It’s the Year of The Rat, per the Lunar Calendar. What better way to celebrate than to remember a show where rats were prominent players.
Capitol Critters was a show created in part by Stephen Bochco (i.e. the guy behind both Hill Street Blues AND Cop Rock) in association with Hanna-Barbera and 20th Century Fox. The show followed mice, rats, and cockroaches. Among the voice cast were Neil Patrick Harris, Bobcat Goldthwait, Tim Curry, and Robert Picardo. There were also familiar animation stand-bys. Jammet, the roguish rat of the show, was voiced by Charlie Adler, who is doing his Buster Bunny voice from Tiny Toons Adventures.
The show was an early attempt to court the adult animation fans that had tuned in to The Simpsons. (The other ill-fated early attempts: Fish Police, a show about sexy fish; and Family Dog, which was … created by Brad Bird and produced by Stephen Spielberg and Tim Burton?!?!?) After all, there is a direct correlation between being a fan of The Simpsons and wanting to see political rats. In retrospect, is is kinda bizarre that it took a former Hanna-Babera animator named Seth McFarlane to realize that the best way to replicate the success of The Simpsons was … an irreverent animated family show with a kooky cast of characters.
Capitol Critters starred Max (Harris), a Feivel-looking mouse who escaped Nebraska after his entire family was exterminated…. Just the thing to court Simpsons audiences: genocide. He moves to DC to live with his cousin, who lives in a pretty slummy area somewhere underneath the White House.
The show ran for 13 episodes. Who wouldn’t want to see episodes with themes (care of Wikipedia) like:
- Jammet finds a gun and plans to obliterate the presidential cats to avenge the death of a young rat named Felix; who was killed by one of the cats.
- When an important bill is vetoed, Berkley protests by going on a hunger strike. Of course temptation lies around every corner.
- Moze shows up to return Max’s hat, but Max’s fellow rodents don’t take kindly to a cockroach in their midst.
And 90’s. Do you see how backwards Jammet’s cap is?
Sadly, the show was destined to slink off like some sort of symbolism at the end of an Oscar-winning movie.