PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch
|Launched||September 30, 2000|
|Closed||September 5, 2004|
|Country of origin||Canada|
PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch was a Canadian/American children's animated television block produced by Toronto-based entertainment company Nelvana that aired on PBS from September 30, 2000 to September 5, 2004. It typically aired on either Saturday or Sunday mornings, depending on station preference and scheduling. The shows that formed the Bookworm Bunch were based on then-popular children's books. The initial shows were Corduroy, Elliot Moose, Timothy Goes to School, Seven Little Monsters, George Shrinks, and Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse.
The idea behind PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch first came about in August 1999, when Nelvana offered to create PBS' first-ever weekend cartoon block. It was essentially created to boost viewership of the preschool audience on weekends, especially on Saturday mornings when that attention was shifted elsewhere. A proposed show titled Junior Kroll and Company was set to premiere, but that idea was shelved and replaced by Marvin in April 2000. PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch became the second preschool-oriented Saturday morning programming block on American television after Nick Jr. on CBS, which premiered two weeks prior on September 16, 2000.
The block's first season premiered on September 30, 2000, and aired its season finale on February 24, 2001. Originally, all the shows (with the exception of the first 15-minute Corduroy episode, which was shown either on the hour or half-hour minute mark), began at either fifteen or forty-five minutes after the hour. A final 15-minute Corduroy episode then ended the block, making its total run three hours. Bookworm Bunch proved to be extremely popular in its first season, and weekend viewership increased dramatically. Reruns of the first season continued to air until October 27, 2001, and were never shown again after that date. Interstitials and other materials from the first season were considered to be lost media for almost 16 years, until footage of the first season finally surfaced online.
The second and final season premiered one week later on November 3, 2001, and with this premiere came a drastic revamp: Corduroy and Elliot Moose were removed from the block entirely, thus shortening it to two hours. The four remaining shows were instead seen on the traditional hour and half-hour minute marks, while Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse and Timothy Goes to School both ceased production by the end of 2001. The second season finale aired on February 23, 2002.
Some PBS stations began to gradually phase out the weekend block a year later in favor of a non-branded weekday version, which premiered on January 6, 2003. The shows included a reboot of Berenstain Bears, and new episodes of both Seven Little Monsters and George Shrinks. Although Seven Little Monsters was originally a half-hour program, Nelvana commissioned new 15-minute episodes that aired alongside Berenstain Bears in the same half-hour time slot. This experiment did not last very long as Berenstain Bears eventually became a half-hour show beginning September 15, 2003, thus permanently removing Seven Little Monsters from the PBS lineup. George Shrinks was given its own half-hour time slot, in which it also proved to be extremely popular. Select member stations, including the PBS Kids Channel, continued to air the two-hour weekend block until September 5, 2004.
After the cancellation of PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch, cable channel Discovery Kids aired reruns of Timothy Goes to School from 2004 to 2006. The non-cable qubo channel has also aired reruns of Elliot Moose, Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse, and Timothy Goes to School as part of its daily programming.
One of the staples of the PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch were music video interstitials that aired at the end of each program before the credits. These spots originally replaced promotions for Elliot Moose, which are the only materials as of late that are still considered to be lost. These music videos were essentially montages of scenes from all of the shows with musical accompaniment. Each of the songs was performed by American musical artist Nancy Cassidy, appearing on three albums released between 1986 and 1992.
First Season (2000–2001)
- Corduroy: "Boom, Boom, Ain't It Great to Be Crazy" (shortened version) (Appears on the 1988 album Kidssongs 2)
- Elliot Moose: "You Gotta Sing" (Appears on the 1986 album KidsSongs)
- Timothy Goes to School: "Rig a Jig Jig" (Appears on Kidssongs 2)
- Seven Little Monsters: "La Bamba" (shortened version) (Appears on Kidssongs 2)
- George Shrinks: "You Gotta Sing"
- Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse: "Rig a Jig Jig"
- Corduroy: "Skidamarink" (Appears on the 1992 album KidsSongs Sleepyheads)
Second Season (2001–2002)
- Timothy Goes to School: "Friends Are Special" (Appears on KidsSongs Sleepyheads)
- Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse: "La Bamba" (full version)
- Seven Little Monsters: "This Little Light of Mine" (Appears on KidsSongs)
- George Shrinks: "Boom, Boom, Ain't It Great to Be Crazy" (full version)
- Elliot Moose
- Timothy Goes to School
- Seven Little Monsters
- George Shrinks
- Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse
- "'PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH' Returns to PBS For a Second Season on Saturday, November 3" (Press release). Nelvana Limited. October 29, 2001. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
- "Kidssongs 2 by Nancy Cassidy". cdbaby.com.
- "Kidssongs by Nancy Cassidy". cdbaby.com.
- "KidsSongs Sleepyheads by Nancy Cassidy". cdbaby.com.