Space Ghost Coast to Coast came into being when media mogul Ted Turner asked Mike Lazzo, senior vice president of the fledgling Cartoon Network, to create a low-cost, late-night cartoon series that would appeal to adults. What, reasoned Lazzo, could be more low-cost than to take animation frames from the old Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning children's cartoon series Space Ghost and Dino Boy and superimpose them over newly filmed live action sequences?
Going a bit farther, Lazzo decided to use the old reedited Space Ghost footage as part of a concept he'd been toying with for year: a satirical David Letterman-style talk show, with a thoroughly clueless and humorless host asking celebrity guests a steady stream of stupid, non sequitur questions. As a result, Space Ghost Coast to Coast was not only the Cartoon Network's first original cartoon series, but it was also the first animated talk show in TV history! Believe it or not, the weekly, 15-minute Space Ghost Coast to Coast had a backstory! It seemed that venerable cartoon superhero Space Ghost had heard of the network "talk show wars" between David Letterman and Jay Leno -- and, understanding only the "war" part of the equation, he decided to enter the fray himself. To prevent interference from his old intergalactic enemies from the "Council of Doom," he sprang two of those Council members from their suspended-animation prison and placed them on the staff of his new TV talk show, in a sort of work-release program. Thus, the giant malevolent praying mantis Zorak was installed at a circular keyboard as Space Ghost's combination sidekick and musical director, à la Paul Shaffer, while the combustible Moltar the molten menace was engaged as the show's director (a third council member, the fright-masked Brak, showed up occasionally until he was spun off into his own series, The Brak Show). The locale for Space Ghost Coast to Coast was a cheesy chat show set on the star's floating space station (actually a miniature model), with celebrity guests (in live-action footage) appearing on a two-way TV screen, ostensibly broadcasting from the host's home turf, the Ghost Planet. Each of the show's interviews was videotaped separately, with the producers pumping the guests with off-the-wall questions like "Are you getting enough oxygen?" and "So what about your trousers?" The taped interview was then grafted onto the cartoon portion of the show, with Space Ghost (voiced by Atlanta radio personality George Lowe) ostensibly asking the questions. Most of the celebrities appearing on the series (notably Jim Carrey and Judy Tenuta) went along with the joke; others were clearly confused by the whole process, and a few were downright hostile and obscene! In between interviews, Space Ghost went off on moronic little tangents of his own (usually involving obsessive plays on words, or the promotion of questionable commercial products), while the disgruntled and humiliated Zorak continually schemed to undermine and/or destroy his old enemy.
A cult favorite from the moment it premiered on April 15, 1994, Space Ghost Coast to Coast became so popular with Cartoon Network's older fans that the series became the hub of the network's nightly Adult Swim, a collection of animated series catering to mature tastes. Also, Space Ghost Coast to Coast spawned two other series in which footage from ancient Hanna-Barbera cartoon efforts was rearranged and placed in a satirical context: The Brak Show and Sealab 2021. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi