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Zoobilee Zoo

Zoobilee Zoo
Cast of Zoobilee Zoo
Cast of Zoobilee Zoo
Developed byHallmark
Presented byBen Vereen
Opening theme"Zoobilee Zoo" by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy
Ending theme"Zoobilee Zoo"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes65 (plus three direct-to-video episodes)
Production
Executive producers
ProducerMary Jo Blue
Running time21-22 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkFirst-run syndication
ReleaseSeptember 15, 1986 (1986-09-15) –
March 27, 1987 (1987-03-27)

Zoobilee Zoo is a children's television series featuring actors dressed as animal characters that originally aired from 1986 to 1987.[1] It continued to run in syndication until 2000[2] on several television channels including commercial network television stations, PBS stations, The Learning Channel, and Hallmark Channel. The original 65 episodes are currently owned by Hallmark Properties and were produced by WQED Pittsburgh.

Hosted by Ben Vereen, the show revolves around a group of six creative animal friends who live in a magical land called Zoobilee Zoo. Each possess a unique artistic skill and they frequently break into song and dance.[3]

Plot

Each episode is opened by a greeting from host Ben Vereen, dressed as a spotted snow leopard, who plays the mayor of Zoobilee Zoo.[2] Speaking directly to viewers that he refers to as "Zoobaroos", Vereen usually appears throughout each episode to summarize the main themes or to perform a song and dance.[3]

The plot in each episode revolves around the main characters, called Zoobles,[4] as they play together and encounter difficulties common to young children. The primary themes are cooperation, making friends, and creativity.[3]

Cast and characters

Each Zooble character has a certain artistic talent that shapes the way they approach different scenario:[3]

  • Sandey Grinn as Bill Der Beaver in all but 2 episodes, who likes to invent and fix stuff.
    • Michael Sheehan as the original Bill Der Beaver in 2 episodes. When Sheehan decided to leave the show for other interests (such as Jem), he was replaced by Sandey Grinn.
  • Forrest Gardner as Van Go Lion, who enjoys art.
  • Karen Hartman as Talkatoo Cockatoo, who enjoys reading, writing, and speech.
  • Michael B. Moynahan as Lookout Bear, who enjoys adventuring and travel.
  • Gary Schwartz as Bravo Fox, who enjoys performing.
  • Louise Vallance (Stevie Vallance) as Whazzat Kangaroo, the youngest Zooble who encourages kids to enjoy music and dance.
  • Ben Vereen as Mayor Ben, a snow leopard who stars as the host of the show explaining what kind of adventure the Zoobles will be having. Apart from the opening he rarely interacts with any of the other characters.

Minor characters

  • Roger Behr as Limerick Leprechaun and Peter Possum
  • Roger Peltz as Rhymin' Simon and the Genie
  • Crosby the Dog as Crosby
  • Suzy Gilstrap as Sandy
  • Robert Shields as Elmo the Clown
  • Patty Maloney as Ergo
  • Helen Lambros as The Witch
  • Vinson Crump as Vince
  • Norman Merrill as Dr. Feelright
  • Caleb Chung as Bert Backtrack

In addition, Grinn, Schwartz and Vallance have also played some minor characters. Schwartz played the gorilla in "A Camping We Will Go" (revealed in a blooper reel) and Grinn played Bravo's Vaudeville friend Charlie Google in "Vaudeville Star". Due to this, in the respective episodes, neither Bravo nor Bill appear. Vallance voiced Gilda the Tooth Fairy in "When You Wish Upon a Tooth Fairy".

Background and production

Premiering on September 15, 1986, Zoobilee Zoo was produced and directed by Steve Binder. The show's concept was developed by Hallmark Entertainment, which partnered with children's production company DIC Enterprises.[2]

In 1992, The Learning Channel picked up the show as part of its Ready Set Learn lineup for preschoolers.[2][5]

Episodes were released on a wide array of VHS tapes, the most recent series released in 1997, but not yet released to DVD. In 2000, three new direct-to-video episodes and soundtracks were released, and the stage show Zoobilee Zoo Live! toured briefly.[citation needed]

Reception

Zoobilee Zoo was well-received critically, but earned only modest viewer ratings. It was praised by the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. In addition, it was endorsed by the Action for Children's Television (ACT).[3]

Episodes

Episodes with an asterisk (*) contain Michael Sheehan as Bill Der Beaver. All other segments feature Sandey Grinn in the role.

  1. A Star is Born
  2. Two's A Crowd
  3. Blue Ribbon Zoobles
  4. Bravo, Come Home!
  5. Land of Rhymes*
  6. The Genie
  7. When You Wish Upon a Tooth Fairy
  8. The Robot Zoobles
  9. Trading Places
  10. The Great Trash Mystery*
  11. Strike Up the Band
  12. Mystery in Zoobilee Zoo
  13. Popular Bill
  14. The Cockatoo/Fox Report
  15. Grown Up for a Day*
  16. Winter Wonderland
  17. Fox in Wolf's Clothing
  18. Vaudeville Star
  19. Is There a Doctor in the House?
  20. Backwardville
  21. Speak to Me, Bill
  22. A Sticky Situation
  23. To See or Not to See
  24. Just in Time
  25. Cave Zoobles
  26. Bear Behind the Badge
  27. One Touch of Van Go
  28. Job Hunting
  29. The Great Game #1
  30. Lookout, Super Zooble
  31. Invisible Zooble
  32. Lookout's Dog
  33. Endangered Zoobra
  34. Bravo's Puppets
  35. The Witch's Spell
  36. Talkerella
  37. The Great Game #2
  38. Van Go, Master Painter
  39. The Ghost of Zoobilee Woods
  40. Pigment Puzzle
  41. Whazzat the Clown
  42. The Great Zooble Tryouts
  43. Gotta Dance
  44. Close Encounters of a Zooble Kind
  45. Laughland
  46. Lady Whazzat
  47. The Zooble Book of Records
  48. Sing Along #1
  49. The Magic Ring
  50. A Trip to Memoryland
  51. The Zooble Hop
  52. Attack of the Giant Potatoes
  53. Teleportation
  54. Simon and the Leprechaun
  55. Pictures to Remember
  56. Smart Dummy
  57. The Zoobadoobas
  58. Sing Along #2
  59. Without a Sound
  60. Bill Sees Stars
  61. A Time for Laughs
  62. A Camping we will Go
  63. Surprise, Surprise
  64. Bravo's Party
  65. Piano Man Bill

Awards and recognition

The series was awarded the 1987 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design.

See also

References

  1. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1997). The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 487. ISBN 978-0823083152. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Rossen, Jake (May 19, 2016). "The Lost Magic of 'Zoobilee Zoo'". Mental Floss. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Margulies, Lee (December 31, 1986). "'Zoo'—Will It Pass Syndication Test?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  4. ^ Berry, Gordon L.; Asamen, Joy Keiko (May 25, 1993). Children and Television: Images in a Changing Socio-Cultural World. SAGE Publications. pp. 138–139. ISBN 978-1-4522-5374-9.
  5. ^ Mendoza, N.F. (December 27, 1992). "Disney offers lullabies for the toddlers while the Learning Channel prepares kids for the classroom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
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Zoobilee Zoo
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