The World of Strawberry Shortcake

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The World of Strawberry Shortcake
A six-year-old girl, dressed in a pinafore and wearing a pink dust cap on top of her hair, looks out to the right of a giant strawberry.  On the strawberry, the words "The World of Strawberry Shortcake" are written in cursive.
Title card
Genre Animated special
Distributed by Lexington Broadcast Services Company (TV, 1981)[1]
Coronet Films (16 mm, 1982)[2]
Family Home Entertainment (VHS, 1985)[3]
Television Program Source (TV, 1986)[4]
Allumination FilmWorks (DVD, 2007)[5]
Directed by Charles Swenson
Produced by Romeo Muller
Charles Swenson
Fred Wolf
Written by Romeo Muller
Starring Russi Taylor
Romeo Muller
Robert Ridgely
Julie McWhirter
Music by Mark Volman
Howard Kaylan
Performed by:
Flo & Eddie
Lyrics:
Romeo Muller
Cinematography Ted McMiller[6]
Meguro Hirochi[6]
Editing by Rich Harrison[6]
Production company Muller/Rosen[6]
Murakami-Wolf-Swenson[6][4]
Toei Doga[6]
RLR Associates (uncredited)[6][4]
Those Characters from Cleveland (uncredited)[6][4]
Budget US$400,000[7]
Country United States
Language English
Original channel Syndication[4][8]
Release date March 28, 1980[9][10]
Running time 23 minutes
Followed by Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City (1981)

The World of Strawberry Shortcake is a 1980 animated television special written by Romeo Muller, directed by Charles Swenson, and produced by Swenson, Muller and Fred Wolf. Starring the voices of Romeo Muller, Russi Taylor, Julie McWhirter and Joan Gerber, it was made by animators from Murakami-Wolf-Swenson in the United States and by Toei Doga in Japan. The music was written and performed by Flo & Eddie of the rock group, The Turtles.

The titular character, Strawberry Shortcake, lives in a fictional place called Strawberryland. In the special, narrated by Romeo Muller (as Mr. Sun), she and her friends celebrate her sixth birthday. While preparations for her party are underway, a villain called the Peculiar Purple Pieman plots to steal the berries from Strawberry's home in order to make his pies.

Produced and sponsored by the Kenner toy company, The World of Strawberry Shortcake was the first special to feature the American Greetings character, Strawberry Shortcake. Bypassing network television, it debuted on March 28, 1980, in syndication across more than 90 U.S. cities, and was later released on 16 mm film, VHS, Beta and DVD. The special received generally favorable reviews in the School Library Journal, which reviewed it in 1983 and 2007.

Plot[edit]

Strawberry Shortcake lives in a place called Strawberryland, with her calico cat Custard; her house resembles a shortcake. Her friends – Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin, Raspberry Tart, Plum Puddin' and toddler Apple Dumplin' – also live close by. One morning, during their Market Day, Strawberry's friends discuss plans for her sixth birthday – all except for lazy Huckleberry Pie.

Strawberry's villain, the Peculiar Purple Pieman, lives atop the Pie Tin Palace on a black hill called Porcupine Peak. While she is doing chores, the Pieman sends his crows – "berry birds" – to retrieve some berries for his pies. Strawberry tries shooing the flock away with her broom, but a moving tree helps out as a scarecrow, and she thanks him for helping. In desperation, the Pieman heads down to Strawberryland himself to get his supply, dressed as a kind old peddler.

At noon, Strawberry calls her friends over for lunch, but they leave her behind and go to Lilac Park to prepare for her surprise party. Soon after, the disguised Pieman meets her and offers watering cans for sale. To his chagrin, Strawberry cannot afford to buy a magical one guaranteed to produce strawberries seven feet tall. Assisted by Lucky Bug, Huckleberry's ladybug aide, he goes to the Park, where Huckleberry pays for the equipment.

Strawberry soon arrives at the venue to see her friends, who greet her with "Happy Birthday" and give her a present: the Pieman's watering can. The device fails to grow anything and spills over instead, flooding the Park and much of Strawberryland. The children are dismayed that the Pieman tricked them for his berry-stealing plot, and soon they harvest every bit of that supply over to him.

The group travels to the Pie Tin Palace on rafts made of flotsam. Landing upon a mud field, they find out from Lucky Bug that Apple Dumplin' ended up at the Palace; they now have no way to rescue her. Mr. Sun, the narrator of the story, grants Strawberry a wish. She wishes to defeat the Pieman, and a grove of marching trees help her accomplish this; their stomping causes the Palace to collapse. Afterward, Apple Dumplin' gives him a note demanding that he surrender and do good deeds; he reluctantly does so, giving the toddler and berries back to Strawberry and company. At the end of the special, Strawberry Shortcake offers him a chance to sell his pies at Strawberry Market, and become friends with her.

Cast[edit]

Name Character Source
Russi Taylor Strawberry Shortcake [4]
Robert Ridgely Peculiar Purple Pieman
Romeo Muller Mr. Sun / Narrator
Julie McWhirter Huckleberry Pie
Joan Gerber Blueberry Muffin / Apple Dumplin'
Pamela Anderson Raspberry Tart
Bob Holt Ben Bean / Escargot

Production[edit]

Produced[8] and sponsored[4] by the Kenner toy company,[8] The World of Strawberry Shortcake was the first of six television specials to star the titular character.[4] The franchise began in 1977, when American Greetings staff member Muriel Fahrion drew the first designs of Strawberry and her pet cat Custard.[11] In 1979, she appeared in greeting cards;[12] dolls, books and games soon followed.[13][14]

The special was made by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson,[6] which previously worked on The Point![15] and Frank Zappa's 200 Motels,[16][17] both from 1971;[15][17] RLR Associates of New York City was another production partner.[4][18] Animation work was also handled by Japan's Toei Doga.[6] At the time of production, the producers called it a "morality play for tots".[19] One of the crewmembers was Romeo Muller, writer for several Rankin/Bass television specials.[16] Muller served as writer, co-producer and lyricist of the Strawberry Shortcake special;[6] he also voiced Mr. Sun, the narrator.[4] After he proposed the idea to Kenner, the company and American Greetings agreed to do it.[7] According to Jack Chojnacki, co-president of Those Characters from Cleveland, a subsidiary of American Greetings,[20] the card manufacturer considered new additions to the script, and reminded the writer that every character should be marketable.[7] With those suggestions in mind, Muller came up with a villain called the Peculiar Purple Pieman.[7] The Toy Group division of General Mills, which owned Kenner at the time,[21] spent US$400,000 on the special.[7]

Release[edit]

The first Strawberry Shortcake television special, which aired in 1980, revived a potent controversy that many people believed had been laid to rest. [The World of Strawberry Shortcake] was clearly as much a program-length commercial as the old Hot Wheels cartoon show had been. But the regulatory mood in Washington had changed, and the Strawberry Shortcake special opened the way for what sometimes appears to be the transformation of children's television into a promotional arm of the toy industry.

David Owen, "The Man Who Invented Saturday Morning" (essay), 1986[22]

Upon completion, Muller was satisfied with how The World of Strawberry Shortcake turned out.[7] Although he pointed out the lack of such influences in the special, he told The New York Times in April 1981: "I suppose the show is a commercial, in the largest sense of the word."[7] Some time after the titular character's debut at the 1980 American International Toy Fair, major television networks in the U.S. were offered a chance to air the special.[8] They also deemed it an advertisement for the toy line, and rejected it.[8] On March 28, 1980,[10] the special debuted on independent stations[8] in over 90 U.S. cities;[4][10][nb 1] it aired on WNEW (now WNYW) in the New York City market,[9] and on KTLA in Los Angeles.[4] Kenner launched a collection of dolls and toys based on the special, concurrently with the original broadcast.[9][19] This led John J. O'Connor of The New York Times to proclaim, "Onward and upward with the art of marketing!"[9]

In 1981, the Lexington Broadcast Services Company acquired syndication rights to The World of Strawberry Shortcake, along with its follow-up, Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City.[1] By 1986, the Television Program Source took over the rights for the first special.[4] It was released on 16 mm film by the Coronet company[23] in 1982,[2] and on VHS and Beta in October 1985 by Family Home Entertainment.[3] A Region 1 DVD from Allumination FilmWorks, featuring this special and Big Apple City,[24] was released on March 6, 2007.[5] In Germany, the original special premiered on ZDF on April 4, 1983, as Emily im Erdbeerland.[25] A soundtrack album, with contributions by Flo & Eddie of The Turtles, was released by Kid Stuff Records the same year as the original airing.[16] The track list featured the "Strawberry Shortcake Theme", along with "Smile a Sunny Morning", "Sunflower Market", "Monster Trees" and "Berry Talk".[4]

Reception[edit]

The World of Strawberry Shortcake was reviewed twice by the School Library Journal. In the December 1983 issue, Margaret Bush said that the "Story, characters, dialogue and bits of stage business are busy, bright, contrived, and will appeal of young children."[23] She added, however, that "Some of the lyrics and dialogue are not easily understood – it sounds as if adult voices may be attempting to simulate the voices of small children."[23] In August 2007, Kirsten Martindale gave the DVD set a positive review. She wrote that "Fans [...] will be thoroughly engaged by these two episodes", and recommended it "For nostalgic moms and their young daughters." She however singled out the audio and video quality: "[F]or those who haven't experienced the charm and simplicity of older cartoons, this may be annoying, but the nostalgic effect of the original presentation is relaxed and welcome."[24] In 1987, Kathleen Pulcini of The Video Directory called it "Delightful fun for children."[26]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Woolery (1989) gives a figure of "more than 95 markets".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Television/Radio Age (Television Editorial Corp.) 29: N/A. 1981. Lexington Broadcast Services is offering two half-hour animated children's specials: Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City, for which stations will receive compensation; and The Wonderful World of Strawberry Shortcake, on a barter basis 
  2. ^ a b Orlin, Lesley E., ed. (1984). Media Review Digest 14. Pierian Press. p. 283. ISBN 0-87650-198-6. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Retailing: New Releases". Billboard (VNU/Nielsen Business Media) 97 (41): 24. October 12, 1985. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Woolery, George W. (1989). "The World of Strawberry Shortcake". Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962–1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 458–459. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. 
  5. ^ a b Mavis, Paul (March 16, 2007). "DVD Video Reviews - Strawberry Shortcake: The World of Strawberry Shortcake & Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Swenson, Charles (director); Muller, Romeo (writer) (March 28, 1980). "The World of Strawberry Shortcake". Syndication.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Salmans, Sandra (April 5, 2010). "When Merchandisers Guide the Animator's Hand" (Subscription required). The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. 27 (Section 2). Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Engelhardt, Tom (1986). "Children's Television: The Shortcake Strategy". In Gitlin, Todd. Watching Television: A Pantheon Guide to Popular Culture. Pantheon Books (Random House). pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-394-74651-1. 
  9. ^ a b c d O'Connor, John J. (March 28, 1980). "TV Weekend Nuclear Power Debate; Friday/Sunday" (Subscription required). The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. C34. Retrieved September 3, 2010. Also of interest: (Friday) 'The World of Strawberry Shortcake' (WNEW, Channel 5, 8 P.M.). This animated special, it is emphasized, was designed for tots. 
  10. ^ a b c United Press International (UPI) (March 23, 1980). "Shortcake Program". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 19-H. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  11. ^ Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy (November 16, 2007). "Vacuous like cotton candy" (Registration required to read article). Jerusalem Post. p. 38. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  12. ^ Pauly, Helen (February 1, 1983). "Strawberry sells like hotcakes". The Milwaukee Journal (Journal Communications). p. 17. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  13. ^ Lowry, Patricia (March 1, 1983). "For Fun and Profit: Companies discover there's big money in leasing the rights to a name and image". The Pittsburgh Press. p. A-14. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  14. ^ Zellner, Wendy (November 26, 1985). "Toycoon: Care Bear, Strawberry Shortcake creator hoping for new trivia hit". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. 13–14. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Slide, Anthony (1991). "Murakami-Wolf-Swenson". The Television Industry: A Historical Dictionary. Greenwood Press. p. 181. ISBN 0-313-25634-9. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c Kuvo, Kelly (2005). "Flo & Eddie: The World of Strawberry Shortcake". In Cooper, Kim; Smay, David. Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed. Psychology Press. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-415-96998-0. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Gray, Michael (2006). The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Continuum. p. 640. ISBN 0-8264-6933-7. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 200 Motels, dir. Tony Palmer & Charles Swenson, Bizarre/Murakami-Wolf, [U.S.], 1971. 
  18. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 359. ISBN 1-55783-671-X. 
  19. ^ a b Bowden, Robert (March 28, 1980). "J.R. Ewing shooting was shrewd corporate move". St. Petersburg Times. p. 18D. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  20. ^ DeWolf, Rose (October 12, 1982). "Out to launch: Is there shelf life after Holly Hobbie? You bet" (Registration required to read article). Philadelphia Daily News. p. 33 (FEATURES). Retrieved September 17, 2010. Jack Chojnacki, copresident of Those Characters from Cleveland, a subsidiary of American Greetings set up just to handle licensing, told a recent meeting... 
  21. ^ Salmans, Sandra (February 15, 1981). "Strawberry Shortcake sweetens greeting card sales". Star-News. N.Y. Times News Service. p. 11C. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  22. ^ Owen, David (1988). "The Man Who Invented Saturday Morning". The Man Who Invented Saturday Morning—and Other Adventures in American Enterprise (Essay). Villard Books (Random House). p. 179. ISBN 0-394-56810-9. 
  23. ^ a b c Bush, Margaret (December 1983). "The World of Strawberry Shortcake". School Library Journal (Reed Business Information) 30 (4): 41–42. 
  24. ^ a b Martindale, Kirsten (August 2007). "Strawberry Shortcake: The World of Strawberry Shortcake & Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City". School Library Journal (Reed Business Information) 53 (8): 54–55. 
  25. ^ "Emily Erdbeer: Episodenführer der TV-Serie" (in German). imfernsehen GmbH & Co. KG. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  26. ^ Pulcini, Kathleen (1987). "World of Strawberry Shortcake". The Video Directory. Pendragon. p. 44. ISBN 0-681-57269-8. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 

External links[edit]