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.
The Oz Kids is
a sequel series to the Wizard
of Ozfranchise created by L. Frank Baum. While
taking cues from Baum’s works and the 1939 MGM film, it was an
entirely original concept with all-new characters.
Dot and Neddie.
The series was set
sometime in the future after the chronicled events of the Oz stories. Dorothy Gale (Erika Schickel) had married Zebediah Hugson (Ross Mapletoft)--a main
character from the 4th Oz book, Dorothy and
the Wizard in Oz--and they had two children: fearless tomboy Dot
(Julianne Michelle), who essentially wore a version of Dorothy’s well-known
blue dress, and her inquisitive younger brother Neddie (Eric Lloyd). They also
had a dog named Toto (an uncredited Frank Welker, reprising the role from the 1990
animated series), named after Dorothy’s
dog—his father. Dot and Neddie spent their time in the Land of Oz along with the
children of Dorothy’s friends, who were essentially miniaturized versions of
their parents (often with juxtaposed personalities).
Jack, Neddie, Dot, Tin Boy, Scarecrow and Boris.
Amongst them was Scarecrow, Jr. (Jonathan Taylor
Thomas), son of the Scarecrow
(Andy Milder), who possessed a high intellect but could be very childish when
he didn’t get his way; Tin “Nickle” Boy (Benjamin Salisbury), son of Tin Woodman (Steve Stoliar), who
was very mechanically inclined and often managed to get into trouble through
his trusting nature; the twins of the Cowardly Lion (the only
original character never seen on the show), the gentle and easily-frightened Boris
(Bradley Pierce) and the aggressive, sometimes bullyish Bela (Shayna Fox); Jack
Pumpkinhead, Jr. (Aaron Michael Metchik), son of Jack Pumpkinhead (Mapletoft),
who had a neurotic obsession with cleanliness; Frank Jr. (Alex Zuckerman), son
of the Wizard
(Stoliar), the oldest of the group who inherited his father’s blustery nature
along with an inclination for science; and Andrea (Shay Astar), daughter of Glinda (Schickel),
who was socially inept and a bit egotistical. On one of their adventures they
met Rick (Lawrence Terney), a homeless man from New York City who helped them
when they were there and was invited to come live in Oz where he’d have a home
and friends. Character designs by Stephen
Anderson, Ken Boyer, Christi Lyon and Tom Owens took strong influence
from the 1939 film.
Otto taking a break from being a jerk with Toto II.
antagonist of the show was Otto (Chauncey Leopardi), the son of the Nome King (Marc Allen Lewis) who had once
tried to take over Oz but ended up outsmarted by Dorothy and banished to an
underground lair. Because of that, and because of feeling lonely for being left
out, Otto often tried to cause as much trouble for the Oz kids as
possible—often with disastrous results for him. Occasionally, he managed to
convince Andrea to help in his schemes. Andrea, while not exactly bad, had a
mischievous streak in her and often used her magic to play pranks on the others
when she felt like she was being ignored or excluded by them. Mombi (Darlene Cornley), an evil
witch that first appeared in The Marvelous Land of Oz, returned once
from her banishment to try and conquer Oz again utilizing Dot’s magic belt; the one that once
belonged to the Nome King and was used by Dorothy to defeat him (this
confrontation was also the only time Dot actually used the belt).
Promo image of the kids with all you ever see of their parents.
The Oz Kids debuted
on ABC on September 14, 1996. It was the
second animated series based on Oz to air on the network after the
aforementioned 1990 series. Similarly to Muppet
Babies’ sole adult character, none of the original Oz characters
were ever fully seen on screen. The kids’ parents’ bodies were only shown from
the neck down, and the Nome King was only seen in shadow on the wall. The
entire series was written by Willard
Carroll, a fan of the franchise who was known to have the largest privately
held collection of Oz memorabilia. In fact, the series was produced by Hyperion
Animation, a subsidiary of Hyperion
Pictures co-founded by Carroll. Michael Muhlfriedel composed
the music. Animation duties were handled by Wang Film
Oz Kids VHS with Andrea front and center.
The Oz Kids only
ran for nine weeks before it left the network. The series was released onto
collections by Paramount
Home Video between October 1st and February 18th. The
VHS releases had a different opening to the show: showing the kids running
around and playing as the titles and credits flashed over them. The show’s
original opening featured Dot talking to the audience to introduce them to her
and her world.
“Toto, Lost in New York” (9/14/96) – Andrea accidentally sends Toto
off in Frank’s hot air balloon to New York.
“The Nome Prince and the Magic Belt” (9/21/96) – Otto finds one of the
Nome King’s tunnels under Oz and manages to get his hands on Dot’s magic belt.
“Underground Adventure” (9/28/96) – An earthquake swallows up the
kids’ bus and sends them on an underground adventure.
“Who Stole Santa?” (10/5/96) – The kids try to help elf Wisk find a
missing Santa before Christmas.
“Christmas in Oz” (10/12/96) – While the kids try to get Rick to come
to the Christmas party, Otto tricks Andrea into thinking she wasn’t invited.
“The Monkey Prince” (10/19/96) – One of Dot’s fairy tales inspires
Neddie to program the computer to take him and Toto to China where the Monkey
Prince steals it from them.
“Journey Beneath the Sea” (10/26/96) – Jack takes the kids on a boat
ride where they end up taken to a magical world by two mermaids.
“Virtual Oz” (11/2/96) – Lonely Otto traps the kids in a virtual game
in order to play with them, but patchwork baby causes an overload and traps
them in the program.
“The Return of Mombi” (11/9/96) – The kids have to rescue their
parents from Mombi, the evil witch.
He was a writer that worked on a number of Saturday morning shows, including The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Smurfs, Snorks, Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, The
Real Ghostbusters, Pound Puppies (1986), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987),
The Adventures of Raggedy Ann & Andy, DuckTales, New Kids on the Block, The
Wizard of Oz (1990), Tiny Toon Adventures, Yo Yogi!, Darkwing Duck (for
which he was also a story editor), Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Pinky,
Elmyra & the Brain and Loonaticks Unleashed.
1960s, the Berenstains wanted to make books for young children. They decided to
make their main characters a family of bears as the animal held wide appeal and
were easy to draw, plus it was fun to dress them in silly clothing. Initially
they came up with three characters: a wise Mama Bear who wore a blue dress with
polka dots; an overenthusiastic Papa Bear in bib overalls who was a bumbling
carpenter; and a bright, lively cub named Small Bear (later becoming Brother
Bear when he gained siblings Sister and Honey).
The original book.
The manuscript, titled Freddy Bear’s Spanking, found its way into the hands of Random House editor
Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Geisel challenged the Berenstains to look deeper at their characters,
their relationships and their motivations while also improving the writing and
structure. After two years, Geisel was satisfied enough to send the book to
print in 1962 as The Big Honey Hunt. With
no plans for a sequel, Geisel advised the Berenstains to look into a different
animal for their next book as bears were plentiful in fiction. However, that
notion soon came to an end when Geisel called and told them “We’re selling the
hell out of that bear book.” A sequel came in 1964, titled The Bike Lesson. Without consulting them
and for “marketing reasons”, Geisel had renamed the authors as Stan and Jan and
added The Berenstain Bears title to all subsequent books.
Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister Bear.
As described by the Berenstains, their books usually followed a basic
formula: Small Bear would present a problem to Papa Bear who would proceed to
make it worse at his own expense, until Mama came in and straightened
everything out. The books usually dealt with real life issues drawn from their
own life experiences such as bullying, lying, being scared of the dark,
sportsmanship, safety, physical health and more. Sister Bear was introduced in
1974’s The Berenstain Bears’ New Babyin
response to requests from female readers, and Honey’s arrival was announced in
2000’s The Birds, the Bees and the Berenstain Bearsalong
with a contest to name her.
The latest 2019 release of the series.
Despite frequent criticisms that the books are overly syrupy and sappy
lectures disguised as stories and for perpetuating outdated gender roles, The Berenstain Bears have sold over 260 million copies and
received multiple awards. Their sons, Leo and Mike, began working
on the “Big Chapter Book” series under their parents’ names. Following Stan’s
death in 2005, Mike collaborated with Jan on new installments while Leo took
over the business side of the franchise. Jan would pass away in 2012, leaving
Mike to continue to create new books in the series.
The Bears settling down for Christmas...fish?....in the first animated special.
Berenstain Bears Show debuted on CBS on September 14, 1985. Like the books, the
series focused on the daily lives of Papa (Brian Cummings), Mama (Ruth Buzzi),
Brother (David Mendenhall) and Sister (Christina Lange) in their woodland home
of Bear Country. Brother and Sister often deal with the trials and tribulations
of growing up and turned to their Papa for help, who then promptly managed to
screw things up spectacularly leaving Mama to clean up the mess. Occasionally,
the Bear family had to deal with the machinations of local con artist Raffish
Ralph (Frank Welker, using a W.C. Fields
impression) and the schemes of Weasel McGreed (an original creation for the
show, also Welker) who wanted to take over Bear Country any way possible. Other
characters included the cubs’ cousin Freddy (Welker) and his dog, Snuff (also
Welker); Too-Tall Grizzly (Cummings), the tallest cub in school and frequent
bully; Professor Actual Factual (Welker), the community intellectual and owner
of the Bearsonian Institution museum; Mayor Horace J. Honeypot (Cummings), who
often mixed up letters in words as he spoke; Bigpaw (Cummings), a giant
throwback to prehistoric cave bears; Queen Nectar (Buzzi), a bee in charge of
making “Wild Wild Honey” that Papa was always after; and Papa’s parents Gramps
(Welker, Cummings in 1 episode), who liked to build ships in bottles and
complain about government, and Gran (Buzzi), who enjoyed telling people their
fortunes, amongst others.
Berenstain Bears Show remained on
the network until the 1987 fall schedule. It was rerun on TLC as part of their Ready Set Learnprogramming block in 1998 until a contract
dispute forced them to take it off. The show ended up being acquired by DiC Entertainment
and was run in the early 2000s as part of the DiC Kids Network programming block with some editing and
time compression. Random House Home Video began releasing collections onto VHS in 1985 collecting three segments apiece. The opening title was
altered, removing the introductions showing highlights from the episode,
flipping a shot and changing the on-screen title. The episode title cards,
which featured a portrait of the Bears on a green background, were replaced
with a shot from the opening title. The end credits were also changed to scroll
up the screen and the music sped up. In 1995, Sony Wonder took
over distribution of the VHS collections after signing a deal with Random House, doing so until
Between 2003 and 2004, a second The Berenstain Bears cartoon
was produced by Nelvana and aired
on PBS for 40 episodes also comprised of two
segments each. Because of laws necessitating that Nelvana, a Canadian company,
only employ Canadian talent, Stan and Jan’s involvement in the series was
minimal. As new books had been published since the CBS series, the 2003 series
was approached as a supplement to that rather than as a pure reboot. However,
both shows were never aired together, certain characters never appeared, and
some elements like character personalities were changed.
“The Messy Room / The Terrible Termite” (9/14/85) – Mama wants
the cubs to clean their room or she’ll throw out all their stuff. / The cubs
discover Raffish Ralph is using Terrible Termite to further his insurance
“Go Fly a Kite / The Trojan Pumpkin” (9/21/85) – Papa
inadvertently enters the hang-gliding contest. / Papa plants a pumpkin seed that
turns into a mutant pumpkin.
“The Spooky Old Mansion / The Fly Away Pizza” (9/28/85) –
Mama encourages her family to face their fears about the spooky mansion down
the road. / Papa’s pizza flies away during the pizza-twirling competition.
“The Giant Bat Cave / The Wild Wild Honey” (10/5/85) – The cubs
help the bats protect their cave from Raffish Ralph. / Papa steals some of
Queen Nectar’s honey.
“The Neighborly Skunk / The Missing Pumpkin” (10/12/85) – The
Bears worry when a skunk moves in next door. / The cubs search for Farmer Ben’s
“Too Much Birthday / To the Rescue” (10/19/85) – While her
family plans a big birthday party, Sister is distressed about getting older. /
Papa tries to help the cubs earn their merit badges but ends up needing rescuing.
“The Soccer Star / Shoot the Rapids” (10/26/85) – Brother tries
out for the soccer team. / The Bear Scouts head out for their whitewater
rafting merit badges.
“Knight to Remember / The Super Duper Bowl” (11/2/85) – The
cubs and Professor Actual Factual find a cursed suit of armor that seems to
come alive at night. / Raffish Ralph comes up with a football scheme.
“The Not So Buried Treasure / The Condemned Backscratcher”
(11/9/85) – The Bears discover a treasure map and go on a hunt. / A new highway
threatens an important landmark.
“Kong for a Day / Blaze a trail” (11/16/85) – Bigpaw ends up
captured and put on display. / Papa interferes with the cubs’ latest scouting
“No Girls Allowed / The Missing Dinosaur Bone” (11/23/85) –
When Sister finally gets the best of Brother, he and his friends exclude her
from their clubhouse. / The Bears decide to investigate the disappearance of a
dinosaur bone from the museum.
“The Spookiest Pumpkin / The Dancing Bees” (11/30/85) – Papa
is determined to win the pumpkin carving contest, making his design in utter secrecy.
/ Papa buys a book from Raffish Ralph to help him get some of Queen Nectar’s
“Learn About Strangers / The Disappearing Honey” (12/7/85) –
The Bear parents teach Sister about dealing with strangers. / The cubs
investigate the disappearance of Papa’s honey supply.
“In the Dark / Ring the Bell” (9/13/86) – Sister becomes
scared of the dark after Brother reads her a scary book. / Papa ends up
accepting a challenge against Two-Ton at the fair while Queen Nectar wants
revenge against him for honey theft.
“Forget Their Manners / The Wickedest Weasel Spell” (9/20/86)
– Brother and Sister pick up bad habits after Too Tall pushes them around at
their cousin’s party. / Weasel McGreed plans to hypnotize Bigpaw to turn him
against Bear Country.
“The Truth / Save the Bees” (9/27/86) – A fight leads to the
cubs accidentally breaking Mama’s favorite lamp. / Weasel McGreed targets the
bees in order to cut off Bear Country’s honey supply.
“Get in a Fight / The Bigpaw Problem” (10/4/86) – Bad moods
spread throughout the family, leading to fights. / Bigpaw causes tremors in
town that end up saving it from an earthquake Weasel McGreed starts.
“Get Stage Fright / Go Bonkers over Honkers” (10/11/86) – Sister
gets the lead in the school play and develops stage fright. / Raffish Ralph trades
some geese to Bigpaw for a gold rock.
“The Great Honey Pipeline / The Great Grizzly Comet”
(10/18/86) – Papa promises not to go after wild honey anymore, but the cubs
soon discover he broke his promise. / Aliens arrive to warn that the coming
comet will collide with Bear Country.
“The Sure-Fire Bait / The Cat’s Meow” (10/25/86) – Papa is
determined to catch an elusive fish. / While catsitting the Bears decide to
figure out why Puff has such a unique meow.
“The Trouble with Friends / The Coughing Catfish” (11/1/86) –
Sister wants some friends her own age, but the one she ends up getting is far
too bossy. / The cubs try to figure out how to motivate the community to clean
up the pollution from the lake.
“The Substitute Teacher / The Mansion Mystery” (11/8/86) –
The cubs decide to pull pranks on their substitute teacher. / The cubs and Papa
investigate a series of thefts at Squire and Lady Grizzly’s mansion.
“Bust a Ghost / The Ice Monster” (11/15/86) – Papa decides
to dress up like a ghost to scare the Bear Scouts. / Raffish Ralph stumbles
across an ice monster.
“The Crystal Ball Caper / The Raid on Fort Grizzly”
(11/22/86) – Weasel McGreed plans to steal Gran’s crystal ball. / Raffish Ralph
and Weasel Mcgreed plan to rob the fort’s treasury.
“The Forbidden Cave / The Hot Air Election” (11/29/86) – The
Bear Scouts end up trapped in a cave. / Raffish Ralph convinces Papa to run for
public office, leading to a heated race.
“Life with Papa / Save the Farm” (12/6/86) – While Mama is
visiting her cousin, Papa is in charge and ends up making a mess of the house.
/ Farmer Ben has to fend off Weasel McGreed’s attempts to buy his farm.
The series centered on the titular character--who
was named after his wife—that was one of twelve girls (all unnamed until the
animated adaptations) attending a Catholic boarding school in Paris. All of the
girls looked similar except for Madeline, who was not only the smallest of them
but the only one to have red hair. She was adventurous and inquisitive, which
often meant she found herself in mischief. Their teacher was Miss Clavel, who
was strict but loving and genuinely cared for her charges and their ideas. Lord
Cucuface was chairman of the school’s board of trustees, and although he often
tried to lay down the law, he was really a big softie.
Miss Clavel and her charges.
Bemelmans wrote the books in verse,
often starting with “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived
twelve little girls in two straight lines…” and ending with Ethel Barrymore’s famous
closing line to rebuff curtain calls “that’s all there is, there isn’t any
more”. Bemelmans illustrated them from an overhead point of view which was
deceptively simplistic for younger readers but artistically complex for adults.
Perhaps too complex, as Massee ended up deeming the book too
sophisticated for Viking to publish.
So, the first book, titled simply Madeline,
was published by Simon &
Schuster instead. In it, Madeline was rushed to the hospital for an
appendicitis. The book sold well and was named a Caldecott
Honor Book for 1940. In 1952, United Productions
of America adapted the book into a 6-minute animated theatrical short that
was nominated for an Academy Award.
Realizing their error, Viking published the sequel books beginning with 1953’s Madeline’s
Rescue. Each subsequent book introduced the girls’ pet dog, Genevieve,
their neighbor, the Spanish Ambassador, and his son, Pepito, as well as Pepito’s
naughty cousins. Five books in total were published in Bemelmans’ lifetime,
with one sitting in the pages of the August 1961 issue of Holiday Magazineuntil it was
finally released as a book in 1985. All but that story would go on to become
audio books recorded by Carol
Channing, and the first three sequels would become educational films by Rembrandt Films. Bemelmans would pass
away in 1964, but his creation would continue to live on. Beginning in 1999,
his grandson, John
Bemelmans-Marciano, produced and released 6 new books through Scholastic’s
former Arthur A. Levine imprint.
Madeline made its debut on
September 14, 1993 on The Family Channel. Its original theme was “I’m
Madeline”, originally composed by Joe
Raposo for the specials with lyrics by Rofé and re-recorded by the series’
new voice cast. Assuming the role of Madeline was Tracey Lee Smythe, with
Stephanie Louise Vallance (also doubling as a voice director) as Genevieve and
Miss Clavel, A.J. Bond as Pepito and French Tickner as Lord Cucuface. Each
actor used a French accent to emphasize the setting of the series, as well as a
sprinkling of authentic French words in their dialogue. Following the death of
Raposo and the departure of his replacement on the specials, Jeffrey Zahn, Andy Street took
over composing duties for the show with Rofé still providing lyrics. Each
episode contained one song number, and Plummer’s narration began and ended the
same was as the original books. Animation duties for the season were handled by Plus One Animation Co., Ltd.
Madeline ran for 20
episodes, proving a ratings success for The Family Channel. It was decided to
try and expand the audience by bringing it to network television. In 1995 the
show came to ABC under the title The New Adventures
of Madeline. Andrea Libman took over the role of Madeline while Smythe
became the new voice for classmate Danielle. David Morse also took over as
Pepito. While “I’m Madeline” was retained for several episodes, the series had
a new theme in “Hats Off to Madeline” by Street and Rothman and a new animation
company in Sae Rom Animation, Inc.
Debuting on September 9, 1995, the new season proved a ratings disaster; the
lowest of any of ABC’s offerings that season. After its 13 episodes had aired,
ABC pulled it off its schedule and replaced it with reruns of The
New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Lord Cucuface preparing for one of his trips with the girls.
That could have been the end of Madeline
if The Disney
Channel had not acquired rerun broadcast rights in 1997. Once again proving
a ratings success on cable television, Disney Channel commissioned the creation
of a third season of all-new episodes. At this time, DiC was a subsidiary of
Disney and the year before had released the first entry into their
direct-to-video division, Madeline: Lost in Paris.
Although Plummer remained for the film, Christopher Gaze took over as the
narrator for the season and several of the girls’ actors were shuffled or
replaced. Pepito also received a new voice actor in Michael Hayward (following
Alex Hood in the film). A new recording of “Hats off to Madeline” was used as
the theme (however, the 2001 home video releases used a different song called “Our Madeline”). Pre-production animation work was handled by Slightly
Off Beat Productions while Hong Ying
Universe handled the post-production.
Miss Clavel leading the girls out of the Old House.
Still going under The New
Adventures title, the third season debuted on September 9, 2000 and ran for
a total of 26 final episodes. The series was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for
Outstanding Children’s Animated Program in 2001 and won in 2002. DiC would go
on to produce two more films in the franchise. My Fair Madelineaired
in 2002 as part of DiC
Movie Toonson Nickelodeon, which
only saw Ticker and Gaze returning and Chantal Strand, who played Danielle in
the third season, taking over as Madeline. Vallance was also present as
Genevieve, but Whoopi Goldberg replaced her as Miss Clavel. The final film, Madeline in Tahiti, was
made in 2005 and released in 2007.
to the Center of the Earth (Voyage au centre de la Terre in the
original French title) is an 1864 science-fiction novel written by Jules Verne. It was
greatly influenced by geologists abandoning the biblical account of Earth’s
development and new published findings on the origins of mankind. The novel
focused on German scientist Professor Otto Lindenbrock who purchased an
original runic manuscript of an Icelandic saga and discovered a coded message
on it from 16th-century alchemist Arne Saknussemm. After deciphering
the message that revealed a way to the center of the Earth, Lindenbrock, his
nephew Axel, and their guide Hans Bjelke, entered a series of tunnels that led
them to an entire subterranean world populated with long-thought extinct
The book cover circa 1874.
initial publication, Journey has been translated into various languages
and published around the world. It had influenced other authors to explore
similar themes, as well as led to adaptations of the novel into various media.
One of those adaptations was the 1959 film released by 20th Century Fox. Written by Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch and directed by
Brackett, the film took some liberties with Verne’s original story. Lindenbrock
became Sir Oliver Lindenbrook (James
Mason, replacing Clifton
Webb), a Scottish scientist as 19th-century Scots were regarded
as the best field geologists. Similarly, Axel became Alec McEwan (Pat Boone) and was more adventurous than his
cowardly portrayal in the text. Feeling the story needed an antagonist,
Brackett created Count Saknussemm (Thayer David, replacing Alexander Scourby); the evil
brother of Arne who wanted to conquer and rule the inner world. Other new
characters included female explorer Carla Goteborg (Arlene Dahl) and Hans Bejelke’s
(Peter Ronson) pet duck
Gertrude serving as comic relief.
reason Fox greenlit the film was because two other Verne-based films—20,000 Leagues Under the Seaand Around the
World in 80 Days—became box office successes. Journey proved no
different when itopened
in theaters on December 16, 1959. It took in more than double its production
budget and was nominated for several awards.
Oliver, Gertrude, Lars, Cindy and Alec in their animated forms.
decade later, Filmation
and Fox came together about turning the film into an animated series. It would be
their second following The
New Adventures of Superman. Filmation made a few alterations of
their own to the material. While still featuring Oliver (Ted Knight), Alec and
Gertrude (both Pat Harrington Jr.), Carla would be replaced by Oliver’s niece,
Cindy (named Jenny in the film, voiced by Jane Webb), and Hans would be renamed
Lars (Harrington). The evil Count Saccunson (Knight) would not only get the
spelling of his last name changed, but his henchman would finally gain the name