WordGirl

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"The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl" redirects here. For short series' episodes, see List of WordGirl short episodes.
WordGirl
WordGirl title card.jpg
Format Children's television series
Created by Dorothea Gillim
Developed by
  • Dorothea Gillim
  • Jack D. Ferraiolo
Directed by David SanAngelo
Steve Young
Voices of
Narrated by
Theme music composer
  • Steven D'Angelo
  • Terry Tompkins
Opening theme Word Up, It's WordGirl!
Ending theme Word Up, It's WordGirl! (Instrumental)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 109 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Dorothea Gillim (Season 1)
  • Deborah Forte (as of Season 2)
Producer(s)
  • Will Shepard (Season 1)
  • Danielle Gillis (as of Season 2)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Soup2Nuts
Distributor PBS
Broadcast
Original channel
Picture format 4:3 (SDTV) (Season 1)
16:9 (HDTV) (Season 2-present)
Original run
  • Shorts: November 10, 2006 (2006-11-10) - c. 2007
  • Full series: September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03)
– 2014
External links
Website
Production website

WordGirl is an American children’s animated television series produced by the Soup2Nuts animation unit of Scholastic Entertainment for PBS Kids. The show began as a series of shorts entitled The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl that premiered on PBS Kids Go! on November 10, 2006, usually shown at the end of Maya & Miguel; the segment was then spun off into a new thirty-minute episodic series that premiered on September 3, 2007 on most PBS member stations. This animated show is aimed at children 6 to 12 years old, but viewers older than this demographic have been reported as well. It is designed to teach about the expansive English language and its vocabulary. All four full-episode seasons each have twenty-six episodes, while the preceding series of shorts had thirty.

Awards[edit]

The show has received six Daytime Emmy nominations, winning three for "Outstanding Writing in Animation" in 2008, 2012, and 2013.

2008:

  • 2008 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming, awarded July 19th[1]
  • 2008 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2009:

  • Learning Magazine 2009 Teacher's Choice Award for Families
  • 2009 iParenting Media Award
  • Featured at the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival 2009
  • NY Festivals' 2009 TV Programming and Promotions award

2012:

  • 2012 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2013:

  • 2013 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

Background[edit]

The show's creator, Dorothea Gillim, believes that children's shows often underestimate children's intelligence:

Part of my mission is to make kids' television smart and funny. I feel as though we’ve lost some ground there, in an effort to make it more accessible. WordGirl's focus is on great stories, characters, and animation. If all those elements are working, then you can hook a child who may come looking for laughs but leave a little smarter.[2][3]

Each eleven-minute segment in each episode (except for the first three episodes) begins with verbal instructions to listen for two words that will be used throughout the plot of that episode. The words (examples include “diversion,” “cumbersome,” and “idolize”) are chosen according to academic guidelines. The reasoning is that children can understand words like “cumbersome” when told that it means “big and heavy and awkward.”[2]

PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer agreed to do a mock interview with WordGirl. Jack D. Ferraiolo, who developed the series with Gillim and served as the series' head writer in Season One, received an Emmy for his work on WordGirl.[4]

Synopsis[edit]

The series stars WordGirl, an alien with superpowers whose secret identity is Becky Botsford, a 10½ year old fifth grade student. WordGirl was born on the fictional planet Lexicon (also a term referring to the vocabulary of a language or to a dictionary) but was sent away after sneaking onto a spaceship and sleeping there. Captain Huggy Face, a monkey who was a pilot in the Lexicon Air Force, piloted the ship, but lost control when WordGirl awoke, and crash-landed on Earth (more specifically in Fair City), a planet that affords WordGirl her superpowers, including flight and super strength. WordGirl utilizes these powers to save her adoptive home, using her downed spacecraft as a secret base of operations. WordGirl and Captain Huggy Face fight crime together.

WordGirl was adopted and provided an alter ego by Tim and Sally Botsford, who gave her the name Becky. While in her alter ego, she has a younger brother, TJ, obsessed with WordGirl, but still unknowingly a typical sibling rival to Becky. The Botsford family keeps Captain Huggy Face as a pet, naming him Bob. Becky attends Woodview Elementary School, where she is close friends with Violet Heaslip and the school newspaper reporter Todd “Scoops” Ming.

WordGirl tries to balance her superhero activities with her "normal" life. Doing battle with a rather odd grouping of villains, such as the Butcher, who can call into existence most any type of meat; elderly con-artist Granny May, with her knitting needles and projectile yarn; WordGirl's former friend Professor Steven Boxleitner, who became the cheese-obsessed Dr. Two Brains thanks to an albino mouse and a failed science experiment, fusing his brain with the animal; ten-year-old genius and colossal robot builder Tobey McCalister; self-cloning Lady Redundant Woman; The Birthday Girl, a spoiled-rotten parody of The Incredible Hulk; and The Whammer, who speaks by interjecting the word "wham" in the most inopportune sentences. At the same time, she must worry about maintaining her second life as Becky, keeping people from discovering the truth and living normal family situations.

Format[edit]

Often, short animated segments are shown in between and at the end of episodes. "What's Your Favorite Word?", ostensibly hosted by Todd "Scoops" Ming, is a series of vox populi interviews asking random children what their favorite words are and why. A short game show segment called "May I Have a Word?" airs following each eleven-minute segment. This segment features the game show host, Beau Handsome, asking three contestants the definition of a particular word. The segment was created by Kelly Miyahara, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Ryan Raddatz. Yet another segment features the interstitials announcer (Rodger Parsons) asking Captain Huggy Face for a visual demonstration of a certain word (such as "pensive" or "flummoxed"). When Captain Huggy Face correctly demonstrates the meaning of the word, a definition is given, followed by a victory dance by the chimp sidekick.

During the four-part episode, "The Rise of Miss Power", a five-segment "Pretty Princess Power Hour" sketch is shown between acts, filling in for the average two-segment "May I Have a Word?" sketch, presumably to fill the double-length (52 minutes) time slot.

Companion website[edit]

The companion site to WordGirl lives on PBS Kids, and was built by interactive firm Big Bad Tomato. It contains vocabulary-building games, a section where children can submit their favorite word, a video page with clips from the show (only available in the US due to legal reasons), a "Heroes and Villains" section with character biographies and activities, and a PBS Parents section with episode guides, lessons, a site map, and more activities to play at home.

Characters and voice cast (2007 – present)[edit]

Cast
Dannah Phirman Becky Botsford/WordGirl, Claire McCalister, Edith von Hoosinghaus, Chuck's mom, Iris, Lily, WordGirl Doll, Audience Member #1, Pretty Princess, the Energy Monster (script readings)
Chris Parnell The Narrator, Exposition Guy, Jim the Police Officer, Cab Driver, Audience Member 1, Parent Gallery Member #1 additional voices
Tom Kenny Dr. Two-Brains, TJ Botsford, Two-Brains' Henchman #1, Warden Chalmers, Brent the Handsome Successful Everybody-Loves-Him Sandwich-Making Guy, Phil, Truck Driver, News Reporter, Shoe Salesman, The Male Bank Teller (first voice), Steven Boxleitner, Steve McClean, additional voices
Cree Summer Granny May, Bingo Announcer, additional voices
Patton Oswalt Theodore "Tobey" McCalister III, robots, additional voices
Fred Stoller Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy
Jack D. Ferraiolo The Butcher, The General
Pamela Adlon Eileen, a.k.a. The Birthday Girl, additional voices
Maria Bamford Violet Heaslip, Sally Botsford, Leslie the Assistant, The Female Bank Teller (Granny Mayor), The Energy Monster (Dinner or Consequences), additional voices
Ryan Raddatz Tim Botsford, Todd "Scoops" Ming, Beau Handsome, additional voices
Tim Conway Bampy Botsford
Mike O’Connell Bill the Grocery Store Manager, Big Left Hand Guy, additional voices
Elliott Gould The Masked Meat Marauder
Ned Bellamy The Coach, Fish Selling Guy
Brian Posehn Glen Furlblam
James Adomian Captain Huggy Face/Bob (script readings), Robber, The Candlestick Maker, Security Guard, Curator, Raul Demiglasse, Hunter Throbheart, Robber #1
H. Jon Benjamin Reginald, InvisiBill, Jewelry Store Clerk (first voice), additional voices
Ron Lynch The Mayor, Mustached Guy (Mr. Big Words), additional voices
Jeffrey Tambor Mr. Big, Mr. Birg, Old Woman, Old Man
Brian Doyle Murray Police Commissioner (Swap Meat)
Larry Murphy The Amazing Rope Guy, TV Reporter, Dave, Principal, Mr. Best, Used Car Salesman (second voice), Mailman, The Male Bank Teller (second voice), additional voices
John C. McGinley The Whammer
Amanda Plummer Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman (Lady Redunant Woman; Episode), Susan Bohannon (Who Wants To Win A Shine New Car?)
Grey DeLisle Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman (After Lady Redunant Woman; Episode), Dupey, Ms. Question, Mrs. Ripley, Host, additional voices
Rose Abdoo Great Granny May
Darran Norris Seymour Orlando Smooth, Nocan the Contrarian, David Driscoll
Mike Phirman The Narrator's Brother
Peter Graves Mr. Callihan
James Mathis Tiny Big
Ed Asner Kid Potato, The Butcher's father
Jen Cohn Bank Teller (first voice), Rich Old Lady, Ms. Champlain
Stephanie Sheh additional voices
Robin Reed Ms. Libri, the bookstore owner
Judy Greer Ms. Dewey, the librarian
Andy Dick Milt (Ms. Dewey's assistant)
Jim Gaffigan Mr. Dudley
Matt Besser Zachry Zany, Male News Anchorman, Lead Deriver, additional voices
Rodger Parsons Interstitials Announcer (uncredited)
Danielle Schneider Female News Anchorwoman, Crowd Member, News Caster, additional voices
William Mapother Guy Rich
Kristen Schaal Victoria Best, Mrs. Best, additional voices
John Henson Captain Tangent
Amy Sedaris Ms. Davis, additional voices
Orlando Brown Tommy "His Dishonor"
Kelly Miyahara Emily
Kevin McDonald Vocab Bee, Jeremy, Police Chief, Judge, The Baker, Magic Pony
Wayne Knight Police Commissioner Watson (The Wrong Side of The Law)
Stephen Root Prof. Robert Tubing
Jill Talley Babysitter (Tobey and Becky's Babysitter)
Elisabeth Abbot Dress Shop Owner
Chris Williams Judge
Sergio Cilli Royal Dandy, Lolipop Man
Jane Lynch Miss Power
Weird Al Yankovic The Learnerer

Comics[edit]

A series of WordGirl comics were also released by Boom! Studios new KaBOOM! line. The names of the volumes and the stories within them are:

  • Coalition of Malice is volume ?[5]
    1. Coalition of Malice
    2. Super Fans
  • Incredible Shrinking Allowance[6]
    1. The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
    2. Fondue, Fondon't
  • Word Up[7]
    1. The Ham Van Makes the Man
    2. Think Big
  • Fashion Disaster is volume 4[8]
    1. Fashion Disaster
    2. Fort Wham-Ground

Broadcast[edit]

Word Girl airs in the US on PBS Kids. In Canada the show airs on TVOKids in Ontario and Knowledge Kids in British Columbia. It is shown on ABC Kids in Australia.

The show is also seen on some educational networks in Latin America on Discovery Kids. The series ran on the Spanish network Discovery Familia. The program is also syndicated internationally in places such as Italy and Israel. The Spanish version is called "Chica Supersabia" (Super-wise girl) and it is translated and dubbed in Caracas, Venezuela, and the Brazilian version is called "Garota Supersábia". There is a Catalan version called "La Súper Mots" and a Portuguese version called "Super Sabina".

Series overview[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
Pilot 30 November 10, 2006 (2006-11-10) c. 2007
1 26 September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03) January 2, 2009 (2009-01-02)
2 26 November 4, 2008 (2008-11-04) July 20, 2010 (2010-07-20)
3 26 August 23, 2010 (2010-08-23) June 11, 2012 (2012-06-11)
4 26 September 10, 2012 (2012-09-10) June 6, 2014 (2014-06-06)
5 26 August 4, 2014 (2014-08-04) present (present)

References[edit]

  1. ^ 21 July 2008 press release
  2. ^ a b Jensen, Elizabeth (2007-09-02). "A New Heroine’s Fighting Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  3. ^ Bynum, Aaron H. (2007-06-18). "'The Adventures of WordGirl' Animation Emerges on PBS Kids". Animation Insider. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  4. ^ Spero, Johannah (2008-06-18). "Local man lands Emmy for ‘WordGirl’". Wicked Local Newburyport/The Newburyport Current. GateHouse Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  5. ^ Volume ? Coalition of Malice
  6. ^ Volume ? The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
  7. ^ Volume ? Word Up
  8. ^ Volume 4 Fashion Disaster

External links[edit]