August 01, 2020


(CBS, March 30, 1985-January 28, 1989)

Southern Star Productions, Hanna-Barbera Australia, CBS Entertainment Productions

Bob Keeshan – Host
Malcolm Jamal-Warner – Host (reruns)

            Spinning out of a regular segment of the just-ended Captain Kangaroo, star Bob Keeshan returned to host an all-new anthology series that saw the adaptation of various children’s books—typically recently-published—into animated form. It was CBS’ first in-house cartoon series since their Terrytoons after acquiring the properties, and was produced by Southern Star Productions and Hanna-Barbera Australia.

Host Bob Keeshan "reading" that episode's book on set.

CBS Storybreak debuted on CBS on March 30, 1985. Each episode saw Keeshan starring in a wraparound segment where he would stand on a set designed to look like an animated park. At the start of the episode, he would introduce the viewers to the original book and its plot, and then at the end would mention additional reading recommended by the Library of Congress (unless a preview for the next episode was shown). While most of the featured books were one-offs, several of them were the first in a series; such as Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen, Jeffrey’s Ghost by David A. Adler, The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall and Ratha’s Creature by Clare Bell. The most notable adaptation was one of the Raggedy Ann and Andy books by Johnny Gruelle. Raggedy Ann had been adapted into animation before; particularly in two specials by Chuck Jones Enterprises that aired on CBS in 1978 and 1979. Their appearance here would lead to an animated series on the network, The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Ad for Storybreak highlighting some of the featured adaptations.

Adapting the books were Sharman Divono, Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Gordon Kent, Elana Lesser, Malcolm Marmorstein, Michael Maurer, Michael Reaves, Cliff Ruby, J. Michael Straczynski, and Linda Woolverton. Because the series was an anthology, there wasn’t a stable cast of characters or actors from episode to episode. Among the assortment of notable voice actors featured on the show was Hamilton Camp, Mona Marshall, Frank Welker, Michael Bell, Neil Ross, Peter Renaday, Marilyn Schreffler, June Foray, Pat Fraley, Christina Lange, Kenneth Mars, Lennie Weinrib, Linda Gary, Maurice LaMarche, Jack Angel, Brian Cummings and Joan Gerber, amongst others. The series’ music was composed by Simon Walker, John Stuart, Bruce Rowland, Chris Neal, Artie Butler, Arlon Ober, Edward Karam, Richard Kosinski and Sam Winans.

26 episodes were made in total across three seasons, with a nomination for a Daytime Emmy Award coming during its first season. After leaving the network in 1990, Storybreak returned for an additional round of reruns in 1993; however, Keeshan’s segments were replaced with all-new segments starring The Cosby Show’s Malcolm Jamal-Warner. This “new” batch of episodes ran from September 18, 1993 until August 19, 1995. Notably, they featured open captions by the Caption Center for the Hearing Impaired which not only aided those with hearing disabilities, but allowed others to read along with the adventures as an enhancement of the show’s pro-reading message. Reruns would return to the network one final time from January 3 through September 26 in 1998.

One of the VHS releases.

Through CBS’ distribution deal with 20th Century Fox, “Arnold of the Ducks”, “C.L.U.T.Z.”, “Chocolate Fever” and “How to Eat Fried Worms” were released to VHS as Video Storybreak through Fox’s Playhouse Video imprint in 1992. In 1998, Fox Home Entertainment released two additional episodes: “Robbut: A Tale of Tails” and “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story”.

Season 1:
The Great Ringtail Garbage Caper” (3/30/85) – A group of desperate racoons organize bold schemes when their food supply is threatened b a pair of efficient garbage collector.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China” (4/6/85) – Ye Xian’s wish to attend a festival is granted, but when she runs off after fearing being recognized she leaves a golden slipper behind.

Robbut: A Tale of Tails” (4/13/85) – Helping a magician out of a trap earns Robbut the rabbit his grandest wish: to have a different tail.

How to Eat Fried Worms” (4/20/85) – Billy is challenged to eat a worm a day for 15 days for $50, and he proceeds to do so while experimenting with different ways to make the worms tastier.

Zucchini” (4/27/85) – A ferret named Zucchini seeks freedom and escapes from the zoo, but ends up meeting and becoming the pet and friend of a young boy.

Hank the Cowdog” (5/4/85) – The adventures of Hank, a dog that views himself the “Head of Ranch Security”.

The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek” (5/11/85) – Young boy Walter wakes up one day in an alternate dimension populated by human-like dinosaurs.

Chocolate Fever” (5/18/85) – Henry loves and eats so much chocolate that he ends up contracting the rare disease, chocolate fever.

Dragon’s Blood” (5/25/85) – Jakkin steals a baby dragon to raise and train to fight so that he can earn enough money to buy himself out of bond.

Arnold of the Ducks” (6/1/85) – A young boy is mistaken for a fish by a nearsighted pelican and dropped into a family of ducks.

Season 2:
C.L.U.T.Z.” (9/14/85) – Rodney befriends the broken-down robot that comes to work for his family.

Witch-Cat” (9/21/85) – A cat has to teach a young girl that she is a witch and how to use her magical powers.

The Pig Plantagenet” (9/28/85) – Plantagenet can’t decide if he likes the free-roaming lifestyle of his cousin more than his barnyard existence when the forest come under threat of destruction.

Harry, the Fat Bear Spy” (10/12/85) – Bearmania spy Harry is sent to discover why all the macaroons coming out of the factory are a disgusting shade of green.

Hugh Pine” (10/26/85) – Genius porcupine Hugh decides to emulate being a human being to avoid being flattened on the highway.

The Roquefort Gang” (11/9/85) – Three mice help another rescue a group of mice from prison.

Season 3:
Mama Don’t Allow” (9/19/87) – Miles and his Swamp Band find a willing audience in a group of alligators, not realizing they’re intended to become dinner once the show is over.

The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek” (9/26/87) – Joan and Joey set out to find dinosaur fossils, and instead find and befriend an actual dinosaur.

What Happened in Hamelin” (10/3/87) – When a town refuses to pay a piper, he plans to get his payback through the town’s children.

The Monster’s Ring” (10/10/87) – Russell buys a magic ring from a strange magic shop that ends up being genuine and transforms him into a monster.

Max and Me and the Time Machine” (10/17/87) – Max doubts Steve’s time machine actually works until they both end up in medieval England in the bodies of a knight and his horse.

The Gammage Cup” (10/24/87) – Despite not living in harmony, a race of tiny people have to come together to protect their valley against a horde of evil creatures.

Jeffrey’s Ghost” (9/17/88) – A baseball team comprised of kids nobody wants to play with ends up becoming a team of winners through the machinations of a friendly ghost.

Grinny” (9/24/88) – Tim and Beth notice a lot of strange things about their Great Aunt Emma when she appears for a visit out of nowhere.

Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees” (10/1/88) – Raggedy Ann and Andy team-up with a strange camel doll to rescue Babette from a group of pirates.

Ratha’s Creature” (1/28/89) – A prehistoric wild cat named Ratha bucks her herd’s trend of only males being herders and is banished to live amongst their enemies, the UnNamed.


Chenie said...

I see you have all the 26 CBS Storybreak Episodes posted on the list, I've been looking for some episodes for quite a longtime, and can't find a few of them. I was told by several people that a few of these stories were not made into movies.

Do you have any info?

Chris Buchner said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean.

Chenie said...


Could you please send me the links of the 2 CBS Storybreak Episodes: The Great Ringtail Garbage Caper, and The Pig Plantagenet if they are in good quality.

Please, let me know.

Chris Buchner said...

I don't have links to any episodes. Your best bet is Google if they exist.

Chenie said...

Thanks, I'll do what I can.