The World of David the Gnome
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The World of David the Gnome, originally titled David, el Gnomo (also known as David, the Gnome), is a Spanish animated television series based on the children's book The Secret Book of Gnomes, by the Dutch author Wil Huygen and illustrator Rien Poortvliet. The program was originally created in Spain by BRB Internacional (who were also responsible for the Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds franchise and other cartoons such as Bobobobs and Around the World with Willy Fog) titled David el Gnomo, and retains a sense of the lush illustrations of the original books. Twenty-six episodes were produced. There was also a spin-off series entitled Wisdom of the Gnomes.
The English language dub The World of David the Gnome was produced by Canadian studio Cinar (now Cookie Jar Entertainment, and now part of DHX Media), in association with Miramax Films. Christopher Plummer narrated, with the voice of David the Gnome being provided by Tom Bosley.
David the Gnome came to US television in 1987, airing weekdays on the Nickelodeon cable channel, and was part of the fledgling Nick Jr. lineup when that was created shortly thereafter until 1996. It also aired on TLC on It's Ready Set Learn block from October 7, 1996 until March 27, 1998. It also aired on Discovery Kids on It's Ready Set Learn block from September 30, 1998 until October 9, 2010. The series is still frequently airing weekday mornings on Irish channel RTÉ Two as of 2006. In Australia, it has aired on ABC, as well as the Australian branch of Nickelodeon, again as part of the Nick Jr. lineup.
The series presents the gnomes as a kind species, of 15 centimeters (6 inches) of height, and between 250 and 300 grams (8 and 10 ounces) of weight depending on gnome body mass. According to their habitat, different types of gnomes are distinguished: the ones of the forest, the ones of the garden, the ones of the farm, the ones of the house, the ones of the dunes, those of Siberia, and nomadic "gypsy" gnomes (commonly looked down upon by other gnomes). A gnome's lifespan is usually 400 years, though there is one example of a couple in the Balkans living 550 years.
Gnomes such as the main characters live in pairs in comfortable caves or holes under trees (in their case in the company of a pair of mice and a cricket). Their diet is mostly vegetarian. They are helped by the animals of the forest when traveling long distances or when they need to arrive quickly at a specific location. Gnomes work in various ways to repair the damage inevitably caused by humans. They also have the power of telepathy and mind control.
Their main enemies are the trolls, malevolent and clumsy creatures who always make trouble for the other inhabitants of the forest, as well as gnome poachers.
- David – A gnome of the forest. David is 358 years old, making him the oldest gnome around (since most gnomes live no more than 360 years), although he possesses exceptional constitution. David is a doctor, and he uses his knowledge of many fields, such as hypnosis and acupuncture, to heal his patients, usually animals, such as his faithful friend Swift the fox, or other gnomes. David also befriends a bird that, when he whistles, immediately arrives to quickly transport him to wherever necessary. For longer trips, he sometimes travels in a basket attached to the neck of the bird. Voiced by Tom Bosley.
- Lisa – David's wife and companion and is the same age as he. Together they have two children, Lily and Harold. David's wife is in charge of the household, although she occasionally accompanies him and helps him in his diverse adventures. Voiced by Jane Woods.
- Swift the Fox – David's best friend who lives in the forest and is always available to transport David to wherever he is required. Huygen's son, Josh, came up with this character. This is Josh's favorite character. He is characterized by his speed and loyalty to David. Voiced by Vlasta Vrana.
- The Trolls – In the series, there are four trolls who constantly try to bother the gnomes. Their names are Pit, Pat and Pot, and Holler. Holler has a receding hairline and is the only one of the four able to think. They have some supernatural powers, and are capable of using magical spells too powerful for Gnome magic to break. However, in addition to their extreme lack of wit, they also have another severe weakness: direct exposure to sunlight turns them into stone. Holler was voiced by A.J. Henderson, Pit was voiced by Marc Denis, Pat was voiced by Rob Roy, and Pot was voiced by Adrian Knight.
- Susan – David and Lisa's granddaughter. Voiced by Barbara Pogenmiller.
- King – Voiced by Richard Dumont
- Paul – David's twin brother. Not only does Paul have a normal moustache in contrast to David's handlebar moustache but his jumper is a darker shade of blue, he has a bigger nose, his gnome hat is dark blue whereas that of David's is red and his trousers and boots are an inverse of those of David's: David's trousers are brown and his boots are beige, while Paul wears beige trousers and dark boots.
David the Gnome ran for twenty-six episodes, each approximately 24 minutes in length.
There are a number of scenes that were shortened or removed from the English-language version. All of the following scenes were shown in European versions, but were removed from the English version on Nickelodeon:
- Good Medicine
- The live-action footage of the "man made world of the city" was edited. The English version removes shots of heavily polluted water, a beach covered with litter, industrial waste, and a nuclear bomb test.
- The scene where David is drying off after his bath was shortened to remove nudity.
- A brief scene that shows a farm gnome urinating was cut.
- An image of a gnome woman nursing twins was removed.
- The entire scene with the trolls fighting and playing with a spider was taken out.
- Witch Way Out
- When David and Swift are going home through the forest, David talks about the mysterious creatures of the forest. In the Spanish and Dutch versions, an image of a water nymph (a topless mermaid) is included. This was also removed from the Italian version.
- Part of a montage of scenes showing David's previous run-in with the trolls was edited. A scene where the trolls were grinding David on a wheel was removed, along with a scene where the trolls were tossing him while standing around a fire. A shot of a troll holding a knife to David's throat was removed. A scene where Lisa is in a cage with the trolls laughing was cut, although this same scene was later shown in another episode. Most of the intense scenes were also cut from the Italian version.
- When David and Swift were walking through the forest, Swift smelled something and began trailing it. In the English version, it is unclear what he smelled. In the Spanish version, Swift was smelling some dead rats that had been hung out by the trolls. The smell of the dead rats was used to lure David and Swift to the trolls' cave. Before the dead rats are shown, one of the trolls shouts (in Spanish) "Now the hunter has become the hunted!" The scene where the trolls capture David and Swift is also shortened.
- Any scene where a troll has dripping nose mucus was removed from Nickelodeon and TLC.
- When the trolls put their feet in front of David's face, he pokes their feet with a metal tool. The English version removed the next scene where we see the trolls yelping in a pain (one has visible dripping mucus).
- In the American version, Lisa put a chunk of "hyena fat" in the trolls' soup, to lure them out of their cave with its bad smell. In the original Spanish version, she used a chunk of asafetida, which had the same effect.
- The English version also does not show Lisa presenting a bottle of liquid opium before she pours it into the potion she makes for the trolls.
- David to the Rescue
- The scene at the first where Lisa shows the viewers her fancy dishes and some books was removed from the English version, probably for time
- The Baby Troll
- During the scene where Lisa is talking about a gnome's clothing, a shot of a topless, blushing gnome girl appears. This was cut from the American version.
- Little Houses for Little People
- A scene involving the trolls was shortened. The shot of the trolls stumbling through the forest was cut because one troll had visible nose mucus.
- The entire scene where David helps a young stag was different in the U.S. version. Originally, the young stag had horsefly larvae lodged in his throat. This was changed to less grotesque pine cones. A diagram of a large fly and how the larvae became lodged in the stag's throat were removed. In the original version, David holds up one of the objects he had pulled out, and the viewers can see it wiggling (obviously not a pine cone). The gnome procedure for removing horseflies from animals' throats can be found in the original book "Gnomes" in the chapter "Relations with Animals".
- The Wedding that Almost Wasn't
- Near the start of the episode, David tells about when gnomes first become interested in courtship. A scene of a young David blushing and looking at topless Lisa was cut.
- To Grandfather's House We Go
- The scene of the porcupine giving birth was shortened to remove a scene of her crying out in pain.
- There are some minor differences in dialog in this episode too. In the English version, when the witch comes home, the cat tells her about his adventures. The viewers only hear meowing. The witch translates the cat's meowing as she writes down what he says on paper. "A big bad fox, you say? No, that's no good, let's make it a big bad wolf." She concludes her story by writing "Little Red Riding Hood" on the cover page. At the end she exclaims, "Oh sure, Little Red Riding Hood! Ha!" In the Spanish version, the cat meows, but the witch does not translate his meows. Instead she writes the title in English and says "Caperucita Roja", which is "Little Red Riding Hood" in Spanish.
- Ghost of the Black Lake
- Two scenes where trolls were shown with dripping nose mucus were removed. The first scene happens when Holler comes to wake up the trolls, and the second happens when the trolls are scared by the bear.
- The Kingdom of the Elves
- In most all international versions, there is a scene where Swift vomits after David gives him an antidote for poison. This was removed from the English version, but can be seen in the Italian, Spanish, and Dutch version.
- Friends in Trouble
- A scene where the mice are bringing home the insects for the birds is missing. In the original Spanish version, the mice come home and spit dead bugs into a bowl.
- The rooster fighting scene at the start was much longer in the Spanish version. In the English version, the viewers mostly see David dodging the roosters' feet. In the original version, the roosters can be seen attacking each other in mid-air.
- Kangaroo Adventure
- In the English version, Prince Rex had stopped growing because he was allergic to his boomerang. In the original Spanish version, the prince had actually contracted a parasite from the wood used to make the boomerang. A shot of his insides with a crawling worm was removed, along with a close up of the boomerang covered with crawling parasites was cut.
- The Careless Cub
- At the start of the episode, the mother wolf and one of her cubs eat poisoned meat. In the Spanish version, she vomits before she collapses. This scene was missing from the English version. There are also several shots of the trolls with dripping nasal mucus in the Spanish version that were taken out of the English version.
- The Mountains of Beyond
- The scene where Swift is saying goodbye to the gnomes was shortened. In the U.S. version, Swift is not shown licking tears from the gnomes' faces.
When "The World of David the Gnome" was shown on The Learning Channel (TLC) in the U.S., all of the above edits were applied, along with these additional cuts:
- Good Medicine
- The scene where David removes a wire from a goat's stomach is shortened. His incision into the goat's skin is removed.
- Most all of the scene where David extracts a splinter from a badger's eye is removed. The entire acupuncture procedure is missing.
- A brief scene of Holler the troll is cut where he shouts, "I'll tie David to a wheel and spin him!"
- David to the Rescue
- David's explanation of little Gina's illness is cut. On The Learning Channel version, there is no mention that Gina was poisoned, and any reference to pesticides is removed.
- Little Houses for Little People
- The scene where David imagines himself and Lisa flying on a butterfly that catches fire is shortened. The scene is cut short before the butterfly catches fire.
- The Ghost of the Black Lake
- Some of the more intense images in the Black Lake castle were removed.
- Young Dr. Gnome
Many scenes were cut or shortened from this episode including:
- Jonathan throwing a rock at the hunter's dog is removed.
- David extracting a bullet from the little deer is shortened.
- After the surgery, David warns viewers that many woodland animals are becoming scarce in the forest. This entire scene was removed.
- The scene where David tells the gnomes to bury the hunter's rifle is removed.
- The Shadowless Stone
- A short scene of dialog is removed. When David and Lisa first enter King Conrad's palace, Lisa tells David she can see the waterfall but not hear it. Their exchange of words is edited out.
- The Mountains of Beyond
- Most scenes where characters are seen crying are shortened or edited, including most of the scene where the gnomes say goodbye to Swift.
The series was well received and is fondly remembered today.
After the success of the initial series, the same producers created a spin-off called Wisdom of the Gnomes (1987). In this series, the protagonist is a gnome called Klaus, a judge who travels with his assistant Dani to solve disputes.
Other sequels, both in serial and movie form, were The Gnomes' Great Adventure (1987), The Great Adventure of the Gnomes (1995), The Gnomes in the Snow (1999) and The Fantastic Adventures of the Gnomes (2000).
The series was also preceded by the popular television movie, Gnomes in 1980, which was based on the same series of books as The World of David the Gnome.
In 1997 there was a series called The New World of the Gnomes which was a retelling of the original series as David and his nephew Sprout now travel the world to save animals and preserve nature as it is endangered by problems of modern day pollution and environmental dangers. Lisa, David's wife from the original series, does appear in the show. Other than the humans who cause either unintentional or intentional destruction to nature and harm to animals, the show's other antagonists are three trolls who run into David and the gnomes now and then, their names are Stinky, Brute, and Drool. The show was also made in collaboration with the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation)
In 2014, there will be a series called The New Adventures of The Gnomes and it will be a retelling of the original Wisdom of the Gnomes as Klaus and his grandson, Persifal, along with twins Lucinda and Gregor and a young werewolf named Stan, travel the world to save animals and preserve nature as it is endangered by problems of modern day pollution and environmental dangers and to stop an evil sorcerer that'll change the future forever. Dany, Klaus's Assistant from the Wisdom of Gnomes does appear in the show Other than the humans who cause either unintentional or intentional destruction to nature and harm to animals, the show's other antagonists are still the three trolls who run into Klaus and the gnomes now and then, their names are Stinky, Brute, and Drool and the poacher/assassin Aaron Frisk. The show was also made in collaboration with the WWF and NWF (National Wildlife Federation).
In the 1980's, Family Home Entertainment released four VHS tapes of the series in the U.S. each containing 2 episodes. A complete series DVD set was released in the U.K. in 2006 by Revelation Films. The complete series was also released on DVD in 2011 in Spain and Italy. Most episodes are available on DVD in Germany and Holland. The Italian and Spanish versions can currently be found on the respective country's Amazon website. The complete series was released on DVD in the U.S. in 2012 by Oasis DVDs.
- Lewin, Tamar (October 21, 1990). "TELEVISION; Hey There, Dudes, the Kids Have Grabbed a Network". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- David the Gnome at the Internet Movie Database
- The World of David the Gnome at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- David the Gnome at TV.com
- David the Gnome fansite