The titular Marvin is an elderly gent who, unbeknownst to his wife, leads a secret life foiling criminals with the help of his three robots: the transforming Maxwell; the computer-headed Micron; and Buffer, who can turn his ears into an array of tools. The first episode on the tape sees him travelling to France to tackle a jewel thief with a robot dog, while the second episode has him catching two crooks with a ray gun that freezes people.
According to the back of the video box, the series was written, produced and directed by Mike Joyce, and its copyright is held by a company named MixPix. Despite the very eighties flavour of the cartoon, the copyright date is 1995 (although the Amazon page linked to above states that the video was released in 1985).
The series' trippy opening title.
Although obviously low-budget, Marvin can't be accused of cutting corners with its animation. Here, the camera swings round and zooms in on the door of Marvin's house - and the whole thing's animated frame-by-frame, with the entire scene completely redrawn each time!
Marvin's robot friends: Maxwell, Micron and Buffer.
A few of Maxwell's transformations.
At one point Micron disguises himself as a television set. When one of the villains turns him on, the animation takes on a Gilliamesque quality.
Marvin isn't a bad series at all. The animation has an eccentric appeal, the dialogue - much of which seems to have been ad-libbed - has charm, and the storylines are good fun; with more exposure it could be as fondly-remembered today as Mr. Benn or Ivor the Engine.
It's a shame that it seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. How many episodes were made? Was it even shown on television? It's certainly formatted as a TV series, but I suppose it could have gone direct-to-video.
As I said before, I can't find any information on Marvin online. But I have found something rather unexpected - a follow-up series, titled Uncle Marvin. From the Foothill Entertainment site:
After poking around Google I found that Uncle Marvin DVDs are being sold by a company named Chip Taylor Communications. Although the Foothill Entertainment site credits the series with three specials, Chip Taylor Communications is selling only two, alongside something called Monkeez. One of the Uncle Marvin specials, French Breath, looks like a remake of the Marvin episode French Flight.
UNCLE MARVIN - 3 x 25' eps Animation Specials
Super Marvin fought the good fight for many a successful year, but then he retired and became Uncle Marvin. Packed with visual humour, this all-action animated series will have international appeal for ages 5 years and upwards. As he can't fly around the world anymore, Uncle Marvin has built two robots to help him solve crimes, and is aided by his faithful partner - Maurice the Mouse.
Produced & Directed by Mike Joyce for MixPix.
I'll have to chase the Uncle Marvin specials down someday. If they're up to the standards of the episodes on the VHS then they'll definitely be worth a look.