Martha Speaks
Created bySusan Meddaugh
Based onMartha Speaks
by Susan Meddaugh
Developed byKen Scarborough
Written byKen Scarborough
Directed byDallas Parker
Colleen Holub
Voices ofTabitha St. Germain
Madeleine Peters
Brian Drummond
Alex Ferris
Valin Shinyei
Cedric Payne
Christina Crivici
Michelle Creber
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" (lyrics by Ken Scarborough)
by Robert Wilson (a few spoken-word lines provided by Tabitha St. Germain)
Ending theme"Martha Speaks" (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
Original release
NetworkPBS Kids (United States)
TVOKids (Canada)
ReleaseSeptember 1, 2008 (2008-09-01) –
November 18, 2014 (2014-11-18)

Martha Speaks is a children's preschool flash-animated television series based on the 1992 children's book of the same name by Susan Meddaugh,[3] and debuted on September 1, 2008 on PBS Kids. The series was produced by WGBH Boston in collaboration with DHX Media Vancouver for the first four seasons and Oasis Animation for the final two seasons of the series.

The series focuses mainly on synonyms, phonics, and vocabulary, with each episode featuring an underlying theme illustrated with a wide variety of keywords. The show also occasionally focuses on introducing children aged four to seven[4] to different concepts of science, history, astronomy and other learning concepts (from the Spanish language to passing mentions of it).[a]

On July 6, 2009, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on September 14, 2009. On August 2, 2010, the series was renewed for another two seasons.[5][6] The third season premiered on October 11, 2010 and the fourth season premiered on February 20, 2012.[7] On April 29, 2013, the series was renewed for an additional two seasons. The fifth season premiered on June 24, 2013 and the sixth season premiered on March 31, 2014.[8]

On October 10, 2014, it was announced that the sixth season would be its last. The series finale aired on November 18, 2014.

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.[9]

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.[10]

In season 1, each episode was followed by Music Time with SteveSongs and later by Dot's Story Factory. Starting with season 2, both Music Time with SteveSongs and Dot's Story Factory are replaced by a segment called Who's That Dog? in which a clip of a dog with special training is shown.

In the series, words defined by characters were off-screen early in season 1 and throughout seasons 4–6. However, the words were made visible in only season 2 and season 3.

Characters

Main

Animals

Children

Adults

Recurring

Children

Adults

Production

The series was executive-produced by WGBH employee Carol Greenwald (who first contacted Meddaugh during production of the PBS series Arthur)[1] and developed for television by Emmy Award-winning writer Kenneth "Ken" Scarborough (the head writer for shows such as Arthur and Doug). Among other writers and screenwriters were Joe Fallon, Peter Hirsch, Kathy Waugh, Raye Lankford, Pippin Parker, Ron Holsey, Jessica Carleton, Matt Steinglass and Dietrich Smith. Canadian composers Daniel Ingram and Harold Foxton Beckett composed the music for both the series and the theme song, while Ken Scarborough wrote the lyrics for and Robert Wilson performed the latter.[14]

The series was produced in Vancouver by DHX Media Vancouver (formerly Studio B Productions) using Flash.[15] Meddaugh, the author of the book, was involved in the series and oversaw the production: despite some concerns over what would the way word definitions be incorporated into a television series, she was satisfied they didn't interrupt the plot's flowing concept.[16][17]

Actor, Jon Hamm along with then girlfriend, Jennifer Westfeldt and their German Shepherd mix, Cora were animated into cartoon versions of themselves for an episode as guest stars. [18][19]

Format

In each episode, short animated segments related to the main parts are presented 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 excluded from versions outside the United States and Canada.

Broadcast

Martha Speaks debuted on PBS Kids on September 1, 2008 and ended on November 18, 2014, with reruns continuing until October 2, 2022,[20] though local stations may still choose to air it independently, as do KLCS-DT2 and PBS Hawaii, as of 2023.

The series also aired on TVOKids in Canada, on Discovery Kids in Latin America, on Disney Junior in the Netherlands, on CBBC in the United Kingdom and on Nick Jr. in Australia and New Zealand.[21]

Home media

On January 3, 2009, some episodes of this television series were available for limited theatrical release.[22] Also, a DVD set of the series featuring 8 episodes from the first season was released on March 9, 2010; since then, several DVDs were also released.

Streaming

Until July 2015, seasons 1-3 were available to stream on Netflix. Since then, the series is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video (albeit all episodes are now available).

Merchandise

Before the series premiered, PBS Kids reported that episodes of the series were available as downloads, as they are also available for purchase via downloading, to date. In January 2010, Martha Speaks launched its first list of official tie-in books with: 24-page readers and several chapter books; and also a picture book.

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. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
  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. ^ "About Martha Speaks". PBS KIDS. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  5. ^ "Oregon Public Broadcasting". Opb.org. Archived from the original on 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  6. ^ "PBS Kids Greenlights Martha Speaks For Fourth Season". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  7. ^ "WGBH BOSTON'S AND DHX MEDIA'S MARTHA SPEAKS GREENLIT FOR A FOURTH SEASON ON PBS KIDS". WildBrain. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  8. ^ "Martha Speaks #501". Archived from the original on 2014-01-12. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  9. ^ Answers.com. "Martha Speaks TV Show". Answers.com. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  10. ^ "Martha Speaks Episode Descriptions". Pbs Kids!. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  11. ^ "Martha Goes to School". Martha Speaks. 2 minutes in.
    Mrs. Clusky: "Is this Martha Lorraine?"
    Martha: "That's right."
  12. ^ "Martha Speaks . FAQ". PBS KIDS!. WGBH. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  13. ^ "Martha Speaks | Martha Sings/Td Makes The Band | WTTW". Chicago Public Television. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  14. ^ "Martha Speaks TV Credits". PBS Parents. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  15. ^ "2008: The year that was". Top Draw Animation. Archived from the original on 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  16. ^ Nesi, Ted (2009-05-12). "Good dog". Wheaton Quarterly. Wheaton College. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
  17. ^ "Martha Speaks. FAQ". PBS Kids. WGBH. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  18. ^ Chaney, Jen (2023-06-30). "Jon Hamm becomes a cartoon in PBS kids show". Washington Post. Retrieved 2024-02-18.
  19. ^ "First Look: Jon Hamm And His Dog Get Animated for Martha Speaks". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2024-02-18.
  20. ^ "PBS KIDS Schedule Update October 2022". WKAR. 30 September 2022.
  21. ^ "DHX MEDIA'S RASTAMOUSE AND MARTHA SPEAKS LICENSED TO BBC KIDS IN CANADA". WildBrain.
  22. ^ Kidtoon Films. "Kidtoon Films". Kidtoon Films. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-08-16.