Theodore Tugboat
Theodore Tugboat Logo.jpg
GenreChildren's television
Created byAndrew Cochran
Written byJeff Rosen
Bob Stutt
Kathy MacLellan
Maureen Wheller
Cheryl Wagner
Silver Donald Cameron
Vicki Grant
Lynn M. Turner
Directed byRobert D. Cardona
David Coole
Charles Bishop
Peter Sutherland
Shandi Mitchell
StarringDenny Doherty
Voices ofDenny Doherty
Music byGraham Shaw
Country of originCanada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes130 (75 Aired) (list of episodes)
Production
ProducerAndrew Cochran
EditorWilliam Jardine
Running time15 minutes
Production companyCochran Entertainment
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution (on behalf of DreamWorks Classics)
Release
Original network
  • CBC (Canada)
  • PBS (October 20, 1996[1]-September 6, 1999, USA)
  • PBS Kids (September 6, 1999-October 12, 2001,USA)
Original releaseJuly 5, 1993 (1993-07-05) –
October 12, 2001 (2001-10-12)
Theodore Too, a fullsize replica of Theodore Tugboat, titular star of the children's show, docked at Murphys Cable Wharf provides tours of Halifax Harbour in the summer.
Theodore Too, a fullsize replica of Theodore Tugboat, titular star of the children's show, docked at Murphys Cable Wharf provides tours of Halifax Harbour in the summer.

Theodore Tugboat is a Canadian children's television series about a tugboat named Theodore who lives in the Big Harbour with all of his friends. The show originated (and is set) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as a co-production between the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation),[2] and the now defunct Cochran Entertainment,[3][4][5][6] and was filmed on a model set using radio controlled tugboats,[7] ships, and machinery.[2][8] Production of the show ended in 2001, and its distribution rights were later sold to Classic Media (now DreamWorks Classics).[9] The show premiered in Canada on CBC Television, then went to PBS (Public Broadcasting Service),[2][7][10] was on Qubo in the United States,[9] and has appeared in eighty different countries.[2][4]

The show deals with life learning issues portrayed by the tugs or other ships in the harbour.[2][11][12] Most often, the tugs have a problem, or get involved in a struggle with each other or another ship, but they always manage to help one another resolve these problems and see them through. Their main focus however, is to always make the Big Harbour the friendliest harbour in the world, and to always do a good job with their work related tasks.

Origins

The original idea for the series came to Halifax native Andrew Cochran, as he tried to explain the unique characteristics and work of Halifax Harbour vessels to his three-year-old son while walking along the Halifax waterfront. According to Cochran, "When you are with kids, you tend to give human characteristics to buildings, cars and boats."[13] Cochran and his production company, Cochran Entertainment, went on to lead the development of the series with the CBC in Canada, starting in 1989. Production commenced in 1992 with the first broadcasts aired on CBC in 1993. Cochran Entertainment produced all 130 original episodes with Cochran as the executive producer. Jeff Rosen served as the Executive Story Editor and Principal Writer of the series. The designs and faces for most of the characters were created by art director and master model maker Fred Allen.[14] CBC Art Director Tom Anthes designed the set, which featured buildings and structures of Halifax Harbour. More than 60 of the 130 episodes were directed by Robert Cardona,[5] the co-creator of the television show Tugs and producer of Thomas & Friends. These series employed techniques later used in Theodore Tugboat such as humanized vehicles, life lessons and the use of a 1960s pop culture figure as narrator.

Characters

Main article: List of Theodore Tugboat characters

The show has one human character, The Harbourmaster, and five central tugboat characters, led by the show's namesake, Theodore Tugboat. Other ships, of all sizes, provide a large number of regular and occasional characters along with a few talking structures.

The Harbourmaster

Along with all the duties of a real-life harbourmaster, The Harbourmaster is the host and narrator of the series,[2] and provides voices for the entire cast of characters.[2][10][15] He is the only human on the show to be played live by a screen actor (other on-screen humans being small figurines, much like the first twelve seasons of Thomas and Friends),[2][16] and is portrayed in the Canadian and US versions by the late Denny Doherty,[5][7][17] formerly of The Mamas & the Papas,[2][4][7] and by other performers internationally. The Harbourmaster introduces the theme at the beginning of every episode by addressing an issue that he has in common with the tugs.[16] He also loves to play the tuba and is a good friend of a man named "Rodney" (who is never seen). The role, and the person playing the role, is similar to that of Shining Time Station,[2] the American series that featured Thomas & Friends; like Theodore Tugboat, that series initially starred (and was narrated by) an entertainment figure associated with the 1960s. Ringo Starr (of The Beatles),[2][10] and later, comedian George Carlin, both played the role of "Mr. Conductor". He also, like the narrator of TUGS, but unlike the narrators of Thomas the Tank Engine (Starr & Carlin at least) – can communicate on screen with the Tugboats.

Tugboats

This life-size version of Theodore Tugboat, Theodore Too plies the waters of Halifax Harbour.
This life-size version of Theodore Tugboat, Theodore Too plies the waters of Halifax Harbour.

Regular characters

Main article: List of recurring characters

A number of ships based in the Big Harbour appear as recurring characters. They include Phillip and Philmore the Ferry Twins, Pearl and Petra, the Pilot Boats, as well as Northumberland Submarine, Rebecca the Research Vessel, and Bluenose the Sailing Ship. A number of barges appear frequently, most notably the grumpy Guysborough the Garbage Barge and Barrington Barge as well as a few regular talking structures such as Benjamin Bridge and Donald Dock.

Visiting characters

Main article: List of visiting characters

Many visiting ships such as Kingston the Cargo Ship, Queen Stephanie the cruise ship, and Canso Colossus the supertanker appear in several episodes along with a large number of named visiting cargo ships and some rare special visitors such as Snorri the Viking Ship and Kulu the Canoe.

Episodes

Main article: List of Theodore Tugboat episodes

There are 130 episodes in the series. They were produced in five seasons:

The program's formula

Each episode always follows the same format within the series.

Opening sequence

The show always opens with the theme song, and the opening title dissolves into the Harbourmaster's office. The Harbourmaster is normally doing something or thinking about something, which prompts him to remember when one of the tugboats was involved in a similar scenario.[16]

Main sequence

As the Harbourmaster starts telling the story, the camera shot dissolves into a shot of the tugs working somewhere, or getting their orders from the Dispatcher. In the first few minutes of the episode, the tugs encounter a problem, and they use their heads to solve it. "It is the classic three-act structure," said series creator Andrew Cochran, "Theodore encounters a problem, the problem gets worse, he solves the problem."[13] Other times, the tugs have to conquer an emotional problem, such as not feeling good enough, or having to say goodbye to a friend.[12] As each episode continues, the tugs resolve their problems, and life returns to normal in the Big Harbour.

Closing sequence

The scene again dissolves into a shot of the Harbourmaster's office, with the Harbourmaster deciding to pay attention to the lesson learned by the tugs.[16] During this time, he sometimes communicates with the tugs through his office window (they reply with the sound of their whistles), plays his tuba, or listens to his friend Rodney playing bagpipes. The Harbourmaster finally says "Thanks for visiting us here in the Big Harbour, and we'll see you all again next time.", and the credits roll.[2]

On the half-hour PBS series, following the first story, the Harbourmaster's goodbye is instead followed by a voice-over, reminding viewers to stay tuned for the next story, and prompting them to visit the PBS website.

2View of the Theodore Tugboat studio models used for filming the children's television series. They were photographed on permanent display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Virtually, all of the buildings are based on actual buildings on the Halifax waterfront.
2View of the Theodore Tugboat studio models used for filming the children's television series. They were photographed on permanent display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Virtually, all of the buildings are based on actual buildings on the Halifax waterfront.

Production

The series was filmed in the former Alexander McKay School on Russell Street in Halifax's North End, which Doherty (the Harbourmaster) had attended as a child.[18][2][10][19] At the peak of production, the show employed forty people. The characters, including Theodore, were designed and built by Fred Allen,[20] a Halifax artist and set designer who strove to balance expressive human faces with realistic and weathered industrial details.[14] Allen and three model assistants built the models in a workshop adjacent to the large set located in a water-filled gymnasium.[2] The radio controlled models were driven by propellers and used underwater wheels to provide guidance and avoid drifting out of shots.[2] Blue food colour was used to give an ocean look to the water. While Allen built the vessel models, the background set, inspired by the cityscape of Halifax and Dartmouth buildings, was built by the art department at CBC Halifax.[13] Many of the original models used to film the series can now be seen at Halifax's Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,[8] while a few others were sold on eBay in 2010.

Real names and locations

The characters are loaded with references to Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, the Maritimes, and Atlantic Canada in general. Many of the references are obvious (such as Bedford buoy) while others are more obscure. The following is a list of other references:

Media

Theodore Tugboat VHS tapes

Canadian VHS tapes

The Canadian Theodore VHS tapes were made by Children's Group and PolyGram Video. They contained stickers of all the tugboats and two episodes.

The list
  1. Theodore to the Rescue – "Theodore to the Rescue" and "Theodore and the Northern Lights"
  2. Theodore's Whistle – "Theodore's Whistle" and "George's Ghost"
  3. Theodore's Big Adventures – "Theodore and the Oil Rig" and "Hank and the Hug"
  4. Whale of a Tug – "Whale of a Tug" and "Carla the Cool Cabin Cruiser"
  5. Hank and the Nightlight – "Hank and the Nightlight" and "Theodore Hugs the Coast"
  6. Theodore and the Harbour Crane – "Theodore and the Harbour Crane" and "Hank's Wheezy Whistle"
  7. Theodore and the Treasure Team – "Northumberland is Missing" and "All Quiet in the Big Harbour"
  8. Emily Goes Overboard – "Emily Goes Overboard" and "Dartmouth Says Goodbye"

US tapes

The US Theodore Tugboat tapes were released through PBS Home Video and Warner Home Video. Most of these tapes are common on online sites. They usually contain three episodes, with the exception of "Theodore's Big Adventure" with two, and "Theodore's Exceptional Friends" which has five, also containing a special handbook.

The list
  1. Theodore's Friendly Adventures (July 14, 1998) – "Theodore and the Unsafe Ship", "A Joke too Far", and "Hank and the Sunken Ship"[40]
  2. Theodore Helps a Friend (July 14, 1998) – "Theodore and the Hunt for Northumberland", "Bedford's Big Move", and Guysborough Makes a Friend"[41]
  3. Big Harbour Bedtime (July 14, 1998) – "Emily and the Sleep Over", "Theodore's Bright Night", and "Foduck and the Shy Ship"[42]
  4. Theodore's Exceptional Friends (October 26, 1999) – "Snorri the Viking Ship", "Guysborough's Garbage", "Hank Hurts a Ship", Theodore and the Ice Ship", and "Dartmouth Says Goodbye"[43]
  5. Nighttime Adventures (April 4, 2000) – "Night Shift", "Rebeca and the Big Snore", and "Hank Stays Up Late"[44]
  6. Underwater Mysteries (April 4, 2000) – "Theodore's Big Decision", "George and the Underwater Mystery", and "Pugwash is Gone!"[45]
  7. Theodore's Big Adventure (July 29, 1997) (PBS version) – "Theodore and the Big Oil Rig", and "Hank and the Hug"

Theodore Tugboat DVDs

The Murphy's Company Store in Halifax has copies of some US releases on DVD. These include; Big Harbor Bedtime, Nighttime Adventures, and Theodore's Friendly Adventures. In 2007, 2 DVD volumes were released in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. A DVD was released in The Netherlands in 2012, followed by a second volume in 2013.

Theodore Tugboat books

In a deal Cochran did with Random House in 1998,[46] the following Theodore Tugboat books were published

In the late 2000s Nimbus Publishing released a series of books featuring Theodore Too.[56]

Merchandise

Theodore Too

There were several tie-ins linked with the series. Notably, the producers, Cochran Entertainment, worked out a marketing deal with European toy manufacturer BRIO to produce wooden toy replicas of some of the main characters,[61] as well as a line of scale die-cast models and bathtub toys manufactured by Ertl.[62] The characters were retired in 2000. A set of squeezy toys were made by Alpi. Puzzles and games were made by International Playthings.

A life-sized replica of Theodore Tugboat (called Theodore Too)[63] was constructed by the series producers in the late 1990s,[3] that went on a fifty-city tour of harbours from Tampa, Florida,[64] through the Great Lakes to Chicago, Illinois, and back again to Halifax.[65] It resided in Halifax Harbour for 21 years.

In mid 2020, the touring company, Ambassatours Gray Line, announced plans to sell the replica boat for CAD$496,000.[66] Response from the public was generally nostalgic and emotional, as many, especially haligonians who had not only grown up with the show, but with the boat as well. The boat was purchased in March, 2021 by Blair McKeil.[67] Theodore Too left Halifax harbour on 10, June, 2021 for the Port of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario where it will be used to promote water conservation in the Great Lakes.[68]

Theodore Tugboat merchandise can still be purchased from many on-line auction and shopping websites. Retail merchandise can also be purchased from the Theodore Tugboat Gift Shop, on the waterfront in downtown Halifax, near Theodore Too and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Theodore Tugboat toys/games

Ertl

Ertl released a number of Theodore Tugboat toys, including die-cast boats, a set of rubber boats that float, and a "Press'n Roll" series of plastic boats (where pressing the smokestack then releasing it makes the boat move).

Characters
  1. Theodore
  2. Emily
  3. Foduck
  4. Hank
  5. George
  6. Carla
  7. Brunswick
  8. The Great Ocean Dock Playset
  9. Constance
  10. Rebecca
  11. Northumberland
  12. Owan The Oil Rig Playset
Bath Tub Toys
  1. Theodore
  2. Hank
  3. Emily
  4. George
  5. Foduck
  6. Northumberland
  7. Guysborough
  8. Pugwash
  9. Digby
Changing Faces
  1. Hank
  2. Theodore
Press and Roll
  1. Emily
  2. Foduck
Sets
  1. The Great Ocean Dock Playset (with Donald Dock and Brunswick)
  2. Owan The Oil Rig Playset
Cancelled
  1. Phillip
  2. Sigrid
  3. Filmore
  4. Barrington
  5. Oliver

BRIO

BRIO released many Theodore Tugboat toys for interaction with its toy trains.[61] Other than the tugboats, Brio released Benjamin Bridge, Clayton the Crane, Chester the Container Ship, Barrington, Bonnavista, and the Dispatcher.[61] The tugs and the Dispatcher feature moving eyes.

Characters Made
  1. Theodore
  2. Hank
  3. Emily
  4. George
  5. Foduck
  6. The Dispatcher
  7. Barrington
  8. Benjamin Bridge
  9. Clayton
  10. Chester
Sets
  1. The Great Ocean Dock and Dispatcher
  2. Cargo Docks Play Set and Bonnavista Barge

International Playthings

International Playthings released the Theodore Tugboat Cargo Game.

See also

References

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  47. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Serrat, Bernat; Stutt, Bob (January 1, 1999). Theodore and the whale. New York: Random House. ISBN 0679894217.
  48. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Cardona Studio (January 1, 2000). Theodore and the scary cove. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375805087.
  49. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Mateu, Francese (January 1, 1999). Theodore and the treasure hunt. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375800867. OCLC 42719390.
  50. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Edwards, Ken; Cochran, Andrew; Rosen, Jeff (January 1, 2000). Theodore to the rescue. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375803254. OCLC 44942682.
  51. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Edwards, Ken; MacLellan, Kathy (January 1, 1999). Theodore's best friend. New York: Random House. ISBN 0679994092. OCLC 40678302.
  52. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Edwards, Ken (January 1, 1999). Theodore's splash!. New York: Random House. ISBN 0679894101. OCLC 43606789.
  53. ^ Man-Kong, Mary; Mateu, Francese; Cochran, Andrew; Rosen, Jeff (January 1, 1998). Theodore's whistle. New York: Random House. ISBN 0679894195. OCLC 38884941.
  54. ^ Robertson, Ivan; Edwards, Ken (January 1, 1999). Theodore and the stormy day. New York: Random House. ISBN 037580076X. OCLC 44883863.
  55. ^ Robertson, Ivan; Gleaves, Phil; Cochran, Andrew; Rosen, Jeff (January 1, 2000). Theodore's birthday surprise. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375802495. OCLC 45582615.
  56. ^ Cochran entertainment had gone into receivership in 2002 and had sold the rights for Theodore to Classic Media. Murphy's Sailing Tours Limited licensed the right to operate Theodore Too from Classic Media. It is unclear from the metadata in the Nimbus books if they are a merchandising tie-in with the TV show or the boat.
  57. ^ Mulder, Michelle; Poplawska, Yolanda (January 1, 2006). Theodore Too and the too-long nap. Halifax, N.S.: Nimbus Pub. ISBN 1551095718.
  58. ^ Mulder, Michelle; Poplawska, Yolanda (January 1, 2007). Theodore Too and the shipwreck school. Halifax, N.S.: Nimbus Pub. ISBN 9781551096094. OCLC 124034630.
  59. ^ Mulder, Michelle; Poplawska, Yolanda (January 1, 2008). Theodore Too and the mystery guest. Halifax, NS: Nimbus Pub. ISBN 9781551096599. OCLC 212430359.
  60. ^ Mulder, Michelle; Poplawska, Yolanda (January 1, 2011). Theodore Too and the excuse-me monster. Halifax, N.S.: Nimbus Pub. ISBN 9781551098074. OCLC 694678374.
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