PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch
PBSKidsBookWormBranch.jpeg
NetworkPBS Kids
LaunchedSeptember 30, 2000; 21 years ago (2000-09-30)
ClosedSeptember 5, 2004; 17 years ago (2004-09-05)
Country of origin
Owner
Original language(s)English

The PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch was a preschool television block produced by Canada-based animation studio Nelvana that aired on PBS from September 30, 2000 to September 5, 2004. It typically aired on weekend mornings, depending on station preference and scheduling. The shows that formed the Bookworm Bunch were all based on children's books. The initial lineup consisted of six shows: Corduroy (by Don Freeman), Elliot Moose (by Andrea Beck), Timothy Goes to School (by Rosemary Wells), Seven Little Monsters (by Maurice Sendak), George Shrinks (by William Joyce), and Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse (by Betty and Michael Paraskevas).

History

In August 1999, PBS and Nelvana teamed up to create the network's first-ever animated weekend programming block.[1] It was essentially created to boost viewership of the preschool audience on weekends, specifically on Saturday mornings when that attention was shifted elsewhere. A proposed series called Junior Kroll and Company was set to premiere, but that idea was eventually shelved and replaced by Marvin.[2] News of the block's expansion was paired with the release of a study from the University of Kansas that demonstrated the idea that children can learn to read from television programs.[3] Upon its launch on September 30, 2000, the Bookworm Bunch became the second preschool-oriented Saturday morning block on broadcast television after Nick Jr. on CBS, which premiered two weeks before. Although PBS intended on the block to be broadcast on Saturdays, some stations opted to air it other days, particularly Sundays when there was less competition from other networks.[4]

During the block's first season, all the shows (with the exception of the first 15-minute Corduroy episode), were shown either 15 or 45 minutes past the hour, in an effort to discourage "channel-flipping" to other competing children's cartoons on Saturday mornings. A last 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. The first-season finale premiered on February 24, 2001. Reruns of Season 1 (including reruns of Elliot Moose and Corduroy) aired until October 27 of that same year.

The second and final season premiered on November 3, 2001,[5] and with this premiere came a drastic revamp: Corduroy and Elliot Moose were removed from the lineup entirely, thus shortening it to two hours. The four remaining series were instead seen on the hour and half-hour. Marvin and Timothy both ended production by late 2001. The second-season finale premiered on February 23, 2002.

After the second season of the block concluded, two series were picked up as part of a weekday edition of standalone series, which premiered on January 6, 2003. This included new episodes of Seven Little Monsters and George Shrinks, in addition to a new revival of Berenstain Bears. Although originally a half-hour program, PBS commissioned new 15-minute episodes of Monsters that followed Bears in the same half-hour timeslot.[6] This did not last long as Bears eventually became a half-hour show (consisting of two 15-minute episodes) beginning September 15, 2003,[7] thus permanently removing Monsters from the PBS lineup. George Shrinks was given its own half-hour timeslot,[8] in which it also proved to be extremely popular.

As for the formal two-hour Bookworm Bunch block, the second season continued in reruns on select PBS stations and the PBS Kids Channel until September 5, 2004. Around this time, there were many new additions coming to the PBS weekend lineup (like Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder) and the new PBS Kids Go! block debuted in 2004, all of which effectively replaced the Bookworm Bunch. However, reruns of the standalone George Shrinks series (and Berenstain Bears) continued on select stations several years thereafter.

After the cancellation of the Bookworm Bunch, cable channel Discovery Kids aired reruns of Timothy from 2004 to 2006. Now-defunct Qubo also aired reruns of Elliot, Marvin, and Timothy as part of its daily programming.

Interstitials

Music video interstitials aired at the end of each program before the credits.[9] 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)

Second Season (2001–2002)

Programming

Former programming

Original programming

The first season (2000-2001) of the Bookworm Bunch block ran for three hours, and the second season (2001-2002) ran for two hours.

Title Premiere date End date Notes Source(s)
Corduroy September 30, 2000 October 27, 2001
Elliot Moose Available on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi
Timothy Goes to School September 5, 2004 Available on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi
Seven Little Monsters
George Shrinks
Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse Available on Amazon Prime Video

Standalone programming

The most successful series from the weekend Bookworm Bunch block were stripped to five days a week, and joined Berenstain Bears as standalone programs.[13]

Title Premiere date End date Notes Source(s)
The Berenstain Bears/Seven Little Monsters January 6, 2003 September 14, 2003 Reruns continued on select stations as late as 2004[14]
George Shrinks January 23, 2003 Reruns continued on select stations as late as 2009
The Berenstain Bears September 15, 2003[7] December 6, 2004 Reruns continue on select stations as of 2022

References

  1. ^ Elber, Lynn. "PBS launching Saturday series for preschoolers". OnlineAthens. Archived from the original on 2015-10-29. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  2. ^ "Kidscreen » Archive » what's developing in kids production". Kidscreen. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  3. ^ Zurawik, David. "PBS gives kids new Saturday morning shows". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  4. ^ Bedford, Karen E. "PBS debuts 'Bookworm Bunch,' 2000 - Current.org". Current.org. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "'PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH' Returns to PBS For a Second Season on Saturday, November 3" (Press release). Nelvana Limited. Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  6. ^ "The Berenstain Bears(R) Bring 40 Years of Literary History to 'PBS KIDS' With Premiere of 15-Minute Animated TV Series" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2017-08-22. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Award-Winning PBS KIDS® Launches New Programming This Fall 2003" (Press release). Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  8. ^ "George Shrinks Grows to Five Days a Week With All-New Episodes on 'PBS KIDS'" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2017-08-22. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  9. ^ "PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch Interstitials (2001)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "Kidssongs 2 by Nancy Cassidy". Apple Music. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Kidssongs by Nancy Cassidy". Apple Music. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "KidsSongs: Sleepyheads by Nancy Cassidy". Apple Music. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Nelvana trio stripped on PBS Kids". C21media. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
  14. ^ "WGTE - TV 30 Schedule". web.archive.org. 2004-08-17. Retrieved 2022-07-10.