Between the Lions
||This article possibly contains original research. (June 2011)|
|Between the Lions|
|Format||Children's television series Puppet|
|Created by||Lou Berger
Michael K. Frith
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original channel||PBS Kids (2000-2004)
PBS Kids Go! (2004-2010)
|Original run||April 3, 2000 – November 22, 2010|
Between the Lions was a PBS Kids puppet television series designed to promote reading. The show was a co-production between WGBH in Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd., in New York City, in association with Mississippi Public Broadcasting, in Mississippi. The show has won seven Daytime Emmy awards between 2001 and 2007. The target audience is children 5-8 years old. It has the same puppet style as Sesame Street and several season 2 episodes, notably in Dance in Smarty Pants, had a few characters from Sesame Street guest appearing. The show aired its first season on April 3, 2000 a week after replacing The Puzzle Place. Between the Lions started its 10th and final season on September 20, 2010 and the series finale aired on November 22 of that same year. It aired on PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go!.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Characters
- 3 Humorous content
- 3.1 The Monkey Pop-Up Theatre
- 3.2 The Vowelles
- 3.3 The Word Doctor with Dr. Ruth Wordheimer
- 3.4 Little Wendy Tales
- 3.5 Fun with Chicken Jane
- 3.6 The Adventures of Cliff Hanger
- 3.7 Gawain's Word
- 3.8 Tiger Words
- 3.9 Sam Spud
- 3.10 The Un-People vs. The Re-People
- 3.11 Silent E
- 3.12 Vowel Boot Camp
- 3.13 The Lone Rearranger Rewrites Again
- 3.14 Moby Duck
- 3.15 Blending Bowl
- 3.16 Opposite Bunny
- 3.17 Arty Smartypants
- 3.18 Swami Marmy
- 3.19 Fred Says Segments
- 3.20 What's Cooking?
- 3.21 Replacing Letter Songs
- 3.22 The Great Trampolini Brothers
- 4 Educational content
- 5 Cast
- 6 Emmy Awards
- 7 Animated spin-off
- 8 Similarities to other shows
- 9 Guest stars
- 10 Home Video releases
- 11 Funding
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
The series focuses on a family of anthropomorphic lions operating and living in a large, busy library starring alongside a cast of unusual characters such as Click, an electronic, anthropomorphic computer mouse. The program's format is intended to promote literacy and reading, and is perhaps most notable for sections of every episode in which the lions introduce an existing picture book to the audience and read it, a book that often presents a moral. Some episodes even have featured adaptions of well-known folk-tales or ancient myths or fables, while others have featured popular storybooks such as 'Click, Clack, Moo! Cows that Type', or shown the lions learning or benefiting from the lessons presented by the story. Aside from this, the series often features an array of educational segments formatted each in its own distinctive style, particularly parodies of well-known media redesigned educationally for younger audiences or simple animations, some sketches more repetitive than others. A distinctive feature of the series is that it is virtually never set outside of the library, as it usually chronicles the lions' experiences within it. Another segment features a pair of pigeons named Walter and Clay comically infuriating a living bust of the library's deceased founder, Mr. Busterfield, located in an upper section of the library, that is normally intended for comic relief.
The main characters are the lion cubs Lionel (7 years old and in 1st grade) and Leona (4 years old) and their parents Theo (Theodore) and Cleo (Cleopatra), who read stories to the cubs in almost every episode, so they can get wild about reading.
Barnaby B. Busterfield III - A grumpy, armless, and legless rock statue that is the founder of the library, which is named after him, and lives on the second floor. He is often left annoyed by the antics of Walter and Clay Pigeon and, being a statue, can't go anywhere. He is more annoyed by the pigeons calling him "Buster" since he hates being called that for some reason. It is unknown if he knows the main characters or not, but it is possible that he might know them.
Walter and Clay Pigeon - The two birds that Barnaby talks to, and they talk to (and annoy) him. That's why he says, "don't call me Buster!" Walter and Clay Pigeon are true urban birds, but let's just say that they're not the brightest lights in the sky—without each other's help, they might never manage to complete their own thoughts (for example, the Pigeons say, "We are going roller . . . uh . . . skating.").
Dr. Alexander Graham Nitwhite (often mispronounced as "Dr. Nitwit", which he hates being called, by his duck assistant, Watson and sometimes by other characters: a regular routine has Theo and Cleo saying hello to "Dr. Nitwit" and when they are corrected (Nitwhite) they proclaim "Right...") is a pelican scientist. In his skits, he announces to Watson that he's discovered "the only word in the entire English language" with a certain letter combination (which is nearly always related to the lesson of the whole episode). However, his "discoveries" always turn out to be incorrect, as Watson inadvertently points out; as such, his nickname is rather apt.
Information Hen - The library's information specialist. Each time she appears, she gives information about the library and reading to various callers.
Click - A live computer mouse shaped after the rodent of the same name. Click is a very high tech mouse in the fact that she can drag and drop objects and characters into and out of books and websites. When a character needs her, they only need to call out her name (usually screaming if it's an emergency) since she doesn't mind helping others and will do what they tell her what to do. Her only hindrances are, being a computer mouse, she must always stay connected to a computer and that she is vulnerable to computer viruses, as shown in one episode.
Heath the Thesaurus - The library's thesaurus who is literally a giant dinosaur (a sauropod dinosaur-a Brontosaurus) as a pun on the word "thesaurus" or "the saurus" He often shows up unexpectedly when a character asks about a homophonic word or when a situation is called for one.
Grandpa Lion - Cleo's father and Lionel and Leona's maternal grandfather and also the father-in-law of Theo. He visits the library in Out in Outer Space and tells of his friend Ellen Ochoa the first Hispanic American woman in Outer Space. Lionel and Leona even made a biography of Grandpa Lion.
Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Otto Lion - Lionel and Leona's aunt and uncle who were told by Leona that they had 3 new cubs in But Mama But in which Leona visited in the episode. It would be that Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Otto would be Cleo's younger sister and brother and would be the maternal aunt and uncle of Lionel and Leona and the sister-in-law and brother-in-law of Theo Lion.
Between the Lions often makes wild parodies of (often children's) programming. The title itself is a twofold pun, first on the phrase "between the lines", the second is that many classic library buildings have two lions separated by the main entrance. Thus in order to enter the library, you must go "between the lions". Some recurring segments include:
The Monkey Pop-Up Theatre
Three lips, different colors, along with different colors of hair, gloves, and scarves, perform songs to an audience. These songs are simply a sequence of the same vocalizations of vowel sounds. The Vowelles are often accompanied by Johnny Consanante and/or Martha Reader. In 2000, the stage background is not lit, leaving viewers to see only lips, and usually gloves, scarves, and hair. In 2001, the dark stage background is replaced with a bright silver background, obviously revealing that The Vowelles are merely three pairs of floating lips, surrounded by hair...and usually accompanied by scarves and gloves.
The Word Doctor with Dr. Ruth Wordheimer
- Monkeys who need help reading or understanding long or difficult words (they are having a "long word freakout").
- Words that are dissatisfied with their current meaning. (By replacing certain well-chosen letters, Dr. Wordheimer is able to give the word a new meaning and a new lease on life.)
Little Wendy Tales
In an animesque segment, a girl with blue eyes and black hair tied in pigtails reads the misadventures found in Little Wendy Tales when sitting next to her white cat Cuddly Kitty. In classic fashion, the big-eyed girl and Cuddly Kitty transform themselves into The Punctuator and Emoticon the Cat (a parody of Sailor Moon, among other anime clichés) and saves Wendy by means of switching around the punctuation, altering the scene in the process. She rereads the altered adventures after correcting the sentences.
Fun with Chicken Jane
Fun with Chicken Jane is a parody of the famous Dick and Jane books for children. In this, two naive children, Scot and Dot, place themselves in harm's way. An intelligent chicken named Chicken Jane spells out an obvious solution to the problem. At the last moment the children get out of the way and Chicken Jane gets hurt instead. The theme song is a parody of the old Alka Seltzer jingle. When the skit starts, Scot, Dot and Chicken Jane come skipping down a dirt road to the jingle that goes "Look, look, see, see, coming down the lane. Here comes Scot, here comes Dot, here comes Chicken Jane!" When the skit is over, Scot and Dot head back up the road (Chicken Jane limping along behind with an injured wing) to "Look, look, see, see, going up the lane. There goes Scot, there goes Dot, there goes Chicken Jane!". Chicken Jane once fell out of one of the books, thanks to Leona while trying to grab it from Lionel as a fight, and ended up in several other books which is Colonial America, Sleeping Beauty and a cookbook written by Molly Stewpot (a reference to Martha Stewart) and they appear in A Wild Hare. The very demanding chef Molly sees Chicken Jane, and wants to use her in one of her recipes and ignores what Chicken Jane is saying. The book is then swatted at in an attempt for Chicken Jane to escape, while jelly is spilled onto Molly in a defeat and Leona succeeds in getting Chicken Jane back in her book.
The Adventures of Cliff Hanger
Cliff Hanger is a cartoon lantern-jawed outdoorsman usually featured hanging off the side of a cliff, holding onto a branch. Each episode presents Cliff with a preposterous situation of some kind, which he attempts to use to his advantage by reaching into his backpack, pulling out what he calls his "trusty survival manual", and following the instructions provided there. The instructions, though often highly unorthodox, usually prove successful, and Cliff briefly escapes from the cliff. But, inevitably, another highly unlikely incident occurs that leaves Cliff back where he started, hanging onto his branch once again. The cartoon then ends with Cliff's baleful catchphrase: "Can't... hold... on... much... longer!" Much like Warner Brothers' Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, these cartoon clips follow along the same story line; although Cliff never gives up on trying to get off the cliff, he never succeeds.
Each segment begins and usually ends with a theme song sung by a formally dressed group of singers that flies by in a helicopter, singing "Cliff Hanger, hanging from a cliff! And that's why he's called Cliff Hanger!" Cliff attempts to attract their attention to his predicament by shouting "Excuse me!", but to no avail. In one episode, he apparently succeeds at drawing their attention, and they rescue him, but it turns out he is simply dreaming. He once got off the cliff when he jumped on a whale's blowhole and washed up on a beach in "The Last Cliff Hanger" and Lionel is upset about the last book, but he got tired and, through a series of bizarre events (thanks to the writer, Livingston Dangerously), got himself back onto it.
In two episodes Cliff Hanger and the Solid Oil Lamp and Cliff Hanger and the Sheep on a Ship, Cliff Hanger imagines he is in a restaurant eating steak, he is in a bath tub and a starstruck door.
In another episode Lionel's friend Lenny, an alligator introduces a similarly styled series of books called Justin Time, about a stereotypical explorer named Justin Time who relaxes in a hammock until an absurd scenario like those of Cliff Hanger occurs, forcing him to intervene to restore the calm, boasting, "Couldn't be more comfortable." He too used a version of the Survival Manual, called a Safety Manual, which is from his Survival Kit, a version of Cliff Hanger's backpack and the same formally dressed Chorus, riding in the back of a Pickup truck introduces him at the beginning of the story, Singing "Justin Time, he's always saved just in time! and that is why he is called Justin Time!" . Ironically, Lionel disliked this series. Only one Justin Time segment was ever shown as it only appeared in one episode.
In the series, the character Lionel is a fan of Cliff Hanger books, which his sister Leona thinks are pointless.
A Wayne's World spoof featuring two jousting knights charging at each other, each touting a speech balloon with half of a word which then became their respective names, then demonstrating the word. For example, one skit featured "Sir ch" and "Sir air". When Sir ch collided into Sir air, their speech balloons melded together to form the word "chair." Then they took advantage of the word, by sitting on chairs. Though the title of the segment clearly is a parody of the Saturday Night Live skit, the two knights in the segment speak more characteristically like Bill & Ted from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure than Wayne & Garth from Wayne's World.
A parody of golfer Tiger Woods. Tiger is always seen participating in a spelling competition (modeled off a golf tournament), where he will misspell a word. While the crowd and announcer are surprised and dismayed at his error, Tiger corrects his mistake by using another tool in his pencil bag (using an eraser to fix mistakes in pencil, or paint to fix mistakes in pen, for example). Tiger correctly spells the word, and wins the championship.
A spoof of the Sam Spade detective stories, this segment portrays a par-boiled potato who types out the voice-over narration typical of film noir on a late night, making and correcting typographical errors that demonstrate word sounds. This segment makes heavy use of sight gags based on wordplay (such as the narrator referring to the entrance of a "tomato"—1930s slang for an attractive woman—who is revealed to be a real tomato wearing a costume; or a neon sign that blinks the words "Flicker Flicker" or "On" and "Off"). In most cases the segments would end with a live-action boy or girl watching Sam Spud on television and calling out to his or her mother that "there's a talking potato with a hat on and no mouth!" (or some variation), and the mother calling from offscreen telling her child not to worry and that it's educational television, so it must be good for him/her.
The Un-People vs. The Re-People
This cartoon is aimed at teaching kids their prefixes. The main character is "young" Monica Maxwell, a girl about 8 years old who seems to have an inordinate amount of trouble with a group of rambunctious rhinos. The segment always begins with the rhinos running amok, usually in Monica's house. The clever, resourceful girl somehow manages to subdue or round up the rhinos, for example, putting them in a zippered bag. All of a sudden, the evil Un-People come along and "un-zip" the bag, causing the rhinos to run free again and resume their rampage of destruction. But when the crime-fighting Re-People appear, they "re-zip" the bag and the destruction of the charging rhinos stops. This segment may be considered a parody of common superhero-themed cartoons such as the Justice League.
There is at least one skit that didn't feature rhinos—the "undressed"/"redressed" skit where a marching band is seen without clothes, only to get redressed in their outfits.
A sly criminal, Silent E, has the ability to make the vowel sounds say their names and changes the words without a silent e into words with a silent e, for example: he changes a cub (which resembles Leona) into a cube, a tub into a tube, a twin into a twine and a can into a cane.
In each segment, Silent E is carted off to jail by a policeman. Silent E then writes a note to the policeman, which usually reads something like, "Sure do like that pin/cap you're wearing! I would love to get a closer look!" The policeman then remarks, "Well, sure! I don't see any harm in that!" The policeman hands the object to Silent E, who then easily escapes by using either the policeman's pin and turning it into a pine to climb out the window or the policeman's cap and turning it into a cape to fly out the window. Either way, after that, the policeman shouts, "Well, Silent E, you may have slipped out of my grasp this time, but mark my words: I'll get you YET!!!!"
Vowel Boot Camp
In this segment, the soldiers, who are vowels (except the drill sergeant, who is an exclamation point), practice making their sounds and then go out to make words. The famous catchphrase is "This isn't Camp Nappy Packy Wacky Lake; this is Vowel Boot Camp!" He always ends up getting trampled by the vowels as they leave.
The Lone Rearranger Rewrites Again
A parody of The Lone Ranger, this animated segment features an intelligent, banana nose cowboy named The Lone Rerranger, (or Lone for short), with his horse Hiho, and his sidekick whose name is Russell-Upsome Grub, and a sentence which needs to be rearranged. For example, "Horses must ride cowboys into the corral" needs to be rearranged to say "Cowboys must ride horses into the corral". After Lone fixes the sentence with his whip, he, Hiho, and Russell leave and the people who did what the original sign said for them to do never get a chance to thank him or Russel, or something related to what happened.
A parody of Moby-Dick, this takes place in a peapod (parody of Pequod) where there are two captains. The first is Captain Starbuck, the second Captain Ahab. Starbuck looks through a telescope and sees a white animal and yells, "Wait, Cap'n! Thar she quacks! Moby, the great white duck!" Captain Ahab takes a closer look and gives the tagline "Argh! That not be Moby, the great white duck! Argh!", and explains the differences and sounds out syllables, showing, for example, Daisy, the entertaining white snail. The 2 admit defeat before continuing their search. A running gag is the fact that they never look behind them, which is exactly where Moby is.
A kind of "bowl game" in which NFL players blend sounds to make words. It stars former NFL superstar quarterback Terry Bradshaw as a commentator. It is similar to Gawain's Word and Blend Mart but with a football setting.
A superhero bunny who saves the day by turning bad things happening in the neighborhood back into good things. The segment ends with the neighbors reviewing the opposites. saying "First it was raw now it is cooked. How does that bunny do it!"
A farcical and somewhat discombolated man with large pants ("smarty pants"). He is the start of a few different segments:
- "Magic Time With The Great Smartini": Arty puts two, three or four words in his pants and says a magic word like ebracadebra, or oobracadoobra, then dances to "ooh ahh, dance in smarty pants ooh ahh," until he has made a compound word. His assistant and mother is "Smommy Mommy."
- In another segment, he reads "four words without any assistance whatsoever". Four words appear in each corner of the screen and he points to them first wth his hands then with his feet After realizing he is floating in the air, he comes crashing down.
- "Not As Smart As A Puck": In this segment, Arty hosts a game show where the contestant wins if they can prove they are not as smart as a hockey puck.
This segment features Marmy Smartypants as a fortune teller who tells monkeys their future. In one segment she tells a monkey that his sister will drop in for a visit, after which she literally, drops in from above. In another segment, she simply tells a monkey "Oops!" after which Marmy knocks her crystal ball off the table and it rolls off and breaks.
Fred Says Segments
Fred Newman portraying himself appears onscreen sounding out a word syllable by syllable, after which he acts it or demonstrates it in his usual humor by attaching sounds to each syllable.
A cooking segment starring Theo and Cleo Lion as chefs. In each segment, they have a recipe and all the things they need (and a few they don't) in front of them with their names on them (For example, slammed and rammed ham with no yam or clam). They read the recipe step-by-step which usually involves getting rid of the extra ingredients and doing something to the main item before placing it in something. When they reached down to the last step that involves cooking the food, they just say "Nah" and eat it raw.
Replacing Letter Songs
Each song for the vowels such as "a" and "e", etc. This is sung in different words such as "Ben" and "hen". At the end a letter is replaced such as "t" and changes a letter to "ten".
The Great Trampolini Brothers
In this segment, three acrobat brothers named Arturo, Lorenzo and Felix do challenges and a ringmaster shouts out what they do like; for example, loud, louder, and loudest.
Between the Lions focuses on teaching reading and a love of books to young children in a fun, informative way.
Among the educational techniques used by Between the Lions are the following:
- Featured Letters and Sounds: Every episode has a feature letter or sound, such as 'h' or 'the long ee sound'. Throughout the show, the featured letter or sound is heard and seen in a variety of words. In seasons 7 and 8, an ad shows what's coming up next followed by a hand selecting a letter from the word from usually the first book.
- Text on Screen: Frequently, key words or entire sentences of dialog are shown on screen as the characters talk, with the featured letter or combination highlighted.
- Stories: Every episode contains one or more short stories in the form of books read by the Lion family. These stories tie in thematically with the rest of the episode and also serve as another way to present words with the featured sound in context. Sometimes the stories are real books (like "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" by William Steig, "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat" by Simms Taback, and "The Carrot Seed" by Ruth Krauss) or well-known tales (like "Rumplestiltskin", "The Little Red Hen", and "The Gingerbread Man"); other times they are books that are made-up to fit the episode (like How Pecos Bill Cleans Up the West, What Instrument does Alvin Play?, and Lionel's favorite book, Nothing but Lug Nuts).
- Songs: Silly but informative songs sum up the rules of English spelling and pronunciation in easy-to-remember ways, with lyrics like "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking" or "Even the blues would be blue without an s" and many others. Often the text of the song is shown on screen. The songs for the show are by Thomas Z. Shepard, Christopher Cerf, Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs.
- Animations and skits: A variety of animations and skits show how words are formed and how one word can be changed into another by adding or removing letters.
- Definitions: Whenever a long or unusual word is used in a dialog or story, a quick definition is given. Usually, it is subtly worked into the conversation, such as when one of the parents responds to a question from the children. Other times it may be provided in a humorous way, such as when Heath Thesaurus pokes his head in to define a word. Occasionally words may be defined by showing pictures or other artistic methods.
- Repeated Vocabulary: Various vocabulary words are introduced in each episode, ranging from simple, everyday concepts like "jump" and "read" to more complex words like "sequel", "dictionary", or "drought". After a word has been introduced, it is usually used a number of times throughout the episode.
In addition to teaching basic reading, pronunciation, and grammar skills, Between the Lions also strives to promote a general love of reading in its viewers. It explores the many subjects that books can cover and shows how different people may enjoy reading different things. It also demonstrates the value of reference books and the importance of reading in other everyday activities like using a computer, cooking with a recipe, or finding your way with street signs.
Some Between the Lions episodes also deal with larger episodes related to literary matters: How to handle the scary parts of a story, for example, or the fact that it's okay to be a little sad if something bad happens to a character that you like in a book. It also shows how children can use books as jumping points for their own imagination.
Above all, every character on the show expresses a contagious enthusiasm for reading, with the underlying message being "Reading is cool". (2001-2010)
- Bertice Berry - Herself (2001)
- Alison Fraser - Babs Caplan
- Denyce Graves - Herself
- Fred Newman - Letter sounds, various live action and sound segments
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer - Dr. Ruth Wordheimer
- Anthony Asbury - Himself
- Tyler Bunch -Puppeteer
- Pam Arciero - Wanda the bus driver
- Jennifer Barnhart - Herself
- Heather Asch -Person in the libray
- Tim Lagasse as puppet singer, Puppeteer
- Carmen Osbahr as Puppet helper
- Pam Arciero - Leona Lion (2003–2011)
- Anthony Asbury - Lionel Lion (2000–2010), Arty Smartypants
- Heather Asch - Clay Pigeon, Click the Mouse
- Jennifer Barnhart - Cleo Lion
- Cheryl Blaylock - Ursa (2001-2012)
- Lisa Buckley - Chelsea
- Tyler Bunch - Walter Pigeon (2000), Dr. Nitwhite
- David Matthew Feldman - Monkeys, Ducks
- James Godwin - Steve the Bowling Ball
- James Kroupa - Walter Pigeon (2000–2001)
- Tim Lagasse - Arty Smarty-pants, Barnaby Busterfield III, Gus Rabbit, Various Characters
- Peter Linz - Theo Lion, Heath the Thesaurus (2001–2011)
- Rick Lyon - Ted the Scientist Monkey
- Noel MacNeal - Lionel Lion (2011)
- Kathryn Mullen - Leona Lion (2000–2002)
- Jim Napolitano - Zak the Surfing Monkey
- Kenneth Neptune - Harry
- Carmen Osbahr - Sierra Lion, Ursa, Various
- Matt Vogel - Various Characters
- Jennifer Barnhart - Most female cartoon roles
- Scott Dodson - Silver Knight
- Michael K. Frith - Red Knight
- Dave Goelz - Purple Knight
- Peter Linz - Gawain
- Fred Newman - Golf Announcer
- Richard O'Connor - Gold Knight
- Chris Phillips - Cliff Hanger
- Brian Schemmel - Blue Knight
Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series - 2009
Executive Producers: Judith Stoia, Christopher Cerf, Norman Stiles, Brigid Sullivan. Series Producer: Beth Kirsch. Coordinating Producer: Rick Klein, Bill Berner, Diane Hartman, Chris Cardillo, Philippa Hall. Producer: Scott Colwell, Carol Klein.
Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series - 2008 & 2009
Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition - 2008 Nomination
Paul Jacobs, Sarah Durkee, Christopher Cerf
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design - 2008 Nomination
Christopher Cerf, Norman Stiles, Judith Stoia, Brigid Sullivan, Bill Berner, Chris Cardillo, Philippa Hall, Diane Hartman, Rick Klein, Scott Colwell, Beth Kirsch, Carol Klein (PBS)
Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series - 2008 Nomination
Laura Brock, Karen Wing, Jerel Levanway, Bill Reinhart, Jack Thomas, Mary Goodson, Ray Green, Jimmy Thrasher (PBS)
Composition - 2008 Nomination
Paul Jacobs, Sarah Durkee, Christopher Cerf (PBS)
An animated spin-off is yet to air, produced by CloudKid and consisting of four episodes. The first two will focus on nursery tales (The Ant and the Grasshopper and The Three Little Pigs), while the other will focus on seasons and weather (one about wind, the other about snow/winter).
Similarities to other shows
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2009)|
The Electric Company
Comparisons are often made to another PBS children's reading series, The Electric Company. The format is similar, with animated segments showing words suspended in the air near people who discuss them. In particular, Sam Spud, Gawain's Word and the short segments featuring Fred Newman are highly reminiscent of the old Electric Company
Guest stars from other series have appeared in Between The Lions. 3 castmembers of ZOOM have appeared, teaching viewers how to read the word "Zoom." Al Roker, Jasmine Guy, Denyce Graves, Vanessa L. Williams and Jane Seymour have made appearances to read words to the viewers as well as some athletes
Home Video releases
Most VHS tapes and DVDs are released and distributed by WGBH, mostly with its video label, WGBH Boston Video from 2001 to 2004 on VHS and on Season 5-6 from 2005 to 2006. and on DVD in 2005 to present.
Season 1: 2000
|1||"Pecos Bill Cleans Up the West (Season 1 Premiere)"||April 3, 2000|
|The lions sing a song about how a cowboy caught a tornado, then start to bring him out to see how it's done in the library.|
|2||"The Lost Rock"||April 4, 2000|
|A rock named Rock(Larry is what Leona calls him) rolls out of a dictionary, which of course he doesn't remember, so the lions help him find it.|
|3||"Little Big Mouse"||April 5, 2000|
|Click the mouse becomes concerned when she and the lions read "The Lion and the Mouse" and start a fan club.|
|4||"Farmer Ken's Puzzle"||April 6, 2000|
|Lionel has a new computer game, but can't solve Farmer Ken's puzzle, due to the pigeons' act and lack of knowledge.|
|5||"Shooting Stars"||April 7, 2000|
|The lions are watching a meteor shower, but find it hard to stay up.|
|6||"The Hopping Hen"||April 10, 2000|
|There are new weird rules in the library, which causes chaos everywhere.|
|7||"Touching the Moon"||April 11, 2000|
|A queen tries to touch the moon, but to no avail and Leona can't sleep thinking about it.|
|8||"The Boy Who Cried Wolf"||April 12, 2000|
|A young shepard from "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" wants to learn to watch sheep and Lionel and Leona help him, but gets carried away crying wolf.|
|9||"Fuzzy Wuzzy, Wuzzy?"||April 13, 2000|
|Lionel gets annoyed by Fuzzy Wuzzy the Dancing Bear, who comes to life and causes a fan craze in the library.|
|10||"Lionel's Antlers"||April 14, 2000|
|Lionel finds antlers on his head and his family to get them off.|
|11||"To the Ship! To the Ship!"||April 17, 2000|
|Leona gets upset Lionel won't her play pirates because she's a girl.|
|12||"The Chap with Caps"||April 18, 2000|
|The lions help Babs Cap, the famous author, come up with a good story.|
|13||"Pandora's Box"||April 19, 2000|
|The cubs bring a box from Greek story about a woman that opens a box and unleashes the dangers inside, including hiccups.|
|14||"Lionel's Great Escape Trick"||April 20, 2000|
|Lionel wants to escape like the Great Houdini, but goes into the website to talk to him in person. Meanwhile, Leona tries to use magic words in hopes of helping Lionel.|
|15||"There's a Fly in My Soup"||April 21, 2000|
|The lions try help make Click after telling a bunch of fly jokes, in which Click does laugh.|
|16||"The Popcorn Popper"||April 24, 2000|
|A girl in a book called "The Popcorn Popper" tries a popcorn popper, but it won't stop popping because she can't read the instructions. The lions then take the popper out to eat popcorn, but lose the instructions to stop the popper until the library garden is flooded with popcorn.|
|17||"Something Fishy"||April 25, 2000|
|After convinced that eagles eat fish after Lionel reads her a "Cliff Hanger" book, Leona dresses up as one so that she could fly.|
|18||"Hug, Hug, Hug!"||April 26, 2000|
|The lions read "Pygmalion" and help him learns that love makes statues came to life.|
|19||"The Ram in the Pepper Patch"||April 27, 2000|
|A ram escapes from a pepper patch and stays in the library a bit so he won't get sting from a bee, causing chaos in the library.|
|20||"A Peck of Peppers"||April 28, 2000|
|Lionel, Leona, and Babs try to make up a tongue twister by reading a book about Peter Piper picking pickled peppers.|
|21||"Sausage Nose"||May 1, 2000|
|A woman in an old movie wishes for a sausage, but her husband get annoyed by the wish, and accidentally wishes for the sausage on her nose, so the lions help when they come to the library.|
|22||"Red Hat, Green Hat"||May 2, 2000|
|When Lionel reads a story about two men arguing about which color a woman's hat is whenever she passes by, Lionel soon realizes that by showing the hat to everyone will lead to the same way as the men's argue, so he has to show Leona what she's done and put everything right.|
|23||"The Lucky Duck"||May 3, 2000|
|A duck is tired of being little and cute, so Lionel helps him since he can't take the cuteness either.|
|24||"The Old Man"||May 4, 2000|
|Babs shows to right a story about a man.|
|25||"A King and His Hawk"||May 5, 2000|
|When Lionel reads a story a king and his hawk, Leona tries to hide it because it has a sad ending when the king kills the hawk.|
|26||"The Roar That Makes Them Run"||May 8, 2000|
|Lionel and Leona try make their dad roar really loud, but he won't do it.|
|27||"Piggyback, Piggyback"||May 9, 2000|
|A king rides on his assistant's back to prevent his feet from getting dirty, which causes Leona to do the same with her dad.|
|28||"The Fox and the Crow"||May 10, 2000|
|The pigeons complain about a book, in which the fox out smarts a crow for a piece of cheese, so the cubs do a remake of the story in which the crow, who holds a very, very, very big piece of cheese in her beak and the fox tries to trick her into singing in hopes of her becoming the queen of all birds, to which the crow lets the cheese hit the fox in the head.|
|29||"Giants and Cubs"||May 11, 2000|
|Leona worries what might happen when Lionel reads a newspaper article about a baseball team and mistakes them both for she think they are.|
|30||"Be Bop (Season 1 Finale)"||May 12, 2000|
|The lions make music in the library with all sorts of weird things, to which Barnaby B Busterfield III needs figure as well.|
- March 6, 2001 (3 Videos)
- June 12, 2001 (2 Videos)
- October 30, 2001 (Videos)
Season 2: 2001
|31||"The Sad Dad (Season 2 Premiere)"||April 2, 2001|
|Theo reads a story about a man who needs advice on how to get rid of some people in a crowded house, but his house keeps getting even more crowded.|
|32||"Humph! Humph! Humph!"||April 3, 2001|
|Lionel gets a new buddy named Gus, who can't read, and has an issue like a camel that gains a hump for being so grumpy all the time.|
|33||"The Good Seed"||April 4, 2001|
|A bee stings the computer and causes a virus all over the library. A boy tries to plant a seed, but the seed just won't grow.|
|34||"Icarus' Wings"||April 5, 2001|
|The pigeons get the idea of making Busterfield wings from a mischievous boy and his father escapes from the clutches of an evil king.|
|35||"Zoop! Zoop!"||April 6, 2001|
|A boy and his father work together to defeat an evil giant. Meanwhile, Leona gets scared of the giant and the family needs to her overcome her fears.|
|36||"Clickety-Clack, Clickety-Clack!"||April 9, 2001|
|A farmer learns that his type. Theo also borrows the typewriter in order show the cubs how a typewriter works.|
|37||"Poetry Day"||April 10, 2001|
|Walter and Clay learned about Poetry Day.|
|38||"Bobby the Hopping Robot"||April 11, 2001|
|The lions assemble a robot, but can't seem to make the robot work.|
|39||"Teacher's Pet"||April 12, 2001|
|Cleo comes down with a flu when she can't use her senses to tell if someone is sneaking up behind her.|
|40||"The Last Cliff Hanger"||April 13, 2001|
|Lionel gets upset when the last Cliff Hanger book comes out because Cliff is off the cliff forever.|
|41||"Pebble Trouble"||April 16, 2001|
|Leona hides under the table because something is troubling her (which hasn't been discussed throughout the episode). A donkey is not very careful with what he wishes for.|
|42||"Oh, Yes, It Can!"||April 17, 2001|
|The lions start to hallucinate that everything in the library start to talk.|
|43||"Five, Six and Thistle Sticks"||April 18, 2001|
|Lionel's best friend Lenny comes to visit, but Lionel becomes upset when he finds out Lenny does not like Cliff Hanger anymore.|
|44||"Bug Beard"||April 19, 2001|
|The lions learns about natural habits.|
|45||"Trains and Brains and Rainy Plains"||April 20, 2001|
|Lionel and Leona rode a train in a book, causing an illustrated fire in the library.|
|46||"Quest, Quest, Quest!"||April 23, 2001|
|Babs comes the library, again, to write a story.|
|47||"The Spider and the Lie"||April 24, 2001|
|Lionel and click writes a story about a crime genre.|
|48||"Why the Baboon's Balloon Went Ka-boom!"||April 25, 2001|
|A pen (Theo's) that falls on the floor causes a chain reaction in the library.|
|49||"But, Mama, But..."||April 26, 2001|
|Cleo is going away for a while, which causes the others to worry. A boy talks to his mother about her adventures in coming home.|
|50||"Dreaming Shakespeare"||April 27, 2001|
|It's Shakespeare Day in the library.|
|51||"Rats"||April 30, 2001|
|Leona learns that even words can be powerful, they shouldn't stop anyone.|
|52||"Tweet! Tweet!"||May 1, 2001|
|The pigeons think they have dinosaur relatives.|
|53||"Good Night, Knight"||May 2, 2001|
|Leona accidentally breaks a puppet, so she's asked to fill in.|
|54||"The Chess Mess"||May 3, 2001|
|The Lions play a chess game in Wonderland (spoof of Alice in Wonderland).|
|55||"Stop That Chicken! (Season 2 Finale)"||May 4, 2001|
|Chicken Jane escapes from her book and flies into other books.|
Season 3: 2002
|56||"Hay Day (Season 3 Premiere)"||September 16, 2002|
|A girl gives deals to a troll to let him turn straw into gold thread.|
|57||"Pigs Aplenty"||September 23, 2002|
|Cleo and Theo are going out, and Marmy Smartypants is Lionel and Leona's babysitters. When they decide to have a "Pig Party", Click thinks that a disaster is imminent.|
|58||"What Parakeets Need"||September 30, 2002|
|59||"Too Cool"||October 7, 2002|
|60||"You Can't Catch Me!"||October 14, 2002|
|Leona chases a gingerbread man all over the library.|
|61||"Huff and Puff"||October 21, 2002|
|Lionel and Leona help The Big Bad Wolf write a sequel to The Three Little Pigs.|
|62||"Out in Outer Space"||October 28, 2002|
|Lionel and Leona's maternal grandfather comes to the library and tells a story about Ellen Ochoa, a friend who is the first Hispanic woman in space. Lionel and Leona make their biography about him.|
|63||"Help!"||November 4, 2002|
|64||"Two Coats, One Goat and One Boat"||November 11, 2002|
|A man makes things out of an old overcoat.|
|65||"Treats!"||November 18, 2002|
|66||"Surf Germ"||November 25, 2002|
Season 4: 2003
|66||"Art Party"||September 15, 2003|
|67||"Grow, Mane, Grow!"||September 16, 2003|
|Lionel tries to use a device to make his mane grow longer.|
|68||"Three Goats, No Waiting"||September 17, 2003|
|Lionel directs a play about the Three Billy Goats Gruff, but he has trouble finding someone who's scary enough to play the part of the troll.|
|69||"Step by Step"||September 18, 2003|
|70||"Dance in Smarty Pants"||September 19, 2003|
Seasons 5 & 6: 2005-2006
|71||"Pigs, Pigs, Pigs! & The Three Little Pigs"||April 18, 2005|
|72||"The Carrot Seed & The Empty Pot"||April 25, 2005|
|(1.)A boy tries to prove he can plant a ginormous carrot. (2.) Then a boy tries to plant a seed, but to no avail.|
|73||"Wings & What's In the Box?"||May 2, 2005|
|A boy disobeys his father's warnings, then Leona has fun with an empty box.|
|74||"A Shower of Stars & Two Moons and One Lagoon"||May 9, 2005|
|(1.) A lion cub sees stars for the first time. (2.) Then, Lionel and Leona make up a story about touching the moon.|
|75||"The Golden Meaty Awards"||May 16, 2005, January 11, 2011 (re-release)|
|Lionel gives out awards for his favorite songs in the show.|
|76||"Click Clack, Moo & The Little Red Hen"||May 23, 2005|
|(1.) A farmer's cows go on strike while typing, (2.) And then a hen tries to do things by herself without any help.|
|77||"Sylvester and the Magic Pebble & I Miss You, Stinky Face"||May 30, 2005|
|(1.) A donkey makes a bad wish using a magic pebble. (2.) Then a boy imagines all the adventure his mother will have when coming home.|
|78||"A Tasty Piece of Cheese; The Lion and the Mouse"||June 6, 2005|
|79||"Earl's Too Cool; When I Was Five"||June 13, 2005|
|80||"It's Red! It's Green!; Joseph Had a Little Overcoat"||June 21, 2005|
|(1.) Two men argue over a hat. (2.) Then a man make things out of his old overcoat until there's nothing left.|
|81||"Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash; Knuffle Bunny"||April 17, 2006|
|A lady hangs up a lot of weird things on her wire. Then, a baby misplaces her favorite toy.|
|82||"Sheep on a Ship; Mississippi Skip and His Pirate Ship"||April 24, 2006|
|83||"Yo! Yes? & Very Loud, Very Big, Very Metal"||May 1, 2006|
|A boy tries to get a friend to play with him. Then, Lionel watches a music video about vehicles.|
|84||"I'll Fix Anthony & Jamaica Louise James"||May 8, 2006|
|85||"Pete's a Pizza & Pygmalion"||May 15, 2006|
|A boy is sad that he can't go out to play as it is raining, so his father decides to cheer him up by turning him into a pizza. Then, the lions read a Greek myth about a sculpture maker who learns that love makes statues come to life.|
|86||"Here Come the Aliens & Abiyoyo"||May 22, 2006|
|Lionel and his friends believe that there are aliens in the library, but Lionel becomes disappointed when he realizes there aren't. Later, a boy and his father work together to defeat an evil giant.|
|87||"King Midas & The Dirty Smelly King"||May 29, 2006|
|88||"King Midas & The Dirty Smelly King"||June 5, 2006|
|A greedy king wishes that everything he touches turns to gold. He gets the wish, but soon wishes he hadn't. Later, a king rides on his assistant's back to prevent his feet from getting dirty.|
|89||"The Coyote and the Rabbit & The Gingerbread Man"||June 12, 2006|
|A rabbit challenges a coyote to a race. Later, a gingerbread man gets chased by people and animals who want to eat him.|
|90||"The Goat in the Coat"||June 19, 2006|
- National Science Foundation
- Arthur Viking Davis Foundations
- Corporation For The Public Broadcasting
- Premier Music Zone (Season 6 only-present)
- New Balance (Season 6 only)
Season 7: 2007
|91||"The Problem With Chickens; An Egg Is Quiet"||September 17, 2007|
|92||"Spicy Hot Colors; Yesterday I Had the Blues"||September 24, 2007|
|Cleo reads a story about colors and what Mexican things are that color. Then, a boy tells how colors can describe his family and friends' feelings.|
|93||"Bear Snores On; Night in the Country"||October 1, 2007|
|Some animals have a party and interrupt a bear's sleep. Then, Click reads a story about what happens in the countryside at nighttime.|
|94||"How to Be a Good Dog; Not Afraid of Dogs"||October 8, 2007|
|A cat tries to get a dog to behave. Then, a boy who thinks he's fearless tries to get over his fear of dogs.|
|95||"Dear Mr. Blueberry; I Wanna Iguana"||October 15, 2007|
|A girl writes letters to her teacher about whales. Then a boy tries to convince his mother to get him a pet iguana.|
|96||"Violet's Music; What Instrument Does Alvin Play?"||October 22, 2007|
|97||"Moon Rope; Welcome to the Moon"||October 29, 2007|
|98||"The Three-Legged Pot; When Jabo Jammed"||November 5, 2007|
|A boy tries to get a heavy pot up a hill, and when Leona gets it out of the book, she tries to make it dance. Then, Fred tells a story about a boy who loves to make music.|
|99||"Charlie's Dinosaur; Here Come the Aliens"||November 12, 2007|
|100||"Making Bread; Cheesybreadville"||November 19, 2007|
|The lions watch a video about a man who goes to a bakery to learn how to make bread. Later, a disaster in the kitchen creates a brand new treat.|
Season 8: 2008
|101||"Ruby Sings the Blues; The Camel Dances"||September 15, 2008|
|A loud girl learns how to sing. Then, a camel decides to perform ballet in front of other animals.|
|102||"Mole and the Baby Bird; Owen and Mzee"||September 22, 2008|
|A mole learns that some animals shouldn't be pets. Later, Lionel reads a story about a hippopotamus and a turtle who become friends.|
|103||"Stop That Pickle; Chicks and Salsa"||September 29, 2008|
|A pickle goes on the loose, so some foods come to life to chase after the pickle, but they're too slow to catch it. Later, some farm animals decide to make some Southwestern food after they grow tired of the same foods given to them.|
|104||"Are You a Snail?; Wonderful Worms"||October 6, 2008|
|The Information Hen reads a story about what people would do if they were snails. Later, Lionel and Leona help a monkey find her missing pet worm.|
|105||"Stone Soup; Bee-Bim Bop!"||October 13, 2008|
|Cliff Hanger reads a book about a village who helps a couple of aliens make a special soup. Then, a girl helps her mother make dinner.|
|106||"Bein' With You This Way; How to Be"||October 20, 2008|
|Lionel, Leona, and their friends watch a music video about being different. Later, Lionel and Leona read a story about pretending to be different animals.|
|107||"No One Told the Aardvark; Sea Horse"||October 27, 2008|
|108||"Elephants Can Paint, Too!; Jamaica Louise James"||November 3, 2008|
|109||"Trosclair and the Alligator; The Coyote and the Rabbit"||November 10, 2008|
|110||"I Don't Want a Birthday Party; Knuffle Bunny"||November 17, 2008|
Season 9: 2009
|111||"Night Shift; Under Construction"||September 21, 2009|
|112||"Bugs; Beetle Bop"||September 28, 2009|
|113||"Cliff Hanger, the Pheasant, and the Phone; Terrific"||October 5, 2009|
|114||"River Story; Salmon in Alaska"||October 12, 2009|
|115||"Pigs in Hiding; Stop That Pickle!"||October 19, 2009|
|116||"Priceless Gifts; King Midas"||October 26, 2009|
|A merchant learns that making a friend is the best gift. Later, a greedy king wishes that everything he touches turns to gold. He gets the wish, but soon wishes he hadn't.|
|117||"The Popcorn Popper; Oh, Yes, It Can!"||November 2, 2009|
|118||"The Emperor's New Clothes; The Hungry Coat"||November 9, 2009|
|119||"Like a Windy Day; Winter Is the Warmest Season"||November 16, 2009|
|120||"Angelina's Island; Chinese New Year"||November 23, 2009|
Season 10: 2010
|121||"Three More Little Pigs/The Ants and the Grasshopper"||September 20, 2010|
|Lionel, Leona, and the Wolf each try their hand at writing a sequel to The Three Little Pigs, and Leona finds a way to work and play.|
|122||"A Birthday for Cow!/Rabbit's Gift"||September 27, 2010|
|The humble turnip stars in this show about birthday celebrations, vegetables, and the gift of giving.|
|123||"City Mouse and Country Mouse/The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country!"||October 4, 2010|
|Click the Mouse trades places with a real mouse, and the country comes to the library.|
|124||"Pablo the Artist/Dream Carver"||October 11, 2010|
|The Lion family is inspired to create works of art, and Gus is inspired when he and Lionel work on a page from the Cliff Hanger Coloring Book.|
|125||"Roller Coaster/What Do Wheels Do All Day?"||October 18, 2010|
|Leona is finally ready-or is she?-to take the training wheels off her bike, and Squeaky the Wheel has the audience rolling with laughter in the library.|
|126||"Not Norman/Me and My Cat?"||October 25, 2010|
|Theo feels as unappreciated as a goldfish named Norman, and a malfunctioning computer gets the Lion family all mixed up.|
|127||"My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks/Just What Mama Needs"||November 1, 2010|
|The Lion family turns a box of junk into self-portraits, and Leona tricks Lionel into cleaning her room.|
|128||"Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs/My House"||November 8, 2010|
|Leona helps a snail find a new home in the library's new All Different Kinds of Homes wing, and Lionel moves into a new home too.|
|129||"Deep in the Swamp; Trosclair and the Alligator"||November 15, 2010|
|Lionel tries to frighten Leona with creepy, crawly swamp things, and a clever boy tricks a hungry alligator.|
|130||"Red Parka Mary; Not Afraid of Dogs"||November 22, 2010|
|Leona and her friend Sadie are scarier than they think, and a boy learns that dogs aren't so scary after all.|
Seasons 7-10 Funding
- Corporation For The Public Broadcasting
- Viewers Like You
- Bae Systems
- Kelloggs Frosted Flakes
- British Petroleum Remax
- IBM (2002)
- The Electric Company
- Asterisk animation - company responsible for some animation on this show
- Sesame Street
- Barney & Friends