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WordGirl is an American children’s animated television series produced by the Soup2Nuts animation unit of Scholastic Entertainment for PBS Kids. The show began as a series of shorts entitled The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl that premiered on PBS Kids Go! on November 10, 2006, usually shown at the end of Maya & Miguel; the segment was then spun off into a new thirty-minute episodic series that premiered on September 3, 2007 on most PBS member stations. All four full-episode seasons each have twenty-six episodes, while the preceding series of shorts had thirty.

WordGirl
WordGirl title card.jpg
Also known as

'The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl

'
Created by Dorothea Gillim
Developed by
  • Dorothea Gillim
  • Jack D. Ferraiolo
Directed by David SanAngelo
Steve Young
Voices of
Narrated by
Theme music composer
  • Steven D'Angelo
  • Terry Tompkins
Opening theme Word Up, It's WordGirl!
Ending theme Word Up, It's WordGirl! (Instrumental)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 130 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Dorothea Gillim (2007–09/Seasons 1–2)
  • Deborah Forte (2008–15/Seasons 2–8)
Producer(s)
  • Will Shepard (2007–08/Season 1)
  • Danielle Gillis (2008–15/Seasons 2–8)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Soup2Nuts
Scholastic
Distributor PBS
Release
Original network
Picture format 4:3 Fullscreen (SDTV) (Season 1)
16:9 Widescreen (HDTV) (Season 2–8)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
First shown in 2006
Original release
  • Shorts: November 10, 2006 (2006-11-10) – Early 2007
  • Full series: September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03) – August 7, 2015 (2015-08-07)
Chronology
Related shows Maya & Miguel
External links
Website pbskids.org/wordgirl
Production
website
www.scholastic.com/wordgirl

By late 2014, most PBS stations from coast to coast had stopped airing WordGirl on TV.[citation needed] New episodes appear only on the PBS Kids website or PBS Kids video app on the computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The series ended[1] with the two-part episode "Rhyme and Reason", which was released online on August 7, 2015.[2]

The show was created for children ages 4 to 9.[3]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

WordGirl began in 2006 as The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl, a short series airing within Maya & Miguel, becoming an independent show in September 2007.[3]

The show's creator, Dorothea Gillim, believes that children's shows often underestimate children's intelligence:

Part of my mission is to make kids' television smart and funny. I feel as though we’ve lost some ground there, in an effort to make it more accessible. WordGirl's focus is on great stories, characters, and animation. If all those elements are working, then you can hook a child who may come looking for laughs but leave a little smarter.[4][5]

Gillim says she created the show, in part, with the idea that parents would watch the show with their children to support their learning.[3]

Each eleven-minute segment in each episode (except for the first three episodes) begins with verbal instructions to listen for two words that will be used throughout the plot of that episode. The words (examples include “diversion,” “cumbersome,” and “idolize”) are chosen according to academic guidelines. The reasoning is that children can understand words like “cumbersome” when told that it means “big and heavy and awkward.”[4]

PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer agreed to do a mock interview with WordGirl. Jack D. Ferraiolo, who developed the series with Gillim and served as the series' head writer in Season One, received an Emmy for his work on WordGirl.[6]

Rather than hiring writers experienced with children's television, the show's original writers' previous credits included The Onion and Family Guy. Narrator Chris Parnell had previously worked on Saturday Night Live.[3]

SynopsisEdit

The series stars WordGirl, a girl with superpowers whose secret identity is Becky Botsford, student. WordGirl was born on the fictional planet Lexicon (also a term referring to the vocabulary of a language or to a dictionary) but was sent away after sneaking onto a spaceship and sleeping there. Captain Huggy Face, a monkey who was a pilot in the Lexicon Air Force, piloted the ship, but lost control when WordGirl awoke, and crash-landed on Earth (more specifically in Fair City), a planet that affords WordGirl her superpowers, including flight and super strength. WordGirl utilizes these powers to save her adoptive home, using her downed spacecraft as a secret base of operations. WordGirl and Captain Huggy Face fight crime together.

WordGirl was adopted and provided an alter ego by Tim and Sally Botsford, who gave her the name Becky. While in her alter ego, she has a younger brother, TJ, obsessed with WordGirl, but still unknowingly a typical sibling rival to Becky. The Botsford family keeps Captain Huggy Face as a pet, naming him Bob. Becky attends Woodview Elementary School, where she is close friends with Violet Heaslip and the school newspaper reporter Todd “Scoops” Ming.

WordGirl tries to balance her superhero activities with her "normal" life. She battles with a rather odd grouping of villains. At the same time, she must worry about maintaining her second life as Becky, keeping people from discovering the truth and living normal family situations.

FormatEdit

Often, short animated segments are shown in between and at the end of episodes. "What's Your Favorite Word?", ostensibly hosted by Todd "Scoops" Ming, is a series of vox populi interviews asking random children what their favorite words are and why. A short game show segment called "May I Have a Word?" airs following each eleven-minute segment. This segment features the game show host, Beau Handsome, asking three contestants the definition of a particular word. The segment was created by Kelly Miyahara, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Ryan Raddatz. Yet another segment features the interstitials announcer (Rodger Parsons) asking Captain Huggy Face for a visual demonstration of a certain word (such as "pensive" or "flummoxed"). When Captain Huggy Face correctly demonstrates the meaning of the word, a definition is given, followed by a victory dance by the chimp sidekick.

During the four-part episode, "The Rise of Miss Power", a four-segment "Pretty Princess Power Hour" sketch is shown between acts, filling in for the average two-segment "May I Have a Word?" sketch, presumably to fill the double-length (52 minutes) time slot.

Companion websiteEdit

The companion site to WordGirl lives on PBS Kids, and was built by interactive firm Big Bad Tomato. It contains vocabulary-building games, a section where children can submit their favorite word, a video page with clips from the show (only available in the US due to legal reasons), a "Heroes and Villains" section with character biographies and activities, and a PBS Parents section with episode guides, lessons, a site map, and more activities to play at home.

CastEdit

Regulars Characters
Dannah Phirman Becky Botsford/Wordgirl, Claire McAlester, Chuck's Mom, Edith Von Hoosinghaus, Female Police Officers, Pretty Princess
James Adomian Bob/Captain Huggy Face, Hal Hardbargain, Candlestick Maker, Timmy-Tim Bo, Raul Demiglasse, Hunter Throbheart
Chris Parnell Narrator, Henchmen #1, Museum Security Guard, Exposition Guy, David Driscoll, Mazo-Racer Driver
Maria Bamford Violet, Sally Botsford, Leslie, Energy Monster
Ryan Raddatz Todd 'Scoops' Ming, Tim Botsford
Tom Kenny Dr. Two Brains, TJ Botsford, Brent the Handsome Successful Everyone Loves Him Sandwich Making Guy, Warden Chalmers, Reporter Stu Brisket, Steve McClean, Beau Handsome(Tell Her What She's Won/Victoria is the Best...Wordgirl?)
Fred Stoller Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy
Jack D. Ferraiolo The Butcher
Patton Oswalt Tobey McAlester III, Robots
Cree Summer Granny May
Jeffrey Tambor Mr. Big, Mr. Birg
Grey DeLisle Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman, Ms. Question, Mrs. Ripley
John C. McGinley The Whammer
Pamela Adlon Eileen/The Birthday Girl
Daran Norris Seymour Orlando Smooth, Nocan the Contrarian
Kristen Schaal Victoria Best, Mrs. Best
H. Jon Benjamin Invisi-Bill, Reginald the Jewelry Store Clerk, Museum Curator
Larry Murphy Amazing Rope Guy, Mr. Best, Dave, Principal, Male Bank Teller, Reporter Anthony
Mike O' Conell Bill the Grocery Store Manager, Used Car Salesman, Joe the Guard
Danielle Schneider Reporter Loretta-Sanchez Johnson
Matt Besser Reporter Rex, Zachary Zany, Male Police Officers
Ron Lynch The Mayor
Jen Cohn Ms. Champlain, Rich Old Lady, Female Bank Tellers
Amy Sedaris Miss Davis, Rhyme
May I Have a Word Cast Characters
Ryan Raddatz Beau Handsome
Tom Kenny Phil
Orlando Brown Tommy
Kelly Miyahara Emily
Guest Stars Characters
Jane Lynch Miss Power
Ed Asner Kid Potato
"Weird Al" Yankovic The Learnerer
John Henson Captain Tangent
Ned Bellamy The Coach
Tyler Labine Reason
Brian Posehn Glen Furlblam
Josh Fadem Victor Best
Elliott Gould The Masked Meat Marauder
Amanda Plummer Lady Redundant Woman(Lady Redundant Woman/A Game of Cat and Mouse)
Sergio Cilli Royal Dandy
James C. Mathis III Tiny Big
Stephanie Sheh Li'l Mittens
James Urbaniak Nick Michols
Tim Conway Bampy Botsford
Ellie Kemper Rose Franklin
William Mapother Guy Rich
Jack McBrayer Rex/Kid Math
Stephen Root Professor Robert Tubing
Kevin McDonald The Baker, Magic Pony
Robin Reed Ms. Libri
Brian Doyle-Murray Police Officer(Earth Day Girl/A Hero, a Thief, a Store, and its Owner)
John Kricfalusi Police Commissioner(Chuck E. Sneeze/Swap Meat)
Wayne Knight Police Commissioner(The Wrong Side of the Law)
Chris Williams The Court Judge
Rose Abdoo Great Granny May
Judy Greer Mrs. Dewey
Andy Dick Milt
Jim Gaffigan Mr. Dudley
Al Roker Sonny Days
Nick Kroll Reuben Grinder
Jill Talley The Babysitter
Alfred Molina Patrick Needlemeyer
Peter Graves Mr. Callihan
Sergio Cilli Royal Dandy(Wishful Thinking/Lady Redundant Woman Gets the Blues)
Paul F. Tompkins Royal Dandy(Royally Framed/Wordgirl vs. Tobey vs. The Dentist)

ComicsEdit

A series of WordGirl comics were also released by Boom! Studios new KaBOOM! line. The names of the volumes and the stories within them are:

  • Coalition of Malice is volume ?[7]
    1. Coalition of Malice
    2. Super Fans
  • Incredible Shrinking Allowance[8]
    1. The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
    2. Fondue, Fondon't
  • Word Up[9]
    1. The Ham Van Makes the Man
    2. Think Big
  • Fashion Disaster is volume 4[10]
    1. Fashion Disaster
    2. Fort Wham-Ground

BroadcastEdit

WordGirl airs in the US on PBS Kids. In Canada the show airs on TVOKids in Ontario and Knowledge Kids in British Columbia. It is shown on ABC Kids in Australia.

Series overviewEdit

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Shorts 30 November 10, 2006 (2006-11-10) c. 2007
1 26 September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03) January 2, 2009 (2009-01-02)
2 November 4, 2008 (2008-11-04) July 20, 2010 (2010-07-20)
3 13 September 7, 2010 (2010-09-07) July 8, 2011 (2011-07-08)
4 September 5, 2011 (2011-09-05) June 11, 2012 (2012-06-11)
5 September 10, 2012 (2012-09-10) June 14, 2013 (2013-06-14)
6 August 5, 2013 (2013-08-05) September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26)
7 August 4, 2014 (2014-08-04) October 8, 2015 (2015-10-08)
8 June 10, 2015 (2015-06-10) August 7, 2015 (2015-08-07)

AwardsEdit

The show has received seven Daytime Emmy nominations, winning four for "Outstanding Writing in Animation" in 2008, 2012-2013 and Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program in 2015.

2008:

  • 2008 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming, awarded July 19[11]
  • 2008 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2009:

  • Learning Magazine 2009 Teacher's Choice Award for Families
  • 2009 iParenting Media Award
  • Featured at the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival 2009
  • NY Festivals' 2009 TV Programming and Promotions award

2012:

  • 2012 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2013:

  • 2013 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2015:

  • 2015: Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ WordGirl (August 6, 2015). "Facebook post". Facebook. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  2. ^ PBS Kids (August 8, 2015). "WORDGIRL | Rhyme and Reason, Part 1/Rhyme and Reason, Part 2 | PBS KIDS - YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jensen, Elizabeth. The New York Times, September 2, 2007, "A New Heroine’s Fighting Words".
  4. ^ a b Jensen, Elizabeth (2007-09-02). "A New Heroine’s Fighting Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  5. ^ Bynum, Aaron H. (2007-06-18). "'The Adventures of WordGirl' Animation Emerges on PBS Kids". Animation Insider. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  6. ^ Spero, Johannah (2008-06-18). "Local man lands Emmy for ‘WordGirl’". Wicked Local Newburyport/The Newburyport Current. GateHouse Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  7. ^ Volume ? Coalition of Malice
  8. ^ Volume ? The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
  9. ^ Volume ? Word Up
  10. ^ Volume 4 Fashion Disaster
  11. ^ 21 July 2008 press release

External linksEdit