Do You Remember? #69: The California Raisins Show

Ah, the California Raisins…how the hell did this become a thing?

The California Raisins were a fictional rhythm and blues animated musical group as well as advertising and merchandising characters composed of anthropomorphized raisins. Lead vocals were sung by musician Buddy Miles. The California Raisins concept experienced high popularity in the mid-to-late 1980s principally through claymation TV commercials and animated specials, winning an Emmy Award and one nomination. Created by the Will Vinton animation studio, the Raisins became so popular, they spawned off a short lived animated TV series.

And this is that show:

OH, do I have so many questions but let’s talk about the show itself.

The California Raisin Show is an animated television series based on the claymation advertising characters The California Raisins. The show is based on the claymation special, Meet the Raisins!, which originally aired on CBS in 1988. After the show’s 13-episode run, a sequel to the original special, Raisins: Sold Out!: The California Raisins II, aired in 1990.

While the characters are traditionally depicted in claymation, the TV show was cel animated by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson. It did, however, maintain Will Vinton as creative director and executive producer. It takes place in a world populated by anthropomorphic fruits and vegetables and focuses on the main characters, the California Raisins: A.C. (vocals), Beebop (drums), Stretch (bass), and Red (guitar/piano). Each episode has one or more musical numbers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a California Raisins animated series really is not a horrible idea, I mean for god’s sake, they made a Rubik Cube animated series, there are far worse ideas for shows out there and there’s a lot of talent aboard here, this is Fred Wolf’s animation studio, the same guys who did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and later seasons of Alvin & The Chipmunks, so there’s some really impressive animation coming in here, the theme song is actually pretty catchy, once again Chuck Lorre, the man behind the Ninja Turtles theme song and later the creator of Big Bnag Theory wrote it, and you’ve got a really solid voice cast for the Raisins, Jim Cummings, Dorian Harewood, Cam Clarke, & Brian Cummings, these are four really great voice actors, sounds like you might actually have something here.

But my god, the rest of the series is just so wrong. First off, the way they tried to expand out the universe of these characters is so lazy, the simple concept is to just take ordinary foods and anthropomorphize them, okay, we’ve seen that done over and over before but here, it’s like they took that one concept and just never did anything else with them. None of the characters in the show have any specific personality to them except for the raisins themselves and even then, there’s not that much there. Also, they seemed like they were trying to give them sort of the same personality as the Ninja Turtles in a way too in terms of character traits.

See what I mean? You can sense that they were trying to bring those traits from the Turtles over to the Raisins, it also doesn’t help that one of the raisins is voiced by a Ninja Turtle, Cam Clarke, the voice of Leonardo.

Also, there was never really a estimation on how old the Raisins were. I mean, they act like teens but sound like adults, they live with their mother but look like there are dried up and older than what they expect us to believe.

Lastly, the stories were pretty generic and predictable, but then again, this was the norm for most animated shows back then, they were there solely to just sell toys and that’s about it, no need to really worry about story too much and sure enough, a lot of the stories are been there done that.

The California Raisin Show could’ve been so much better than it ended up being, you had a high quality animation style, a really good voice cast, and a pretty good theme song but the show had nothing else to work with. It really didn’t feel like the story department was not a factor here and the show is just kind of forgettable, hell, a show about the Noid or the Geico Gecko would’ve been more interesting than this actually was. A nice looking show but overall, it’s a misfire.

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Posted in Do You Remember?

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