Babar (TV series)

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Babar
Babar-tv-series.jpg
Babar title card
Format Animated series
Directed by Raymond Jafelice
Laura Shepherd
Dale Schott
Larry Jacobs
Starring Gavin MaGrath
Gordon Pinsent
Dawn Greenhalgh
Stuart Stone
Elizabeth Hanna
Stephen Ouimette
Allen Stewart-Coates
Corrine Koslo
John Stocker
Chris Wiggins
Bobby Becken
Amos Crawley
Lea-Helen Weir
Lisa Yamanaka
Theme music composer Milan Kymlicka
Composer(s) Milan Kymlicka
Country of origin Canada
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 78 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Michael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Clive A. Smith
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Nelvana Limited
Ellipse
The Clifford Ross Company
Broadcast
Original channel CBC (seasons 1–3)
Global TV (seasons 4–5)
HBO
Picture format NTSC (480i)
Audio format Stereo
Original run March 28, 1989 – December 3, 1992
Chronology
Followed by Babar and the Adventures of Badou (2010-present)

Babar is a Canadian/French/Japanese animated television series produced in Quebec, Canada by Nelvana Limited and The Clifford Ross Company. It premiered in 1989 on CBC and HBO, subsequently was rerun on HBO Family and Qubo.[1] The series is based on Jean de Brunhoff's original Babar books, and was Nelvana's first international co-production. The series' 78 episodes have been broadcast in 30 languages in over 150 countries.

While the French author Laurent de Brunhoff pronounces the name Babar as "BUH-bar", the series in its first five seasons pronounces the name as "BAB-bar".[2]

In 2010, a computer-animated sequel series spin-off of Babar titled Babar and the Adventures of Badou was launched. The new series focuses on a majority of new characters.

Plot[edit]

Based on the books by Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff, the plot focuses on the story of Babar as it is told by him to his children. Babar is a young elephant who undergoes many challenges and adventures. However, Babar always finds the strength to rise above difficulty and search out every cloud's silver lining. Babar is crowned king of the elephants, plans and builds Celesteville, and becomes a father himself. And he learns the greatest lesson of all: "despite life's challenges, great things are possible if one never gets discouraged".

As a young boy, Babar witnesses the slaughter of his mother by a hunter and flees from the Great Forest to the city, where he is cared for by a kind Old Lady. Babar learns the workings of the world and returns to elephant land full of ideas for progress in his land. The elephant elders see that Babar has become wise beyond his years and crown him as the New King of elephant land[citation needed].

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

List of Babar episodes

Kids for Character[edit]

The series can be seen as a skit in the Citizenship segment of Kids for Character.

Characters[edit]

Babar's family[edit]

  • Babar: The King of Celesteville. He brought his love of the city back to the great forest and built the beautiful, happy kingdom of Celesteville. However, he is a dedicated ruler and world traveler. His mother was shot by a poacher when he was young, so he is very protective and caring of his family, as well as the elephants and other animals of the kingdom.
  • Celeste: Babar's wife and Queen of Celesteville. She has also travelled the world and has had many great adventures. She has a regal presence, an engaging manner, and a gentle sense of humor.
  • Arthur: Babar's mischief-making brother-in-law. He often gets himself (and one or more of the children) involved with practical jokes and stunts. Although the English and French versions of the official characters page lists him as a cousin, this goes against the canon of the show where he is clearly referred to as Celeste's brother, Babar's brother-in-law, and the uncle of Babar and Celeste's children. The Japanese version also refers to him as Celeste's younger brother. In addition, neither Celeste nor Arthur is ever referred to as a cousin of Babar in the show. In the book, "The Story of Babar," Celeste and Arthur are shown to have two different mothers and we are told they are Babar's cousin and little cousin, respectively.
  • Pom: The oldest of the triplets and the leader of the children. He is protective of his brother and sisters though he will gladly join in with Alexander in playfully teasing his sisters Flora and Isabelle.
  • Flora: Flora is fun-loving and strong-willed.
  • Alexander: The smallest of the triplets, is a non-stop ball of entertainment who disarmingly naive about the commotion he causes.
  • Isabelle: The youngest of the four children. She began to walk and talk at an early age. Isabelle started as a baby in the series, but as the series progressed, she developed as a toddler.

Babar's close friends and royal court[edit]

  • Madame (The Old Lady): From their first meeting in the city, the Old Lady and Babar shared a special friendship. She gave him a home and taught him about life in the city. Though she missed him greatly, she understood his decision to return to the forest. Babar built her a home in Celesteville, where she made the decision to stay and live with her friends, the elephants.
  • Zephir: A monkey who is one of Babar's oldest friends, and is considered one of the family. He is the first to take off with Arthur and the kids on some crazy adventure, but Babar knows that Zephir can always be trusted to look after the children and bring them home safely.
  • Cornelius: The oldest and wisest elephant in Celesteville, and the Prime Minister, who takes his job as Babar's chief adviser very seriously, whether accompanying Babar on state visits or organizing numerous Celesteville parades. His catchphrase is "My tusks!"
  • Pompadour: Another adviser to Babar, and minister of royal protocol. He often opposes radical ideas, is easily alarmed, and is very adherent to protocol. He is very high-strung. He also serves as the Finance Minister.
  • Troubadour: Pompadour's assistant, a smaller elephant who does not speak but is very dedicated to helping Babar and his family.
  • Truffles: The palace cook, often easily upset by various situations in the palace.

Rataxes' family[edit]

  • Lord Rataxes: The king of Rhinoland, Rataxes is typically depicted as a bumbling and occasionally incompetent oaf.
  • Lady Rataxes: Rataxes' wife. She is very demanding of her husband, and is also on friendly terms with Babar, Celeste, and the elephants. Her real name is Louise,[3] but she is normally called Lady Rataxes.
  • Victor: Rataxes' son. He is friends with Flora, Alexander, and Pom.
  • Basil: Rataxes' adviser; he is highly capable, competent, and organized. He does most of the paperwork, is the Head of Security for the rhino palace, and has also served as Rataxes' travel agent and spy. He is also a self-proclaimed fitness nut, an advocate of clean living in general, and a wonderful theatre director. He is extremely loyal to Rataxes and very humble, however he is not above poking fun at his boss in a very subtle manner from time to time.

Movie[edit]

In 1989, New Line Cinema, Nelvana, and Astral Films announced that a film adaption of Babar would be released. This would be followed by a sequel released in 1998, titled Babar: King of the Elephants, and was released by Alliance Films theatrically and New Line Home Video as a direct-to-video film.

The TV film Babar Comes to America was released on September 7, 1971 and produced in the U.S. The film starred Peter Ustinov as the voice actor for all of the characters.[4]

Babar and Father Christmas[edit]

The 1986 television film Babar and Father Christmas won the 1987 Gemini award for Best Animated Program or Series (Merilyn Read, and Alison Clayton)[citation needed]. It was released in the U.S. on December 5, 1986, and in Canada on December 15, 1986. The film's DVD title is also known as Babar et le Père Noël in France. The film was made in Canada. The song "Christmas in Celesteville" was featured in the TV film. he music was by Gary Morton, the lyrics were by Merilyn Read, and it was sung by John Brough, Geri Childs, Teresa Dunn, and Craig Kennedy.[5][6]

Critical reception[edit]

David Knox at TVTonight commented on the subject of death and the way it is depicted in Children's Television, citing the pilot of Babar as an example, "This week ABC replayed the pilot episode of the animated series in which the baby elephant loses his mother to a hunter after being shot by a rifle. Produced by a Canadian company in 1989 it doesn't shy away from the separation of mother and child, as written in the original Babar the Elephant stories." An ABC spokesperson told TV Tonight that ABC had carefully considered the content which aired at 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC2 for a G-rated audience, "At no point in the sequence was there any depiction of blood or wounds, and the depiction of the rifle being used was very careful and discreet. The simple animation style reduced the level of detail of the rifle and the action. While there was a sense of threat and menace associated with the hunter and his use of violence, having regard to the animation style, the level of visual detail, and the stylized manner in which the action was depicted, Audience and Consumer Affairs considers that this sense of threat and menace was very low. The violence in the sequence was very discreetly implied, and was not gratuitous as it was a pivotal, dramatic moment of great significance to the story."[7]

Charles Solomon of The Los Angeles Times gave a review of Babar's first few episodes, "The designs for the characters and the simple animation capture the essence of Jean de Brunhoff's understated watercolor illustrations. The artists occasionally seem to lose their sense of the characters' size and weight: The young Babar jumps and climbs in ways that seem very unelephantlike (but very few elephants wear uniforms and crowns, as the adult Babar does). As the voice of Babar, Gordon Pinsent gives the elephant king a reassuring presence and keeps the mildly didactic stories from bogging down in moralizing. Child actors provide the voices for the young Babar and his friends, which makes the show sound a lot like a "Peanuts" special at times. Created by the Canadian Nelvana studio—the producers of the entertaining "My Pet Monster"--"Babar" manages to be endearing without sliding into the saccharine cutesiness of Hello Kitty. Parents with children in the 4-to-10-year-old range should plan on setting their VCRs: The kids will probably want to watch Babar more than once."[8]

Common Sense Media finds the series suitable for viewers aged 4 and up, and has given the series 4 stars of 5 adding, "Babar is a good role model who promotes sharing and getting along with others."[9] They continued to say that Parents Need to Know that "Although the show is an ideal pick for preschoolers, most kids will probably outgrow it by the time they're 7". The review ended by saying, "Many shows adapted from books tend to move at a slow pace. But Babar provides enough adventure and silliness to keep even the most active preschooler engaged. As an extra plus, the music is beautifully orchestrated. Babar exemplifies the lesson that all of us are the same on the inside. These elephants hold their trunks high, but they also know that money doesn't conquer all. Many kids' shows depict well-off characters as villainous and/or gluttonous; Babar shows kids that wealth doesn't necessarily equate to greed."[9]

Awards[edit]

In 1990, the TV series won a 7 d'Or award for Best Youth Program (Meilleure émission pour la jeunesse). In 1989, the TV series won a Gemini award for Best Animated Program or Series (Patrick Loubert, Lenora Hume, Clive A. Smith, and Michael Hirsh). In 1990, the show won a Gemini for Best Animated Program or Series (Patrick Loubert, Michael Hirsh, and Clive A. Smith). It was also nominated for a Gemini award for Best Original Music Score for a Series (Milan Kymlicka). In 1992, the TV series won a Gemini award for Best Animated Program or Series (Clive A. Smith, Patrick Loubert, and Michael Hirsh).[10]

DVD releases[edit]

In Region 2, Fremantle Home Entertainment released 3 single disc collections on DVD in the UK on May 4, 2009.[11][12][13]

On June 5, 2012, Entertainment One released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[14]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Babar - The Classic Series: The Complete First Season 13 June 5, 2012

2000 series[edit]

Babar (2000)
Genre Animation
Remake
Created by see creator
Starring Dan Lett
Janet-Laine Green
Kyle Fairlie
Kristen Bone
Noah Reid
Phillip Williams
Country of origin United States
Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 13
Production
Executive producer(s) Patrick Loubert
Michael Hirsh
Clive A. Smith
Robert Réa
Kyojiro Amano
Clifford Ross
Running time 33 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
HBO
PBS Kids
Original run September 23, 2000 – May 5, 2001

There was a revival of the animated series in 2000 for the company Nelvana Limited, and the Kodansha company in Japan. Most of the episodes for the revival series have Babar and his family traveling in a hot-air balloon to different Lands of Adventure, such as the Land of Toys.

Voices of the characters[edit]

PBS funding[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Charles (April 1, 1989). "'Babar' Debut on HBO Holds a Trunkful of Charm". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  2. ^ "Babar at IMDb". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  3. ^ Lady Retaxes' real name, Louise, is revealed in the episode "No Place Like Home"
  4. ^ "Babar Comes to America at IMDb". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  5. ^ "Babar and Father Christmas". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  6. ^ "History of Animation 1981 - 1990". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  7. ^ Knox, David (2010-11-12). "Babar’s first steps to tragedy". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  8. ^ Solomon, Charles (1989-04-01). "'Babar' Debut on HBO Holds a Trunkful of Charm". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  9. ^ a b "Babar at commonsensemedia". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  10. ^ "Awards for "Babar" at IMDb". Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  11. ^ Babar - The Missing Crown Affair
  12. ^ Babar - School Days
  13. ^ King Tuttle's Vote
  14. ^ Lambert, David. "Babar - Front Cover Box Art for 'The Classic Series: Season 1' on DVD". TVShowsonDVD.com. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]