Fangface – animated TV series

 
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“Every 400 years, a baby werewolf is born into the Fangsworth family, and so when the moon shined on little Sherman Fangsworth, he changed into Fangface, a werewolf! Only the sun can change him back to normal. And so little Fangs grew up and teamed up with three daring teenagers: Kim, Biff and Puggsy, and together they find danger, excitement and adventure! Who can save the day? Who can wrong the rights and right the wrongs? None other than Fangface!”

Fangface is a 30-minute animated cartoon series produced by Ruby-Spears Productions for ABC which aired from September 9, 1978 to September 8, 1979. Following hot on the tails on Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, also created by Ruby-Spears, the cartoon attempted to latch on to the success of its predecessor, combining ‘zany antics’ and a kid-friendly introduction to monsters.

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The adventures followed four teenagers – Kim, Biff, Puggsy and Sherman “Fangs” Fangsworth, solving crimes and mysteries, hindered or sometimes helped by the fact that Fangsworth, inevitably, transforms into a werewolf when he sees the moon, a picture of the moon or indeed, anything slightly lunar. As opposed to the Mystery Machine of Scooby Doo, they travel around in a rather flash convertible named the Wolf Buggy. The villains are often to be found committing their crimes under the guise of monsters and other strange beings.

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Although it would be unreasonable to expect any genuine logic to a cartoon, it does stretch the viewer’s tolerance somewhat. At the sight or mention of food, Fangface will instantly gobble up Puggsy (and only Puggsy) whole, to the echo of canned laughter. It then falls to one of the other gang members to rub Fangface’s foot, the only way to distract him into being docile enough to clamp his jaws open and rescue their friend. The werewolf also has a problem with mirrors, going temporarily mad if he sees his own reflection. Neither Fangface nor Fangsworth or aware of each other’s existence.

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On the off-chance your patience hadn’t already worn thin with this barrel-scraping tedium, the second season felt the need to introduce a Scrappy Doo type infant called Baby Fangs/Fangpuss, begging the question as to who checked with the audience first. It wasn’t enough and the second season proved to be the last.

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Despite being relatively short-lived, the cartoon did spawn a board game, a jigsaw, books, a vinyl album of stories (!), soft toys and most excitingly of all, a 3-disc Viewfinder set, surely the must-own 3D device for all self-respecting kids of the 1970s and 1980s? This latter item, of course, benefitted enormously from the lack of sound – even the theme tune was un-memorable!

The most famous voice-actor on the show was veteran Frank Welker, who voiced both Fangface and Fangpuss, plus their human counterparts. He is best known as the voice of Fred in Scooby Doo but has a staggeringly long CV which made him for many years the highest-grossing actor in Hollywood. He can also be heard in roles as far apart as Dr Claw from Inspector Gadget and many of the Transformers in the animated series.

Daz Lawrence, MOV!ES and MAN!A

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