"Martha Speaks" is an American-Canadian children's educational animated television series based on the 1992 children's book of the same name by Susan Meddaugh.
The series is produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, along with Canada-based animation studios DHX Media Vancouver and Oasis Animation. It debuted on September 1, 2008 and ended on November 18, 2014, lasting for six years. Some episodes of this television series were available for limited theatrical release on January 3, 2009. The show focuses mainly on synonyms and vocabulary, with each episode featuring an underlying theme illustrated with (usually informal) keywords. The show also occasionally focuses on introducing preschoolers to different concepts of science, history, astronomy, and other learning concepts, such as the Spanish language, through passing mentions.
The second season began airing on September 14, 2009. The third season of Martha Speaks premiered on PBS Kids on October 11, 2010, and the fourth season began airing on February 20, 2012. The fifth season premiered on June 24, 2013. The sixth and final season premiered on March 31, 2014.
Since the series' cancellation, reruns aired on PBS Kids.
The series revolves around a talking dog named Martha (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain), who is owned by 10-year-old Helen Lorraine (known in the books as Helen Finney). Whenever Helen feeds Martha alphabet soup, the pasta letters somehow travel to her brain instead of her stomach, giving her the ability to speak human words. The show takes place in the fictional town of Wagstaff City, likely referring to Flagstaff, Arizona or even a fictionalized version of Flagstaff, Maine.
Why It Speaks
- While the "Talking Dog" trope has been used many times before, this show manages to stay true to the source material, while also having fresh and new story ideas made for it.
- While adapting some of the original books into animation (such as the first episode, Martha Speaks, Martha & Skits and Martha Blah Blah), many of the original plots are pretty good, with the honorable mentions going to "Martha Gives Advice", "Skits Monkeys Around", "TD and the Steak Tree", "Here's Martha!", and more.
- The main cast is likable, including Martha herself.
- The theme song composed by Daniel Ingram and Hal Beckett and performed by Robert Wilson is a jam to listen to, with a nice instrumentals and catchy lyrics, especially with Martha shouting out words into the microphone as well as her line "Hey, Joe. Whaddaya know?"
- Great voice acting.
- Despite being made with Flash, the animation is still really well-done with movements being fluid and sometimes expressive.
- The show provides a handful of funny moments.
- Whenever this show gets educational, it actually does a excellent job with defining certain words/phases, similar to another PBS Kids show, WordGirl.
- Unlike most shows for a younger audience, this show relies on comedy to educate its viewers and it is done very well here.
- The show can be very bigoted at times, especially with cats as Martha treated them too harshly. There were also a couple of moments where she went this far, such as in the episode "Martha Goes to School" where she scolds Helen for simply writing an essay about cats to the point even Helen pointed this out, which could be considered rude to people that owns cats or have interests in them.
- Some of the characters can be really bad, such as Mrs. Demson, who at first was a big stereotype of elderly people, but she has later began hating every human being, being cruel to animals, even patients. Imagine what she would do to someone who is suicidal! Though there are times where she gets her comeuppance and rightfully so, such as being discharged from a hospital for her constant harassment and faking a rash.
- The line from the theme song, "Martha was an average dog" gained meme status in early 2022.
- T.D.'s voice actor, Alex Ferris, also played Collin Lee from the 2010 film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.