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Martha Speaks
InTheNewsMarthaLogo.png
Created bySusan Meddaugh
Based onMartha Speaks (book)
by Susan Meddaugh
Developed byKen Scarborough
Written byKen Scarborough
(head writer)
Directed byDallas Parker
Colleen Holub
Voices ofTabitha St. Germain
Madeleine Peters
Brian Drummond
Alex Ferris (1–4)
Valin Shinyei (5–6)
Cedric Payne
Christina Crivici (seasons 1–3)
Michelle Creber (season 4)
Vanesa Tomasino
Nicole Oliver
Kathleen Barr
French Tickner
Maxine Miller
Matt Hill
Samuel Vincent
Terry Klassen
Narrated byJ.T. Turner
Theme music composerDaniel Ingram
Hal Beckett
Opening theme"Martha Speaks theme", lyrics by Ken Scarborough, performed by Robert Wilson
Ending theme"Martha Speaks theme (instrumental)"
ComposerDaniel Ingram
Country of originUnited States
Canada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6 [1]
No. of episodes96 [1][2] (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersCarol Greenwald
Chris Bartlerman
Blair Peters
ProducerSarah Wall
Running time28 minutes (approximately 13 minutes per episode)
Production companiesDHX Media Vancouver (seasons 1–4)
Oasis Animation (seasons 5–6)
WGBH Boston
DistributorDHX Media (worldwide)
Release
Original networkPBS Kids
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 1, 2008 (2008-09-01) –
November 18, 2014 (2014-11-18)

Martha Speaks is a children's animated television series based on the 1992 children's book of the same name by Susan Meddaugh.[3]

The series is produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, along with Canadian animation studios DHX Media Vancouver and Oasis Animation. It premiered on September 1, 2008 and ended on November 18, 2014, lasting for six years. Some episodes of this television series were available for limited theatrical release on January 3, 2009.[4] The show focuses mainly on synonyms, phonics and vocabulary, with each episode featuring an underlying theme illustrated with (usually informal) keywords. The show also occasionally focuses on introducing children ages 4–7 to different concepts of science, history, astronomy, and other learning concepts, such as the Spanish language, through passing mentions.[a]

The second season began airing on September 14, 2009. The third season of Martha Speaks premiered on PBS Kids on October 11, 2010,[5] and the fourth season began airing on February 20, 2012.[6] The fifth season premiered on June 24, 2013. The sixth and final season premiered on March 31, 2014.[7]

Since the series' conclusion, reruns aired on PBS Kids.

Premise

The series revolves around a talking dog named Martha (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain), who is owned by 10-year-old Helen Lorraine (known in the books as Helen Finney). When Helen fed Martha alphabet soup, the pasta letters somehow traveled to her brain rather than her stomach, giving her the ability to speak human words. The show takes place in the fictional town of Wagstaff City.[8]

Episodes

Main article: List of Martha Speaks episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
140September 1, 2008 (2008-09-01)July 17, 2009 (2009-07-17)
215September 14, 2009 (2009-09-14)May 14, 2010 (2010-05-14)
315October 11, 2010 (2010-10-11)October 3, 2011 (2011-10-03)
410February 20, 2012 (2012-02-20)April 5, 2013 (2013-04-05)
58June 24, 2013 (2013-06-24)November 14, 2013 (2013-11-14)
68March 31, 2014 (2014-03-31)November 18, 2014 (2014-11-18)

Season 1 of the series ended with a total of 40 episodes; it premiered in September 2008. 30 episodes were produced for season 2 and then split in half to be aired over two broadcast seasons with 15 episodes each.[9]

Words defined by characters were off-screen during Season 1, but were made visible from Season 2 onward. When first aired, the series was followed by Music Time with SteveSongs and later by Dot's Story Factory. Season 2 episodes were followed by a segment called Who's That Dog? in which a clip of a dog with special training is shown. The series was available to stream on Netflix, with three of the seasons from the show until July 2015.

Characters

Animals

Children

Adults

Guests

Production

The show's executive producer was Carol Greenwald, and it was developed for television by Emmy Award-winning writer Kenneth "Ken" Scarborough, the show's head writer who is also notable for other works such as Arthur and Doug. Other writers and screenwriters include Joe Fallon, Peter Hirsch, Kathy Waugh, Raye Lankford, Pippin Parker, Ron Holsey, Jessica Carleton, Matt Steinglass, and Dietrich Smith. The music for the series and the theme song are by Canadian composers Daniel Ingram and Hal Foxton Beckett. Lyrics for the theme song are by Ken Scarborough and performed by Robert Wilson.[12]

The show was animated in Vancouver by DHX Media Vancouver (formerly Studio B Productions) using Adobe Flash.[13] Meddaugh, the author of the book, was involved in the show and oversaw the production.[14] Despite some concerns over the way word definitions would be incorporated into a television show, she was satisfied that they did not interrupt the flow of the story.[15] Producer Carol Greenwald first contacted Meddaugh when she was involved in the PBS series Arthur.[1][15]

Each episode features short animated segments related to the main parts in three occasions: one between the opening theme and the first part, another one between two parts, and the other between the second part and the closing credits. However, those short segments are not included in the version distributed outside the United States.[citation needed]

Broadcast and home media

The series premiered on PBS Kids on September 1, 2008 in the U.S. The series aired its final episode on November 18, 2014. Since the series' cancellation, repeats aired on the 24/7 channel. Internationally, the series aired on TVOntario in Canada, Discovery Kids in Latin America, Disney Junior in the Netherlands, CBBC in the United Kingdom, and on Nick Jr. in Australia and New Zealand.[16] On March 9, 2010, a DVD set of the series featuring 8 episodes from the first season was released. The series was also added to Amazon Prime Video.

Merchandise

PBS Kids reported that episodes of the series would be available as downloads in 2008. Episodes are also available for purchase via downloading.[14]

In January 2010, Martha Speaks launched its first list of official tie-in books, which include 24-page readers, chapter books, and a picture book.[14]

Notes

  1. ^ Carolina and Mariella Lorraine are fluent Spanish speakers. Additionally, Truman Oatley references the works of William Shakespeare in a few episodes, such as Oh, nooo! where he mentions Hamlet, while season 2 episodes Dogs in Space and Dogs from Space focus on vocabulary such as Solar System, orbit, planet, star, the moons of Jupiter and constellation.

References

  1. ^ a b c Weiss, Joanna (August 17, 2008). "PBS set to unleash a new tutor". The Boston Globe.
  2. ^ "Publishers Weekly". Archived from the original on October 31, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  3. ^ "Martha Speaks . Games . Marthur Sticker Mashup | PBS KIDS". pbskids.org.
  4. ^ Kidtoon Films. "Kidtoon Films". Kidtoon Films. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  5. ^ "Oregon Public Broadcasting". Opb.org. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  6. ^ "OASIS ANIMATION to Produce a New Season of Martha Speaks for WGBH to Air on PBS KIDS", BusinessWire, December 12, 2012.
  7. ^ "Martha Speaks #501". Archived from the original on 2014-01-12. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  8. ^ Answers.com. "Martha Speaks TV Show". Answers.com. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  9. ^ "Martha Speaks Episode Descriptions". Pbs Kids!. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  10. ^ "Martha Goes to School". 2 minutes in. ((cite episode)): Missing or empty |series= (help)
    Mrs. Clusky: "Is this Martha Lorraine?"
    Martha: "That's right."
  11. ^ "Martha Speaks . FAQ". PBS KIDS!. WGBH. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  12. ^ "Martha Speaks TV Credits". PBS Parents. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  13. ^ "2008: The year that was". Top Draw Animation. Archived from the original on 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  14. ^ a b c "Martha Speaks. FAQ". PBS Kids. WGBH. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  15. ^ a b Nesi, Ted (2009-05-12). "Good dog". Wheaton Quarterly. Wheaton College. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
  16. ^ "DHX MEDIA'S RASTAMOUSE AND MARTHA SPEAKS LICENSED TO BBC KIDS IN CANADA". WildBrain.