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VeggieTales

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VeggieTales
VeggieTales 2014 logo.png
Logo (as of October 2014)
Genre Children[1]
Created by Phil Vischer
Mike Nawrocki
Starring Bob & Larry
Voices of Phil Vischer
Mike Nawrocki
Tim Hodge
Brian K. Roberts
Lisa Vischer
Jim Poole
G. Bock
Megan Murphy
Cydney Trent
Charlotte Jackson
Megan Moore Burns
Jackie Ritz
Theme music composer Kurt Heinecke
Lisa Vischer
Mike Nawrocki
Opening theme VeggieTales Theme Song
Ending theme What We Have Learned?
Composer(s) Kurt Heinecke
Christopher Davis
Phil Vischer
Mike Nawrocki
Alan Moore
Jason Moore
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Phil Vischer
Terry Botwick
Dan Philips
Terry Pefanis
Mike Heap
Gail Schenbaum
David Pitts
Jane Smith
J. Chris Wall
Leslie Ferrell
Deborah Dugan
Dan Merrell
Doug TenNapel
Producer(s) Kevin Gamble
David Pitts (2002–11)
J. Chris Wall
Chris Olsen (1993–98)
Jennifer Combs (2000–01)
Jon Gadsby (1998–99)
Editor(s) John Wahba
J. Chris Wall
David Watson
Mike Nawrocki (1993–98)
Joel Mains (1998–2005)
Neil Gowan
Dan O'Connell
Robert Tew
John Wall
Mark Keefer
Jason Zito
Brent McCorkle
Jon Mitchell
Mike Nelson
Bill Boyce
Martin Hulse
Chad Voss
Kirk Gullot
Fred Pargano
Brian Calhoon
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 40–50 minutes (videos)
30 minutes (television)
Production company(s) Big Idea Entertainment (1993–present)
Lyrick Studios (1998–2001)
HiT Entertainment (2001)
DKP Studios A.K.A Dan Krech Productions, Inc. (2004–06)
Starz Animation (2006–09)
Huhu Studios, Ltd. (2009–present)
Entertainment Rights (2006–09)
Classic Media/DreamWorks Classics (2003–present)
Boomerang Media (2009–12)
Bardel Entertainment (Animation) (2015–present)
Release
Picture format 4:3 480i (SDTV) (1993–2009)
16:9 1080i (HDTV) (2009–present)
Audio format Stereo
Original release December 21, 1993 (direct-to-video) – present
External links
Website

VeggieTales is an American series of children's computer animated films featuring anthropomorphic fruits and vegetables in stories conveying moral themes based on Christianity. The episodes frequently retell and recreate Bible stories anachronistically reframed and include humorous references to pop culture. The series was developed by Big Idea Entertainment and is owned by DreamWorks Animation through its subsidiary, DreamWorks Classics.[2]

The characters in VeggieTales were originally created by Phil Vischer. He and Mike Nawrocki began producing the films (Nawrocki later took over the entire project when the rights were bought by Classic Media), and they also did many of the voices. Originally released in direct-to-video format, the series debuted on December 21, 1993. From 2002 to 2003, Big Idea created a short running spin-off called Larryboy: The Cartoon Adventures.[3] From September 9, 2006 to September 7, 2009, VeggieTales appeared on NBC as part of the Qubo Saturday morning children's programming block. On November 3, 2012 the show began running on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) as well as its children's network Smile of a Child, where it currently continues to air episodes (in a repackaged and edited format).

In 2009, Netflix made numerous VeggieTales videos (in their uncut, original formats) and feature films available via their video streaming service. On November 26, 2014, VeggieTales in the House, produced by DreamWorks Animation Television,[4] premiered on Netflix with the release of the first five shows. Big Idea has also published VeggieTales books and music CDs and branded items such as toys, clothing, and garden seeds for vegetables and flowers.

History

VeggieTales was created by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki through their company Big Idea Productions. Their aim was to produce children's videos which conveyed Christian moral themes and taught Biblical values and lessons. The animated feature involved stories told by a group of recurring fruit and vegetable characters who lived on a kitchen countertop. The program was offered in the direct-to-video market, with the first 30-minute program, Where's God When I'm S-Scared?, released in December 1993.[5][6] In all, Big Idea has released 45 VeggieTales episodes including three Silly Song collections, 5 holiday specials, 4 LarryBoy episodes and a drawing tutorial. In addition to these episodes, there are 13 compilations that combine previously released material, and two feature-length movies, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie. Beginning in 2006, the VeggieTales videos were adapted as a regular television program through the Qubo multi-platform network and NBC network. On September 30, 2008, Big Idea announced that Mike Nawrocki would create an "original new VeggieTales TV series," though no further news has been revealed.[7]

The idea for VeggieTales was conceived in the early 1990s when Vischer was testing animation software to use as a medium for children's videos.[5] Due to the limitations of software available to him at the time, he decided to avoid the technical production hurdle of designing characters with arms, legs, hair, and clothes. His first animation model was an anthropomorphic candy bar. When his wife suggested that parents might prefer a hero who promoted healthier eating habits, he began designing the characters based on fruits and vegetables. The cast of voice actors of the early Veggietales videos predominantly came from friends of Phil Vischer such as Dan Anderson (Dad Asparagus) and Jim Poole (Scooter the Carrot) who collaborated with Vischer on dramas at their local church.[8]

Format

The episodes generally follow a standard format where a moral issue is posited in the opening countertop sequence, either through a viewer question or an issue brought up by Bob or Larry, followed by one or more "films" that address the issue, with a Silly Song in the middle. The Silly Songs are generally introduced with a title card and a voiceover saying, "And now it's time for Silly Songs with Larry, the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song." Some Silly Songs have alternate titles, such as "Love Songs with Mr. Lunt," where another character sings the song instead. The Silly Song, if one appears, is usually in the middle of the program, often at a cliffhanger moment or in between two stories (although the LarryBoy episodes, in particular, often lack this segment). Each tale ends with this program's signature sign-off: "Remember kids, God made you special and He loves you very much."

VeggieTales on TV

The NBC VeggieTales television show altered the general format by opening in the living room of Bob the Tomato's house. Bob, Larry the Cucumber, and other Veggie characters then sing the show's theme song as they hop to Bob's front door. The theme song ends with a character making a random comment, such as Pa Grape commenting on Archibald's new sweater. Bob and Larry then wait for the mailman, Jimmy Gourd, to deliver a letter. When Jimmy comes, he happily sings his Mail Song, which Bob and Larry both find tedious. Similar to the opening counter-top sequence of the VeggieTales videos, Bob and Larry read the letter and the cast tries to decide how to solve the viewer's problem through one of three regular segments: Archibald reads a story from his Big Book of Oddities, Pa Grape shows an old film, or Mr. Lunt appears with his stick puppet, Paco the Storytelling Mule, and tells a story. The result always proves disastrous, as the story or film makes no sense. Bob and Larry then intervene with a story from a VeggieTales video. The show ends with Bob and Larry wrapping things up by reiterating the story's lesson and thanking the kids for coming to his house. NBC episodes end with characters bidding the audience a simple "Good-bye".

VeggieTales in the House

A new series, VeggieTales in the House, premiered on Netflix in Thanksgiving 2014.[9] The series lead is Doug TenNapel and features a theme song by independent studio musician and frequent TenNapel collaborator Terry Scott Taylor. The deal between current VeggieTales owner DreamWorks and Netflix call for the release of 75 episodes over a three-year period with each episode featuring two 11-minute stories.[10]

Mike Nawrocki and Phil Vischer continue to voice their characters,[11] but the rest of the original video cast has been replaced by veteran voice actors Tress MacNeille and Rob Paulsen.[12] The series is an expansion of the kitchen counter-top segments of the original videos to include a full city which the characters live in. Bob and Larry live as roommates in an apartment west of the kitchen counter. Several stories revolve around a general store built into the bottom-right corner of a kitchen counter which is run by Pa Grape. The cast from the original videos remains the same aside from the absence of Mr. Nezzer, who has been replaced by a similar looking character named Ichabeezer. Themes in each episode relate to Biblical principles such as forgiveness, compassion and generosity.[13]

Characters

VeggieTales has a continuous back story that all of the cartoons are actually teleplays, performed by various vegetables and fruit that live together on the same kitchen countertop. Some of these characters have "real names," and take on various roles in the teleplays, although in the earlier adventures they appeared as themselves, showing some of their real-life situations. Most of these "regulars", such as Larry, Bob, Junior Asparagus, and Pa Grape, were established in the earliest videos.

Episodes

Re-issues and re-releases

Big Idea has released a few "special edition" DVDs which consist of remastered videos and additional features not on the original DVD.

  1. Lyle the Kindly Viking Special Edition (also includes 3–2–1 Penguins! Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn)[14]
  2. Esther... The Girl Who Became Queen Special Edition (also includes 3–2–1 Penguins! The Doom Funnel Rescue)
  3. Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed Special Edition (also includes 3–2–1 Penguins! The Amazing Carnival of Complaining)
  4. King George and the Ducky Special Edition (also includes 3–2–1 Penguins! Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt)[15]
  5. Where's God When I'm S-Scared? 15th Anniversary Collector's Edition (also includes 3–2–1 Penguins! Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn)[16]

Compilation videos

Big Idea, Classic Media, and DreamWorks Animation have all bundled the various VeggieTales episodes into video collections ranging in size from double features all the way up to a boxed collection of the first 30 VeggieTales videos. In addition, the three companies have also released compilation videos of only the Silly Songs. These song collections have included the songs in "Sing Along" format as well as countdowns of the most popular Silly Songs as voted on by fans.

Feature-length films

  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002): Archibald Asparagus stars as Jonah in this version of the Biblical story. The Veggies learn that God is a God of second chances, and that we need to give second chances too and be compassionate and merciful.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (2008): In this second VeggieTales feature film, three lazy wannabe pirates go back in time to the 17th century to fight real pirates and become heroes in a battle to rescue a royal family from an evil tyrant. The three slackers learn that a hero doesn't have to be tall, strong, and handsome to be useful.

Stage production

The VeggieTales characters (left to right) of Mr. Lunt, Pa Grape, and Larry the Cucumber on the main stage at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers during the Celebrate Freedom 2007 concert on September 1, 2007 dressed in costume for their new film The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie that was released on January 11, 2008.

VeggieTales Live is a series of stage shows based on the VeggieTales videos. Six versions of the shows have been staged. The shows have toured across the U.S. and at theme parks including Dollywood and Silver Dollar City.[17]

Reception

The revenue for Big Idea grew between 1996 and 1999 from $1.3 million to over $44 million as the moral tales and off-beat humor proved popular with parents.[5]:54 The media group Common Sense Media commented on the TV series that VeggieTales "will probably be most amusing for younger kids, or, perhaps more accurately, less sophisticated viewers. It's not the lessons themselves that older kids might object to—more the fact that you can see them coming a mile away, and even the best songs can't make getting there any more exciting."[18]

Not only has the video series and stage productions enjoyed more financial success than the films, the reception to the films has been lukewarm both among critics and at the box office. Jonah – A VeggieTales Movie currently holds a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 55 reviews from critics, with an average score of 5.8 out of 10.[19] The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything received a 39% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10.[20] Their summary of critical consensus was, "This Veggietale should please the youngest crowds, but the silly script will tire the more discerning viewer."[20]

NBC controversy

When NBC began airing VeggieTales episodes in September 2006,[21] it edited the episodes to remove religious messages, including references to God. The original sign-off message--"Remember kids, God made you special and He loves you very much!"—became a simple, inclusive "Good-bye!" The changes were made at the request of the network's standards and practices department to enforce compliance with network policies regarding religious neutrality. The original dialogue remained viewable by users of the network's closed-caption feature.[22]

The conservative watch group Parents Television Council complained to NBC about the changes.[23] L. Brent Bozell, president of the group, complained of the network "ripping the heart and soul out of a successful product," adding that "if NBC is so concerned about that four-letter-word God [sic], then they shouldn't have taken 'VeggieTales.' This just documents the disconnect between Hollywood and the real world."[23]

NBC replied that the editing conformed to the network's broadcast standards, which direct producers "not to advocate any one religious point of view." NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said "Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view."[23] Vischer said he was not informed that the religious content would be removed and said he would have declined to sign the contract had he known. "I would have declined partly because I knew a lot of fans would feel like it was a sellout or it was done for money," he said.[23] Vischer added that he still understood NBC's wish to remain religiously neutral. "VeggieTales is religious, NBC is not. I want to focus people more on 'Isn't it cool that Bob and Larry are on television.'"[24]

Video games

Big Idea, and its successors, have released VeggieTales themed games on various formats including PC, Macintosh, iOS, and Android. Applications include games revolving around specific VeggieTales episodes (such as the PlayStation 2 release of LarryBoy and the Bad Apple) to completely new content revolving around various VeggieTales characters.

Music and audio CDs

To date, there have been over 45 musical albums released that tie into either VeggieTales characters or videos. While some of the albums are merely compilations of songs from the various videos (including albums entitled Larry-Boy Soundtrack, A Very Veggie Easter, and 25 Favorite Very VeggieTunes), others contain completely original content such as stories or songs performed by Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, and the other VeggieTales voice talent (such as Bob and Larry's Campfire Songs, Christian Hits Music, and Bob and Larry Sing the 80's).

Merchandise

On February 10, 2011, Big Idea Entertainment announced several new product promotions, including partnerships with Chick-fil-A (kids meal promotions), American Puzzle Company (wooden puzzles and trains), CTI Industries (mylar and latex balloons), Tabbies (index tabs, stickers, temporary tattoos and wall clings), Victory Designs (children's guitars), and Zoobies (plush pillows and blankets).[25]

In June 2014, B&H Kids announced plans to produce a VeggieTales comic with Big Idea Productions and DreamWorks Animation.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ "VeggieTales". Metacritic. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ Young, Jasmine (August 5, 2012). "DreamWorks Buys VeggieTales's Owner". Christianity Today. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ Daley, Ashley (June 17, 2002). "Duo creative at Big Idea". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2016. 
  4. ^ Brian, Matt (March 13, 2014). "Netflix's three new originals include 'Shrek' and 'Madagascar' spin-offs". Engadget.com. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Vischer, Phil (2008). Me, Myself, & Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables. Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson. ISBN 1595551220. 
  6. ^ "VeggieTales award-winning musical composer Kurt Heinecke to visit Wallace State on April 21 as part of Arts in April festivities". Wallace State News. April 15, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ Big Idea, Inc. (September 20, 2008). "Big Idea, Inc. Appoint Veggietales Co-creator Mike Nawrocki to Head of Creative and Development" (Press release). CEGAnMo. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  8. ^ Vischer, Phil (May 10, 2016). "Episode 200: THE BIG 2-0-0!". YouTube. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  9. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (November 20, 2014). "VeggieTales Q&A: Off the counter and onto Netflix". Kidscreen. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ L. Willoughby, Karen (November 24, 2014). "Veggie Tales hops to Netflix, is God in it?". Christian Examiner. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  11. ^ K. Martin, Sami (December 4, 2014). "'VeggieTales in the House' Co-Creator Tells History of Popular Series". The Christian Post. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Veggietales in the House (Season 3 ,Episode 1)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  13. ^ Leah Marieann, Klett (September 24, 2015). "Exclusive: 'VeggieTales in the House' Season 2 on Netflix Sneak Preview". The Gospel Herald. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  14. ^ "VeggieTales: Lyle the Kindly Viking / 3–2–1 Penguins Double Feature (DVD)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  15. ^ "VeggieTales: King George & The Ducky + Bonus 3–2–1 Penguins Episode". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Where's God When I'm S-Scared (15th Anniversary) – DVD". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  17. ^ Big Idea Entertainment (August 29, 2013). "VeggieTales Live! Happy Birthday Bob & Larry Tour Returns This Fall With First-Time Show Dates For West Coast" (Press release). PRNewswire. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  18. ^ "VeggieTales TV Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Jonah – A VeggieTales Movie 2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  21. ^ DeMott, Rick (August 24, 2006). "Qubo To Launch On NBC, Telemundo & The i Network This September". Animation World Network. Retrieved May 20, 2016. 
  22. ^ Wesbury, Joe (September 28, 2006). "NBC chooses family values over spiritual values in VeggieTales Saturday morning line-up". The Christian Index. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  23. ^ a b c d "Talking Veggies Stir Controversy at NBC". FOX News. The Associated Press. September 22, 2006. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  24. ^ Parker, Jenni (December 6, 2006). "PTC Applauds NBC's Airing of VeggieTales, Religious Content Intact". Agape Press. Archived from the original on December 7, 2006. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Big Idea Grows VeggieTales Brand". License! Global. February 10, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  26. ^ B&H Kids (June 2, 2014). "B&H Kids and Veggitales Team to Create New Line of Comic Books" (Press release). B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 

External links