November 25, 2017

101 DALMATIANS: THE SERIES

101 DALMATIANS: THE SERIES
(ABC, Syndication, September 1, 1997-March 4, 1998)


Jumbo Pictures, Walt Disney Television Animation


MAIN CAST:
Pamela Adlon (ABC) & Debi Mae West (syndicated) – Lucky
Kath Soucie – Cadpig, Roly “Rolly” Poly, Anita Dearly
Tara Strong – Spot, Two-Tone
Jeff Bennett – Roger Dearly, Sergeant Tibbs, Lieutenant Pug
April Winchell – Cruella de Vil, Princess (2 episodes)
Tress MacNeille – Cruella de Vil (2 episodes), Cornelia
David L. Lander – Horace Baddun
Michael McKean – Jasper Baddun



            The Hundred and One Dalmatians, or The Great Dog Robbery, was a 1956 novel written by Dodie Smith. Pongo and Missis were a pair of Dalmatians, owned by the newly-married Dearly couple, that recently had a litter of puppies. Those puppies would end up dognapped with 97 others by the evil Cruella de Vil and her henchmen in order for them to be skinned for their fur. Pongo and Missis set out to find their puppies in what became a grand adventure involving many other animals all working together. Smith would follow it up with a direct sequel, The Starlight Barking, in 1967.


The original book.

            When Walt Disney read the book in 1957, it grabbed his attention and he immediately set out to acquire the rights; fulfilling a secret desire of Smith’s. Disney assigned Bill Peet to write the screenplay for the film adaptation, the first time that a story for a Disney animated film was written by a single person. He condensed some elements from the book and focused on others. Peet completely removed the characters of Cruella’s husband and cat, a second stolen litter of Dalmatian puppies and their father, Prince, and merged their mother, Perdita, with Missis while keeping the former’s name. He also changed the name of the humans from Dearly to Radcliffe, and one of Cruella’s henchmen from Saul to Horace. Pleased with the script, Disney prompted Peet to begin storyboarding. Peet sent Smith some of the material he was working on, and she praised his work stating he had actually improved her story and the designs looked much better than the book’s illustrations.


Pongo, Perdita and a fraction of their puppies.

            By this point in the Disney company’s history, Sleeping Beauty had disappointed at the box office and Disney himself had grown disenchanted with animation to the point of contemplating shutting down the animation division. Only nostalgia and the fact the company was built on it kept it going. This meant Disney was a lot more hands-off than he had been with previous features and allowed art director Ken Anderson to use a Xerox process Ub Iwerks had been experimenting with on the film. It let them put drawings directly onto cells, bypassing the inking process, and allowed them to animate all the dogs and their spots quickly and for a reduced cost. Disney initially disliked the look the method gave the film, but over time came to appreciate it.


Cruella and Nanny.

            Although the look of Cruella was established in the book, Marc Davis took additional inspiration from Bette Davis, Rosalind Russell, Tallulah Bankhead and her voice actress, Betty Lou Gerson, in rendering her final design. Her disheveled style originated from old magazine images of hairstyles from the 1940s. The rest of the cast was filled by Rod Taylor as Pongo, Cate Bauer as Perdita, Ben Wright as Roger Radcliffe, and Lisa Davis (who was originally sought for Cruella) as his wife, Anita. Unlike other Disney animated features, the movie only featured three songs; however additional ones were written for it by Mel Leven




            101 Dalmatians was released to theaters on January 25, 1961. It quickly became a box office success with $14 million, pulling the studio out of its financial slump. The film was re-released in 1969, 1979, 1985 and 1991, bringing its total box office gross to $215 million. The ’91 release was the 12th-highest earning domestic film of the year. When it was released to VHS for the first time in 1992, it became the sixth best-selling video of all time. In 1996, Disney produced a live-action remake starring Glenn Close as Cruella. The film was written by John Hughes and directed by Stephen Herek, turning in a $320.6 million box office following its release on November 27. Unlike the animated version, the dogs didn’t talk but the vocal effects for Pongo and Perdita were provided by Frank Welker.


The stars of the show: Roly, Spot, Cadpig and Lucky.

            Following the success of the film, Disney decided to expand on the franchise by producing a new animated series. Walt Disney Television Animation was paired up with the recently-acquired Jumbo Pictures to bring the series to life with Jim Jinkins, David Campbell, Tony Craig and Roberts Gannaway serving as executive producers. The series marked the franchise’s return to animation, using the original 1961 designs as a base with modern flourishes like thicker borders and brighter coloring, as well as some minor design tweaks. Unlike the original film animated entirely in the United States, animation duties were doled out to Disney Animation’s Japan office, Jade Animation, Sun Min Animation, Sun Woo Animation and Plus One Animation.


Promotional image featuring Dipstick, Tripod, Two-Tone, Patch and Wizzer, along with the stars.

101 Dalmatians: The Series took elements from both Disney films and the books in crafting its universe; although the books presented a greater influence to the overall tone than the films. The series shifted focus off of Pongo (Kevin Schon & Michael Donovan) and Perdita (Pam Dawber) and put them on the puppies; specifically the plucky Lucky (Pamela Adlon & Debi Mae West), who had a horseshoe-shaped spot; Roly Poly (Kath Soucie), whose obsession with food often led the pups into trouble; and Cadpig (also Soucie), the runt of the litter and most intelligent of the puppies. Cadpig was a prominent character in the books, but not in the Disney productions before this point. Other pups included the fearless three-legged Tripod (Toran Caudell), the dim-witted Dipstick (Thom Adcox-Hernandez), the accident-prone Wizzer (Adlon for one episode, Christine Cavanaugh the rest of the time), and the fashion diva Two-Tone (Tara Strong).


Patch: show (top) vs. films (bottom).

Initially, Lucky, Roly and Cadpig were joined by two other pups named Patch and Penny, but it was feared that there were too many main characters. Penny was dropped from the show, and Patch was relegated to a minor role voiced by Justin Shenkarow. Patch would go on to have his own starring feature with the direct-to-video sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure in 2003. The Patch in the show, however, differed from the film version in that he was heavier and wore a knotted rope collar.


The pups wrapped up with Cynde.

The pups lived on the Dearly Farm (aka the “Dalmatian Plantation”) run by Roger (Jeff Bennett) and Anita (Soucie), with the help of Nanny (Charlotte Rae). Roger was also a video game programmer as established in the live movie, which also marked the return of the original surname from the books. The farm was populated by a variety of animals, including Spot (Strong), a chicken who hung out with Lucky, Roly and Cadpig and desperately wanted to be a Dalmatian (she was added as a last-minute replacement for Patch and Penny); Cornelia (Tress MacNeille), Spot’s mother who wanted her to act like a chicken; Duchess (Marla Gibbs) and Princess (April Winchell in two episodes, Cree Summer for the remainder), two dairy cows; Mayor Ed Pig (Jim Cummings), the self-appointed leader of the animals; his daughter Dumpling (Cavanaugh), who was in love with Lucky; Swamp Rat (Bennett), a salesman that lived in the nearby swamp; Steven the alligator (Welker), Swamp Rat’s associate who wanted to eat Spot; Lucy (Paddi Edwards), a goose that got angry whenever the pups played in her pond; Cynde (also Welker), a snake who hung out with both Swamp Rat and Steven; and the bullying Sheepdog mix Mooch (Danny Cooksey). 


Lucky with The Colonel and Sergeant Tibbs.

The farm was protected by the Bark Brigade, of which Pongo and Perdita were members. It was headed up by The Colonel (Cummings), a Catalan Sheepdog from the original movie; his trusted ally, an Abyssinian named Sergeant Tibbs (Bennett); Captain (Welker), a horse that helped Nanny with her chores; and Lieutenant Pug (Bennett), a training officer paranoid about a potential feline invasion.


Cruella paying a "visit" to the Dearlys.

Cruella (Winchell, with MacNeille handling two episodes) had moved on from fur and developed a new interest in real estate. She lived next to the farm and constantly schemed on how to get it away from the Dearlys. Aiding her as always was Horace and Jasper (David L. Lander and Michael McKean). Cruella also had a pet ferret, Scorch (Welker), who shared Steve’s appetite for Spot. To diminish their impact on young viewers, the villains were less menacing and more bumbling; comically failing in all their attempts against the farm and the pups.


The Dearly Farm.

101 Dalmatians: The Series was produced for both syndication and Saturday mornings. It began airing on September 1st, 1997, before making its debut as one of the launch programs for ABC’s Disney’s One Saturday Morning programming block on September 13th, 1997. It, like all the other programs, were meant to debut a week early on the 7th, but their broadcast was delayed by the simulcast of the funeral of Princess Diana. The Saturday episodes were exclusive to ABC and were only seen there. The series’ theme was composed by Randy Petersen, Kevin Quinn and Tim Heintz, with Mark Watters and Dan Sawyer handling the rest of the show’s music.


Searching for that prosocial message.

The show was developed with consultation from Harvard’s Project Zero, a consortium of child experts that ensured the series upheld the FCC’s strict mandates of cartoons teaching kids prosocial messages. As a result, writers were tasked with having to address an issue in each script they submitted, as well as a solid lesson learned by its conclusion. These elements were included in the series’ publicity packets leading up to the show’s debut along with a synopsis of the episode’s story. Cydne Clark and Steve Granat served as the show’s supervising story editors, as well as two of its writers. Other writers included Mirith J.S. Colao, Ken Koonce, Michael Merton, Bruce Shelly, Anne Baumgarten, Jess Winfield, Fracaswell Hyman, Don Gillies, David Hemingson, Len Uhley, Bruce Talkington, Chris Hubbell, Sam Graham, Thomas Hart, and Carin Greenberg, amongst others. Gannaway wrote several episodes as well. The majority of episodes had two segments, and titles with dog-related puns.


On an adventure.

The series ran through its entire 65-episode run within the season; the Saturday episodes concluding in January of 1998 and the syndicated episodes ending that March. Reruns continued on ABC until 2000, when it was moved to The Disney Channel and then Toon Disney. It gradually stopped airing in various countries until its last known airing in 2013. The series has yet to be released in its entirety to home video, with only “A Christmas Cruella” and “Coup  de Vil” being put out on VHS by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and the three-part “Dalmatian Vacation” on Video CD in the United States, VHS and DVD internationally, and LaserDisc in Japan. The song “Surf Puppies” from those episodes was included on the album The Music of Disney’s One Saturday Morning. In 2017 the series became available to stream on the iTunes Store and Amazon Prime Video, with the exception of the episode “Alive N’ Chicken / Prima Doggy” as the episode was removed from broadcast after the September 11 attacks due to the scene of Spot crashing into a barn. The episode was finally restored when the entire series was made available on Disney+ in 2020.



The Disney Chapter book.


Little Golden Books published three books based on the show: the original The Big Dig, the scratch and sniff sticker book Springtime Fun, and the coloring book Hide-and-go-Seek at the Farm. A Disney Chapter book, Cruella Returns, featured an adaptation of the episodes “You Slipped a Disk”, “Leisure Lawsuit” and “Snow Bounders”. In 1998, McDonald’s included flip car racers in their Happy Meals which featured different characters on either side. McDonald’s located in Wal-Mart stores also offered exclusive curly straws. Caldor offered beanbag plush toys of the main characters along with their Sweethearts Candy. In Japan, fans could get branded keychains courtesy of The Disney Channel.

November 18, 2017

PEPPER ANN

PEPPER ANN
(ABC, September 13, 1997-November 18, 2000)


Walt Disney Television Animation


MAIN CAST:
Kathleen Wilhoite – Pepper Ann Pearson
Clea Lewis – Nicky Anais Little
Danny Cooksey – Milo Kamalani
April Winchell – Lydia Pearson, Sherie Spleen, Abriola Stark, Grandmother Lilly, Milicent the Militant, Gerta Liederhosen, Mrs. McClain, various
Pamela Segall – Margaret Rose “Moose” Pearson, Hush, Sean
Don Adams – Principal Hickey
Susan Tolsky – Janie Lilly Diggety
Tino Insana – Jo Jo Diggety, various
Jenna Von Oy – Trinket St. Blair
Jeff Bennett –Craig Bean, Dieter Lederhosen, Ned Diggety, Peter “Pink-Eye Pete” Oglevee, Mr. Little (1 episode), various
Kath Soucie – Cissy Rooney, Mrs. Little, Supermodel Mindy, Gina, Tina, Crying Girl (1 episode), various
Cree Summer – Tessa James, Vanessa James, Crying Girl (most episodes)


            Former advertising executive Sue Rose created the character of Pepper Ann for a comic strip appearing in YM Magazine. The titular character would spend each strip talking to herself about her inner feelings. A friend suggested to Rose that she should try and adapt the strip into a television show. Rose created a storyline, made Pepper Ann a little younger, and gave her a supporting cast.

Early Pepper Ann designs.

            Rose pitched the series to Nickelodeon in 1995, but they felt it looked too close to Fido Dido; another character she created that appeared in commercial bumpers for CBS and in ads for things like Slice and 7-Up. Rose approached Tom Warburton, who had worked with her previously on the Fido campaigns and became responsible for Fido’s annual style guide, to redesign her characters to make them less Fido-ish. Nickelodeon eventually passed on the series entirely, leaving it open for Disney to acquire it for their upcoming One Saturday Morning programming block.

Milo, Lydia, Pepper Ann, Moose and Nicky.

            Pepper Ann followed the adventures of seventh grader Pepper (Kathleen Wilhoite) at Hazelnut Middle School. Pepper would deal with the trials and tribulations of adolescence by often falling into a fantasy situation with her fertile imagination and coming up with a solution. Of course, that doesn’t prevent her from sometimes making the wrong decisions and sometimes making things worse. Her best friends were Nicky Little (Clea Lewis), a soft-spoken and overachieving violinist that was a reformed bully, and Milo Kamalani (Danny Cooksey), an eccentric and highly dramatic artist. As her parents were divorced, Pepper lived with her perky, though overprotective, mother, Lydia (April Winchell) and tomboyish little sister, Margaret Rose, aka “Moose” (Pamela Segall). Her father, Chuck (Maurice LaMarche), flew blimps and sometimes, though rarely, came to visit. Pepper’s aunt, Janie Diggety (Susan Tolsky), a former Green Beret-turned-activist, often aided Pepper in finding the solutions to her problems. Pepper had a crush on eighth grader Craig Bean (Jeff Bennett), who played in a band and seemed to also have a crush on her.

Trinket stressing out.

            Pepper’s principal rival was Trinket St. Blair (Jenna von Oy), a rich, spoiled, popular girl who wasn’t subtle about telling people how to improve their looks and was always on the phone with an unseen character named “Marie”. Trinket’s best friend was Cissy Rooney (Kath Soucie), a popular airhead. Another rival was Alice Kane (Lauren Tom), who always seemed to try and one-up anything Pepper did. Pepper’s final rival was Wayne Macabre (Wallance Langham), a student who briefly ran the school’s radio station and whom Pepper regarded as a loudmouth since he made fun of everything she liked.

Tessa and Vanessa James.

Other characters included Tessa and Vanessa James (both Cree Summer), were twins and classmates of Pepper’s who were always quick to spread the latest gossip around the school; Brenda (Tara Strong), Pepper’s old best friend who moved to town and discovered they no longer had anything in common; Amber O’Malley (Jodi Benson), who became the most popular girl in school for a week when Cissy went away; Dieter Liederhosen (Bennett), a transplant from Germany who moved to America with his mother; Effie Shrugg (Hedy Burress), a tall girl that befriended Pepper and her friends, but was also a bit of a bully; Constance Goldman (Candi Milo), a shy and awkward girl that decided to hang out with Pepper and her friends in order to absorb some of their “coolness”; Ned Diggety (Bennett), Pepper’s older slacker cousin who had an obsession with cheese; Crying Girl (Soucie & Summer), who was overemotional and could run out of a room in tears at any moment; Stewart Walldinger (Luke Perry & Cam Clarke), a unique individual that could fit in with any crowd, including the ultra-cool eighth graders; Hush (Segall), a cool eighth grader that rarely spoke; Sketch (Karen Duffy), the coolest of the eighth graders that threw awesome parties; and Poison and Tank (Brittany Murphy and Meredith Scott Lynn as either role), a pair of eighth graders that hung out with Hush and Sketch who also rarely spoke outside of an eighth grade lingo.

Teaching a class is no reason to stop knitting.

            What would a school be without teachers? And, like the students, they all had their little quirks. Roland Carter (Jim Cummings) was the science teacher who seemed to be as hard on Pepper and eager to give her detention as he was in love with science; Coach Doogan (Kathy Najimy) left being a nun in a convent in order to become a physical education instructor; Mr. Reason (Kurtwood Smith), the shop teacher who somehow earned a nasty reputation; Abriola Stark (Winchell), an eccentric math teacher who was very passionate about the subject and also led the Drama Club; Carlotta Sneed (Julia Sweeney), an economics teacher whose penchant for knitting got her fired from an accounting firm when she used it to help her do math; Sherman Finky (Don Lake), the social studies teacher who tries to (poorly) connect with his students by using what he thinks is their lingo; Coach Bronson (Thomas F. Wilson), the football coach who had a prominent bite mark on his right ear; Mr. Clapper (James Avery), the music teacher who gave music lessons and conducted the band; and Bronte Bladdar (BeBe Neuwirth), a monotoned and unenthusiastic English teacher who was only teaching until she found a man. The principal was Herbert Kickey (Don Adams), who wished he could abolish the First Amendment and counted down the days until Pepper and her crazy misadventures would finally graduate. His secretary, Vera Schwartz (Paddi Edwards), was often responsible for announcements in the school and had a talent for scatting and beat poetry.

Magazine ad for One Saturday Morning.

            Pepper Ann was one of the debut programs of One Saturday Morning on September 13, 1997 on ABC, along with fellow Disney property 101 Dalmatians: The Series and the recently-acquired Brand Spanking New Doug. It was the first show made by Walt Disney Television Animation created by a woman. The show’s opening sequence typically ended with Pepper Ann finding something under her desk and showing it to the audience. For the first season, she always found five bucks, but in each subsequent season she would find something different. The show’s theme music was composed by Brian Woodbury and performed by Whilhoite, while the series’ music was by Pat Irwin. It was animated by SunWoo Animation Co., Inc.

Pepper Ann showing her gym teacher her recently-acquired sport bra.

Episodes were typically broken up into two story segments, however single stories were peppered throughout the show’s run. The year it began was when television networks implemented the FCC-mandated ratings system. The majority of the series was rated TV-Y, however several episodes were rated TV-Y7 due to their subject matter being deemed too mature for children under 7; such as “In Support Of”, which dealt with puberty and implied nudity. In reruns, the TV-Y7 rating was attached to the entire series due to the presence of such topics as divorce, dating, racism, death, gender equality, moral ambiguity and unemployment in many of the stories and their lessons. The series kept a fairly small stable of writers that included Mirith J.S. Colao, Laura McCreary, David Hemingson, Nahnatchka Khan, Matthew Negrete, Scott M. Gimple, Madellaine Paxson, Sean Whalen, Eddy Sato, Allison Heartinger, Emily Kapnek, Roger Reitzel, and Edward Guzelian. Comedian Mo Rocca joined the writing staff during the second season; the same year he began his tenure as a correspondent on The Daily Show. Rose herself only co-wrote “The Big Pencil”. Khan also served as a story editor, sometimes with McCreary and Negrete. Dr. Diana Meehan, founder of The Archer School for Girls, served as an educational consultant on several episodes.

Spelling out one of the show's pro-social messages.

            After five seasons, the show was replaced by The Weekenders and entered into syndicated reruns. It moved to the sister block Disney’s One Too on UPN where it aired on weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings between 2000 and 2001. After that, it aired on The Disney Channel for a few months before finding a new home on Toon Disney. It remained there until it was replaced by the Jetix programming block in 2004. The last known airing of the show in the United States was a two-hour block on Toon Disney in 2007. The show has been seen on Disney Channel Portugal as late as 2011. It has yet to be released on any kind of home video in any form.

A  page of the comic from Disney Adventures.

            Golden Books released a collection of paper dolls and outfits that could be removed from the book they came in and put together. They also published an adaptation of “Old Best Friend.” Disney Press published Soccer Sensation as part of their Disney Chapters line. Mattel released a figurine doll of Pepper, along with a fully plush doll. Comics based on the show appeared in pages of Disney Adventures magazine.

Pepper Ann and Lydia "meet" Pete.

The final appearance of Pepper Ann and her mother was in a cameo of the first episode of Disney’s House of Mouse, “The Stolen Cartoons.” They were the only Walt Disney Television characters to appear on the series, which otherwise made use of Disney’s feature film, short and occasionally comic book catalogue of characters. 



EPISODE GUIDE:
(Coming soon)