Michael's Stories from the Darkness (Fake Show/What-If Article)
NOTE: This is a what-if article on a fake cartoon show, please don't take this seriously
Michael's Stories from the Darkness was an American-Canadian short-lived traditional-animated black comedy horror slice-of-life sespense television series that was created, written, produced, and directed by Scottish actor/voice actor Michael E. Rodgers. This cartoon was well-known for airing right after the UPN Kids block on weekdays, thus attracting a lot of children despite it being a tame adult cartoon. This show ran from October 31, 1997 to September 10, 1999 on UPN in the United States and YTV in Canada. This cartoon is loosely based on Michael E. Rodgers' childhood.
Michael E. Rodgers tells the viewers suspenseful made-up stories about his life if he was still a child in an alternate timeline, including experiencing wierd and scary things that he, his family, and/or his childhood friends encounter.
Why it Rocks
1. This cartoon proves that even a less well-known actor can make a cartoon/TV show about him/herself, and it can be done right.
2. The dialouge/narration is humorous, as a majority of the dialogue was ad-libbed by the voice actors themselves.
3. Fluid animation and bright colors that can easily mistaken this show as a spin-off to "The Simpsons" (another tame adult cartoon that has child fans), even though they are not related. It helps that both cartoons were animated by Film Roman.
4. Interesting character designs that bears resemblence to the designs of cartoonish anime such as "Dragon Ball", "Doraemon", or "Nintama Rantaro", including others.
5. The voice acting is well-done, especially from Michael E. Rodgers himself. The casting pool is also unique, as it combines voice actors from Los Angeles and Vancouver into one cartoon.
6. This show manages to avoid product placement (such as the show-within-a-show "Pockimon", which is a parody of the "Pokemon" anime) and not have too much pop-culture references.
7. Michael E. Rodgers did a fantastic job attempting a childlike voice for his animated child self.
8. Despite the dark humor and the scary storylines, this show's content is so tame that it can be easily mistaken as a children's cartoon, as it has aired on many children's channels/blocks in international countries and was dubbed into languages that would normally never touch an adult cartoon (such as Dutch, European Portuguese, Hebrew, and Scandinavian languages).
9. The music is tolerable to listen to, as it balances the suspence and the light-hearted tone of the show.
10. A majority of the characters are likable, such as Michael, his two brothers, and some of his classmates.
11. Manages to use anime tropes (such as sweatdrops, nosebleeds, face faults, and anger marks, alongside others) without overusing them
12. This show had a heartwarming finale ("Goodbye, Los Angeles"), about Michael and his family's last day in Los Angeles before they had to move back to Scotland, and it served as a great way to end the show.
13. The 1995 pitch pilot had Michael E. Rodgers voicing all of the characters, especially his little brother Stephen, Doberman, and the female characters. Isn't that talented? Starting with their commercial appearances, the characters had seperate voices.
1. There are some bad episodes, such as "Summer Swimsuit Party" (an episode about kid Michael accidentally peeing in the ocean during a day on the beach, thus having to get a new pair of swimtrunks), "The Nickle Swaps Here" (an episode about Doberman, the Gian-esque school bully, obsessing over a rare nickle he found), and a majority of episodes focusing on The Mysterious Stranger.
2. There are some moments that can be disgusting (such as that incident in "Summer Swimsuit Party") or downright disturbing (such as the Mysterious Stranger episodes and some of Doberman's consequences in some episodes) for a TV-PG rated cartoon. Thankfully, the Qubo airings and some international countries either toned-down or banned those episodes. 3. Doberman is an unlikable character who bullies and insults his friends a lot and loves to get them into trouble, especially to Michael. Despite this, he also has a soft side and he can be likable in some episodes.
4. Despite Michael's childlike voice being well-done and tolerable, his screaming can be grating to some people.
5. Despite him being a likable character, Michael's child self can be too cowardly and/or unlikable sometimes.
6. The title of the cartoon can sound like a ripoff to "Tales from the Darkside", even though it's actually a humorous shout-out/reference.
7. Speaking of ripoffs, some of the show's episodes rip-off some episodes of "The Simpsons" and "South Park".
Michael's Stories from the Darkness has recieved mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, praising the show for its clever writing/dialogue, the humor, the voice acting, the narration, and the mixture of a horror/suspenseful and slice-of-life formant. This cartoon has recieved medium-to-high ratings due to its timeslot and its popularity towards elementary school children and adults alike.
This cartoon was so popular that it gave birth to some shows/cartoons that based on the creators' childhood(s), such as "Home Movies" (another animated show that used to air on UPN), "Little Bill", and "The Loud House", alongside others. Nowadays, this cartoon is an underrated gem with a cult following.
The reason why this show was cancelled was because Michael E. Rodgers was busy filming the 2000 children's film "Thomas and the Magic Railroad".
Not only did Michael E. Rodgers create, wrote, produce, voice act, and directed this cartoon, he also drew the character designs
This show was originally going to be a children's show on Nickelodeon, and he made a pilot episode for the network in 1995. Unfortunately, Nickelodeon rejected it due to the dark humor, so it was picked up for airing on UPN Kids instead, and it was so successful that UPN greenlighted the show itself. The show's characters also appeared in a few kids' commercials from 1995-1997 prior to the show's release.