Katie and Orbie
Katie and Orbie.gif
Orbie (left) and Katie (right). Image taken from the Season 6 episode "Hearts!".
GenreChildren's television series
Created byBen Wicks and Susan Wicks
Written byMary Mackay-Smith
Ben Wicks
Susan Wicks
Directed byLee Williams
Hana Kukal
Richard Vanatte
Maryl T. Morris
Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Voices ofChris Wightman
Amanda Tripp
Narrated byLeslie Nielsen
ComposerEdmund Eagan
Country of originCanada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes78 (234 stories) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerSheldon S. Wiseman
ProducersMark Edwards
Weldon Poapst
Running time26 minutes
Production companiesLacewood Productions (1993-1996)
Amberwood Entertainment (2001-2002)
Entertainment Rights (2001-2002)
Release
Original networkFamily Channel
Original release1994 (1994) –
2002 (2002)

Katie and Orbie is a Canadian animated television series aimed at preschoolers, originally broadcast in Canada from 1994 to 2002 by Family Channel and later aired in the USA on PBS from 1995 to 1997 and cable television network Disney Channel (part of Playhouse Disney) from 1997 to 2000.[1] In Canada, the series aired uninterruptedly on Family Channel and beginning in 2007, on Disney Junior (formerly called Playhouse Disney) until December 31, 2012. A total of 78 episodes were produced over six seasons.[2] The series has also aired in different countries around the world.

Production

The animated series is based on a series of four environment-themed children's books titled Katie and Orbie Save the Planet, illustrated by Canadian cartoonist Ben Wicks and written by his daughter Susan Wicks, which were published in 1991.[3] In 1993, Lacewood Productions adapted the characters into an animated series which was originally in production until 1996, being revived five years later by Amberwood Entertainment and then ending in 2002. Contrary to the original books, the series isn't strictly environment-themed, having stories that range from having a new pet or helping their friends, to address themes like children with divorced parents, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, one of the few series aimed at preschoolers to do so.

The theme song was written by Edmund Eagan and performed by his niece, Mireille Eagan.

Unlike most TV series, Katie and Orbie was animated in a technique referred to by producer Sheldon Wiseman as "picture-mation," similar to a Play-a-sound book, instead of coming to life. Also, none of the characters actually speak, so a variety of cartoonish sound effects are used during the stories, with a narrator telling the story. The series is narrated by Leslie Nielsen.[4]

Characters

Main

Recurring

Episodes

Main article: List of Katie and Orbie episodes

Ontario-based animation studio Lacewood Productions began work on the series in 1993, creating 13 half-hour episodes, which premiered in 1994 on Family Channel and quickly became a success, prompting Lacewood to create two further seasons in 1995 and 1996. In the third season, the series switched to digital ink and paint for colouring. The series switched to Flash animation in the sixth season.

In 1997, Lacewood Productions closed down and was taken over by Paragon Entertainment. In 1999, Amberwood Entertainment, a studio founded by Sheldon Wiseman after Lacewood's closure, acquired some of its assets from Paragon, including the series, and along with Entertainment Rights began production of 26 more episodes, which premiered on the Family Channel in 2001. However, in 2002 after the sixth season the series definitely ended production.

A total of 234 individual stories were produced, three per each half-hour episode. Each episode also had two interstitial segments titled Did You Know? which tells viewers small pieces of information regarding several subjects, such as plants, food, animals, the body and arts. These segments are narrated off-screen by Katie (voiced by Amanda Tripp).

Each episode is structured by the opening theme, the first story, a Did You Know? interstitial segment, the second story, another Did You Know? interstitial segment, the third story and the closing credits.

DVD releases

Seasons 1, 4, 5 and 6 were available on DVD on the online store of the now-defunct Canadian retailer Express Media; however, seasons 2 and 3 were not.

Two DVDs were released in Australia in 2010 with season 6 episodes.

References

  1. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 333–334. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  2. ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 159. ISBN 9781476672939.
  3. ^ "Kid's and Nature". Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  4. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 464–465. ISBN 978-1476665993.