12 oz. Mouse is an American animated television series created by Matt Maiellaro for Adult Swim. The series revolves around Mouse Fitzgerald, nicknamed "Fitz" (voiced by Maiellaro), an alcoholic mouse who performs odd jobs so he can buy more beer. Together with his chinchilla companion Skillet, Fitz begins to recover suppressed memories that he once had a wife and a child who have now vanished. This leads him to seek answers about his past and the shadowy forces that seem to be manipulating his world.
In producing the series, Maiellaro crudely designed the characters as a cost-cutting measure; the series is animated by Radical Axis. He intended for the series to lack continuity starting from the pilot, but established a serial format after starting the second episode. He had constructed an ending for the series as well as a detailed map of characters; however, the series finale concluded differently from planned. Maiellaro cast people around his office for the characters, starring himself as the protagonist and Nine Pound Hammer vocalist Scott Luallen as the voice of Roostre; the band also performs the opening theme.
The pilot episode for 12 oz. Mouse, "Hired", premiered on June 19, 2005. The series became a regular staple of Adult Swim's lineup on October 23, 2005 and ended on December 17, 2006. Critical reception was mixed; some praised the series' experimental nature, while others felt confounded by it.
The show revolves around a mouse named Mouse Fitzgerald (voiced by Matt Maiellaro), nicknamed "Fitz", who is fond of beer and caught in a world of espionage, love, and the delights of odd jobs. The show employs a serial format, and its ongoing storyline developed from absurdist comedy to include mystery and thriller elements. Fitz begins to recover suppressed memories that he once had a wife and a child who have now vanished. This leads him to seek answers about his past and the shadowy forces that seem to be manipulating his world.
Fitz suspects there is a sinister conspiracy which appears to revolve around fields of "asprind [sic]" pills beneath the city, and Shark (Adam Reed), Clock, and Rectangular Businessman's (Kurt Soccolich) attempts to control the nature of time and reality. Fitz and Skillet receive help from Liquor (Matt Harrigan), Roostre (Scott Luallen), Stoned Peanut Cop (Nick Weidenfeld) and others as they engage in gun battles, blow things up, and try to understand cryptic hints. The show also sometimes contains surreal "subliminal" images that flash across the screen during key plot moments, including skulls, mustached snake beasts and people screaming.
The series concludes the revelation that Fitz has been kidnapped and placed into a simulation by the Shadowy Figure. He is about to be killed by Shark and the Rectangular Businessman, in their true forms outside the simulation, when he is rescued by the true form of Peanut Cop and a nurse who works in the simulation chamber. They kill Shark and Rectangle Businessman, but it is unknown if they are truly dead because the simulation in which most of the show takes place is probably taking place in another simulation. One of the purposes of the simulation seen in most of the show was to extract information from Fitz. The conclusion to episode 20 is ambiguous as to whether or not it is actually the end of the series, as some aspects of the plot remain unresolved – Golden Joe says "I thought this was done," to which Fitz replies, "I thought so too. I guess we're not."
According to Maiellaro, the series was pitched as a table read to the network. He jokingly stated that they accepted it after claiming that production costs would total "five dollars and will take some of the paper sitting in the copier." Maiellaro borrowed inspiration from surrealism and the films of David Lynch. He intended for the series to lack continuity starting from the pilot, but established a serial format after starting to work on the second episode. He had constructed an ending for the series as well as a detailed map of characters; however, the series finale concluded differently from planned. In November 2006, Maiellaro mentioned the possibility of continue the series with webisodes, and he wrote five additional scripts for ending the series, but finally, he only produced one webisode, entitled "Enter the Sandmouse".
Radical Axis provided animation for the series using Final Cut Pro. Described as "lo-fi animation", Maiellaro crudely designed the characters as a cost-cutting measure, with the exception of Amalockh, a many-armed monster summoned in the season two episode "Corndog Chronicles", which was drawn and animated by Todd Redner at the studio, and Shark, which was borrowed from the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Kentucky Nightmare". In a behind-the-scenes clip of the show, Maiellaro explained that to animate the series, he would first grab a nearby sheet of copy paper, draw something, and then scan it, followed by him sending the file to an animator. Rhoda, a character from the series, was drawn on the back of a script page for Perfect Hair Forever. A scan of the paper revealed the textual contents behind it, which Maiellaro decided to leave in.
Maiellaro cast people around his office to voice the characters. He provides the voice of the protagonist, Mouse Fitzgerald. He originally only gave the scratch dialogue for the character during production of the pilot episode, but chose himself to voice Mouse regularly after hearing his lines assembled in the final cut. Kurt Soccolich was chosen by Maiellaro to voice Rectangular Businessman, who "already had that sort of smooth arrogance in his voice", making him a "perfect" fit for him. Matt Harrigan was selected to voice Liquor, who is "always looking to make light of a situation", according to Maiellaro.
Nick Weidenfeld provides the voice of Peanut Cop; Melissa Warrenburg portrays an annoying woman in a green sweater, who Maiellaro dubs "Robogirl". Bonnie Rosmarin voices Man/Woman, picked for what Maiellaro stated is a "pouty, stand-offish quality" in her delivery. Nick Ingkatanuwat voices The Eye and Adam Reed plays Shark. Vocalist of Nine Pound Hammer Scott Luallen voices Roostre; the band also composed the opening theme song for the series. Golden Joe is voiced by Vishal Roney; after hearing his first take on the character, Maiellaro explained that he was left unable to write any of his lines. He proceeded to only provide the basic structure of his lines in the script, instructing him to retroscript the rest.
Maiellaro spent three weeks working with Ingkatanuwat on putting together the set for the opening title sequence. The set was filmed with a motion control camera, and was inserted with miniature explosives and smoke bombs for special effect. Nine Pound Hammer composed the opening theme song; Maiellaro sought for a song representing the "carefree" lifestyle of Mouse who "does things like drive drunk, film porno and shoot guns." Maiellaro, who plays the electric guitar in his free time, also composed the song "F-Off", featured in the first episode, which he wrote while working on Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
The pilot episode for 12 oz. Mouse, "Hired", premiered in June 2005 and became a regular series in the Adult Swim lineup in October 2005. An Adult Swim bumper shown with the sixth installment claimed that twenty additional episodes were being produced and taunted viewers who had complained they couldn't understand the absurdist presentation. On December 31, 2005, a marathon of the series aired, replaying all six episodes followed by the premiere of the then-unfinished seventh episode "Adventure Mouse". The second season aired on Adult Swim on Monday mornings at 12:45 a.m. EST from September 24, 2006 to December 17, 2006. On May 16, 2007, the 21st episode, entitled "Enter the Sandmouse", premiered as a webisode.
The season two episodes, "Auraphull" and "Meat Warrior", were respectively seen by 460,000 and 431,000 viewers upon broadcast. In addition, the episodes ranked as the thirteenth and twelfth most watched episodes aired by the network for the week of October 23, 2006, also respectively.
The series has received mixed critical reception; About.com's Nancy Basile gave the series four out of five stars, opining that the series is "what Adult Swim should be ... experimental, but in a cheap, simple, not-trying-to-be-cool way." She found the crude animation "refreshing" but joked that the series "can kill" viewers not used to the slow pace. Writing for AOL TV, Adam Finley regarded the show as "the most simplistically drawn of all the Adult Swim shows, and yet the most complex in terms of story." He contrasted it with other Williams Street productions, finding it to "instead unrave[l] slowly, revealing a little bit more of what's underneath the surface while also piling on more and more questions." Rob Mitchum of Pitchfork Media called it "the asymptote of the block's crude style".
Justin Heckert of Atlanta magazine opined that "the animation and art look like they were done by daycare students", while Lucy Maher of Common Sense Media rated it one star, criticizing Fitz's "anarchist" qualities and ultimately stated that "parents with teens who are interested in watching should preview an episode or two before letting them tune in on their own." Felix Staica of Impulse Gamer gave the DVD release 8.3 out of 10, stating he was "left confounded" after watching and noted the video transfer as "decidedly and deliberately rough, with weird unfocused pixilation [sic] cropping up frequently."
The hip hop duo Danger Doom have produced a song inspired by 12 oz. Mouse entitled "Korn Dogz" from their EP Occult Hymn. The song uses audio clips from the episode "Rooster", with the line "Corn dogs for the pickin'" being recited by Danger Doom's MC MF Doom and Mouse Fitzgerald. A scene from the episode "Sharktasm" is visible in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.
A DVD release of the complete series was released February 29, 2008 (leap year), exclusively on the Williams Street shop. The DVD cover depicts Leonardo's The Last Supper with the series' characters replacing Christ and the twelve apostles. However, under a black light, the cover depicts the skeletons of the characters, as well as letters and symbols which make out an email address. The series is presented as a single, continuous movie, with newly produced footage bridging the gaps between episodes. It also features production footage, new music, the episode "Auraphull" in its entirety and collected fan art.