On Strips: Tales from the Far Side

By | Friday, June 05, 2015 Leave a Comment
Of all the comic strips that I would never, ever, ever have expected to make the transition to animated cartoon, I would think Gary Larson's The Far Side would be at the top of my list. I don't recall hearing about it at the time, but apparently it as indeed made into a Halloween special for CBS in 1994, directed by Marv Newland of Bambi Meets Godzilla fame.

Much like Larson's strip, there's no single cohesive story, or even recurring characters; it's just a string of largely unrelated gags mostly only with tenuous connections to one another. Which strikes me as a difficult premise to sell for television. Even sketch comedy shows have recurring actors and characters. But even more strangely for a network special, there's almost no dialogue throughout the entire half-hour. I have no idea how that snuck past network executives.

And yet, it somehow was greenlit for a sequel! But not until 1997, nearly three years after Larson's last new Far Side comic ran in papers. However, that sequel was only broadcast in the UK. Both eventually made it to DVD in 2007, but they have long since sold out.

Continuing with the strangeness of all this, after the first special aired, Larson made any number of changes to the piece. Not just a bit of re-editting or changing the order of the gags, but he added several entirely new sequences as well as changed the animations on some of the existing material. I've only seen the home video version but based on the descriptions of the original, it seems to me that all the changes were done for the sake of improving the humor.

Ultimately, the whole endeavor of producing an animated version of Larson's singularly absurd comic is almost a tale as equally absurd itself. Although I'm grateful for it, I really don't understand how any of it actually happened.

In any event, here's the home video version so you can see it for yourself: Tales from the Far Side...
Newer Post Older Post Home