Super Why!
The series' logo. It features the words "Super WHY!" written in a green font, with the exclamation point being larger. A blue book with three yellow rings surrounding it is behind the words.
GenrePreschool
Superhero
Created byAngela C. Santomero
Voices of
Theme music composerSteve D'Angelo
Terry Tompkins
Opening theme"Who's Got the Power?"
Ending theme"Hip Hip Hooray" (Instrumental, S1-2)
"Super Readers to the Rescue" (Instrumental, S3)
Composers
  • Lorenzo Castelli (seasons 2-3)
  • Jeff Morrow (seasons 2-3)
  • Steve D'Angelo (entire run)
  • Terry Tompkins (entire run)
Country of originUnited States
Canada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes103 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Angela C. Santomero
  • Samantha Freeman Alpert
  • Steven DeNure
  • Anne Loi (S2-3)
Running time30 minutes
Production companies
Animation services
Original release
Network
ReleaseSeptember 3, 2007 (2007-09-03) –
May 12, 2016 (2016-05-12)

Super Why! is a CGI-animated superhero preschool television series created by Angela C. Santomero and developed by Santomero and Samantha Freeman Alpert for PBS Kids. Santomero and Alpert additionally serve as executive producers alongside Steven DeNure and Anne Loi. The series was produced by Santomero and Alpert's New York City-based production company Out of the Blue Enterprises in co-production with Decode Entertainment for the first season and DHX Studios Halifax for the second and third seasons. Animation was by Toronto-based C.O.R.E. Toons (season 1), Gallus Entertainment (season 2) and DHX Media (originally through its Decode Entertainment division for season 3). The opening and closing theme songs were written by composers and lyricists Steve D'Angelo and Terry Tompkins, with D'Angelo also providing lead vocals for both. The background score for seasons 2 and 3 was composed by Lorenzo Castelli and Jeff Morrow.

The show was originally created as a stop motion pilot episode in 1999 by Cuppa Coffee Animation that was pitched to Nickelodeon/Nick Jr.[1] It was later featured at the 2000 Annecy Film Festival.[2] Nickelodeon ultimately opted not to pick up the show. Instead, Curious Pictures pitched another pilot to PBS Kids sometime in 2006, and PBS Kids further developed the series with funds from the United States Department of Education's Ready to Learn grant [3][4] and aired the premiere episode on September 3, 2007.[5] The original run ended on May 12, 2016 with a total of 103 episodes across three seasons.[6]

Plot

The show is set in Storybrook Village, where the titular character, Whyatt Beanstalk, lives with his friends Woofster (first appearing in season 2), Littlest Pig, Red Riding Hood, and Princess Pea. In each of the episodes, one of the main characters (sometimes two characters, or even all five) has a "super big problem", a "super big question", or a "super big mystery". The main characters then discuss their situation at the Book Club, agreeing to look and fly in a book of a famous story to resolve it.

The goal of the Super Readers is to follow the storyline of the book. As they progress through the events of the story, they encounter various obstacles, which can be solved by applying their literacy skills to change the story. As they overcome each of these obstacles, they are rewarded with red glittery "Super Letters" that form the solution to whatever scenario they're investigating.

At the conclusion of the adventure, the Super Readers fly back to the Book Club. The Super Letters are put onto the giant computer screen and are spelled out to show the "Super Story Answer". Then, one of the Super Readers gives the reason why that particular word or phrase serves as the solution to their issue or mystery.[7]

Episodes

Main article: List of Super Why! episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
165September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03)November 15, 2010 (2010-11-15)
215September 12, 2011 (2011-09-12)October 11, 2012 (2012-10-11)
323August 17, 2015 (2015-08-17)May 12, 2016 (2016-05-12)

Characters

Reception

Logo used for merchandise.

Super Why! was received positively on Common Sense Media, where reviewer Emily Ashby rates the show 4/5 in the categories positive messages, positive role models, and educational value. Ashby's review additionally states while extremely mild sequences of suspense and peril do occur and how the show partnered with Post Consumer Brands for a branded cereal, there are low amounts of violence/scariness and consumerism, as well as no sexual content, profanity, or drinking, drugs, and smoking. Ashby additionally credits the merit of the show to its usage of classic children's fairy tales and the usage of characters from them, specifically the Three Little Pigs.[8]

Susan Stewart, a reviewer for The New York Times, criticized the show for taking classic fairy tales with traditionally dark lessons, specifically the Three Little Pigs and Hansel and Gretel, and morph them into etiquette lessons. Stewart also criticized the use of interactive questions for viewers to answer and their length, specifically questions like "what comes after the letter E?". Despite its flaws, Stewart does state that the show is brilliant in educational value.[9]

Promotions and other media

Live show

In 2012, a live show was launched across the United States, titled Super Why Live: You've Got the Power. Produced by S2BN Entertainment, directed by Glenn Orsher, and written by Orsher with additional script material by the television series' story writer Becky Friedman and executive producers and developers Angela C. Santomero and Samantha Freeman Alpert, Super Why Live was promoted for having aerial stunts and "cutting-edge technology", and due to its high levels of audience engagement, was jokingly referred to by Santomero as “‘the Rocky Horror Picture Show’ for preschoolers”. The show, which follows Super Why, Alpha Pig, Wonder Red, Princess Presto, and Woofster, premiered in Monroe, Louisiana on July 18, 2012, and toured into spring 2013, where the tour concluded in Albany, New York on May 10.[10][11][12] The show featured the pre-recorded voices of Melissa Hutchison as Super Why and Woofster, Charlie Ibsen as Alpha Pig, Lisa Marie Woods as Wonder Red, and Christina Ulloa Purrelli as Princess Presto.

The live show's soundtrack was written and produced by musician and singer-songwriter Jack Antonoff, and borrows elements from the series' songs written by Santomero, Alpert, composers Steve D'Angelo and Terry Tompkins, and lyricist Alex Breen. Antonoff, widely known for his work with the indie rock band Fun, noted that being natively skilled in indie rock, writing for the show was not very different, though the lyrics needed to be much less open to interpretation and easy to understand when composing for a young audience.[13]

Spin-off series

A short-form 2D spin-off series titled Super Why's Comic Book Adventures premiered on PBS Kids on October 18, 2023, with 20 three-minute episodes. A preview of the series was released on September 20, 2023. This series features a new Super Reader named Power Paige.[14]

References

  1. ^ "Portfolio". www.cuppacoffee.com:80. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  2. ^ "Film Index". www.annecy.org. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  3. ^ "Illustration, Concept Design, Visual Developement Curious Pictures LLC - Current client since 01/2002". EEW Books. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  4. ^ "RESEARCH PROVES SUPER WHY! HELPS CHILDREN LEARN TO READ". About PBS - Main. May 6, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  5. ^ "LITERACY TAKES THE LEAD ON PBS KIDS AND PBS KIDS GO!". About PBS - Main. November 14, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  6. ^ "Will Super Why! Return For a Season 4 on PBS // Renewed or Canceled? | TV Next Season". tvnextseason.com. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  7. ^ "About Super Why | PBS Kids Shows". PBS KIDS for Parents. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  8. ^ "Super Why! - TV Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. February 20, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  9. ^ Stewart, Susan (September 10, 2007). "And They All Read Happily Ever After". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  10. ^ "Super Why! live show set to fly". Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  11. ^ Rodman, Sarah (April 6, 2013). "PBS's 'Super Why!' comes to life onstage". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  12. ^ Super Why Live: Spring 2013 Tour Announcement!, retrieved September 22, 2022
  13. ^ Lopez, Korina. "Jack Antonoff adds some fun. to Super Why! Live tour". USA Today. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  14. ^ "Y-E-S, yes, the new 'Super Why!' musical shorts will premiere on PBS Kids Oct. 18". Los Angeles Times. September 20, 2023. Retrieved October 20, 2023.