The Off-Beats

The Off-Beats

The Off-Beats title card
Created by Mo Willems
Developed by Mo Willems
Joe Ansolabehere
Steve Viksten
Written by Mo Willems
Josh Selig
Directed by Mo Willems
Voices of Mischa Barton
Mo Willems
Mark Wagner
Jimmy McQuaid
Kathleen Fasalino
Dylan Roberts
Trisha Hedgecock
Tara Ketterer
Kevin Seal
Narrated by Mo Willems (opening only)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 14
Executive producer(s) Mo Willems
Mary Harrington
Producer(s) Mo Willems
Running time approx. 4:00
Production company(s) Curious Pictures
Original network Nickelodeon
Original release 1996 – 1998
Related shows KaBlam!
Sheep in the Big City

The Off-Beats is a series of short animations that was created by Mo Willems (who would later create the Cartoon Network television series Sheep in the Big City). The first episodes were produced as stand-alone short films for Nickelodeon; but after the series was nominated for a cable ACE award, more segments were produced for KaBlam![1] The series was initially called "The Misfits", but Nickelodeon had Mo Willems change the series' title (and re-animate the intro) at the very last moment before it was first broadcast.[1] The series was the first to end on KaBlam! due to Mo Willems moving to Cartoon Network to work on Sheep in the Big City, which too got canceled after 2 years on the air.

The show features a distinct art style, which was mainly a lot of flat, dry colors and characters that moved with clothing patterns. The animation was also similar to UPA, Curious Pictures and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but mostly, the series itself (especially in story and concept) hearkened back to the classic Peanuts TV specials, especially since the majority of the voice cast are children actors. Each episode is scored with a jazz soundtrack, sometimes featuring big-band music, but mostly featuring a simple combination of a piano, drums and a double bass. Each segment ran for two to four minutes running time. Most of the soundtracks in the shorts are similar to The Pink Panther cartoon shorts.

After 15 years, the Off Beats Valentine Special, thought to be lost media, can now be viewed on YouTube as of February 27, 2014.[2]

Theme Song

The theme intro to the shorts always consisted of this short poem, spoken by Grubby Groo (voiced by Mo Willems):

Dey nervous, dey nebbish, dey small, and the Populars don't like 'em at all. But that's okay, life is sweet. Dey cool. Dey the Off-Beats.

The intro to the original pre-Kablam shorts uses a different variation from when they were named The Misfits.

Dey nervous, dey nebbish, dey small, and the Populars don't like 'em at all. But that's okay, dey don't call it quits. Dey cool. Dey the Misfits.

The Valentine's Day special uses a different variation of the theme song specifically for the special:

They nervous, they nebbish, they small, and the Populars don't like 'em at all. It don't matter, dey hip. Dey got they own friendship. But when love is in the air. It can cause quite a scare. And sometimes it's hard to define. What goes down on Valentine's.


The Off-Beats

Betty Anne Bongo - Betty Anne is the realistically thinking "leader" of the clique. She usually can be found playing her bongo set. She also often sang her own little theme song, the lyrics consisting of: "My name is Betty Anne Bongo, I sing this little song-O, I sing it all day long-O!" along with rapidly banging on her bongos (although on one occasion, she sings it without the aid of her bongos). Betty originally was against puppy love since she didn't believe the point of it since friendship is another option but then developed a crush on Brad Groo. She was voiced by Mischa Barton.

Tommy - Tommy loves his plaid coat, so much so that in one episode it is the basis for the plot when it went to the cleaners and he goes temporarily insane. On numerous occasions he will break his calm demeanor and lose his temper exclaiming him to shout with words coming out of his mouth, usually startling his friends and himself. On a side note, he is not the only character who could shout like that; Betty is able to copy Tommy's movements and yelling voice at ease without hesitation, and Repunzil is able to do the same as shown in the Valentine special. His catchphrase is "Let me just say..." when confronting the Populars, accompanied by his yelling (voiced by Kevin Seal). He also claims he's an outsider in the pilot. He seems to love fishing as he did it in the pilot and The Statistic. Tommy was voiced by Mark Wagner.

Repunzil - Repunzil is the youngest in the clique, and at times can be quite naive. She is known for her floor-length hair (which is why she was named somewhat for the fairy tale character Rapunzel). She can be slow-witted at times due to her young age and does not know how to tie her shoes. Repunzil is also an animal lover as she ordered a lot of animals (and a toaster) in the Sweepstakes episode and kept on setting up September with a duck and an elephant as a crush in the Valentine special. Also at the same special she has a crush on Tommy and tried to give him a Valentine chocolate gift before eating it. She also gets mad at her mother for doing her hair in a goofy way which she tends to state; "Sometimes I hate my mom". She was voiced by Trisha Hedgecock.

August - August is the most technologically inclined brains of the Off-Beats; many of his gadgets however would often fail or backfire unexpectedly. While some episodes imply that August makes his gadgets himself, others imply that he purchases them. He also has an interest in impressing The Populars and gaining their respect. On a side note, August and his dog September are the only characters to appear at least once in every episode. He may have a crush on Tina since he tried to get her to be his valentine with an invention he made which resulted him getting thrown in the punchbowl at the party. He is voiced by Dylan Roberts.

September - August's sarcastic talking dog, usually ambivalent to most situations and plot-lines. Despite that, he does enjoy the company of the Offbeats. September is also paid to like August as shown in one episode and also has a contract of being owned by him that permits him of having at least one day off. Despite his natural intelligence, he can't seem to open a simple can of dog food. He can play the bagpipes as shown in the last short. One of his pasts was that he fell in love with a falling cat named February which was strange with his dog friends. Eventually, a dog war broke out and he and his girlfriend had to flee from Paris before the dog invasion. Although she said she'd be at the train station, she never showed. They finally reunited when February fell into September's turntable during the dance making September happy again. He is voiced by series creator Mo Willems.

Grubby Groo - The beatnik-looking adult friend to the Off-Beats, and the only one who realizes how big of jerks the Populars are as shown in the pilot and The Sprain. He works in a cafe called "Cafe Ad Hoc" where it's famous for its special ice cream called the Junkyard Sundae, compiled with several storied ice creams and sparkling fireworks, which was so great that he didn't even make one for the president. But he did make one for Betty Anne when she got the Sprain. He golfs as shown in the last short. He also has a nephew named Brad (voiced by Bradley Glenn), who Betty Anne has a crush on, who helped him set up the Valentine's Day dance. He voiced by creator Mo Willems.

The Populars

The Populars are the clique popular kids, usually seen traveling in a huge nose-in-the-air clump. Led by Tina. Whenever they come across an adult, they all put on phony smiles and pretend to be really nice. But Grubby Gru knows that they're just hiding their evilness. The Populars not only walk together, but they sleep and live together as well and each individual is qualified a bathroom break allowing separation of the group to commence. This is how Beth was able to talk to Tommy without getting into trouble.

The Populars seem to be the inspiration for the antagonists, The Delightful Children from Down The Lane, in Codename: Kids Next Door; a cartoon Mo Willems had also worked on.

Tina - Tina is the mean-spirited leader of the Populars. If the Off-Beats ever have any (shown) self-esteem, she is there to squash it. Despite her spoiledness and bad attitude, she seems to be intelligent as she is curious of Betty Anne's inability of reacting to her negative comments. Some of her insults mean little to no sense, or deemed too childish as in one episode, she just called paddleball "Stupid" and said that Betty Anne would get "bumpkis" once Repunzil wins the Sweepstakes. She is something of a stereotypical "school diva". Voiced by Kathleen Fasolino.

Beth - Tina's sidekick in the group. It's her job to warn the Populars whenever a grown-up is near; she usually shouts, "Adult!" Then the Populars begin their phony "nice" act. Once she and Tommy fell in love with each other, and they had to keep it secret. Voiced by Tara Ketterer.

Billy - A boy who wears a red beanie cap. A running gag in the series usually involved Billy saying something that would get Tina mad, and then the Populars would literally throw him out of the group, causing Billy to crash into something (most likely a trash can given the sound effects) and him screaming. Voiced by Jimmy McQuaid.

The remaining Populars are voiced by Tim Duffy (P Boy), Keith Franklin (Hat Boy), and John Morgan (Back Boy)

List of Segments

Stand Alone Short Films: 1995[1]

The animation was choppier and the character's voices are younger. Also, that the bean-shaped logo for The Off-beats was green instead of pink and a Nickelodeon arrow logo appeared at the logo. These episodes were made to promote the premiere of KaBlam!.

Season 1: 1996-1997

The first season now features The Off-beats logo pink and without the Nickelodeon arrow logo.

Season 2: 1997-1998

Specials: 1999

Note: In this episode, Tommy is seen without his hat for the only time in the series, revealing that he is bald. This episode reveals September had a girlfriend that is explained in backstory. This episode also proves that the Populars do in fact sleep and live together and each individual member is qualified a bathroom break. Repunzil is shown to yell like Tommy. She's the second Off Beat to do so; the first was Betty Anne. This was also the very last episode produced as Mo Willems moved to Cartoon Network to create Sheep in the Big City.

Production notes: As the original voiceover children actors and animators returned, everyone was set for the production as cited in a press release with "We've had the same team of independent animators and voiceover kids for the past four years, so everyone really understood their characters and was ready to jam,". It was produced in 1998 and aired in Nickelodeon in 1999. This is the first episode to reach 30 minutes timeline, and the only holiday (Valentine) special. It aired on Nickelodeon during the Nickel-O-Zone era rather than only in KaBlam!. Willems uploaded the music score for the cartoon's theme song, the flashback of September's girlfriend story and the sad valentine song September played in the dance which was kept low at a minimum due to the horrific lyrics. The script for the full episode was also placed before being removed. Thought to be a lost media, it was finally uploaded in YouTube.


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