Clifford the Big Red Dog (TV series)

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Clifford the Big Red Dog
Clifford-the-Big-Red-Dog-title-card.jpg
Also known asClifford
Genre
Created byDeborah Forte
Based on
Directed byJohn Over
Voices of
Theme music composer
Opening theme"Clifford the Big Red Dog"
by Jason Michael
Ending theme"Clifford the Big Red Dog" (instrumental)
Composers
  • Josh Mancell
  • Mark Mothersbaugh
Country of origin
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes66 (130 segments) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerDeborah Forte
Running time26 minutes (13 minutes per segment)
Production companies
DistributorScholastic (United States)
TV-Loonland AG[3][4] (Europe)
Release
Original network
Original releaseSeptember 4, 2000 (2000-09-04)[5] – February 25, 2003 (2003-02-25)
Chronology
Followed byClifford's Puppy Days
Related showsClifford the Big Red Dog (2019)

Clifford the Big Red Dog is an American/British educational animated children's television series, based upon Norman Bridwell's children's book series of the same name.[6] Produced by Scholastic Productions, it originally aired on PBS Kids from September 4, 2000 to February 25, 2003. The UK version (where it was dubbed with British voice actors replacing the original American soundtrack) originally aired on BBC Two on April 1, 2002.[7]

John Ritter voiced Clifford in all episodes, though this was originally done by Canadian actor Brent Titcomb in the 1988 direct-to-video series. By the time the last of the 65 half-hour episodes and the subsequent film Clifford's Really Big Movie were completed, Ritter was back on ABC's prime time schedule, starring in 8 Simple Rules. Ritter's death on September 11, 2003 came less than two weeks after PBS debuted Clifford's Puppy Days.

While no new Clifford episodes have been released since Ritter's death, voice actors for the main characters have reprised some of their roles for the Ready to Learn PBS Kids PSAs. Clifford's Really Big Movie serves as the series finale due to Ritter's death, as no new episodes were made to continue from where it left off (until the reboot in 2019). However, Clifford's Puppy Days still continued to air until its cancellation in 2006.

On May 16, 2018, Scholastic announced a reboot of the series of the same name, which was released on December 6, 2019 on Amazon Prime Video and December 7, 2019 on PBS Kids, starring Adam Sanders as the new voice of Clifford.[8][9] However, PBS Kids continues to air reruns of this animated series.

Overview[edit]

Two 15-minute stories made up each half-hour episode. Usually one story featured Clifford and his canine friends, Cleo, T-Bone and Mac among them; the other story would focus on Clifford's owner, Emily Elizabeth and her friends, Jetta, Vaz and Charley. During scenes focusing on the dogs' perspective, human speech would replace barking to show the storyline from the dogs' point of view.

Episodes[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 40 September 4, 2000 (2000-09-04) December 5, 2001 (2001-12-05)
2 26 January 16, 2002 (2002-01-16) February 25, 2003 (2003-02-25)

Characters[edit]

Humans[edit]

  • Emily Elizabeth Howard (voiced by Grey DeLisle Griffin; Joanna Ruiz in the British version): Clifford's 8-year-old[10] owner. Emily Elizabeth adopted Clifford when he was a very small puppy, when her parents gave him to her on her 6th birthday.[11] Emily's love apparently caused Clifford to grow enormous, thus starting their new lives on Birdwell Island. Emily was named for creator Norman Bridwell's daughter and based on the imaginary adventures of Bridwell's wife.[12]
  • Caroline Howard (also voiced by Grey DeLisle Griffin): Emily Elizabeth's mom. She owns and works at The Sea Shell, which is a small store on Birdwell Island.
  • Mark Howard (voiced by Cam Clarke): Emily Elizabeth's dad and the husband of Caroline Howard.
  • Charley (voiced by Gary LeRoi Gray): Emily Elizabeth's friend who is Jamaican American. He lives on a houseboat with his father, who owns a restaurant.
  • Samuel (voiced by Terrence C. Carson): Charley's father and the Jamaican owner of Samuel's Fish and Chips. He runs most of the pier.
  • Jetta Handover (voiced by Kath Soucie): Mac's owner. She is a friend of Emily Elizabeth and tends to be snobby towards her. Soucie also voiced Jetta's mother who owns one of the island stores. She often wears her sweater as a poncho.
  • Cosmo Handover (voiced by Debi Derryberry) is the infant brother of Jetta. He is first seen in the episode "Baby Makes 4".
  • Vaz (voiced by Ulysses Cuadra): A Spanish American boy who is friends with Emily Elizabeth and Charley.
  • Sheriff Lewis (voiced by Nick Jameson): T-Bone's owner. The island's sheriff and the soccer coach.
  • Mrs. Diller (voiced by Cree Summer): Cleo's owner.
  • Violet Bleakman (voiced by Edie McClurg) is the first neighbor of the Howards to introduce herself.
  • Horace Bleakman (voiced by Earl Boen) Violet's husband.
  • Mary (also voiced by Kath Soucie): Emily Elizabeth's friend who sits in a wheelchair due to her disability of walking and standing up. She plays piano.

Dogs[edit]

  • Clifford (voiced by John Ritter; Tom Eastwood in the British version): A big red Labrador Retriever. The depiction of Clifford's size is inconsistent; he is often shown as being about 30 feet tall (9.1 m) from paws to head, but can appear far larger. The character is based on the imaginary friend of creator Norman Bridwell's wife.[12] His owner is Emily Elizabeth Howard.
  • Cleo (also voiced by Cree Summer; Regine Candler in the British version): A purple female poodle. Her owner is Mrs. Diller but she mainly spends the day with her friends Clifford and T-Bone. Her catchphrase is "Have I ever steered you wrong?", and when the dogs would reminisce on a time that happened, she would interrupt them in mid-sentence.
  • T-Bone (voiced by Kel Mitchell; Benjamin Small in the British version): A yellow male bulldog. His owner is Sheriff Lewis but he mainly spends the day with his friends Clifford and Cleo.
    • T-Bone once had a friend named Hamburger (voiced by Kel Mitchell's longtime comedy partner Kenan Thompson) who moved away before Clifford arrived.
  • Mac (also voiced by Cam Clarke): A blue male greyhound. It is revealed in a few episodes that his name is short for Machiavelli. His owner is Jetta Handover.
  • K.C. (also voiced by Cam Clarke): A male dog who only walks on three legs. He is one of Clifford's, Cleo's and T-Bone's best friends.
  • Mimi (voiced by Tyisha Hampton): A female poodle and T-Bone's love interest who occasionally visits Birdwell Island.

Production[edit]

The series was produced by Mike Young Productions and Scholastic Studios with animation produced by Hong Ying Universe Company Limited in Taipei, Taiwan and Hosem Animation Studio, a Shanghai-based outlet in China who did the uncredited work.

Setting[edit]

Birdwell Island
SeriesClifford the Big Red Dog
TypeIsland
First appearance"My Best Friend"
Last appearanceClifford's Really Big Movie

The TV series takes place in the fictional island of Birdwell Island, where Clifford lives. The name is inspired by Norman Bridwell, the author of the books, but the letters I and R are switched. Birdwell Island was inspired by Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, where Bridwell lived.[13]

Emily Elizabeth used to live in an apartment in New York City, but she moved away with her parents and Clifford to Birdwell Island because her mother told her that a small apartment is no place for a big dog like Clifford.

Format[edit]

The series has at least 4 segments in the show.[14]

  1. First story: The opening theme is followed by the first central story, which is usually about the dogs, and a problem they face.
  2. Storytime with Speckle: Between the first and second story, Emily Elizabeth reads Clifford a short story about a dog named Speckle, and his animal friends.
  3. Second story: Another central story, usually about Emily Elizabeth and her friends.
  4. Clifford's Big Ideas: Another 30-second short, which demonstrates a moral lesson such as "Play Fair" or "Help Others", with narration by Emily Elizabeth. This segment was cut-out on PBS Kids Channel airings.
  5. Live action segments starring real kids and their dogs.

On UK airings, only one story is shown, with either the Storytime with Speckle or the Clifford's Big Ideas segments at the end, shortening the show to about 15 minutes.

Reception[edit]

Clifford the Big Red Dog has received generally positive reviews from television critics and parents of young children. Lynne Heffley of Los Angeles Times wrote," Clifford: The Big Red Dog focuses on positive messages with a fantasy approach. Based on the classic children’s books by Norman Birdwell, this animated series is about a red dog who is the size of a jumbo jet to match the outsized love that his owner, a little girl named Emily, has for him."[15]

International broadcast[edit]

Clifford the Big Red Dog was shown on CBeebies and Tiny Pop in the United Kingdom. It also aired in Canada on CBC and in Latin America on Discovery Kids.[citation needed] It aired in the Republic of Ireland on TG4 from 6 February 2001.[16] It aired in Australia on Nine and in New Zealand on TV2.

2019 reboot[edit]

On May 16, 2018, Scholastic announced a reboot of the series, which premiered on December 6, 2019 for both Amazon Prime Video and PBS Kids.[8][9] Scholastic, 100 Chickens, 9 Story Media Group and Brown Bag Films produce the series.[17] Excepting Clifford, Emily Elizabeth and Birdwell Island, the new series is a complete departure from the predecessor show's character base.

In other media[edit]

Direct-to-video[edit]

In 1988, before the television series, six direct-to-video episodes based on the Clifford series were released on videocassette by Family Home Entertainment, Scholastic Media and Nelvana Limited. The animation for the direct-to-video series came from the Peanuts cartoon team of Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez. Brent Titcomb voiced Clifford in the videos, and Alyson Court voiced Emily Elizabeth.

Film[edit]

In 2004, Warner Bros. Pictures distributed a feature-length animated film based on the show, Clifford's Really Big Movie. In the film, Clifford, Cleo and T-Bone join an animal show to win a lifetime supply of dog food to provide for Clifford. This was one of John Ritter's last films as he died on September 11, 2003, after completing voice work for the film. Clifford's Really Big Movie was dedicated to his memory.[18] The movie also stars Wayne Brady as Shackleford the Ferret, Judge Reinhold as Amazing Larry, John Goodman as George Wolfsbottom, and Jenna Elfman as Dorothy the Cow. The film also serves as the series finale, as no new episodes were produced after the film was released, until the reboot premiered on PBS Kids in 2019.

Video games[edit]

Original series[edit]

  • Clifford's Reading
  • Clifford's Thinking Adventures

Modern series[edit]

  • Clifford's Learning Activities
  • Clifford's Musical Memory Games
  • Clifford's Phonics
  • Clifford's Big Puzzle Game (A Wendy's Kids' Meal DVD game, available for a limited time only)

Sponsors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Clifford the Big Red Dog (TV series) (2000)". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "He's Big! He's Red! He's Coming to PBS Kids! Scholastic Productions' "Clifford the Big Red Dog" Animated Series Debuts on PBS Fall 2000" (Press release). PBS. January 7, 2000. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  3. ^ https://www.screendaily.com/tv-loonland-signs-first-big-deal-with-bbc/405203.article
  4. ^ https://www.awn.com/news/tv-loonland-completes-central-and-eastern-european-sales
  5. ^ Zurawik, David (July 13, 2000). "PBS gives kids new Saturday morning shows". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  6. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  7. ^ "Search Results - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk.
  8. ^ a b Sopan, Deb (May 16, 2018). "'Clifford the Big Red Dog' Returning to TV in 2019". New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Milligan, Mercedes (June 4, 2019). "Scholastic's New 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' Launches in December". Animation Magazine.
  10. ^ "The Cast of Clifford the Big Red Dog®". PBS Kids. Archived from the original on May 20, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  11. ^ "Little Clifford" 19 September 2000, 6 candles on cake
  12. ^ a b Markstein, Donald D. "Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Clifford the Big Red Dog". www.toonopedia.com.
  13. ^ Alvarez, Victor Paul (December 16, 2014). "'Clifford the Big Red Dog' Author Dies at 86". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  14. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 203–204. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  15. ^ Heffley, Lynne (2000-09-04). "Kids' Series Give Gentle Life Lessons Television Review". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
  16. ^ RTÉ Guide, 3–9 February 2001 edition and subsequent dates
  17. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (November 6, 2018). "9 Story deepens PBS KIDS relationship". Kidscreen. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  18. ^ Kennedy, Louise (April 23, 2004). "Clifford's 'Big Movie' will charm his small TV fans". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 March 2020.

External links[edit]