|MONSTERS OF THE TRAP DOOR
|To my earliest recollection, there has never been anything that entertained me as much as weird
and imaginative monsters. I didn't even need much of a story to go with them; just seeing creepy
creatures was enough to delight my young mind and fuel my imagination for hours. Unfortunately, a
pre-internet American household without cable television offered only limited outlets for my
obsession. Until The Real Ghostbusters finally rolled around, all I really had access to were
Sesame Street, Eureka's Castle, Looney Tunes and Gumby. Oh, how I loved that Gumby, though.
His world was hand-crafted from modeling clay, my favorite thing to play with at the time, and
inspired me to re-create its many characters for my own little adventures. And hey! Once in a
great while, Gumby even encountered a few monsters! Awesome! What could be better, right?
...What do you mean "The Trap Door?" What the hell is "The Trap Door?"
...THAT'S The Trap Door? When the HELL did this happen?!
....1984!? Are you kidding me?! Then where the hell was...
How many cold-hearted, filthy bastard U.S. television executives must have looked at this
top-rated, award-winning television show and thought to themselves "well, that's just too British.
We won't be having any of that!" I'd like to know because I'd like to mail every one of them an
entire actual trap door with their name angrily carved into it. Just a whole big slab of wood with
like, a metal handle and hinges screwed in. Can I just put postage directly on that?
This magical children's series, denied me by Geography, ran for a total of forty four-minute
episodes from 1984 to 1986, before the creators moved on to new projects. The series takes
place "somewhere in the dark and nasty regions where nobody goes," following the day-to-day life
of a tubby blue monster named Berk who must contend with all manner of bizarre, crawling and
slithering creatures that emerge from the titular trap door. As an adult, I find the show nothing short
of inspiring. Had I grown up in the right country, it would have undoubtedly been my very
childhood. When did Godforsaken Gumby ever fend off squirming tentacles with a rolling pin?
I became aware of the Trap Door only around 2003, and only thanks to the scant information
available on the web. Now, thanks to diligent streaming video uploaders, I have finally had the
chance to enjoy all forty Trap Door cartoons, and with this little milestone of my life, it occurs to me
that someone ought to compile the toon's wonderful creature designs to share on some manner of
electronic data network, and so, despite spelling "color" without a U, I decided there was no
reason why that someone shouldn't be me.
First, we'll introduce the main characters; then we'll dive in and look at over forty creepy crawlies,
wotsit fings and flippin' weirdos.
Hero of the series, Berk is a nondescript blue creature who lives in a crumbling, decrepit castle,
where he performs all the cooking, housekeeping and general assistance to The Thing Upstairs;
a monster so horrific it has never been shown. The castle is built directly atop a mysterious
network of passageways inhabited by eerie creatures of every form imaginable, which regularly
escape from the trap door and cause varying degrees of trouble. If the imagery alone doesn't grab
you, Berk's personality easily carries the whole show. Nearly unphaseable, he reacts to even the
ghastliest monsters with a plucky curiosity and dry wit, often turning to the audience with his
Co-starring with Berk, Boni is nothing more than a living, talking, humanoid skull. While nothing in
the series is ever given a clear origin, Boni begs the biggest question. Is he a human skull? Was
he ever a complete living creature? Whatever the case, he sure is a downer; unable to move on
his own, he has nothing to do all day but remark negatively about anything and everything that
goes on around him, constantly worrying and constantly bored out of his...self, I guess.
|-Him Upstairs (A.K.A. The Thing Upstairs)-
Berk's Master and owner of the castle, the Thing's thunderous voice can be heard in nearly every
episode - usually complaining - but our only glimpses of the monster are a single gigantic fang in
the episode "The Pain," one of his many detachable eyeballs in "Not Very Nice" and an easily
missed peek at his blubbery flesh when lightning flashes in "The Little Thing." Berk refers to his
master as a "great giant carbuncle" or "wobbly lump of gooey blubber," and dialog has also
implied that The Thing has three humps on his back, more than one head and the ability to fly. His
diet includes bugs, trash and whatever smaller monsters wander into his bedroom, and he suffers
from all manner of unpleasant conditions like "exploding warts" and "purple pimples."
Somehow or other, the Thing wears a set of pajamas.
You can't have a children's cartoon without "the pet," and Drutt fills the role in that special, warped
little Trap Door manner. The spider-legged blob does nothing but prey on smaller bugs, scurry
around and make utterly ridiculous noises to match his utterly ridiculous facial expression. Stare
into it a while and try not to be amused. Just try. A bit later in the series, Drutt hatches a family of
pinkish "babies" (oddly almost full-size) but continues to be called a "he."
The only undeniably benevolent monster from the Trap Door, Rogg is extremely dopey and
dangerously strong, but usually easygoing and very fond of Berk and Boni, dropping in on them in
many episodes. In the last cartoon ever produced, he nearly loses his life fighting off the series'
|The following four pages detail very nearly every monster to appear in the show's entire
run, organized mostly by episode. Having to make do with youtube as a source, the images
vary quite a bit in quality, but I've tried to get the best I could. Cartoons without any distinct
monsters are skipped over; it's a monster guide, not an episode guide!