Franklin (TV series)
|Created by||Paulette Bourgeois (Writer)
Brenda Clark (illustrator)
|Theme music composer||Bruce Cockburn|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||78 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||23 minutes per episode|
|Original channel||Family Channel (1997-2003)
Treehouse TV (2003-2004)
|Original run||November 3, 1997– June 26, 2004|
Franklin is a Canadian children's animated television series, based on the Franklin the Turtle books by Brenda Clark and Paulette Bourgeois. It was produced by Nelvana, and aired on Treehouse TV in Canada and on Nickelodeon in the United States from 1997-2009. It has since been off the air and replaced with a new adaptation, Franklin and Friends. Re-runs of the original series continue to air in Israel on the channel "Hop!".
The development design of Franklin the Turtle for the animated TV series character, was the achievement of Canadian Animation artist and Illustrator Kurt Lehner, which he worked on during his time at Nelvana Studios in 1997. These designs were studies taken directly from the Franklin the Turtle book series itself. Though Lehner did not continue to work with the "series" design team which was hired after the development process, at that time he was given the privilege of also designing Beaver, Rabbit and Skunk as well.
In May 2004, new episodes of the series began airing on the Canadian network, Treehouse TV. Franklin and many of his friends had new voice actors in these new adventures, but many of the show's strongest writers and staff-members remained on board. These new stories saw Franklin facing a flood, worries about the old treehouse, and earning a badge in a group called the Woodland Trailblazers. For the sixth season Funbag and other animation studios joined in the development of Franklin. The most recent movie in the series is Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure. The film was written by John van Bruggen and directed by Dominique Monféry. The 76 minute long film premiered in theatres in 2006 and had its debut on Noggin on New Year's Eve, 2007, as part of a celebration of the network's conversion to a 24/7 format.
Franklin is traditionally animated with some computer aid, especially in the later seasons. Franklin is closed-captioned. The series focuses on the eponymous growing young turtle who, as his television stories and books always begin, "could count by twos and tie his shoes". He goes to school, lives in a small village called Woodland with his friends, and has many adventures playing and learning in the world around him, sometimes with the helping hand of an adult or his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle. Franklin likes swimming, arts and crafts (especially drawing), and loves shoofly pie. He's been known to be afraid of the dark and of thunderstorms. Franklin has a best friend named Bear, as well as a blue blanket and a blue stuffed dog named Sam. In earlier seasons, he sleeps with his blanket and Sam. During the thunder storms when Franklin is scared, Sam and his blue blanket help keep him calm.
Franklin almost always aired with two 11-minute stories, except on Canada's CBC, which splits the stories apart and shows one at a time. The Franklin DVD and video releases include individual stories grouped together as part of a theme, rather than complete episodes. Unlike many animated children's programs, Franklin has no interstitial segments or end-tags featuring the characters. The scenes shown in the cartoon opening introduction were changed after the show's first season. Many of these scenes featured Otter, a character who left the series early in the first season and was only seen once more in later seasons.
Differences in the colouring of the cartoon can be spotted from season-to-season. The more recent feature films, most noticeably Back to School with Franklin have a somewhat different look from the television series. The film Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure had considerably higher production values, with more colour differentiation between the various turtles, higher quality animation, an overall brighter look, and beautifully painted backgrounds.
Characters and Neighbourhood
The main character of the series is Franklin Turtle himself. All episodes and movies focus on Franklin as the main character and almost all events are presented directly from his point of view, with some exceptions. There are no stories in which Franklin is not present, though sometimes certain other characters may take more of a focus.
Franklin's family includes his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle and his little sister Harriet. Mr. and Mrs. Turtle are presented as gentle and loving parents who provide direction and guidance for Franklin, as well as reasonable discipline when needed. His sister, Harriet, was born in the film Franklin and the Green Knight and was featured in stories in the fifth and sixth season of the programme. Franklin's extended family includes his paternal grandmother, who lives close by, as well as his maternal grandparents, who live on a remote farm and are married twin sibling grandparents. (As shown in "Franklin's Magic Christmas").
In the film Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure, his maternal aunt Lucy and her goddaughter Sam chose to settle in Woodland as well. And in the new CGI series, his paternal Aunt T is introduced. In later episodes, Franklin's maternal aunt and uncle who are married twin siblings and his maternal cousin will be introduced.
Franklin's best friend is Bear, who is a bear that loves to eat and, in later seasons, has a sister named Beatrice. His other close friend is Snail, who considers Franklin to be his best friend. One of Franklin's other friends that appears most often on the series is Beaver. Franklin's other friends that appear most often on the series are Goose, Rabbit, Fox, and Skunk. He is taught by Mr. Owl, though this character was temporarily replaced by Miss Koala in the film Back to School with Franklin, when Mr. Owl was called away on a family emergency.
Other characters are seen on the show with less frequency, sometimes only appearing in one or a few episodes.
Franklin and his friends live in a small, animal-resident village in eastern North America known as Woodland. The village is small enough that most residents know one another and meet on a regular basis. There is a small shopping district, some roads (with very little traffic), and at least one community schoolhouse.
- Turtle Household - Franklin, his parents and Harriet's home.
- Oakwood School - The schoolhouse in Woodland where Owl works at and where Franklin goes to school.
- Shopping District - Woodland is known to have a robust shopping district with an ice-cream shop, Mr. Mole's hardware store, a pharmacy, a grocery market, a coffee shop, a bookstore, and more. Franklin and his friends sometimes travel here with their parents, with each other, or even by themselves.
- Pond - Franklin and his friends often hang out by the pond, which is attached to a stream. They sometimes go swimming, sit by the pond, or participate in various activities.
- Woods - Woodland is surrounded on at least one end by forests. A character named Gopher who appeared in the movie Franklin and the Green Knight is known to live here. In Franklin and the Green Knight, Franklin and Snail had an adventure here. They journeyed deep into the woods where they met several characters and found magic cherry blossoms.
- Oakwood Ravine - Located within the woods and connected distantly to the playground. The only area in Woodland that is shown to contain poison ivy.
- Nature Trail - The Nature Trail is a trail that has a picnic ground within it, as well as the Monarch Meadow and Blueberry Hill Lookout. Franklin and Bear went on a hiking trip in the Trail once. They expected to find monarch butterflies in the Meadow, but found caterpillars instead. There is a pond here as well. Franklin and Bear try to skip stones in it, but the stones sink.
- Village Park - Kids go to skateboard here.
- Playground - For the younger kids such as Harriet and Beatrice. It has a slide, swings and monkey bars. Harriet, Kit, and Beatrice all enjoy playing here.
- Tamarack Play Park - An amusement park area never seen on the programme, but referenced. When Franklin is unable to travel there with all his friends, he creates "Turtle Play Park."
- Faraway Farm - The farm far away from Woodland where Franklin's maternal grandparents live. Franklin and his family spend Christmas here with her maternal grandparents in the TV special Franklin's Magic Christmas.
- Turtle Lake - An area featured only in the TV special Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure. Franklin's Granny lived in this area, but lost her home and parents in a fire.
- Woodland Town Hall - The Woodland Town Hall is used to hold the production of Sleeping Beauty performed by Franklin and his class in "Franklin's Starring Role."
- Thrill Hill - A steep hill that the big kids in town like to skateboard down. Franklin ends up skateboarding down it accidentally and then is dared to do it again. At first he agrees, but ends up not taking the dare.
- Blueberry Hill - A hill within a nature park that has a spectacular view, when it's not too cloudy. The name may be a reference the 1940 song.
Sports and games
Baseball is seen more often in earlier seasons, with only sporadic appearances in later episodes. Hockey and soccer are favoured as sports to play. Once, when Franklin and Bear went to sign up for football, spaces had run out, so they were signed up for basketball instead.
Owing to the show's Canadian roots, ice hockey has an important place in the Franklin world. It is featured in several stories, including one in which Skunk is taught by Franklin and Bear how to play. Franklin also gets to meet a couple of his professional hockey heroes in the fifth and sixth seasons of the programme.
In addition to sports, the characters enjoy a number of games and activities. Franklin becomes his school's chess champion. Harriet and Beatrice enjoy playing tag and hide-and-seek. And Franklin and his friends enjoy playing knights.
Books and Movies
Franklin television stories are mostly based on books in the original Franklin Adventure series. The practice of adapting television stories from books was dropped in the programme's second season, though elements and dialogue from some of the books are incorporated into later stories. Although, many Franklin television stories have been made into books in the Franklin TV Storybook and Franklin First Readers series. Usually written by Sharon Jennings, these adaptations are shortened versions of what is seen on TV and may contain non-canon material.
In October, 2000, Franklin's little sister Harriet was introduced in the direct-to-video and DVD movie Franklin and the Green Knight. The two shared an adventure in 2001 in Franklin's Magic Christmas". Back to School with Franklin was released direct-to-video in 2003, which involved Harriet befriending Beaver's younger brother Kit, and new character Mrs. Koala introduced as a teacher to Franklin and his friends.
The show was received well by critics and parents. Joly Herman of Common Sense Media stated in a review, "Franklin is a show that takes for granted respect for elders and vice versa. There's no whining, fighting, yelling, provocation, or aggravation. Franklin ultimately sets a good example of responsible TV programming, and it is a rare show that celebrates the innocence of childhood."
On September 27, 2010, Nelvana announced that it had begun production on a new all-CGI Franklin series called Franklin and Friends. The series has been ordered for 26 episodes and the characters that return in the series are Bear, Fox, Rabbit, Beaver, Goose, Snail and, naturally, Franklin himself. Additionally, the series features a new regular character, Franklin's paternal aunt named Aunt T., described as "quirky." The series "features special themes including fun mysteries, Woodland events and outdoor activities." This is a Canada-Singapore joint venture between Nelvana and Infinite Frameworks Pte. Ltd..
The series officially premiered on Treehouse TV on March 4, 2011, A U.S. release date has been announced on the Nick Jr. Franklin page  set for February 13, 2012. It also premiered in the Singapore on Mediacorp on February 15, 2012.
Franklin has been seen in numerous touring stage shows, including "Franklin's Big Adventure," "Franklin's Class Concert," "Franklin's Family Christmas Concert," and "Franklin's Carnival Of Animals." Produced by Koba Entertainment and presented by Paquin Entertainment, these stage shows featured a number of songs including "Come See the World," "What I Do in the Morning" and "The Dinosaur Song."
In 2009, a new touring show, "Franklin and The Adventures of the Noble Knights", was developed, and is currently touring in France. The show is also produced by Koba Entertainment, and presented by Paquin Entertainment. The Director/Choreographer is Patti Caplette. This show toured in Canada in 2010. A soundtrack CD featuring the songs from the programme is now available.
- Franklin at the Internet Movie Database
- Franklin and Friends web page at TreeHouseTV.com
- Franklin (nickjr.com)
- TV.com Franklin guide
- EpGuides - Episode Listings
- Yahoo Group
- Toronto's Franklin Park
- Franklin (noggin.com - Web Archive)
- Franklin on TV Tropes
- Franklin on ABC 4 Kids