They're not as gross as the Brothers Grunt over on MTV, but the adolescent beasts of Nickelodeon's Aaahh!!! Real Monsters are still in training.
Nickelodeon's new series comes to the cable channel courtesy of Klasky Csupo Inc., which brought the animated "Duckman" and "Edith Ann" to the small screen.
At the center of the monster madness are Ickis, Krumm and Oblina. Stories take place in the monster underworld, where the creepy trio live and attend school at the monster academy, and in the human world, where they venture to gain hands-on experience in scaring the daylights out of people.
"Designwise, the characters have more in common with the Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' animated film than with anything you see on Saturday morning television," says Nick programming executive Herb Scannell.
"Aaahh!!! Monsters" also shares something with films of the '40s, according to creator Gabor Csupo. "The show has a very film noirish look," he says from his Hollywood production office. "They live in a city dump which is reminiscent of both the look of 'Blade Runner' and 'Brazil.' "
One show that the creators of "Aaahh!!! Monsters" prefer not to be compared to is its sister channel's "Brothers Grunt," despite the similarity in concepts.
"There isn't really a comparison," Csupo says. "This is a lot more story driven. I think the 'Brothers Grunt' is more idea driven. The look is totally different too. There is a real friendship going on in our show. The three monsters are realizing they can only get ahead if they help out each other and use (their) own strengths and weaknesses together.
"The message ultimately is, if you stay together you can achieve things."
The show's pilot won first prize for film animation produced for television at both the Houston Film Festival and the Ottowa Film Festival.
"Aaahh!!! Monsters" premieres Monday at 11 a.m. on Nickelodeon. For ages 2 to 11.
More Family Shows
Launching "The ABC Kids Movie Matinee" is an animated musical version of The Secret Garden (Saturday 10:30 a.m. ABC), Frances Hodgson Burnett's tale of a tart-tongued orphan sent to live with her mysterious uncle in his mansion on the coast of England. For ages 2 to 10.
Enough kids tuned into "American Gladiators" that the producers created Gladiators 2000 (Saturday noon KTLA; 8 a.m. KUSI; 3 p.m. KMIR) just for them.
The youth-oriented version features high-tech special effects and events inspired by its parent show, with participants ages 10 to 13 competing against each other. Also included are question-and-answer sessions that test participants' knowledge of subjects such as health, nutrition and physical fitness.
Highlighting Saturday's show are "Step By Step's" Christopher Castile and "Home Improvement's" Zachery Ty Bryan.
"Gladiators 2000" is kid-hosted as well, by Maria Sansone, 13, former host of ABC's "Wide World of Sports for Kids," and Ryan Seacrest, 19, former host of ESPN's "Radical Outdoor Challenge." For ages 4 to 13.