas in the second series. I loved the low-key depressing mundanity of it at the time. There's one where the plot is just that Eric needs a piss but can't get one anywhere which is *mwah!* (chef's piss).

The thing that annoyed me was the changing of the neighbours' name from Titan to the much less subtle Perfect family.

Mobbd

ARSEBURGERS!

And the letter going down the drain.

That's all I remember.

And the bulging vein on Eric's head. Oh! and his neighbour Mr Perfect does perfect poops tied with a bow.

I have a lot of fondness for the Absolutely gang. Might rewatch.

Retinend

I linked to it in the OP but in case anyone missed it, it's all on YouTube in DVD-quality courtesy of "Silentwulf A/V"

(for shame, Absolutely's legal team):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWPAPHWVYnQ&list=PL4yVOPYgONgl9Qeefi7eZkaP6yypr91Fz

Blumf

Quote from: Retinend on January 24, 2024, 08:47:33 AMAh, that's the first time I'm aware of this name (wikipedia).

Ooo, does this mean you haven't seen Absolutely? That needs to be a priority, it's brilliant.

Retinend

Quote from: Blumf on January 24, 2024, 02:06:52 PMOoo, does this mean you haven't seen Absolutely? That needs to be a priority, it's brilliant.

No I never have. Thanks for the recommendation.

dead-ced-dead

Young dead-ced-dead loved it. I didn't catch it new, but one of the Sky channels (Comedy Central? Can't remember) used to replay it. It was among that formative slew of television that made me feel really grown up watching it. I daren't watch it back in case it's crap.



PlanktonSideburns

Found it desperatley squalid and depressing as a child, liked the bit where his boss writes his name in piss in the air, would watch a spin off with that guy

idunnosomename

I'll have a look at rewatching all of this but did they ever do an episode where the vein didn't shoot out of his temple and strangle him at the end

neveragain

Quote from: idunnosomename on January 24, 2024, 06:20:00 PMI'll have a look at rewatching all of this but did they ever do an episode where the vein didn't shoot out of his temple and strangle him at the end

There may have been some variation on it in one or two eps but I think he always ended up dragged to the ground.

Retinend

Quote from: idunnosomename on January 24, 2024, 06:20:00 PMI'll have a look at rewatching all of this but did they ever do an episode where the vein didn't shoot out of his temple and strangle him at the end

Yeah this is striking me as odd during my rewatch. Surely it's writing 101 to make the vein thing into a couch-gag, where you never know in exactly what way the vein will end up overcoming Eric.

That said, I tried coming up with a few ideas right now and they were crap or so violent as not to be funny. One was that the vein grows a fist and punches Eric. Too whimsical.

idunnosomename

well it just seems a thing for animated shows at that time. every week that thing happens. South Park was very guilty of it in the initial run: Chef sings a song that ends up being about sexual intercourse with a lady, "this is pretty f*cked up right here", Kenny dies, "I've learned something today". Repetition is funny. And it was, to a degree, but it kind of stops longevity (South Park ended up dumping all of these and making fun of them to varying degrees down the line. Stressed Eric was compared to South Park on its NBC airing but must've been developed independently as they aren't that far apart).

Though it's the same with The Fast Show, situation with character ends up to the same conclusion, except when it doesn't ("nimbo.... cumulos?!?")

This is interesting, the animatic for the first episode running on ancient Mac
https://archive.org/details/stressedericd3title5

and also a storyboard of the best scene!!
https://archive.org/details/ponystoryboard/mode/2up

idunnosomename

#23
it's interesting watching the animatic and the first episode. there's not much between them except the colour and the backgrounds (which look good). but really the voice performances invite much better animation, alas it's very rudimentary lip sync throughout. particularly when you have a main character who's so on the edge, it deserved better character animation. the incidental music is okay but the lack of a theme tune of any sort is quite jarring

its good for what it was in the end though. The voice cast are excellent, had no idea the daughters were both played by Morwenna Banks. Claire is so sweet, a bit of genuine heart to the misery, along with how much Eric does care about his kids. Him living in a full North London terrace house with a live-in au-pair just seems a world away now though.

oh and add "just off to the post" to thing that always has to happen in every episode

and yeah also not sure where 1996 came from. this aired April-June 1998 and August-October 2000, the first cut animatic is dated April 1997

Oh, Nobody

Quote from: madhair60 on January 24, 2024, 10:32:10 AMit's really bad. massive tonal mismatch between the stories, performances, visuals. the incredibly cheap sounding music. it just sucks, it's one of the wave of totally point-missing "adult animations" out of the UK. having klasky-csupo worked for Duckman, but Duckman was well-written and consistent.

Ha, back in the day that's what put me off- seemed like a poor man's Duckman.

I don't know if the timing works out but Duckman's first name being revealed to be Eric is either a great little dig or a weird coincidence.


neveragain

Quote from: jobotic on January 24, 2024, 11:12:12 PMThe fuck's Duckman?

Brilliant acerbic cartoon series with Jason Alexander as a depraved duck detective.


thr0b

Man. Being old enough to be shocked people on a comedy forum haven't heard of Duckman.

Surprised it's not streaming everywhere.