Wednesday, 16 November 2011

When Animation goes AWOL - Willo the Wisp Season 2

Another blog post about plans that were stopped before they could begin or releases that never came to fruition:

Willo the Wisp was one of the memorable 80's shows fondly recalled for the surreality in its characters and storylines - all thanks to creator Nick Spargo and his manic imagination.

Originally created in 1980 and narrated by Carry On star Kenneth Williams, Willo the Wisp is a ghost-like storyteller / "gossiper" who'd tell about the goings-on in Doyley Woods, where we first meet Mavis Cruet the "overweight fairy person", Arthur the Caterpillar, The brainless Moog, the Beast (formally Prince Humbert the Handsome), Carwash the Cat and Evil Edna the wicked witch.

The series has gained a strong following since, eventually making its way to DVD with all 26 episodes completely remastered - but what this DVD release contains is what inspired me to create these AWOL posts in the first place.

Willo had proven so popular that, come 2005, Nick's daughter Bobbie Spargo decided to bring forth a second series featuring all-new adventures for the fans. There were, obviously, notable differences:
  • Willo was no longer a caricature of Williams - instead after the new narrator, James Dreyfus (My Hero, Nina and the Neurons, Gimmie, Gimme, Gimmie, The Thin Blue Line).
  • Mavis Cruet was redesigned slightly slimmer (although still too heavy to fly).
  • Evil Edna became a widescreen television, with a wheeled stand instead of her original metal legs.
And with the series written by "Grizzly Tales" and "Alistair Fury" creator Jamie Rix, it looked and had good promise - with an announcement that Season 2 would be on DVD in 2006, a year after "Season 1" itself was released...

It's there in red and white. Trailer and all. A planned DVD release that never happened - so why?

Was it because the fans weren't happy that the characters looked or sounded different?

Was it because Rix's new stories weren't as memorable as Spargo's original series?

Was it another economical / business issue that stifled hopes and plans?

Or was it because of total disrespect from Playhouse Disney UK by lack of advertisement and giving the series lacklustre timeslots - between Midnight and 2am - denying anyone of any age the opportunity of seeing it properly...?

Whatever the reason, I don't know. But from what little of Series 2 I did manage to catch by sheer luck, I think it would have grown more and be accepted by the fans had it been treated respectfully during its run.

For now, at least there's YouTube - catch what remains of Series 2 to judge for yourselves:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.