Cro (TV series)

Cro is an American animated television series produced by the Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop) and Film Roman. It debuted on September 18, 1993 as part of the Saturday morning line-up for fall 1993 on ABC.[1] Cro lasted 1½ seasons and ran in reruns through summer 1995. The show had an educational theme (this was before federal educational/informational mandates took effect in 1996), introducing basic concepts of physics, mechanical engineering, and technology.

Cro (TV series).png
Opening title to Cro
Based onThe Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Developed byMark Zaslove
StarringMax Casella as Cro
Voices ofCharlie Adler
Ruth Buzzi
Jim Cummings
Tress MacNeille
Candi Milo
Laurie O'Brien
April Ortiz
Jane Singer
Jussie Smollett
Frank Welker
Composer(s)Stacy Widelistz
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Phil Roman
Jeffrey Nelson
Franklin Getchell
Marjorie Kalins
Joan Ganz Cooney
Mark Zaslove
Producer(s)Bob Richardson
Running timeapprox. 23 mins
Production company(s)Children's Television Workshop (CTW)
Film Roman
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 18, 1993 (1993-09-18) –
October 22, 1994 (1994-10-22)

The premise of using woolly mammoths as a teaching tool for the principles of technology was inspired by David Macaulay's The Way Things Work; Macaulay is credited as writer on the show.[2] The last new episode aired on October 22, 1994. The show was released on video (VHS) in a total of nine volumes.


A scientist named Dr. C and her assistant Mike travel to the Arctic to study artifacts and find a frozen woolly mammoth named Phil. They thaw him out and are surprised to find that he can speak. Whenever a situation in modern times involves physics principles, Phil remembers when a similar event occurred long ago in the prehistoric valley of Woollyville with his fellow mammoths and his Cro-Magnon friend Cro, who lived with a family of Neanderthals. Each episode features Phil narrating how a problem was resolved through simple engineering.

The show's (and lead character's) name is an Occitan word for "cave"; it alludes to Cro-Magnon, the location in France where the earliest anatomically modern humans were first discovered.



  • Cro (voiced by Max Casella) – A fully evolved, 11-year-old Cro-Magnon boy who was adopted by a tribe of Neanderthals. He was a somewhat scrawny and yet still rather muscular young Cro-Magnon boy with long, shaggy, red hair and wore a yellow armband on one arm. Most of the Neanderthals that he lives with are jealous of his intelligence. Unlike the rest of the tribe, Cro speaks in complete sentences.
  • Ogg (voiced by Jim Cummings) – The selfish, bossy leader of Cro's adoptive Neanderthal tribe. He is difficult to get along with but easily frightened by danger.
  • Gogg (voiced by Frank Welker) – A sensitive Neanderthal who sticks up for Bobb and mostly translates for him, even though Nandy and Ogg do occasionally.
  • Bobb (voiced by Frank Welker) – Another adopted member of the Neanderthal tribe and the least evolved of the tribe, resembling a homo habilis. He does not speak like the rest of the Neanderthals, but makes ape-like noises which Gogg usually translates. When Bobb was younger, he was in a different tribe made up of similar homo habilis. The tribe took a nap and Bobb woke up to find the whole tribe had vanished without a trace, creating a fear of loneliness until the Neanderthals found him.
  • Nandy (voiced by Ruth Buzzi) – The matriarch of the Neanderthal tribe who is noted for her urban legends. Some of her legends include the legend of "Big Thing" and a monster called "Big Skinny Thing with Many, Many Legs." She gets into arguments with Ogg and usually wins as she is fully aware of Ogg's own fears. Nandy is very overprotective of Cro and motherly around everyone else.

Woolly MammothsEdit

  • Phil (voiced by Jim Cummings) – A smart but goofy woolly mammoth with orange and reddish fur who is kind to humans and mammoths alike. During the end of the Ice Age, Phil fell into a glacier while saving Cro from Selene and was thawed out by Mike and Dr. C 45,000 years later. He narrates stories of his life in Woollyville in every episode.
  • Ivanna (voiced by Laurie O'Brien) – Ivanna is a southern belle woolly mammoth with yellow fur and brown skin with a mole who is Phil's love interest. She is the second oldest female mammoth in Phil's herd next to Esmeralda. She usually uses Phil for her experiments.
  • Pakka (voiced by Candi Milo) – A young woolly mammoth with light orange fur and yellow skin and a close friend of Cro's. She and Cro meet after Cro confronts Selene the Smilodon. She is the third oldest female mammoth next to Ivanna and Esmeralda. She sometimes tells Cro interesting facts about mammoths.
  • Steamer (voiced by Charlie Adler) – The youngest woolly mammoth in Phil's herd with maroon fur and light purple skin, whose hyperactivity and love of making mischief often land him in hot water.
  • Esmeralda (voiced by Tress MacNeille) – The oldest female woolly mammoth and matriarch of Phil's herd with light yellow fur and gray skin. She makes sure that everything goes to order and that those who have wronged the mammoth society be punished. She has strongly mixed feelings about the presence of Cro's tribe in Woollyville.
  • Earle (voiced by Frank Welker) – An elderly woolly mammoth with gray fur with dark gray-blue skin and a bald spot due to not having longer fur on his head. He hates humans and prefer traditions over new ways of life.
  • Mojo (voiced by Charlie Adler) – A woolly mammoth who is Earle's younger brother with gray fur and light gray skin. Like Earle, Mojo hates humans and prefer traditions over new ways of life.


  • Big Red (voiced by Charlie Adler) – The conniving leader of a menacing pack of bumbling dire wolves. He uses threats to scare his minions into doing a good job. The wolves are one of two antagonists on the show as they would often try to eat Cro's tribe or the younger woolly mammoths.
    • Murray (voiced by Jim Cummings) – The minions of Big Red. Because he threatens them, the dire wolves fear him. Murray thinks stupid things, which Big Red doesn't like, as shown in Things That Eat Mung in the Night.[3]
  • Selene (voiced by Jane Singer) – A seductive, purple, yellow-eyed Smilodon. She first appears in "Lever in a Million Years" and has a monstrous appetite for anything that moves, including the cavepeople. According to the show's opening theme song, she and Phil were fighting on a cliff and fell when part of the cliff gave way. She landed on a lower cliff, while Phil fell into a glacier and was frozen in suspended animation for thousands of years.

Other charactersEdit

  • Dr. Cecilia (voiced by April Ortiz) – A female scientist in modern times. She and Mike thawed out Phil, so he tells them his stories. Dr. C speaks with a distinct Hispanic accent and speaks a few Spanish words in some episodes. She bears a resemblance to Cro and may in fact be his descendant.
  • Mike (voiced by Jussie Smollett) – A young friend of Dr. C. who wears big glasses. He likes to play basketball and lives with Dr. C for reasons not specified. He and Dr. C were the two people that thawed out Phil and therefore, he tells them his stories.
  • Teddie (voiced by Bill Daber) – Teddy is a friend of Cro's. He is only featured in one episode (with the Talent Show), but is important nonetheless. He invented the first ever Rap music!
  • Sooli (voiced by Cree Summer) – Sooli is another Cro-Magnon who got separated from her tribe and Cro and Pakka help her find her favorite horse. Sooli only appeared in one episode.


Season 1 (1993)Edit

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
11"Just a Stone's Throw Away"September 18, 1993 (1993-09-18)
After Bobb and Steamer trap themselves on the opposite side of a canyon, a few of Woolyville’s residents band together to find an ingenious way to reach the other side to rescue them. Meanwhile, in the present, Phil helps Mike with his basketball skills with aid of a catapult.
22"No Time for Steamer"September 25, 1993 (1993-09-25)
Steamer is left behind as the other mammoths leave on vacation. Cro and the Neanderthals come up with a way to balance out everyone's time spent babysitting him.
33"Destroy all Buckies"October 2, 1993 (1993-10-02)
Og discovers a discarded invention and has to defend it as the rest of Woolyville demands its destruction.
44"It's Snow Problem"October 9, 1993 (1993-10-09)
Cro invents a way to get everyone up the mountain to enjoy his new sport.
55"Let Me Help"October 16, 1993 (1993-10-16)
Phil goes a little overboard in his attempts to help the humans create a window in the cave.
66"The Legend of Big Thing"October 23, 1993 (1993-10-23)
77"A Bridge Too Short"October 30, 1993 (1993-10-30)
Earl and Mojo have the humans build a bridge for the Grand Medallion of Merit.
88"Pakka's Cool Invention"November 6, 1993 (1993-11-06)
Pakka helps find a way to keep Esmeralda cool in the summer heat.
99"Here's Looking at You, Cro'"November 13, 1993 (1993-11-13)
Cro discovers a 'seemyselfer' and uses it to watch Og and Gog compete.
1010"No Way Up"November 20, 1993 (1993-11-20)
Nandy has a final request, to fly.
1111"Adventures in Miscommunications"November 27, 1993 (1993-11-27)
Earl and Mojo's insult war gets mixed up with an important message about the volcano.
1212"Escape from Mung Island"December 4, 1993 (1993-12-04)
1313"Pulley for You"December 11, 1993 (1993-12-11)
1414"Things That Eat Mung in the Night"December 18, 1993 (1993-12-18)

Season 2 (1994)Edit

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
151"Meal Like a Pig"September 17, 1994 (1994-09-17)
After Bobb and Steamer trap themselves on the opposite side of a canyon, a few of Woolyville’s residents band together to find an ingenious way to reach the other side to rescue them. Meanwhile, in the present, Phil helps Mike with his basketball skills with aid of a catapult.
162"What's That Smell"September 24, 1994 (1994-09-24)
All of Woolyville is determined to bathe Og.
173"Play It Again, Cro... Not!"October 1, 1994 (1994-10-01)
Cro practices his violin for the Woolyville marching band.
184"Lever in a Million Years"October 8, 1994 (1994-10-08)
195"Turn Up the Heat"October 15, 1994 (1994-10-15)
Cro needs to ride a mammoth for his coming of age ceremony. He hopes that making a new shower for Phil will get Phil to agree to help him.
206"They Move Mammoths, Don't They?"October 22, 1994 (1994-10-22)

Home mediaEdit

Three VHS tapes were released by Republic Home Video in the United States:

  • Have Mammoths, Will Travel – Episodes: "No Way Up" and "Escape from Mung Island"
  • Adventures in Woollyville – Episodes: "Pulley to You" and "A Bridge Too Short"
  • It's a Woolly, Woolly World – Episodes: "Lever in a Million Years" and "Play It Again, Cro...NOT!"


  1. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 140–141. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 222–224. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  3. ^ "Things That Eat Mung in the Night". Cro. Episode 14. 26 February 1994. ABC. Murray: "But it is very, very chilly out there in the cold, cold snow, boss. Perhaps we'd better wait 'til the mornin'?" Big Red: [growls] "Are you thinking again, Murray?" Murray: "Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, boss. See, I just thought that- Whoop!" [yelps as he is kicked out of the cave] "We was just leavin', Big Red."

External linksEdit