Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to present “Todd, the Indestructible Man”. This is what we might call “a Passion Project”.
Back in 1997-98 while working for K.N.B. EFX Group, I was given a rare opportunity to work on an incredibly fun television show for MTV called “Super Adventure Team”. Created by Dana Gould and Rob Cohen, the show followed the adventures of an elite group of dysfunctional heroes. It was a wonderful homage to the television shows of my youth like “Batman” and “Jonny Quest”combined with the twisted humor and “adult” situations one might expect from an MTV production. What made it very special to me was that, primarily, it was a send-up of the wonderful Gerry Anderson Supermarionation shows of the 60’s like “Thunderbirds” and “Captain Scarlet”. All of the characters were portrayed by marionettes/rod puppets. Knowing of my fondness for the source material, my bosses at K.N.B. put me in charge of puppet creation. We all worked long hours to make the deadlines, and that’s okay, because it was a DREAM job! Dana and Rob were extremely cool collaborators. They gave us a free hand to create a lot of neat characters. Unfortunately, MTV didn’t know what to do with this brilliant thing they had. We ended up only doing six episodes. While the show never made it to DVD, it can be found on YouTube. You should do yourself a favor and check it out sometime.
Now, after the show went off the air, all of the puppet materials were just sitting in K.N.B.’s storage facility. Since the odds of the shop doing another show like this were extremely low at best, the decision was made to get rid of the stuff. The surviving characters were cleaned up and gifted to Dana, Rob, and some of their associates. All that was left were the raw mechanisms and various other materials. Sensing an opportunity, I inquired about taking all of the material off K.N.B.’s hands. They made me a very generous offer which I couldn’t refuse. The next thing you know, I am the proud owner of a boatload of puppet fixin’s.
Now, what to do with them?
Around this time, a lot of my fellow Make-up Effects artists started getting into short film making. Inexpensive digital technologies were making it easier for the backyard Spielberg to do his or her thing. This was also just prior to the start of the YouTube revolution. A lot of folks were doing exciting things with very few resources. While I never really considered myself a writer, I did have an idea or two. Working on “Super Adventure Team” showed me what could be done. So, I started thinking of a storyline involving puppets. With the support of friends and family, I decided to give it a go. What I eventually came up with was “Todd, the INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN!”.
Originally a background character in a previous idea I had, Todd became the central focus because of his unique construction. He is made entirely of sandwich meat. Todd was born in a laboratory incident in which an experimental Super DNA solution was accidentally introduced into a vat of Flaven, an experimental high-protein sandwich meat product. From the resulting explosion emerged Todd, an incredibly intelligent and handsome young man. While he appears totally normal, it is discovered that, even if ripped limb from limb, he can be instantly repaired with additional applications of Flaven. This central aspect of the character would provide endless opportunities for bloody, dismembering, hilarity!
The other characters in Todd’s world included Zarg, Todd’s “Father”. He is a Caveman with the implanted brain of an alien scientist. Then there is the beautiful and buxom Linda, Todd’s agent and kinda-sorta Love Interest. Finally, there is Lilac, ex-Soviet Special Forces, Spy, and Master of Disguise.
With even more help from some extremely talented friends, most notably my wife/executive producer Erin Haggerty, I managed to complete the 4 minute teaser trailer you see above. In the end, it was extremely gratifying to see something that I had written on paper actually coming to life on screen. This gave me the confidence to “take it on the road” so to speak. I put together a pitch package outlining all of the potential for a fun tv series. Through a college friend, Erin and I got to take a meeting with tv producer Gary Grossman, owner of Weller/Grossman productions. Gary liked what he saw, and miracle or miracles, wanted to become a producing partner on the project. Erin and I were floored! After signing a partnership contract, Gary got us a pitch meeting with the development folks at Comedy Central.
Unfortunately, that is where Todd’s story kind of comes to a halt. The meeting went very well. It even looked for a moment like a deal might be made. However, the shining stars of Comedy Central, Matt Stone and Trey Parker of “South Park” fame, were preparing their own puppet adventure, “Team America”. As we understood it, the powers that be didn’t want to offend their big guns by taking on another puppet show. Well, they certainly can’t be faulted for showing loyalty.
That was to be our only pitch. Eventually, the Weller/Grossman productions option on Todd lapsed. Erin and I parted ways with Gary, and Todd went on the shelf.
It has been several years since “Todd” was completed. Since premiering on YouTube, it has received some nice praise. Even though there is a “raw” quality to it, I am quite proud of the final result. I still think there’s a series in it. Who knows? Maybe someday soon.