That’s right, folks, you knew it was coming — another Oogie rant. Now that Oogust has come and gone, I’d like to take a moment to update my earlier rant in light of some new information. First of all, Oogieloves failed spectacularly in theaters, literally the biggest box-office bomb for a wide cinema release in movie history. Truly an epic — and well-deserved — failure. Secondly, in my previous rant, “The Oogieloves Herald the End of Western Fucking Civilization”, I maintained that the Oogieloves were created by Kenn Viselman in a cynical attempt to separate parents from their money. I was wrong, though. Kenn Viselman did not create the Oogieloves.
It all started when Jay Osborne linked me to this video, which features a character who looks a lot like one of the Oogieloves. The description says “Woozy from My Bedbugs” and the comments hint at a TV show long past but fondly remembered. I decided to investigate.
What this is from is a TV show called My Bedbugs, a relatively little known children’s show that aired on PBS in Detroit and a few other markets, but not everywhere, in the mid-to-late 2000s (decade). It features 3 colorful, pajama-clad bugs played by people in suits. Their names are Gooby, Toofy, and Woozy. They are accompanied by a pillow named Snoozy, a window named Windy, a fish named Ruffy, and a vacuum cleaner named J. Edgar. Here they are all together. Look familiar?
This show was created by a husband-and-wife team of Alex Greene and Carol Sweeney, who wanted to devise a way to teach very young children about cleaning, hygiene, and good bedtime habits. Well, that explains why there’s a freaking pillow in the thing. It also explains the names: Gooby, Woozy, and Toofy are pet names for the creators’ own children.
There’s a sad ending to this story. Just as the show was getting off the ground, a toy recall and the 2008 economic crisis nearly forced Alex and Carol to close the doors on their production company, Greenestuff. They only just barely saved the company by selling all the rights to My Bedbugs.
The buyer was Mike Chirco, who’d made his money in real estate, and was previously an investor in the television series. He bought My Bedbugs out at the insistence of Kenn Viselman, which enabled Viselman to gain complete creative control over the series. He went about making changes in order to give the series more “universal appeal”. Gooby, Toofy, and Woozy lost their antennas and went from being pajama-clad bugs to, er, mutants of some type; Windy became a creepy person animated through CG instead of a puppet window like in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; Snoozy’s name was changed to Schluufy; the bedtime theme was completely dropped. Woozy was for some reason changed to “Zoozie”, I guess because “Woozy” sounds really tired (it was a show about bedtime for fuck’s sake) and Z’s really tested well in that market segment. The puppets became uglier, lumpier, and of general poorer quality; one of the remarkable things about the original bedbug characters was that they were all different sizes with Woozy clearly the smallest and Toofy the largest. And of course the name was changed. Check out what Viselman has to say himself about the new name, from this document:
One of the first tasks for the duo [Viselman and screenwriter Scott Stabile] was coming up with the new name. “We knew we wanted the word ‘love’ in the title,” says Viselman. “I went through hundreds of names, because I wanted a sound there that kids could make. And kids naturally go ‘OOOO.’”
Got the “OOOOOOO” sound in there! That tested very well. Got a VERY favorable response from the target demographic.
It’s very hard to find information about My Bedbugs, let alone video of what the show was actually like. All of the indications are that it was nothing special; yet it was the heartfelt project of a husband-and-wife team looking to entertain and educate their very young children. The production values were mediocre at best, but there was something sweetly mediocre about it. In their Bedbug incarnations the characters looked cuter, less lumpy and misshapen, and were performed by more talented actors. The producers and hired talent seemed to really believe in this project.
And then Kenn Viselman came and shat on it. He took their dream away and made it stink worse than the used diapers left mouldering in theaters after a typical Oogieloves showing. He didn’t create the Oogieloves. The Oogieloves are just My Bedbugs with the serial numbers filed off. Jay and I came up with a parody called The Woobly-Honks. I literally took about 15 minutes to come up with the idea and pitch it to him for use in his writing. In those 15 minutes, more creative effort took place than Kenn Viselman exercised when developing the Oogieloves.
Remember from Wayne’s World, that guy who came in, bought the rights to the Wayne’s World show, and then made it suck?
That’s Kenn Viselman.
He deserves to burn.