Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?
|Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?|
Slice of life
|Created by||Greg Miller|
|Developed by||Mike Stern|
|Theme music composer||The Invisible Car|
|Opening theme||"Do the Robot"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||13 (and 1 pilot) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Greg Miller|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company||Hanna-Barbera (Pilot) Cartoon Network Studios (Series)|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i)|
|Original release||July 19, 2002 –|
November 14, 2003
The show follows a robot named Robot Jones who attends the fictional suburban Polyneux Middle School in a retrofuturistic 1980s world. In each episode, Robot Jones researches an aspect of human life, which include music, facial hair, gym class, etc. He is guided by his three friends, who go by the nicknames Socks, Mitch, and Cubey. Robot Jones is often smitten with his crush, Shannon Westerburg, a tall, young girl with orthodontic headgear and a prosthesis. In school, Robot Jones interacts with his teachers, Mr. McMcMc, Mr. Workout, and Mrs. Raincoat; the principal, Mr. Madman; and janitor Clancy Q. Sleepyjeans. His arch-rivals, Lenny and Denny Yogman, try to sabotage Jones's research by making school more difficult for him.
Miller's pilot for the series first aired on Cartoon Network on June 16, 2000, as part of a contest called "Voice Your Choice Weekend", in which new series pilots were shown on the network for viewers to decide on which would be the best one to eventually become its own full-fledged series. Despite the Robot Jones pilot coming in second to the Grim & Evil short, Robot Jones was greenlit for its own series, which premiered on July 19, 2002. The titular character's voice in the first season was created with a Microsoft Word 98 text-to-speech function. Beginning with the second season, Robot Jones's voice was dubbed over by child actor Bobby Block, and reruns of the first season were re-dubbed with Block's voice as well. The series ended on November 14, 2003, after 13 episodes and 1 pilot.
The series centers on Robot Jones (voiced by a text-to-speech program in the pilot and season 1; Bobby Block in season 2), a teenage robot who lives in a small city in Delaware in a version of the early 1980s where robots are commonplace. Robot attempts to learn of human nature by attending Polyneux Middle School where he makes three new friends: Timothy "Socks" Morton (Kyle Sullivan), a tall boy who loves rock music, Mitch Davis (Gary LeRoi Gray), a headphones-wearing boy whose eyes are hidden by his long hair, and Charles "Cubey" Cubinacle (Myles Jeffrey), a shorter boy who loves video games. He also meets Shannon Westerburg (Grey DeLisle), a girl he develops a crush on because of her large retainer and metal prosthetic leg.
Each episode has Robot explore a concept faced by average teenagers, such as gym class or competitions. Robot immerses himself in each subject to fully understand it while trying to fit in with his human peers, but this is challenging due to his social ineptitude and others' lack of understanding. As Robot settles in at school, he explores humanoid concepts of his own will. Though the situations he finds himself in are usually at his parents' insistence, others are a result of Robot trying to get closer to Shannon. An example is in "Summer Camp" when Socks convinces Robot to go camping and Robot discovers the ability to feel jealous. Due to his polite nature and short stature, students at his school tend to ignore Robot or are oblivious to his existence. His good grades, poor social skills, and status as a robot are at odds with Principal Madman, a technophobic principal, Mr. McMcMc, a jealous and insecure math teacher, and Lenny and Denny Yogman, two genius twin brothers. At the end of an episode, Robot reads a "data log entry" about what he learned that day and what conclusions he has arrived at on humanity.
The opening sequence, in which Robot Jones is factory assembled and inserted into a school bus, is an homage to that of 1980s children's show You Can't Do That on Television. When the title of the show is spoken, a group of young children voice the "Whatever Happened to..." part in unison while the "Robot Jones?" part is done by a Macintosh Macintalk voice known as Trinoids. The first season has children speaking out episode titles while season 2 episode titles are spoken by voices of the characters.
- Robotic Electrotype "Robot Electro" Jones (voiced by a text-to-speech program's 'Junior' voice in season 1; Bobby Block in season 2 and redubbed reruns of season 1), as his name suggests, is a short, gray teenage KX8-M-series experimental cybernetic prototype automaton humanoid robot created by JNZ Robotics who does whatever he can to fit into human society and often encounters problems in doing so. He is specifically Child Unit KX8M-0, as he mostly claims to be in the episode "Jealousy". Although his real age is unknown, it is presumed that he is an adolescent, thereby fitting in with the middle schoolers he is observing. His torso is painted red with a black stripe on the bottom. Among his humanoid features, he has a set of large yellow eyes, which also function as "cameras" to analyze objects and humans as well as for X-ray vision. Robot's eyes also flash on and off when he talks, rather than his mouth moving. His "brain" resembles a giant light bulb which screws to the top of his head. The Yogman Twins make it one of their great missions to obtain Robot's brain, implying that it contains all of Robot's life essence, although being without his brain does little but slows down Robot's thought process, as seen in "Electric Boogaloo." Whenever a day ends, he adds something to his memory called a "data log entry" which he uses to recall what he learned through the experience.
- Timothy "Socks" Morton (voiced by Kyle Sullivan) is the best friend of Robot Jones. He is quite a fanatic to rock music. Though he typically mentors and provides Robot with reassurance as best as he can, he has a realistic cap to his understanding and can lose his temper with Robot, as shown in "Family Vacation." In his first appearance in the first pilot, he was a student in Mr. McMcMc's class who commented positively on Robot challenging him and had no name. Unlike Mitch and Cubey, it is never revealed how he became Robot's friend, let alone his closest. He has blond curly hair and wears a green jacket. He is roughly 12 years old.
- Charles "Cubey" Cubinacle (voiced by Myles Jeffrey) is the short boy with dark, straight hair, a Dot-Man T-shirt, sunglasses with window blinds for lenses and roller skates. He is roughly 12 years old.
- Mitchell "Mitch" Freeman Davis (voiced by Gary LeRoi Gray) is a boy often seen wearing headphones, a red jacket and sandals. His eyes are obscured by his long hair. Like Cubey and Robot, he also enjoys video games and appears more often with Cubey than either appear without each other. It may be assumed from this that Cubey and Mitch are best friends. Mitch is roughly 12 years old.
- Dad Unit (voiced by a text-to-speech program's 'Fred' voice pitched down to sound like 'Ralph') is a robotic lawn mower who is Robot's father, specifically a KC-213-series model. When he says something, he often says it three times; one example would be "Listen to your mother! Listen to your mother! Listen to your mother!" as said in the second pilot "Electric Boogaloo". He is blue in color, has one arm on the top of his head and wears a tie. In his focus on tasks, he often gets into shenanigans such as smashing through walls. He is very sensical and easily annoyed, which often results in him causing destruction of some kind. He is very protective of his family, and will punch out a supposed peeping tom spying on his wife, as seen in Hookie 101, or threaten anybody who comes too close to Robot's house such as the mailman in "Parents".
- Mom Unit (voiced by Grey DeLisle) is a pink robotic jet oil fuel pump who is Robot's mother, specifically a JUN-77-series model. She has one red eye, which is a camera lens, and her arms are hoses with nozzle-like hands, which she uses for fueling her fellow units. Like Dad Unit, she seems to generally have a no-nonsense attitude. Mom Unit also spends time at home drilling holes in the front yard looking for sources of jet oil whenever she runs out, as shown in "Parents". She is more verbose than Robot's father, and often it is she who is explaining or instructing Robot on what task he will complete in a given episode. Though very intelligent, she herself is bewildered by human behavior, and uses her own questions to prompt Robot's next social assignment such as in "Cube Wars".
- Shannon Westerburg (voiced by Grey DeLisle) is a roughly 12-year-old girl with a lisp, a large orthodontic appliance, and a prosthetic leg. Although friendly to Robot (as seen in "Embarrassment", "Garage Band" and "House Party"), Shannon does not socialize unless he approaches her. Whether she realizes that Robot has a crush on her is unclear. She considers him anything from a close friend to a pest to a nobody. In "Jealousy", she is not a technophobe, as seen when she has a crush on a handsome Austrian Foreign Exchange Unit KX-8-series model android named Robot Finkman. She kisses Robot on the head in "Scantron Love" and "Popularity". She is socially awkward, as seen in "Hair" when she pesters a boy named Frederico. How her leg became amputated is never revealed.
- Lenny and Denny Yogman (voiced by Josh Peck and Austin Stout, respectively) are young genius brothers and the series' main antagonists. They wear red hats that resembles the 1980s band Devo's energy dome hats, yellow shirts, green shorts, and black/white sneakers. Lenny is tall while Denny is short. They believe that stealing Robot's brain will allow them to "rule the school". Lenny mentions in "The Yogmans Strike Back" that he plans to brainwash Principal Madman and abolish PE forever.
- Principal Madman (voiced by Maurice LaMarche in the pilot and Jeff Glen Bennett in the series) is the principal of Polyneux Middle School. He is very tyrannical to Robot Jones and is afraid of technology as a whole, as seen in "Sickness", "Parents", and the pilot episode. He is based on Les Lye's Mr. Schidtler character from You Can't Do That on Television. Although Miller wanted Lye to voice the character, location and contractual restrictions led to recasting.
- Mr. McMcMc (voiced by Maurice LaMarche in the pilot and Rip Taylor in the series) is Robot Jones's math teacher. Like most staff at Polyneux, he is childish and insecure about his intelligence, as seen in "Math Challenge". Mr. McMcMc is based on Mike Stern's algebra teacher, Mr. McManus.
- Clancy Q. Sleepyjeans (voiced by David Koechner) is the school janitor. In "Vacuum Friend", it is shown that he owns a Dust Buddy-brand vacuum cleaner, which Robot befriends after concluding that humans and robots were never designed to coexist. In "Safety Patrol", he lets Robot take part in the safety patrol, but Robot strictly enforces the rules, and the entire school is thrown into detention. Clancy partners with Mr. McMcMc in a math competition in "Math Challenge".
- Mr. Workout (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) is the PE teacher in Polyneux Middle School. After forcing Robot to take a shower in "PU to PE", he becomes inadvertently electrocuted by Robot. He later appears in "Growth Spurts", with little impact on the plot, alongside an unnamed mustached coach.
- Mrs. Raincoat (voiced by Grey DeLisle) is the English teacher with whom Robot struggles, causing her to discipline him for creating havoc.
- James Nob (voiced by Gedde Watanabe) is the owner of Nob's Arkaid, where Robot and his friends hang out. Nob tells the kids that they break his arcade machines every time they play with them. In "Hookie 101", his arcade gives a discount on game tokens during school hours.
- Gramps Unit (voiced by a text-to-speech program's 'Trinoids' voice in season 1, and 'Zarvox' in season 2) is an antique robotic electromechanical supercomputer who is Robot's grandfather. He strongly dislikes humans and wishes for machines to take over mankind, but is shown to deeply care about his grandson. In his first appearance in "Vacuum Friend", he takes on the appearance of a massive stationary supercomputer who takes up the entirety of Robot Jones's basement similar to a UNIVAC 1 and requires extensive work to start up. In his second appearance in "Family Vacation", he has the appearance of a smaller IBM 729 tape drive who is capable of limited mobility and can fit inside of a trailer, but by his third appearance in "House Party", he has reverted to a stationary supercomputer, albeit smaller and less complex than in "Vacuum Friend".
Starring The Voices
Greg Miller's original series pilot aired on Cartoon Network on June 8, 2000, in a contest featuring 11 animated shorts to be chosen for a spot on the network's 2000 schedule. During the weekend of August 25–27, 2000, all 11 pilots aired as part of a 52-hour marathon called "Voice Your Choice Weekend", in which viewers would vote for their favorite pilots. While Grim & Evil won the contest with 57% of the vote, Robot Jones came in second place with 23% and was given its own series run beginning July 19, 2002.
Robot Jones's animation style can be seen as a throwback to 1970s and 1980s cartoons such as Schoolhouse Rock!, with an intentionally messy and rough look. The artistic style seems to be influenced by Paul Coker and Jolly Roger Bradfield. The series' animation technique is different from most American cartoons from the early 2000s. It was animated with traditional cel animation, at a time when many American cartoons had switched to digital ink and paint (possibly due to the 1980s settings). The show was animated at Rough Draft Studios at Seoul, South Korea.
Greg Miller stated in an interview on Facebook that he used a Microsoft Word 98 text-to-speech software on his old Macintosh computer for Robot's voice during production for season one, but after the first season was completed, the executives of Cartoon Network disliked how it sounded. Bobby Block was chosen to take the role of Robot in season two. Robot Jones's text-to-speech voice was also recorded for production of the second season, but because the voice change happened during the production of those episodes, this voice was never dubbed into the final prints. In that interview, he also said that he would want to do a revival of Robot Jones, but it would be up to Cartoon Network.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||June 16, 2000|
|1||6||July 19, 2002||September 13, 2002|
|2||7||October 3, 2003||November 14, 2003|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|"Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?"||Greg Miller and Rob Renzetti||Greg Miller||June 16, 2000|
Robot Jones is informed by his parents, Mom Unit and Dad Unit, that he has been put into a human public school that he must now attend. While in math class, he believes that the problems are too easy for him, which results in him getting sent to the principal's office for being condescending to the teacher. Later the same day as all of the school kids are eating lunch, Principal Madman trips on a wire which he later finds out is Robot's charger cable. After finding out it was Robot Jones, he gives him three months detention for tripping him, which angers Robot so much that he starts malfunctioning and firing lasers out of his eyes and scaring away everyone. Later, he rants about the humans in the hallway and almost gives up completely on them, until he develops a crush on a girl with what he calls "high metal content". He then supposes that humans are not all bad and decides to study more on them.Note: This episode was later aired as the first segment along with "Electric Boogaloo" and "The Groovesicle."
Season 1 (2002)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Storyboard by||Original air date|
|1||1||"P.U. to P.E."|
|Greg Miller||Greg Miller||Kevin Kaliher & Mike Stern||July 19, 2002|
"P.U. to P.E.": Robot Jones fears taking a shower in gym class because he thinks he will rust.
"Vacuum Friend": Robot Jones befriends a vacuum cleaner after thinking humans and robots cannot be friends.
|Greg Miller||Greg Miller, Kevin Kaliher, and Mike Bell||Kevin Kaliher and Mike Bell||July 26, 2002|
"Cube Wars": Everyone becomes obsessed with solving their Rubik's Revenge (called Wonder Cubes on the show), but Robot Jones' superior mind allows him to solve it almost instantly. The Yogmans sabotage Robot's cube, however, and he begins to malfunction.
"Sickness": The Yogmans prank Robot Jones by inserting a virus-filled floppy disk in Robot's disk drive, and he becomes very ill.
|Greg Miller||Greg Miller, Dave Smith, and Paul Tibbitt||Dave Smith and Paul Tibbitt||August 2, 2002|
"Parents": Robot Jones must bring his parents to parent-teacher night at the middle school. When his parents embarrass him, Robot Jones attempts to manually override them to control their behavior, but fails.
"Embarrassment": Robot Jones wants to ask out Shannon to the Harvest Dance, but his nervousness causes his exhaust to malfunction whenever he gets near her.
|Greg Miller||Greg Miller||Kevin Kaliher & Mike Stern||August 9, 2002|
"Politics": Robot Jones runs for student council president.
"Growth Spurts": Robot Jones modifies himself to be tall enough to be on the basketball team.
|Greg Miller and Rob Renzetti||Greg Miller||Greg Miller & Mike Stern||September 6, 2002|
"Electric Boogaloo": Lenny and Denny Yogman try to trick Robot Jones into being his friend so they can steal his brain.
"The Groovesicle": Robot Jones and Socks watch an episode of "The Groovesicle", a music video TV series featuring a performance by a band called "The Lavender Fudge Experience".
|Greg Miller||Greg Miller and Walt Dohrn||Walt Dohrn||September 13, 2002|
"Jealousy": Robot Jones feels jealousy towards an android named Finkman, who manages to make Shannon fall for him (as well as the rest of the school).
"Scantron Love": Robot befriends the school's Scantron machine in order to get the answers for his history tests, and soon passes out the answers to the rest of the students in class.
Season 2 (2003)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Storyboard by||Original air date|
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller, Kevin Kaliher, and Charlie Bean||Kevin Kaliher and Charlie Bean||October 3, 2003|
"Gender": Robot Jones struggles to understand the differences between human boys and girls.
"Math Challenge": Mr. McMcMc challenges Robot Jones to a math competition to determine who is the smarter one of the two.
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller and Chuck Klein||Chuck Klein||October 10, 2003|
"Family Vacation": Socks goes on a spring break vacation together with Robot and his family, but Robot's parents have an unusual idea of what a vacation entails.
"Hair": Seeing other boys in school with hair makes Robot want hair of his own to impress Shannon, but he must find a creative way to generate some on his metallic body.
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller, Brian Larsen, & Mike Stern||Brian Larsen & Mike Stern||October 17, 2003|
"Garage Band": After witnessing girls at their school get excited for a garage band, Robot, Socks, Cubey, and Mitch decide to form a band of their own. But they focus more on being cool rather than actually practicing their instruments, which confuses Robot as to what being in band is about.
"Work": Robot Jones gets a job at JNZ to make extra money, but finds it increasingly difficult to stay awake juggling a job, school, and time at the arcade with friends.
|10||4||"The Yogmans Strike Back"|
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller, Kevin Kaliher, and Charlie Bean||Kevin Kaliher and Charlie Bean||October 24, 2003|
"The Yogmans Strike Back": After another failed attempts to corner Robot, the Yogmans hypnotize Robot's friends and turn them into an amalgamation robot called the "Yogstrosity".
"Hookie 101": Robot, Socks, Cubey, and Mitch all play hookie.
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller and William Reiss||William Reiss||October 31, 2003|
"House Party": Robot Jones throws a big party at his house while his parents are away, but worries about getting caught by Gramps Unit, who dislikes humans.
"School Newspaper": On Madman's order, Robot Jones gets a job for the school newspaper and ends up writing stories that embarrass the principal.
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller||Greg Miller & Mike Stern||November 7, 2003|
"Safety Patrol": When Robot Jones is put on the school's safety patrol, his programming for perfection causes him to go overboard with enforcing the rules.
"Popularity": Robot Jones sends a decoy version of himself to school so that he can attend a robotics expo, but the decoy ends up becoming popular with his classmates.
"Rules of Dating"
|Steve Socki||Greg Miller, Chris Reccardi & Paul Tibbitt||Chris Reccardi and Paul Tibbitt||November 14, 2003|
"Summer Camp": Despite disliking the outdoors, Robot Jones tries to impress Shannon by showing off his nature skills at a summer camp.
"Rules of Dating": Robot attempts to impress Shannon, but his efforts are marred by restrictions enforced on him by the "Laws of Robotics".
After production ceased on Robot Jones, it aired in syndication before being removed from Cartoon Network's schedule, but episodes were available online on Cartoon Network Video for a short period.
Reruns began airing on Cartoon Network's Latin-American sister network Tooncast in 2015.
As of 2018, Cartoon Network has stated no intention of releasing the show for consumer purchase on digital retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, moving the show to its sister channel Boomerang, or even physically releasing the show on a DVD set anytime soon.
Robot Jones made a cameo appearance on the OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Crossover Nexus" that aired October 8, 2018, along with other Cartoon Network characters from current and ended shows. This marks the first appearance of Robot Jones's character since the show's cancellation and the first time since the first season where the character's voice is provided by the Microsoft Word 98 text-to-speech programmed voice.
- Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 689–690. ISBN 978-1538103739.
- Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 900–901. ISBN 978-1476665993.
- Sissario, Ben (July 14, 2002). "FOR YOUNG VIEWERS; A Retro Robot Who's Big for His Age". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- DeMott, Rick (May 10, 2000). "Cartoon Network Navigates 10 New Pilots". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- Schultz, Paul (July 30, 2000). "An Animated Election". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Dempsey, John (August 29, 2000). "'Billy & Mandy' beats out 'Robot,' 'Longhair' to get greenlight". Variety. Archived from the original on October 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- DeMott, Rick (August 28, 2000). "Only One Grim Survivor Of Cartoon Network's Voice Your Choice Weekend". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on October 1, 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- Macmillan, Alissa (February 22, 2001). "'toon Net Sets 2 New Series". NY Daily News. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Owen, Rob (July 11, 2002). "'Robot' premieres". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2012.