Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
Self-proclaimed history nerd Jay Stephens
was inspired by a visit to the traveling King
exhibit in Canada to develop one of his future comic creations: Tutenstein, a
portmanteau of Tutankhamun and Frankenstein.
The concept was initially designed with Nickelodeon Magazine in mind, but it
was shot down by the comics editor. Tutenstein finally made his debut in 1997’s
Land of Nod #3
by Black Eye Productions
and was subsequently featured in several of Stephens’ following publications.
Tut caught the attention of Fred Schaefer of Porchlight Entertainment
who approached Stephens about adapting the character into animation. Stephens
would work on designs and script ideas to shop around to various networks, but found
little success. Discovery
Communications was looking for content for their Discovery
channel, and considering they often aired specials dealing with ancient Egypt,
the concept seemed a perfect fit.
Luxor, Cleo and Tut, falling to pieces.
followed the adventures of the 10-year old Tut Ankh En Set Amun (Jeannie
Elias, Maryke Hendrikse & Donna Cherry) who had become the pharaoh of
ancient Egypt and wielder of the Scepter of Was. When his sarcophagus ended up
in the museum where archeology enthusiast Cleo Carter (named after Cleopatra,
voiced by Crystal Scales & Leah Lynette) often hung out, he was revived
when lightning struck the staff. It also gave Cleo’s cat, Luxor (David Lodge),
the ability to speak and a desire to serve Tut. Tut, being 10 and a former
ruler, acted about as bratty as could be expected; using magical scrolls to
cast spells for his own self-gain that often backfired. Tut was also put at
odds with various ancient gods who could be just as arrogant and petty as he; in
particular the god of chaos, Set
(Lodge), who wanted to claim the Scepter of Was and free himself from his
underworld prison. Professor Horace Behedty (named for the god Horus,
voiced by Lex
as Vince del Castillo) was the museum’s curator and believed he was the
smartest in the room; always looking to get more publicity for himself (and
sometimes the museum). Walter Jacobs was the museum’s underpaid and dimwitted
security guard, often tasked by Behedty to perform jobs not really in his
function. Dr. Roxanne Vanderwheele was the professor’s colleague and a bit more
open-minded and up-to-date in her approach to archaeology.
Barlow's series-launching image.
Character designer Fil Barlow
was responsible for adapting most of the character
and set designs, and in fact it was his rendition that
helped sell the show to Discovery. Stephens was on hand as a creative
consultant, overseeing all aspects of the production. Egyptologist Kasia
Szpakowska provided reference material for Barlow to work off of
in order to get the designs to feel as authentic as possible. Barlow’s designs
also led to the running gag of Tut’s body parts either falling off or becoming
separated from his body somehow. After his 20-episode contract expired, Barlow
was replaced by his student, Thomas
Perkins, for the remainder of the series.
ran for three seasons, concluding with the film Clash of the Pharaohs. The series was nominated for three and won
two Emmy Awards
in 2004, 2006 and 2007. In 2004, Marvel
Comics published a promotional
comic in association with Discovery Kids that saw Tut and
friends meeting up with Spider-Man
and some of the X-Men
as they banded together to thwart Set’s latest scheme. In 2007, Discovery Kids
DVD collections containing four episodes apiece, along
with games and documentaries as special features.
Awakening” (11/1/03) – Cleo Carter brings Tut back to life and Luxor gains the
ability to speak.
Curse of the Pharaoh” (11/8/03) – El Zabkar summons Ammut, the devourer of the
hearts of the dead, to go after Tut.
of the Shadbitis” (11/15/03) – Tut’s being lazy and sending shabitis to help
Cleo do chores causes things to go out of control.
Did It My Way” (11/22/03) – Disliking the modern world, Tut changes everything
into ancient Egypt.
Boat of Millions of Years” (12/6/03) – Tut asks Ra to delay the sunrise so he
can watch movies late, but Ra ends up in trouble and time stops.
Powerful One” (1/3/04) – Tut’s anger over not getting his own pyramid causes
Hathor, the goddess of love, to be summoned and transformed into Sekhmet, the
goddess of war.
Something About Natasha” (1/10/04) – Tut falls for Cleo’s friend Natasha and
has a love spell put on her, but the spell goes horribly wrong.
King of Memphis” (1/17/04) – While visiting Memphis, Tut is split into three
copies of himself that he must reunite by sunset.
(1/24/04) – Tut moves in with Cleo and constantly annoys her, on top of
cheating her out of her stuff.
(1/31/04) – The goddess Isis summons the ghost of one of Tut’s friends to
punish him after he cheats her in a game.
Dead Experience” (2/21/04) – Fearing Cleo might die of bronchitis, Tut wants
his doctor, Imhotep, to preserve her like he was.
Unsafety Zone” (2/28/04) – Tut breaks the alarm that disturbed his slumber,
allowing two thieves to escape.
Coronation Day, Tutenstein” (3/6/04) – Cleo throws Tut a party to honor the
good deeds he’s done, but a slave of Set crashes it and steals something from
Man Tut” (9/4/04) – Tut breaks his ankh so that he can become
older—unfortunately, the process doesn’t stop.
Catastrophe” (9/11/04) – Tut accidentally causes Cleo and Luxor to switch
Shadow Gobbler” (9/25/04) – When Tut separates himself from his shadow, he
allows a shadow demon from the underworld to come to Earth and devour shadows.
Jr.” (10/2/04) – Tut loses Cleo’s little cousin in the underworld.
Sphinx” (10/9/04) – Tut’s new servant makes Luxor feel left out.
Supreme Tut” (10/16/04) – Tut becomes a god.
Day of the Undead” (10/30/04) – Tut joins Cleo and her friends for Halloween
and summons a demon from the underworld to scare them.
(11/27/04) – Tut befriends a couple of delinquents and starts causing mischief.
Mummy” (12/4/04) – Tut sends the new mammoth exhibit to the underworld.
for a Day” (1/15/05) – Cleo takes Tut’s place when he’s kidnapped to the
(10/1/05) – Having fun on Cleo’s skateboard may cause Tut to miss the Sed
Festival in the underworld.
Late Than Never” (10/22/05) – When Behdety calls in someone to help save the
museum money, he ends up being a thief that frames Behdety for his crimes.
the Brain” (11/19/05) – Tut makes Walter smarter, and Thoth believes Walter is
the one who cast the spell.
Comeback Kid” (9/9/06) – Tut uses a spell that makes him human again, but also
brings a dinosaur back to life.
in Pieces” (9/12/06) – Tut separates his body parts to multitask, but they end
up getting dispersed.
You” (9/13/06) – Tut tries to use a love spell to foil Cleo’s rival, but it
in Sarcophagus” (9/14/06) – Tut gets a snake to help him sleep, but doesn’t
know a demon is actually possessing it.
Truth Hurts” (9/16/06) – Tut ends up cut-off after he insults some of the
Not Was” (9/23/06) – Tut ends up losing his scepter.
the Defender” (10/14/06) – Tut brings two Vikings back to life to fight.
and Sleepovers” (10/28/06) – Tut disguises himself as a girl so he can attend
(10/29/06) – Tut’s attempt to prove himself fearless causes him to leave a
portal to the underworld open, allowing a demon to escape.
(11/25/06) – A bracelet possesses Dr. Vanderwhelle and leads him to try and
prove Tut was no longer a pharoh.
Little Problem” (12/2/06) – Using a size-changing scroll results in Tut
the Past” (10/9/06) – Cleo goes back to ancient Egypt to find out what happened
to her father.
Your Wandering Eye to Yourself” (1/13/07) – Jealous of Cleo’s outside life, Tut
plans to spy on her.
of the Pharaohs” (10/11/08) – Nightmares about his death prompts Tut to take a
trip back in time and Cleo ends up being mistakenly crowned as a pharaoh. Originally published in 2017. Updated in 2021.
Fil did, indeed, an amazing job in defining the look and tone of the series, but I must say you’re a bit off in the assessment that I had “very little” to do with the series. Tutenstein was in ‘development hell’ for seven years, during which time I personally re-wrote and re-drew the pitch and series concept many times. Though the tv version differs significantly from the original concept, the new characters and setting were all created by me. The show certainly ends up being decidedly Fil’s (and Thomas Perkins) visually, that’s true. But I had lots of input, and was part of the team that chose him. You know, just for the record.
Hey, thanks for the information and sorry it's taken so long to acknowledge it (Blogger decided to STOP alerting me to comments). When I wrote the initial entry I was using a couple of sources I found later on to be only MOSTLY accurate and haven't been able to go back and fix everything yet. It's been corrected.
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