|The Duck Factory|
|Created by||Allan Burns|
|Opening theme||"Sure Beats Working for a Living"|
performed by Mark Vieha
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Allan Burns|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company||MTM Productions|
|Original release||April 12 –|
July 11, 1984
|The Dippy Duck Show|
The Duck Factory is an American sitcom produced by MTM Enterprises that aired on NBC from April 12 until July 11, 1984. It was Jim Carrey's first lead role in a Hollywood production. It was also the only time when Don Messick appeared in live-action, although he also voiced a cartoon character in the sitcom as well. The show was set at a small independent animation studio, and was co-created by Allan Burns and Herbert Klynn. It won two Emmy Awards.
Burns had started his career as a writer/animator for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and George of the Jungle before turning to live action and co-creating The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Klynn had worked in various production capacities on Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing-Boing, amongst many other cartoons.
The premiere episode introduces Skip Tarkenton (Carrey), a somewhat naive and optimistic young man who has come to Hollywood looking for a job as a cartoonist. When he arrives at a low-budget animation company called Buddy Winkler Productions, he finds out Buddy Winkler has just died, and the company desperately needs new blood. So Skip gets an animation job at the firm, which is nicknamed "The Duck Factory" as their main cartoon is "The Dippy Duck Show".
Other Duck Factory employees seen regularly on the show were man-of-a-thousand-cartoon voices Wally Wooster (played by real-life cartoon voice artist Don Messick); cynical, sometimes lazy comedy writer Marty Fenneman (played by real-life comedy writer Jay Tarses); veteran artist and animator Brooks Carmichael (Jack Gilford); younger storyboard artist Roland Culp (Clarence Gilyard); sarcastic editor Andrea Lewin; and hard-nosed, penny-pinching business manager Aggie Aylesworth. Buddy Winkler Productions was now owned by Buddy's young, ditzy but good-hearted widow, Mrs. Sheree Winkler (Teresa Ganzel), a former topless ice dancer who had been married to Buddy for all of three weeks before his death.
Seen in some episodes were clips from various "Dippy Duck" cartoons the Buddy Winkler crew were working on—sometimes fully animated, sometimes in pencil sketch or animatic form. The opening and closing credits were also animated. Series co-creator Klynn was also credited as the show's "creative animation consultant", while production of the actual animated material was done by Ted and Gerry Woolery for which each won an Emmy.
The Duck Factory lasted thirteen episodes; it premiered April 12, 1984. It was directed primarily by Gene Reynolds, Rod Daniel, and Victor Lobel, who each did three episodes. The show initially aired at 9:30 on Thursday nights, directly after Cheers (at the time, not yet a top ten hit; Cheers finished the 1983/84 television season in 34th place). The show replaced Buffalo Bill on NBC's schedule. Jay Tarses, an actor on The Duck Factory, had been the co-creator and executive producer of Buffalo Bill, which had its final network telecast on Thursday, April 5, 1984.
NBC broadcast The Duck Factory episodes out of the producers' intended order. This lead to significant continuity issues with the series, rendering certain plot developments almost incomprehensible.
Most notably, episode 1 ended on a series of cliffhangers that were then apparently left unresolved, as the intended episode that would have resolved them wasn't shown. Instead, the eighth episode in the intended order (in which Skip is promoted to being the producer of "The Dippy Duck Show", much to the resentment of the show's staff) was shown as episode 2.
Later episodes were also shown wildly out of order, meaning that as broadcast, succeeding episodes ping-ponged between Skip being the show's producer, and Skip being the show's low-ranking apprentice animator, with no explanation as to the reason for his constant change of status. As well, amongst other baffling developments, Mrs. Winkler was the company's receptionist in second episode as broadcast -- but then in the fourth episode she becomes the receptionist. Finally, what the producers had intended to air as the second episode (and which set up the continuing premise of the series) was shown as the thirteenth and final episode. Unfortunately, the plot developments of this episode and the character relationships made absolutely no sense in the context of what had already transpired in episodes 2-12 (as broadcast).
The show changed timeslots in June, moving to Wednesdays at 9:30. The last original episode of The Duck Factory was broadcast on July 11, 1984.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||"Goodbye Buddy, Hello Skip"||Gene Reynolds||Allan Burns||April 12, 1984||3601|
|Skip Tarkenton finds his dream of becoming an animator coming true a lot sooner than he expected when he arrives in L.A.|
|2||"Filling Buddy's Shoes"||Rod Daniel||John Steven Owen||April 19, 1984||3608|
Someone must fill Buddy's shoes as the Dippy Duck showrunner. But who? |
(NOTE: This episode aired significantly out of the producers' intended running order. This left the cliffhanger ending of episode 1 apparently unresolved, and created numerous plot inconsistencies going forward. The episode shot and actually intended as episode 2, "Call Me Responsible", was inexplicably aired as episode 13.)
|3||"The Annies"||Victor Lobl||Barbara Hall||April 26, 1984||3604|
|A series of mishaps arise when the staff attend the Annies, where Buddy is to receive a posthumous award. Special guest star: Frank Bonner|
|4||"No Good Deed"||Harry Winer||Steve Kline||May 3, 1984||3605|
|Skip learns that no good deed goes unpunished when he gives Ginger a job she doesn't deserve and Marty's script a kinder review than it deserves.|
|5||"The Way We Weren't"||Victor Lobl||Katherine Green||May 10, 1984||3610|
|Aggie plans to attend a reunion with her old Navy pals, but when she can't scrounge a date, she asks Skip to accompany her.|
|6||"Can We Talk?"||Peter Baldwin||John Steven Owen||May 17, 1984||3611|
|Marty's plagiarism becomes Skip's problem.|
|7||"The Education of Mrs. Winkler"|
"The Education of S*h*e*r*e*e W*i*n*k*l*e*r"
|Rod Daniel||Jordan Moffet||May 24, 1984||3609|
|In hopes of being smarter, Sheree decides to finally get her high school diploma, and Brooks gives her a helping hand — and a little something extra.|
|8||"Ordinary People, Too"||Kim Friedman||Bob Stevens||June 6, 1984||3607|
|Skip helps come up with the cash to fund Andrea's film project, yet doesn't get the thanks one might think.|
|9||"It Didn't Happen One Night"||Burt Brinckerhoff||Jordan Moffet||June 13, 1984||3613|
|The gang begin to suspect that Skip and Andrea are romantically involved. Meanwhile, Marty isn't happy about his friend's new girlfriend — Sheree.|
|10||"The Duck Stops Here"||Victor Lobl||John Steven Owen||June 20, 1984||3603|
|Wally decides to throw his hat into the Shakespeare ring after his Dippy Duck voice escapes him. Frank Welker guest stars as a rival voice actor for Dippy Duck; ironically both Messick and Welker were voice actors for The Scooby-Doo cartoon show.|
|11||"The Children's Half-Hour"||Rod Daniel||Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox||June 27, 1984||3612|
|It's Children's Night at the Apollo when Brooks' son and Wally's daughter both want to further their artistic careers — to the joy of Brooks and the dismay of Wally.|
|12||"You Always Love the One You Hurt"||Jim Drake||Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox||July 4, 1984||3606|
|Roland is pressured to quit the animation business and follow in his father's footsteps — as a dentist. Meanwhile, the staff consider changing the show when a parents group vote it one of the most violent kids' programs on TV.|
|13||"Call Me Responsible"||Gene Reynolds||Stuart Silverman||July 11, 1984||3602|
The ball is in Skip's hands when the show needs someone to fight for it at the network, or it will be cancelled.|
(NOTE: This was filmed as the second episode -- it follows on directly from episode 1, essentially resolves the numerous cliffhangers from that episode, and establishes the new direction of "The Dippy Duck Show". It is unknown why NBC showed it so drastically out of order.)
|Season||Episodes||Start Date||End Date||Nielsen Rank||Nielsen Rating||Tied With|
|1983-84||13||April 12, 1984||July 11, 1984||64||13.8||N/A|
In 1995, at the height of Carrey's career, two VHS videocassettes were released in the United States by MTM Home Video, one containing the first three episodes, the other the last three episodes. The two volumes were released in the United Kingdom in 1997 (Pictured above), slightly expanded to the first four and the last four episodes of the series (which had never been broadcast in the UK).