As a child born of the mid-eighties, many of my great television memories are from YTV in the early-nineties. If you read my piece about Dark Night elsewhere on this site, you probably could have guessed that by this point.
In late-2013, news surfaced that there would be an, ahem, reboot of the YTV show ReBoot. The show first aired in 1994, signalling a soon-to-come explosion of interest in computer animated programming – which would reach critical mass in 1995 with the release of Toy Story. Due to YTV’s eight commercial minutes per hour (as opposed to the standard twelve), the station was often left with four minutes of time to fill between programming. That’s where Short Circutz came in.
Culled from a series of animation collections (The Mind’s Eye, Beyond the Mind’s Eye, and Imaginaria, the last of which was designed specifically with children in mind), these short segments would often play alongside the aforementioned ReBoot, and later Beast Wars aka Beasties. Many of these segments were simplistic and interesting to children (like the musical animation of “More Bells & Whistles”), but others could often be quite bizarre and surrealistic.
On top of all of this, YTV wouldn’t always play them in their entirety – opting to fade out whenever the time needed to fill had been used up. Coupled with some of the more experimental shorts getting faded out, you’d often be left wondering what exactly it was that you just saw. I can also specifically remember trying to catch the endings of some, or being disappointed when others faded out before getting to the specific moments that I enjoyed.
Interestingly enough, one of the animations included in these segments – titled “Andre and Wally B” – featured extremely early animation work by John Lassester, later of Pixar. One can only imagine that Short Circutz must have had some level of influence on YTV viewership – specifically their interest in animation and technology.
Eventually though, the channel phased out the segment shortly after Beast Wars premiered on the station. Some of the pieces still exist on YouTube, primarily uploaded from the always-great Retrontatio channel – including some versions that actually include the dreaded fade-out.
Although you can now find the shorts in their entirety, uploaded elsewhere in high-definition and sans-YTV branded borders, for me it’s just not the same. I’ll tune into the old captures, and wonder if that duck will ever reach the end of his ever-intensifying journey before the screen fades to black.