Babar is a French-Canadian animated fantasy television series produced in Canada by Nelvana Limited and The Clifford Ross Company. It premiered in 1989 on CBC and HBO, and subsequently was rerun on Qubo since 2006. The series is based on Jean de Brunhoff's original Babar books, and was Nelvana's first international co-production. The series has been broadcast in 30 languages in over 150 countries.
The series was the first to be based on the Babar books; previously, two Babar specials narrated by Peter Ustinov were produced by Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez for NBC: The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant on October 21, 1968, and Babar Comes to America on September 7, 1971.
In 2010, a computer-animated sequel series spin-off of Babar titled Babar and the Adventures of Badou was launched on Disney Junior. The new series takes place several years after the original and focuses on a majority of new characters including Badou, Babar's grandson and Pom's son.
Based on the books by Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff, the plot of the first two seasons focuses on the story of Babar as it is told by him to his children. The past Babar is a young elephant who, traumatized by a hunter slaughtering his mother, flees from his home forest in exile to the city, where a kind Old Lady adopts him and teaches him the ways of human life. He returns to his home forest full of ideas for progress and, following the previous elephant king's death from eating poisonous mushrooms, hatches a plan to drive out the unnamed hunter and his men. For his heroism, Babar is crowned king of the elephants, plans and builds Celesteville, and grows up to become a father himself.
While the first two seasons focus on Babar's recollections of his childhood and early years as king, as well as some stories told by his children, the series shifts its focus in the third season to Babar's family life in the present day.
Why It Rocks
- The show is faithful to its source material. It was based on a French children's book series by the de Brunhoffs, was dubbed in French for both France and Quebec (which is also a good quality), and has an English dub. The show also has events from the original story, one example being the first 5 episodes.
- Memorable and likeable characters, such as King Babar the wise and loving elephant king, Celeste the motherly queen, their childrem (Pom, Flora, Alexander, and Isabelle), Cornelius the forgetful but useful elderly advisor to Babar, Pompadour the high-strung but intelligent, prim, and proper elephant prime minister and his assistant Troubadour, Zephir the Monkey, and Madame (the Old Lady).
- The show tackled serious issues such as death (the first, third, and fifth episode being one example. The series premiere had a scene where Babar's mother gets killed by the Hunter, the third episode has a scene where the Old King dies from eating bad mushrooms, and the fifth episode had a scene where the Hunter burns to death).
- The idea of having the first 2 seasons focus on Babar's childhood and early years as king while the rest of the series focusing on Babar's current monarch life is a thoughtful way to make a series.
- Rataxes was a comical anti-hero/antagonist to the series (mostly the first one). His hilarious relationship with Lady Rataxes is also noticeable.
- The sixth and final season was decent. It had Babar's family (except for Isabelle because she was too young) and Zephir tour many faraway lands on a hot-air balloon.
- While the original cel animation from the first 5 seasons were sopt-on, the new animation for the sixth and last season was okay.
- The film, which was said to be the season 1 finale because it was produced after season 1 and before season 2, was amazing although a few elements from the series weren't there.
- The theme song for the French dub was amazing.
- The first, third and fifth episodes that focused on death were a bit dark.
- The Hunter, although being said to be the main antagonist for the first, third, and fifth episode, had less screen time and had less lines until his final role in "Babar's Triumph" where he is burned alive.
- Pompadour's high-strung behaviour started to go too far in later seasons.
- Rataxes was nowhere to be found in the last season.
- Madame's actual name was never revealed throughout most of the series.
- Since the reboot, Babar and the Adventures of Badou, has Pompadour and Madame removed from the franchise, it was implied that Pompadour moved away somewhere and Madame passed away of old age.
- Speaking of Pompadour, he was only made for the TV series, meaning he didn't exist in the original stories but Cornelius did.
- After Season 3, Trobadour disapeared for an unknown reason and was nowhere to be found, not counting the episodes "Boys Will Be Boys" and "Oh, to be an Adult" where he appears in flashbacks from some early episodes of seasons 1 and 2.
- Some critics say the series justifies colonialism.