|Format||Children's television series|
|Created by||Dorothea Gillim|
|Developed by||Dorothea Gillim
Jack D. Ferraiolo
|Directed by||David SanAngelo|
|Voices of||Dannah Feinglass
John C. McGinley
|Narrated by||Chris Parnell
Rodger Parsons (Interstitials)
|Theme music composer||Steven D'Angelo
|Opening theme||Word Up It's WordGirl|
|Ending theme||Word Up It's WordGirl (Instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||98 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Dorothea Gillim (Season 1);
Deborah Forte (as of Season 2)
|Producer(s)||Will Shepard (Season 1);
Danielle Gillis (as of Season 2)
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original channel||PBS Kids Go! (2007-2013)
PBS Kids (2013-present)
November 10, 2006
September 3, 2007 – present
|Related shows||Official Twitter|
WordGirl is an American children’s animated television series produced by the Soup2Nuts animation unit of Scholastic Entertainment for PBS Kids. The show began as a series of shorts entitled The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl that premiered on PBS Kids Go! on 10 November 2006, usually shown at the end of Maya & Miguel; the segment was then spun off into a new thirty-minute episodic series that premiered on September 3, 2007 on most PBS member stations. This animated show is aimed at children 6 to 12 years old, but viewers older than this demographic have been reported as well. It is designed to teach about the expansive English language and its vocabulary. All four full-episode seasons each have twenty-six episodes, while the preceding series of shorts had thirty.
The show is also seen on some educational networks in Canada, including Knowledge in British Columbia and TVOntario, as well as Discovery Kids in Latin America. The series ran on the Spanish network Discovery Familia. The program is also syndicated internationally in places such as Australia and Italy. The Spanish version is called "Chica Supersabia" (Super-wise girl) and it is translated and dubbed in Caracas, Venezuela, and the Brazilian version is called "Garota Supersábia". There is a Catalan version called "La Súper Mots" and a Portuguese version called "Super Sabina". The show has received six Daytime Emmy nominations, winning three for "Outstanding Writing in Animation" in 2008, 2012, and 2013.
The show's creator, Dorothea Gillim, believes that children's shows often underestimate children's intelligence:
Part of my mission is to make kids' television smart and funny. I feel as though we’ve lost some ground there, in an effort to make it more accessible. WordGirl's focus is on great stories, characters, and animation. If all those elements are working, then you can hook a child who may come looking for laughs but leave a little smarter.
Each eleven-minute segment in each episode (except for the first three episodes) begins with verbal instructions to listen for two words that will be used throughout the plot of that episode. The words (examples include “diversion,” “cumbersome,” and “idolize”) are chosen according to academic guidelines. The reasoning is that children can understand words like “cumbersome” when told that it means “big and heavy and awkward.”
PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer agreed to do a mock interview with WordGirl. Jack D. Ferraiolo, who developed the series with Gillim and served as the series' head writer in Season One, received an Emmy for his work on WordGirl.
The series stars WordGirl, an alien with superpowers whose secret identity is Becky Botsford, a 10½ year old fifth grade student. WordGirl was born on the fictional planet Lexicon (also a term referring to the vocabulary of a language or to a dictionary) but was sent away after sneaking onto a spaceship and sleeping there. Captain Huggy Face, a monkey who was a pilot in the Lexicon Air Force, piloted the ship, but lost control when WordGirl awoke, and crash-landed on Earth (more specifically in Fair City), a planet that affords WordGirl her superpowers, including flight and super strength. WordGirl utilizes these powers to save her adoptive home, using her downed spacecraft as a secret base of operations. WordGirl and Captain Huggy Face fight crime together.
WordGirl was adopted and provided an alter ego by Tim and Sally Botsford, who gave her the name Becky. While in her alter ego, she has a younger brother, TJ, obsessed with WordGirl, but still unknowingly a typical sibling rival to Becky. The Botsford family keeps Captain Huggy Face as a pet, naming him Bob. Becky attends Woodview Elementary School, where she is close friends with Violet Heaslip and has a crush on school newspaper reporter Todd “Scoops” Ming.
WordGirl tries to balance her superhero activities with her "normal" life. Doing battle with a rather odd grouping of villains, such as the Butcher, who can call into existence most any type of meat; elderly con-artist Granny May, with her knitting needles and projectile yarn; WordGirl's former friend Professor Steven Boxleitner, who became the cheese-obsessed Dr. Two Brains thanks to an albino mouse and a failed science experiment, fusing his brain with the animal; ten-year-old genius and colossal robot builder Tobey McCalister; self-cloning Lady Redundant Woman; The Birthday Girl, a spoiled-rotten parody of The Incredible Hulk; and The Whammer, who speaks by interjecting the word "wham" in the most inopportune sentences. At the same time, she must worry about maintaining her second life as Becky, keeping people from discovering the truth and living normal family situations.
Often, short animated segments are shown in between and at the end of episodes. "What's Your Favorite Word?", ostensibly hosted by Todd "Scoops" Ming, is a series of vox populi interviews asking random children what their favorite words are and why. A short game show segment called "May I Have a Word?" airs following each eleven-minute segment. This segment features the game show host, Beau Handsome, asking three contestants the definition of a particular word. The segment was created by Kelly Miyahara, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Ryan Raddatz. Yet another segment features the interstitials announcer (Rodger Parsons) asking Captain Huggy Face for a visual demonstration of a certain word (such as "pensive" or "flummoxed"). When Captain Huggy Face correctly demonstrates the meaning of the word, a definition is given, followed by a victory dance by the chimp sidekick.
During the four-part episode, "The Rise of Miss Power", a five-segment "Pretty Princess Power Hour" sketch is shown between acts, filling in for the average two-segment "May I Have a Word?" sketch, presumably to fill the double-length (52 minutes) time slot.
The companion site to WordGirl lives on PBS Kids, and was built by interactive firm Big Bad Tomato. It contains vocabulary-building games, a section where children can submit their favorite word, a video page with clips from the show (only available in the US due to legal reasons), a "Heroes and Villains" section with character biographies and activities, and a PBS Parents section with episode guides, lessons, a site map, and more activities to play at home.
Characters and voice cast (2007 – present)
|Dannah Phirman||Becky Botsford/WordGirl, Clair McCalister, Edith von Hoosinghaus, Chuck's mom, Iris, Lily, WordGirl Doll, Audience Member #1, Pretty Princess, the Energy Monster (script readings)|
|Chris Parnell||The Narrator, Exposition Guy, Jim the Police Officer, Cab Driver, Audience Member 1, Parent Gallery Member #1 additional voices|
|Tom Kenny||Dr. Two-Brains, TJ Botsford, Two-Brains' Henchman #1, Warden Chalmers, Brent the Handsome Successful Everybody-Loves-Him Sandwich-Making Guy, Phil, Truck Driver, News Reporter, Shoe Salesman, The Male Bank Teller (first voice), Steve McClean, additional voices|
|Cree Summer||Granny May, Bingo Announcer, additional voices|
|Patton Oswalt||Theodore "Tobey" McCalister III, robots, additional voices|
|Fred Stoller||Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy|
|Jack D. Ferraiolo||The Butcher, The General|
|Pamela Adlon||Eileen, a.k.a. The Birthday Girl, additional voices|
|Maria Bamford||Violet Heaslip, Sally Botsford, Leslie the Assistant, The Female Bank Teller (Granny Mayor), The Energy Monster (Dinner or Consequences), additional voices|
|Ryan Raddatz||Tim Botsford, Todd "Scoops" Ming, Beau Handsome, additional voices|
|Tim Conway||Bampy Botsford|
|Mike O’Connell||Bill the Grocery Store Manager, Big Left Hand Guy, additional voices|
|Elliott Gould||The Masked Meat Marauder|
|Ned Bellamy||The Coach, Fish Selling Guy|
|Brian Posehn||Glen Furlblam|
|James Adomian||Captain Huggy Face/Bob (script readings), Robber, The Candlestick Maker, Security Guard, Curator, Raul Demiglasse, Hunter Throbheart, Robber #1|
|H. Jon Benjamin||Reginald, InvisiBill, Jewelry Store Clerk (first voice), additional voices|
|Ron Lynch||The Mayor, Mustached Guy (Mr. Big Words), additional voices|
|Jeffrey Tambor||Mr. Big, Mr. Birg, Old Woman, Old Man|
|Brian Doyle Murray||Police Commissioner (Swap Meat)|
|Larry Murphy||The Amazing Rope Guy, TV Reporter, Dave, Principal, Mr. Best, Used Car Salesman (second voice), Mailman, The Male Bank Teller (second voice), additional voices|
|John C. McGinley||The Whammer|
|Amanda Plummer||Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman (Lady Redunant Woman; Episode), Susan Bohannon (Who Wants To Win A Shine New Car?)|
|Grey DeLisle||Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman (After Lady Redunant Woman; Episode), Dupey, Ms. Question, Mrs. Ripley, Host, additional voices|
|Rose Abdoo||Great Granny May|
|Darran Norris||Seymour Orlando Smooth, Nocan the Contrarian, David Driscoll|
|Mike Phirman||The Narrator's Brother|
|Peter Graves||Mr. Callihan|
|James Mathis||Tiny Big|
|Ed Asner||Kid Potato, The Butcher's father|
|Jen Cohn||Bank Teller (first voice), Rich Old Lady, Ms. Champlain|
|Stephanie Sheh||additional voices|
|Robin Reed||Ms. Libri, the bookstore owner|
|Judy Greer||Ms. Dewey, the librarian|
|Andy Dick||Milt (Ms. Dewey's assistant)|
|Jim Gaffigan||Mr. Dudley|
|Matt Besser||Zachry Zany, Male News Anchorman, Lead Deriver, additional voices|
|Rodger Parsons||Interstitials Announcer (uncredited)|
|Danielle Schneider||Female News Anchorwoman, Crowd Member, News Caster, additional voices|
|William Mapother||Guy Rich|
|Kristen Schaal||Victoria Best, Mrs. Best, additional voices|
|John Henson||Captain Tangent|
|Amy Sedaris||Ms. Davis, additional voices|
|Orlando Brown||Tommy "His Dishonor"|
|Kevin McDonald||Vocab Bee, Jeremy, Police Chief, Judge, The Baker, Magic Pony|
|Wayne Knight||Police Commissioner Watson (The Wrong Side of The Law)|
|Stephen Root||Prof. Robert Tubing|
|Jill Talley||Babysitter (Tobey and Becky's Babysitter)|
|Elisabeth Abbot||Dress Shop Owner|
|Sergio Cilli||Royal Dandy, Lolipop Man|
|Jane Lynch||Miss Power|
|Weird Al Yankovic||The Learnerer|
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|0||30||November 10, 2006||?|
|1||26||September 3, 2007||January 2, 2009|
|2||26||November 4, 2008||July 20, 2010|
|3||26||August 23, 2010||June 11, 2012|
|4||26||September 10, 2012||present|
- Jensen, Elizabeth (2007-09-02). "A New Heroine’s Fighting Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Bynum, Aaron H. (2007-06-18). "'The Adventures of WordGirl' Animation Emerges on PBS Kids". Animation Insider. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Spero, Johannah (2008-06-18). "Local man lands Emmy for ‘WordGirl’". Wicked Local Newburyport/The Newburyport Current. GateHouse Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-23.