November 07, 2020

TEACHER'S PET

 

TEACHER’S PET

(ABC, Toon Disney, September 9, 2000-May 10, 2002)

 

Walt Disney Television Animation

 

 

MAIN CAST:

Shaun Fleming – Leonard Helperman
Nathan Lane & Kevin Schon (6 episodes in season 2) – Spot Helperman/Scott Leadready II
Debra Jo Rupp – Mary Helperman
Wallace Shawn – Principal Crosby Strickler
Jerry Stiller – Pretty Boy
David Ogden Stiers – Mr. Jolly

 

 

            This is the story of a boy, nerdy Leonard (Shaun Fleming), and his dog, Spot (Nathan Lane). However, Spot was a unique dog in that he was tired of being just a dog. So, when Leonard started 4th grade, Spot decided to dress up as a human and became Scott Leadready II. He joined Leonard’s class at Fala D. Roosevelt Elementary School (named for Franklyn D. Roosevelt’s dog) and became extremely popular as the smartest, most athletic, and coolest. Leonard discovers Spot’s ruse but is convinced to go along with it—often landing him in trouble.

Leonard and "Scott" with Mr. Jolly and Pretty Boy.

            Spot wasn’t the only pet in the Helperman household. There was also Pretty Boy (Jerry Stiller), a bossy big-mouthed canary with a Napoleon complex, and Mr. Jolly (David Ogden Stiers), an overweight and cowardly cat. The matriarch of the family was Mary Helperman (Debra Jo Rupp), who also happened to be Leonard and “Scott’s” teacher which sometimes helped to enhance Leonard’s embarrassment. Other characters included Ian Wazselewski (Rob Paulson), the class weirdo who enjoyed doing gross things; Leslie Dunkling (Mae Whitman), the Helperman’s next door neighbor and Leonard’s class crush who was often nice to him despite her well-to-do upbringing and popularity (although she favored Scott more); Tyler, Trevor and Taylor (all Pamela Adlon), three of the coolest kids in the school who were friendly with Scott but barely tolerated Leonard; fraternal twins Chelsey and Kelsey (both Cree Summer), who were both popular and competitive with each other and were secret admirers of Scott’s; Younghee Mandlebom (Lauren Tom), Leslie’s best friend who was often mean to Leonard despite having a crush on him; and Crosby Strickler (Wallace Shawn), the school principal who hated dogs after one bit off part of his finger as a kid. Strickler also had a pet; a cat named Tallulah (Tress MacNeille) who acted sweet in his presence but was a terror to others.

"Scott" being a hit with the class while Leonard can only look on.

            Teacher’s Pet debuted on ABC as part of the One Saturday Morning programming block on September 9, 2000. It was created by artist Gary Baseman, who pondered the concept that his dog, Hubcaps, would put on clothes and lead a whole other life while he was out at work. Baseman developed the show with Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, pitching it to Disney who picked it up. Episodes were typically broken up into two plots: the main plot following Leonard and Spot’s adventures at school with Spot constantly trying to keep his identity a secret, and Mr. Jolly and Pretty Boy getting into mischief back home. The majority of the episodes featured a single story, but several were broken up into two segments.

The 4th grade class.

It was written by the Steinkellners and Baseman along with Ford Riley, Laura McCreary, Michael Price, Jim Patterson, Steve Leff, Cade Chilcoat, David Maples, Nicholas Hope, Jessie Jones, Mark Steen, Nanclee Myatt, Patrick Gleeson, Billiam Coronel, Jim Staahl, Jim Fisher, John Reynolds, Mike Samonek and Jess Winfield, with Maples serving as the story editor. Animation duties were handled Wang Film Productions Company and Toon City Animation, Inc. The theme was composed by Brian Woodbury and Peter Lurye and performed by the cast, with Stephen James Taylor supplying the rest of the music. Teacher’s Pet looked different from other Disney productions due to the fact that the character designs by Marc Perry and Kim Roberson adhered closely to Baseman’s own art style. Baseman also served as the series’ art director.

They should've known something was weird about "Scott" with how eager he was to go to school.


The series ran for two seasons. In January of 2002, new episodes began airing concurrently on Toon Disney as part of the @Toon and Magical World of Toons programming blocks. That February, new episodes moved exclusively to Toon Disney while reruns continued to air on ABC until One Saturday Morning became ABC Kids in September. Lane, who had just landed a role in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, had to leave the show while the season was in production resulting in his understudy, Kevin Schon, taking over as Spot for 6 episodes. However, as the episodes were aired out of production order, Lane’s performance still appeared between Schon’s.  Teacher’s Pet was a critical darling, garnering good reviews and winning several Daytime Emmy Awards and a BAFTA, along with three Annie Awards nominations. However, critical praise doesn’t often equate to ratings and the show struggled to find a sizable audience.



After the pilot episode was completed, it was decided that a film extension should be ready to hit theaters when the series hit its peak popularity. By the time it was realized that the show would never have a peak, the film was already written. Disney, however, liked the show and allowed production on the film to continue. Teacher’s Pet: The Movie had a much wider scope than the series proper, taking the characters on a road trip and out of the classroom. It was released on January 16, 2004, written by the Steinkellners, directed by regular series director Timothy BjÓ§rklund, and featured a tribute to Hubcaps who died during production. It also had Lane returning to the role of Spot. The film served as the series finale, resolving many of the show’s ongoing storylines including Spot’s desire to be human. Originally, it was planned to be left open for future installments, but given the reception of the series that idea was changed. That proved to be a smart idea as the film performed about as well as the show, earning only $6.5 million against its $10 million budget. It was the last film to be based off of a One Saturday Morning program, and the last Disney film based on one of their shows to date.


Determined to stop living a dog's life.

            Teacher’s Pet was broadcast around the world in various languages, primarily on offshoots of the Disney Channel. To date, only the film has seen release on home media on both VHS and DVD by Disney Home Entertainment. It was also made available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. In 2019, the film became one of the launch titles of the streaming service Disney+, with the rest of the series following soon after.

 

 

EPISODE GUIDE:

Season 1:

“Metamorphosis” (9/9/00) – As Leonard beings 4th grade with the humiliating fact that his mother is his teacher, his dog Spot decides to disguise himself up as a boy and go to school as well.
 
“Pet Project” (9/16/00) – When the kids are assigned to write about their pets, Spot tries to pass Mr. Jolly off as his pet cat while Leonard writes about Pretty Boy.
 
“Movin’ on Pup / Escaping Dog Trick” (9/23/00) – Spot gets promoted to the 5th grade but discovers it’s a bigger challenge than he thought. / Mary thinks Spot ran away when he goes for ice cream with Leonard and sets up an electronic fence to keep him in.
 
“A Lick is Still a Kiss” (9/30/00) – When Leonard repeats Spot’s description of how Leslie’s lip gloss tastes, rumors begin to spread that he had kissed her.
 
“Being Mrs. Leadready” (10/7/00) – Spot has to pretend to be his mother for parent-teacher night and ends up being invited over to dinner by Mary.
 
“Let Sleeping-Over Dogs Lie / Costume Pity Party” (10/28/00) – Leonard is nervous about his first slumber party, especially since it’s at Ian’s house. / Leonard no longer wears Halloween costumes after being bullied, and Spot ends up losing his on the way to school only to be mistaken as wearing a dog costume.
 
“Scott’s Honor” (11/4/00) – Leonard doesn’t think Spot can cut it as a Junior Boy Ranger since he’s colorblind.
 
“Fifi” (11/11/00) – A class trip to the circus leads Spot to fall in love with a poodle there and consider leaving Leonard for her.
 
“Bad to the Bone / Always Knock the Postman Twice” (11/18/00) – When Spot thinks he’s put on a “naughty list” for sticking his head out of the bus window, he decides to lean into his bad boy image. / Leonard tries to cure Spot of his mailman prejudice before it gets Scott in trouble.
 
“You Can’t Bite City Hall” (12/2/00) – Spot is okay with the city turning the dog park into a skate park until his dog friends give him their side of the story.
 
“A Dog for All Seasons” (12/16/00) – While Mary struggles to write a play incorporating all of her class’ holiday traditions, Spot tries to find out if dogs have any.
 
“Tallulahpalooza” (1/6/01) – Strickler asks Mary to watch his cat Tallulah for him, putting a damper on Spot’s charade and causing Mr. Jolly to fall in love with her.
 
“Saving Mr. Jolly / Rule of Paw” (1/13/01) – Pretty Boy and Mr. Jolly think each other are missing and go to Leonard at school for help. / Spot takes his new position as playground monitor far too seriously.

 

Season 2:

“Never Take Candy from a Kindergartner” (9/22/01) – Leonard feels guilty using a kindergartner’s crush on him to get free candy.
 
“A Few Good Boys” (9/29/01) – Spot and Leonard absolutely hate their Junior Boy Ranger community service assignments.
 
“Bad Fur Day” (10/6/01) – Spot makes fun of Leonard’s bad haircut until a grooming mishap threatens to blow his cover.
 
“The Tale of the Telltale Taffy” (10/27/01) – Spot convinces Leonard to break his promise and cross the street for Halloween candy since their side is only giving out vegetables.
 
“Don’t Count Your Chickies Before They Hatch” (11/3/01) – Spot has to choose between his desire to go to the air show or watch over chicken eggs for his assignment.
 
“Strickler’s Pet / Fresh n’ Frozey Chocolaccino” (1/11/02) – Strickler enlists Spot to help ensure the kids fall short of their reading goals so he won’t lose a bet to them. / Spot and Leonard decide to sell a special drink to raise money for a scooter but soon run out of ingredients to make it.
 
“The Grass Seed is Always Greener…” (1/18/02) – Pretty Boy’s migrating instincts take over and he leaves to go South for the winter, causing the others to search for him.
 
“No Substitutions, Please” (1/19/02) – Everyone loves their substitute teacher except for Spot, while Mr. Jolly tries to take care of Mary’s cold in Spot’s place.
 
“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Green” (1/25/02) – Spot gets jealous when Leonard uses their game of fetch to come up with a new game for the other kids.
 
“Party Animal / Mr. Jolly: Man…or Mouser?” (1/26/02) – Leonard doesn’t seem interested in the surprise birthday party Spot set up for him. / Leonard bets that Mr. Jolly can catch a mouse within five minutes.
 
“What’s Sweat Got to Do With It?” (2/1/02) – Leonard finds he keeps getting sweaty palms when he’s near Leslie and Pretty Boy tries to help Mr. Jolly kick his dairy habit.
 
“Dogfight” (2/8/02) – The kids encourage Spot and Leonard to fight over a basketball loss while Mr. Jolly tries to prove to Pretty Boy that he can be ferocious.
 
“Taint Valentine’s Day” (2/9/02) – Spot tries to help Leonard by sending him a bunch of Valentines, but it ends up causing him problems with the girls see they’re all by the same person.
 
“Science Not Fair” (2/15/02) – Mary mistakenly credits Spot’s science project to Leonard.
 
“To Bee or Not to Bee” (2/22/02) – Leonard becomes intimidated by his opponent’s preparations for the upcoming spelling bee.
 
“One Dog’s Junk” (3/1/02) – Spot becomes distraught when Leonard sells his favorite toy to Ian and Pretty Boy and Mr. Jolly unknowingly get into a bidding war with each other to get him a new one.
 
“Team Scott / Take Me Out of the Ball Game” (3/8/02) – Spot single-handedly wins all the confab events for his troop, but they all end up getting lost on the way to the last one. / When Spot is deemed ineligible to play on the baseball team, he tries to turn Leonard into a great player.
 
“Inspector Leadready II” (3/15/02) – Spot becomes a detective to clear Leonard of accusations that he broke Leslie’s map of Brazil.
 
“The Turkey That Came to Dinner” (3/22/02) – Grandma Rose’s pet turkey forces the other pets to spend Thanksgiving outside while Leonard gets addicted to an old game she brought along.
 
“Double Dog Dare” (3/29/02) – To avoid admitting his feelings for Leslie in a game of Truth or Dare, Leonard accepts a super hard dare.
 
“Attack of the Fifty Inch Girl” (4/5/02) – Scott and Leonard find themselves the target of a relentless bully who has them both contemplating quitting school.
 
“The Flipper” (4/12/02) – Spot helps Leonard get so good at a card game that he becomes a bad sport after winning everyone else’s cards.
 
“The Blight Before Christmas” (4/19/02) – Tired of getting dog toys for Christmas, Spot sets out to find a lost dog so he can collect the reward and buy himself human things.
 
“All About Eavesdropping” (4/26/02) – The boys want to know what girls want so Leonard and Spot plot to put on a magic show at Leslie’s birthday party so that they can eavesdrop on them.
 
“The Nose Knows / Don’t Bite the Hound That Feeds You” (5/3/02) – Spot has to convince Strickler that they’re serving dog food in the cafeteria without blowing his cover. / Spot gets some French fleas and comes to understand life from their point of view.
 
“A Breed Apart” (5/10/02) – Spot drags Leonard to a dog show to find out what breed he is while Mr. Jolly gets an unwelcomed visit from his father.

 

Film:

“The Movie” (1/16/04) – Spot decides he wants to become human for real and discovers a mad scientist that can make it happen.

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