The Duck Factory

How many of you remember the TV show “The Duck Factory”?

A young unknown actor, Jim Carrey, played a young unknown animator who gets a job at the studio run by his hero Buddy Winkler. He arrives on the day of Buddy’s funeral, and has to step in and help keep the studio in business. Here is the description from TV.com

“The Duck Factory was set in a small, run-down Hollywood studio peopled by the loony crew who produced a TV cartoon show called Dippy Duck. The newest employee was Skip Tarkenton, an eager, young cartoonist fresh from the

Midwest and bursting with excitement at his first professional job. His wide-eyed innocence contrasted sharply with the cynicism of his co-workers: Brooks, the fatherly artist full of doubts about his own brilliance; Andrea, the sarcastic, man-hungry film editor; Marty, the two-bit gag writer; Roland, the only black storyboard artist in the business; and Wally, the voice-over narrator who had a repertoire of so many cartoon voices that he had long since forgotten his own voice. …the place was virtually leaderless when Skip arrived, so the whole crew turned to the reluctant newcomer to save Dippy Duck–which was constantly on the brink of cancellation by the network. This brought the enmity of Aggie, the pushy, penny-pinching business manager who thought she should be in charge, but also the appreciation of [Sheree], the sexy, young bimbo…who was…now the studio’s owner.” (Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present)

Two veterans of 1960’s cartoons came together to create this mix of live action and animation, which featured a then-unknown Jim Carrey in a now-unthinkable straight-man’s role. Not to mention veteran voice actor Don Messick doing what he did best. Despite the presence of a laugh track, The Duck Factory was one of the very few MTM comedies to not be filmed/taped in front of a studio audience — which probably doomed its chances right there, as the days of successful single-camera sitcoms were over by 1984. NBC and Brandon Tartikoff did give the ahead-of-its-time show a plum time slot — between Cheers and Hill Street Blues (the latter of which it would cross over with) — but did little to promote it. (Perhaps they had already used up all their yearly promotional dollars on The New Show.) Then Tartikoff ran several episodes out of order, and cancelled it after just a few weeks on the air, like pretty much everything else he put on that season. That summer, the show was nominated for two Emmys — and won them both.

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