Sunday, November 15, 2009

HG101 Digital Archive Project - Maniac Mansion

Not too long ago I mentioned a desire to start capturing old VHS tapes and other not-commercially-available TV or anime shows related to video games, and releasing them on the internet. I got everything sorted out, so now we have...

Maniac Mansion, a Canadian sitcom produced in 1990. There were 66 episodes in total for the Family Channel, a cable network that, at the time, had pretty low penetration. (It was largely known for the religious show The 700 Club and since morphed into ABC Family, I think.)

Maniac Mansion is only very, very loosely based on the Lucasarts game. It ditches the whole bit with the teenagers and just focuses on the Edisons, except the Edisons are nothing like they are in the game. Sure, the head of the household is named Fred, he's a mad scientist, and there's a meteor in his basement (which isn't sentient like the games), but that's about all they have in common. The rest of the family is completely different, albeit with some quirks due to his experiments - his 4 four old son was turned into a hulking, halfway mentally handicapped giant with an annoying falsetto voice, and his brother-in-law was turned into a fly. The quote on the cover of the VHS tape I have says that New York Post claims it's "The '90s equivalent of the Addams Family". It isn't. It has none of the same horror-fueled charm as the Addams, nor even the schlocky atmosphere of the game. The house isn't even so much a mansion as just a large house, and the family certainly isn't crazy enough to be considered maniacs.

Anyway, it's a regular sitcom, so the family face dilemmas which they handle in humorous ways, then everything's happy at the end. Some consider it a spiritual successor to the Canadian sketch show SCTV, since some of the same people worked on it. It stars Joe Flaherty (best known recently for his role as the crazy dad in the excellent Freaks and Geeks) as Fred and was created by Eugene Levy (Jim's dad from the American Pie movies.) Despite its comedy roots, the show really isn't very funny outside of its slightly offbeat premise.

But why take my word? Grab the files yourself, which are uploaded below on Fileplanet and compressed with the Xvid codec. Please feel free to spread these around! These were taken from the sole VHS release called The Love Collection, which contained these two episodes. I paid entirely too much for this tape from someone off, so please enjoy them!

Fred's A Courtin'


  1. This is really bizzare. I never realized this game had such a following back then.

  2. I remember them talking about this show on that old Maniac Mansion fanpage, I wonder what happened to that page? It was truly a labor of love.

    The actual show, was a labor of...shrooms, I guess.

  3. I was never a fan. The characters are grating, but its biggest sin is that it's just not a funny program. There was so much potential here for a fun little thirty-minute slice of mad science with talking tentacles, but instead we're stuck with, well, this. I think it's the abandonment of the original game's premise that stings the most. This version of Maniac Mansion is right up there with a hypothetical Street Fighter series that features Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li traveling the countryside in a van while solving mysteries. The point is completely missed.

  4. Discoalucard I freakin' love you.

  5. Check ManiacMansion79 on YouTube. After 10 years I have found some episodes! Enjoy!