In the ’80s and ’90s, it wasn’t that unusual for a hit movie to spawn an animated series spinoff. But the unique thing about Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures is that it managed to bring most of its key players back to the table. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprised their respective roles as Bill and Ted, while the incomparable George Carlin once again voiced their mentor, Rufus.
The first season was produced by animation powerhouse Hanna-Barbera and quickly became a hit for CBS. Additionally, that first batch of episodes also managed to recapture the wacky spirit of the first Bill & Ted film. This series came out a year before Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, so it used the original Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure as its template. Few historical figures were safe from Bill and Ted’s meddling, but their largely consequence-free time travel was one of the show’s charms.
Ironically, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures was partially undone by its live-action counterpart… which was also called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures. After Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Fox ordered a TV series with Evan Richards as Bill, Christopher Kennedy as Ted, and Rick Overton as Rufus. Fox also picked up the animated series for another season, and the new live-ction Bill and Ted replaced Winter and Reeves while Overton stepped in for Carlin.
Perhaps the series could have survived that cast change if the production studio, DIC, hadn’t made other drastic alterations as well. In addition to a downgrade in animation quality, DIC gave Bill and Ted the means to travel into films, books, and even the human body… and that was simply too far away from the initial premise of wacky time travel adventures.
Both versions of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures had short lives on Fox before being canceled. But the resurgence of interest with the upcoming Bill & Ted Face the Music will hopefully get the complete animated series on DVD. Five episodes from the first season were left off of the last DVD release, and we want them all!
For more details about Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE’s Everything You Didn’t Know!