- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 27, 2002

A new and lazy extraterrestrial race is invading television screens every Sunday morning. Last October, children first were exposed to a group of corny aliens more concerned with eating hamburgers than conquering Earth. "The Butt-Ugly Martians" appear on TV's Nickelodeon and have garnered as much praise as criticism for their moronic hijinks.

The obligatory companion Web site came to life around the time of the show's debut and features a wealth of information for those in search of or in support of the Martian cause.

Butt-Ugly Martians

Site address: www.buttuglymartians.com

Creator:

The producers of "Butt-Ugly Martians," Mike Young and Bill Schultz from Mike Young Productions (MYP) in Woodland Hills, Calif., worked closely with Click Active Media to bring their twisted vision to life.

Creator quotable:

"From the beginning, we developed the television series with a strong Internet component in mind," Mr. Young says. "Kids are far too savvy today to be satisfied with just the typical promotional Web site. We wanted to give them a way to interact with the characters and feel a part of the show."

Word from the Webwise:

The animated television show, geared toward 4 to 12 year olds, is made up entirely of 3-D CGI (computer-generated images). It involves a group of aliens fearless leader B-Bop-A-Luna, high-tech handyman 2-T-FRU-T and mimic Do-Wah-Diddy who abandon plans to conquer Earth after discovering video games, pop music and french fries.

With the help of human teen-agers Mike, Cedric and Angela, they protect their new, happening planet from evildoers from all over the galaxy, including Emperor Bog, Dr. Damage and alien hunter Stoat Muldoon (voiced by Robert Stack).

The site makes only a little sense to those unfamiliar with the show, but does look incredibly cool and should keep visitors busy.

The opening page catches the eye as a spaceship flies across the top of the screen, depositing bubble-like icons, while 2-T-FRU-T bellows, "Look around, have a blast and let's get ugly." These icons reveal the sections hosted by the show's characters "Martian Terminology Database" (with Do-Wah-Diddy), "Gibberish Decoding Station" (with Mike), "Dr. Damage Laboratory," "Bureau of Misinformation" (with B-Bop-A-Luna), "Cedric's Corner," and "Secret Hacking Location" (with Angela).

Each page comes to life through animation, slick graphics and plenty of sound bites. The overall site is like one big game as visitors wander around, solve puzzles and collect Martian Points (totals can be seen on a revolving sign secured to the back of a robotic dog), which can then be used to purchase stuff in Cedric's corner.

Visitors should begin their journey trying to unravel the "Martian Terminology Database." Twenty-five words or phrases must be defined through multiple choice questions. Within minutes, I learned that Bloatworms are a slimy, gooey Martian snack that taste like chicken, not inhabitants of the planet Bloat. Do-Wah-Diddy greets wrong answers with a mocking, "What the plinkum were you thinkin'?" Correct answers get 50 points, are entered into a database for viewing and provide help with other puzzles on the site.

For example, I figured out the term "gorgon," and later in the "Secret Hacking Area" this word appeared scrambled. I unscrambled it and opened up a database to get biographies on the characters, the back story and some of their favorite hangouts.

Other stops worth a chuckle include the "Gibberish Decoding Station," which allows visitors to send a Martian cyber-postcard to a friend, and "Dr. Damage Laboratory." This demented area allows junior Dr. Frankenstein-types the chance to create a superior being by dragging and dropping body parts over a template.

Dr. Damage sounds a bit like Tim Curry from the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," and those who perfectly re-create characters from the show are rewarded with 100 points for each.

Ease of use:

The site can be viewed on any browser configured with the flash 5.0 plug-in.

Don't miss: B-Bop-A-Luna's "Bureau of Misinformation" not only lets visitors send a fake message to Stoat Muldoon, but also offers access to his very silly site (www.stoatmuldoon.com). On this alien hunter's pages, visitors will find 10 ways to protect the planet from alien scum, an interview with Mr. Muldoon, an interior view of his Hovervan and plenty of sound clips from veteran actor Mr. Stack.

Family activity:

No specific ideas for activities away from the computer can be found on the site, other than watching the show. But parents might want to use the opportunity to actually find out about the fourth planet from the sun, either by visiting a planetarium or just studying books. Teaching a bit about Mars to enlighten the children may make their interactions with the butt-uglies more palatable.

Cybersitter synopsis:

Parents of 4-year-olds may be a bit dismayed when junior runs around the house calling everyone a "turkey jerk," but other than that potential nightmare, the site offers brain-numbing fun engaging enough to keep the older alien hunters entertained for a decent chunk of time.

Overall grade: A (for the site), C (for the show)

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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