Any show that plays Jim Carrey as a straight man against characters more eccentric than himself has an anomaly value that should be discussed. The Duck Factory featured a young and relatively subdued Carrey playing Skip Tarkenton, a sweet and eager cartoon animator, brand new to Hollywood.
Of course, because Hollywood wasn’t the most innocent place on earth, Skip’s colleagues were decidedly less sweet and eager. There was Brooks the animator, Wally the voice man, Marty the writer, Aggie the business manager, Roland the second animator and Nancy the editor. The characters were inspired by some real life players in the animation world, too: Wally, a character who did so many voices that he had actually lost track of his own, was played by Don Messick, who was the real life voicer of, among others, Boo Boo in Yogi Bear, Ruff in Ruff and Reddy, and Scooby-Doo. And the show’s animation was supervised by Allan Burns, who had co-created The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show a few years prior.
Just before Skip bounced through the flailing animation studio’s doors, its leader had died—leaving everyone looking to the new guy for leadership. They got some of that from the Skipster, but he was never what you’d call business savvy. Mostly, he just liked to draw and date cheerleader types named Becky.
The Duck Factory appeared as a mid-season replacement show in 1984, following The Cosby Show, though with none of those same Huxtable family ratings. It has a following today because of reruns on cable, the Carrey factor, and because let’s face it, a show that combines a sitcom with cartoons, two of television’s golden children, seems like TV time pretty well spent.
USA / NBC / x25 minute episode / Broadcast 12 April – 11 July 1984 / Thursdays then Wednesdays at 9.30pm)
JIM CARREY as Skip Tarkenton
TERESA GANZEL as Mrs Sheree Winkler
JACK GILFORD as Brooks Carmichael
JULIE PAYNE as Aggie Aylesworth
NANCY LANE as Andrea Lewin
JAY TARSES as Marty Fenneman
CLARANCE GILYARD JR as Roland Culp
DON MESSICK as Wally Wooster