Episode 88: Don Bluth

Don Bluth

Legendary animator Don Bluth

Don Bluth, American animator. Some people revere him as an icon of quality animation in the 80s and 90s, while others say, “Huh, I thought that was a Disney film.” Regardless, Don Bluth’s movies are beloved and cherished, in spite of some of their flaws.

Joining us tonight is The Chu of Slightly Damned as we talk about such Bluth projects as The Secret Of NIMH, An American Tail, Dragon’s Lair, All Dogs Go To Heaven, The Land Before Time, Rockadoodle, A Troll In Central Park, Thumbelina, Titan AE, and more! Plus we talk about some of the fever dream sequels, such as Feivel Goes West (no seriously, American Tail 3 writes it off as a dream!) and all of those shitty Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels.

By the way, this was just a few days prior to our appearance on TGT Media, which we mention briefly on this show. After you’re done listening to this episode, you should hop over there and listen to our interview.

Mine is the rooster that pierces the heavens!
The big-lipped alligator moment has a point to the plot, DOUG!
Need to brush up on your third act.
If you can’t beat Speilberg, join Speilberg.
LIving in the shadow of Disney
An Internet Troll in Central Park
Non-Bluth sequels
Bluth’s vidja games

Cute Feivel

The innocent charm of Feivel makes our hearts melt.

Light our darkest hour!

You’ve got the POWAAAAAAAAAH!!!! YEAH!

Princess Daphne

There’s the token babe.

From good to shit

This is a travesty. This is like if Filmation did a sequel to Pinocchio. …oh wait.

7 thoughts on “Episode 88: Don Bluth

  1. Thanks so much for doing this episode. I am a long time fan of Don Bluth. He is definitely one of the under appreciated pioneers of the animation industry. Exellent artist at his core, but really struggled with his stories, or rather, how he told them. I agree that he needed someone to tell him “no” on some stuff.

    Dragons lair needs an award. It has been on everything from arcades to consoles, laserdisc, DVD, and now mobile devices. I think it’s time for something new though if DL is the only ace (get it?) up his sleeve.

    I still love Titan A.E. even though it has tons of problems. It is one o the few times where I can watch the Earth blow up. Right along with Cyborg Smoke’s fatality from mortal kombat 3.
    Great Show!

  2. All in all entertaining episode, so thank you for that. However, I’m getting a bit tired of your constant Bakshi bashing. You’re obviously entitled to your opinion and a lot of his work is by no means perfect but maybe it would be nice to highlight what Bakshi has done for animation as an art and storytelling form. Besides the fact that I appreciate the look of rotoscoping which is an aesthetic choice of course, there is not denying that Bakshi had the guts to innovate and get animation out of the children-only ghetto instead of aping the tried and true Disney formula like the subject of this episode did. Maybe that could be mentioned once in a while:)

    • I appreciate Bakshi a little more than Ben does, David. On the other hand, I think even Bakshi would tell you that the degree to which he employed rotoscoping was a mistake. And I stand by my statement that his Lord Of The Rings was utterly boring. But I’m not going to condemn the man on the basis of one film or even one scene. I also busted Ben’s chops about this a few episodes ago, if you’ll recall.

      If Bakshi did one thing consistently well, it’s that he knew how to color. Nowadays, people think of color in films as either pastel candy lands or brown earthy dullsvilles. But Bakshi knew to use enough earthy colors to make his bright colors pop. It truly is a lost art.

      Bakshi’s animation is a bit strange, but there’s nothing about it that offends me. I kind of like the stuff where he’d superimpose real clouds or smoke machine effects into the backgrounds. That’s very aesthetically 70s, and it’s something that I’ve always appreciated, as someone who used to sneak in a little late night movie watching as a kid. I used to love all the weird low-budget shit that cable channels would put on TV in the middle of the night.

      What gets lost in the shuffle is that Bakshi’s studio was a low budget studio. That’s not to excuse his faults, but compared to other low-budget animation houses, Bakshi’s was certainly the most professional. It’s all in how you use your resources, and while Bakshi was always rough, I never got the sense that he didn’t care. His animation was built around the limitations of his resources.

      I also like the Gene Deitch Tom & Jerry cartoons for very much the same reasons. For certain, I don’t want everything to look like Golden Era toons. I want cartoons that are rough. Not rough like AKOM, where it’s clear that they don’t care… but a roughness that comes with the enthusiasm of innovation and trying new things for the first time.

      There’s one thing that nobody can ever take away from Bakshi. His studio was the first to break the no-fun zone of executive-driven cartoons on children’s entertainment by producing Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. It predates both Tiny Toons and Ren & Stimpy and brought animator-driven humor back to cartoons after a long stretch of cartoons being almost exclusively scripted. Bakshi’s Might Mouse was a ray of sunshine among the dark clouds of 80s cartoons, and it wasn’t long before people started imitating it.

  3. I’m not sure how much research went into reviewing or refreshing the knowledge about Bluth films before making the podcast, but, FYI, Don Bluth has never made a sequel to any movie he’s produced. The closes thing to a sequel his company is responsible for is Bartok the Magnificent, which you could loosely say is a sequel to Anastasia, only because of the character Bartok appearing in both. He wasn’t even responsible for American Tail 2.

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