Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 26: Alvin and the Chipmunks

{inside the CH classroom}

Welcome to another edition of Cartoon Historian,I'm Stefan,your Host and lecturer along with my assistant Mina.

Mina: On this edition we will be covering the World famous Alvin and the Chipmunks.

[cartoon historian theme plays]

Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group...

Mina:*interupting*..And was the first cartoon music group Ever!

Can I continue?

Mina: Sure.

Anyway,the group was created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks: Alvin,the mischievous troublemaker,who quickly became the leader of the group;Simon,the tall,bespectacled intellectual;and Theodore,the chubby,shy one.

The trio is managed by their human "father" David Seville. In reality,David Seville was Bagdasarian's stage name and the Chipmunks themselves are named after the executives of their original record label.

The characters were an unexpected success and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions and eventually films.

The voices of the group were all performed by Bagdasarian,who sped up the playback to create higher pitched voices. This process was also not entirely new to Bagdasarian,who had also used it for two previous novelty songs,including "The Witch Doctor".It was very unusual,but at the same time well executed. Bagdasarian and his Chipmunks earned two Grammy Awards for engineering.

Although the characters were fictional, they did release a long line of actual albums and singles,with "The Chipmunk Song" becoming a number-one hit single in the United States.

After Ross Bagdasarian Sr.'s death in 1972,The Chipmunks voices were performed by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mina: And now it's time to talk about the Cartoon Series.

Alvin and the Chipmunks was produced by Bagdasarian Productions in association with Ruby-Spears Enterprises from 1983–87. DIC Entertainment continued the series from 1988-1990. The show aired from 1983 to 1990 on NBC and is the follow-up to the original 1961–62 series, The Alvin Show.

The show introduced The Chipettes,three female Chipmunks with their own human counterpart,Miss Beatrice Miller (who joined the cast in 1986). In 1988,the show switched production companies to DiC Enterprises (with 11 additional episodes produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson) and was renamed to just "The Chipmunks".

Mina: So DiC made a Chipmunk season? That's news to me.

In 1987, during the show's fifth season, the Chipmunks' first animated feature film, "The Chipmunk Adventure",was released to theaters by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. The film was directed by Janice Karman and featured the Chipmunks and Chipettes in a contest traveling around the world.

In its eighth and final season,the show again switched titles to "The Chipmunks Go to the Movies". Each episode was a spoof of a popular Hollywood film. Several television specials featuring the characters were also released.

Mina: In 1990,the special "Rockin' Through the Decades" was produced. That same year,the Chipmunks teamed up with other well-known cartoon characters (such as Bugs Bunny and Garfield) for the drug abuse-prevention special "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue".

Mina: The series made its debut on September 17 1983 on NBC and was animated by Ruby-Spears Productions. But,like we stated earlier,from 1988-1990 production switched from Ruby-Spears to DiC.

Mina: Though,5 episodes of the show were produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, which aired on NBC in fall of '88 when the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike caused production of the first DiC season to be slowed down greatly.

Mina: In 1990,DiC wanted to have some fun with the Final Season and it was decided that the final season would be dedicated to spoofing movies. ala Muppet Babies. The show was called "The Chipmunks Go to the Movies"

Now,there is some debate on weather or not the Final Season should be concidered a seperate series all together.

Anyway,The series went into syndication in the fall of 1988 under the original Alvin and The Chipmunks title, distributed by Lorimar-Telepictures (and later by Warner Bros. Television after Warner Communications' purchase of Lorimar). The package contained all 52 episodes produced by Ruby-Spears,as well as the Valentine's and Reunion specials.

Mina: To round the package out to the common-practice syndication package length of 65 episodes,an additional 11 episodes were produced specifically for the package by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson.

Mina: In the syndication order,these episodes followed the 54 Ruby-Spears shows. In the fall 1988 cycle they aired from September 12 to December 9. 5 of these episodes would air first on NBC in September-October,when the DiC episodes were delayed due to the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike.

Also,in an attempt to make way for more commercials,most of,if not all of the syndicated reruns of the show were not only edited,but also time compressed,thus resulting in the episodes running faster than the way they originally ran.

Mina: Well,That just sucks.

I know,but all episodes of the show that have been released on DVD thus far,are the original versions.

Mina: That's good news.

The title cards that opened each episode were intact on local syndication,and on Nickelodeon,but were completely absent on Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network kept Alvin's introductions from the first season that featured the small previews of that episode. These were shown on NBC,though not included in syndication or on Nickelodeon.

The introductions originally aired before the opening credits on NBC, but were shown after the opening theme on Cartoon Network. The initial syndication run in 1988 added commercial bumpers that were voiced by both Alvin and Dave Seville,as well as voiceovers for the titlecards on the Ruby Spears episodes (also voiced by Alvin and Dave).

These bumpers and voiceovers were also used when the show aired on Nickelodeon from 1995-1997. A variation of the 1987 Bagdasarian Productions logo,but with the words "Produced by" instead of "Produced in association with",replaced the earlier logos that were used from 1983-1987.

The show is slated to return in the United States on Boomerang sometime in February of 2011.

Mina: Too bad it won't help the network much.As Boomerang is now on life support thanks to Stuart Snyder and his Cronies. Sad really.

Like I said,Snyder will pay for his crimes in hell. And speaking of Anti-Snyder aditudes. I'm gonna ber putting off All Cartoon Historian lessons until After the Trio of Darkness Rants.

Mina: Oh,I can't wait for those.

I'm also gonna doing therm solo,this is my War after all. A War that I will eventually win.

Mina: Well that's all she wrote for this episode of Cartoon Historian. See Ya Next Time.

[fade to black. credits roll as the cartoon historian closing theme plays]

1 comment:

KingsSideCastle said...

Nice post. Alvin and the Chipmunks is definitely a classic cartoon. ^_^