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Originally conceived as an animated version of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the show was forced to create original characters due to copyright issues. Still, the idea of a world where "toons" and humans co-exist, and the personalities of the two main characters were maintained. Unlike the film that inspired it, however, Bonkers was entirely animated and featured no live action.
The premise of the series was that Bonkers D. Bobcat, a popular toon movie star (he appeared in Disney's Raw Toonage shorts in the fictional world of Bonkers as well) had washed out of show business and become a cop. Unfortunately, he was made the junior partner of Detective Lucky Piquel, a grim and ill-tempered human who hates toons. Throughout the series, the pair work together to solve crimes in the Hollywood, California region. Bonkers repeatedly tried to win Piquel's praise, but usually just ended up messing things up with his antics.
After several years of working with Bonkers, Piquel was given an FBI job in Washington, DC, and with great glee was finally able to leave Bonkers, but finally realized that after all the times he hated Bonkers, he took a liking to him at the end of the "Lucky" episodes. Bonkers was given a new partner, the attractive Sergeant Miranda Wright, who although also human, was far more patient and tolerant of his antics than was Piquel.
The series played 65 episodes, as part of The Disney Afternoon. They were not created in chronological order: The "Miranda" episodes were actually produced first, excluding the two-part series premiere, which featured Piquel and Bonkers meeting for the first time. This discrepency becomes evident when observing the look of the main character in both sets of episodes. In the Raw Toonage shorts, Bonkers was orange with one brown spot, golf-club-like ears, and an undone tail. When the Lucky Piquel episodes (produced by Robert Taylor) were made, the character had a major overhaul: skinnier ears, two black spots on each his tufts, black Tigger-like stripes on his tail, and a different uniform. The Miranda Wright-era episodes (produced by Duane Capizzi) use Bonkers's original look from Raw Toonage. The series also occasionally featured episodes of "cartoons" from Bonkers's pre-police actor days, all lifted from the Raw Toonage series.
Bonkers' genesis came in Raw Toonage: A team headed by Larry Latham produced 12 "He's Bonkers" shorts. These shorts are supposed to be some of the shorts Bonkers made at Wackytoons Studios before he was fired. A short entitled Petal to the Metal was originally shown with the movie 3 Ninjas, while the rest were shown on the program Raw Toonage. In syndication, the shorts were collected into four full episodes with fillers of new material in between.
When Bonkers was to become a full-fledged television series, cartoon veteran Duane Capizzi was brought into the fold and charged with making at least 25 episodes (a full season's worth). The episodes theoretically would feature Bonkers with Wright as his partner, though no backstory was given for why a "toon" might be working for the LAPD to begin with. At any rate, the episodes Capizzi and his team got back from their animation studios came off disastrous. Capizzi felt that the problem was bad animation from the studios, but Disney's executives blamed the problems on the scripts instead. Ultimately, the Capizzi team was ditched by Disney, and a team headed by Robert Taylor came in. Only 19 of the original-order Capizzi shows survived to air; they are what is known as the "Miranda Wright episodes" of Bonkers, shown toward the end of the series in the official continuity. Greg Weisman (co-creator of Disney's Gargoyles) worked on the Miranda episodes, and Bonkers's relationship with Miranda inspired Goliath's relationship with Elisa Maza.
Taylor came in after Duane Capizzi was removed, and threw out the old premise of the show. He replaced it with the Lucky Piquel scenario, but his episodes were ret-conned to occur before the Capizzi episodes. 42 episodes of the "Piquel Era" were made, including one (New Partners on the Block) which attempted to bridge the gap between the two somewhat contradictory storylines created when Capizzi was fired.
The syndicated version of the series (which omits several of the Capizzi episodes that survived first-run) was last seen on Toon Disney, but due to bad scheduling and the addition of JETIX, it has vanished completely off the network. Along with a number of other shows it was removed from schedules in November 2004 and has not been seen since. It is unknown if it will ever return, and Disney currently has no plans to release the series on a DVD set.
- Bonkers D. Bobcat - The toon cop.
- Lucky Piquel - Bonkers's partner from the "Lucky Episodes".
- Miranda Wright - Bonkers's partner from the "Miranda Episodes".
- Chief Leonard Kanifky - the absent-minded Chief of Police.
- Sergeant Francis Q. Grating - boss of Bonkers and Miranda.
- Fall-Apart Rabbit - Bonkers's clumsy friend, appearing only in the "Lucky Episodes."
- Toots - Bonkers's pet horn.
- Fawn Deer - Bonkers's girlfriend. (Also appeared in Raw Toonage).
- Jitters A. Dog - was Bonkers's sidekick in Raw Toonage, now Bonkers's "best friend", though Jitters himself would disagree.
- Grumbles Grizzly - was Bonkers's boss in Raw Toonage, appears occasionally in Bonkers.
- The Collector - the villain from the pilot episode ("Going Bonkers"), and therefore, the first criminal Bonkers encounters.
- Mr. Doodles - The Collector's evil henchman.
- Al Vermin - Bonkers's arch-nemesis from the Miranda-era.
- Lilith DuPrave and Flaps the Elephant - two more Miranda-era villains.
- Bonkers (SNES), released December 15, 1994. Bonkers is on his first case alone, and must retrieve the Toontown treasure of the Sorcerer's Hat (from Fantasia), the Mermaid's Voice (The Little Mermaid), and the Magic Lamp (Aladdin).
- Bonkers (Sega), released October 1, 1995.
- Bonkers Wax Up! for the Sega Game Gear and its home console parent, the Sega Master System.