Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. for a novelty record in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks:
Alvin, the mischievous troublemaking leader (and star) of the group.
Simon, the tall, bespectacled intellectual and backup vocal.
Theodore, the chubby, impressionable one as well as backup singer.
The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David "Dave" Seville.
In reality, "David 'Dave' Seville" was Bagdasarian's stage name. He took the professional name after being stationed in Seville, Spain during World War II and liked the area. Bagdasarian named The Chipmunks after executives at Liberty Records who released Seville's and the Chipmunks' original albums:
Alvin was named for company president Alvin Bennet,
Simon for company vice president and record producer Si Waronker
Theodore for recording engineer Ted Keep.
The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions, using redrawn, anthropomorphic chipmunks, and eventually films.The voices of the Chipmunks were sped up in the playback to create high-pitched voices. This oft-used process was not entirely new to Bagdasarian, who had also used it for two previous novelty songs, including a catchy little tune titled "Witch Doctor", but it was so unusual and well-executed it earned the record two Grammy Awards for engineering, mostly due to the simple but cute sound technique he used to render the voice of the Witch Doctor for the song's nonsensical refrain, "Ooh-eee-ooh-ah-ah ting-tang walla-walla bing-bang".Bagdasarian decided to capitalize on this success by assigning the voice technique to a trio of singing chipmunks — brainy Simon, gluttonous Theodore and High School Hustler Alvin — for the best-selling Christmas tune "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", in which an increasingly annoyed David Seville's attempts to keep his chipmunk singers on-message served as a Framing Device, and led to Dave Seville's trademark Catch Phrase, Alvin? Alvin? ALLLLLLLVIN!"In 1961, after releasing several albums as "Dave Seville and the Chipmunks", Bagdasarian was able to persuade Format Films and CBS to launch a prime-time cartoon, The Alvin Show, based on the exploits of the Chipmunks in addition to the misadventures of inventor Clyde Crashcup (who invents pretty much everything that already exists), which ran for only one season on CBS due to low ratings. (Competition from NBC juggernaut Wagon Train was a factor, but the main reason for the low ratings was production delays which were largely caused by disagreements between Bagdasarian and Format Films over acceptable character designs for The Chipmunks, which allowed enough time for an imitator, The Nutty Squirrels, to beat the Chipmunks to television by a full year. In addition, Bagdasarian insisted that The Alvin Show skip the addition of a laugh track, against the wishes of CBS.) A number of further Chipmunk albums were released, but interest eventually died down and Bagdasarian retired in the late '60s. The Alvin Show did get replayed on NBC at mid-season of the 1978-79 season (where TV listings billed it as Alvin and the Chipmunks) followed by a syndication run and another on Nickelodeon in the early 1990s.After Bagdasarian suddenly passed away from a heart attack in 1972, his son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. took on the mantle of Dave Seville in 1977 and revived the franchise. In 1981, an animated TV movie was made, based (loosely) around the original "Chipmunk Song", in which somewhat cuddlier Chipmunks helped an Inspirationally Disadvantaged boy perform alongside Alvin at Carnegie Hall.This animated special formed the basis for the 1983-1990 Animated SeriesAlvin and the Chipmunks, and the 1987 animated movie. The series also introduced Distaff Counterparts to the Chipmunks, "The Chipettes": Jeanette, Brittany and Eleanor. In addition to the usual Sitcom and Animated Series plots common to the era, the show features a great deal of musical numbers, with the Chipmunks and their female counterparts covering popular eighties hits in musical sequences, which is why the series (save for the last season) will never EVER see the light of day on DVD. Although, with the success of the new live-action movies, some select episodes have been released by Paramount.The show ultimately vanished from the airwaves in the 1990s, save for a couple of direct-to-video movies that downplayed the music angle in favor of generic Holiday plotlines. In the last couple of years however, a live-action adaptation with computer-generated (and realistically sized) chipmunks and Jason Lee as the new David Seville, has revived the characters somewhat. So much so, in fact, that it has spawned two sequels, at least one of which averts Sequelitis.In the 2007 CGI/live-action movie adaptation and its 2009 sequel, they were voiced in dialogue by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney. Bagdasarian, Jr. continues to provide the singing voice for Alvin and Karman for Theodore and the Chipettes, but Steve Vining does Simon's singing voice. The project has earned five Grammy awards, an American Music Award, a Golden Reel Award, and three Kids' Choice Awards, and has been nominated for three Emmy awards.Then in 2009 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, the CGI-rendered Chipettes were voiced in dialogue by Christine Applegate, Anna Faris and Amy Poehler in.An animated series revival, titled "ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks", was announced on October 5, 2012. It will begin airing in March 2015 on Nickelodeon.
Throughout the franchise, beginning with The Alvin Show all the way up to the live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks, Dave, the Chipmunks and the Chipettes went through different eye colors: Theodorenote Black eyes in The Alvin Show, Alvin and the The Chipmunks episodes done by Ruby-Spears and in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein; Green eyes in The Chipmunk Adventure, The Chipmunks episodes done by DiC/Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks and in the live action/CGI movies and Eleanornote Brown eyes through the Alvin and the The Chipmunks cartoon series, The Chipmunk Adventure and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman; Green eyes in Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks and the live action/CGI films went through two, Alvinnote Black eyes in The Alvin Show, Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks episodes done by Ruby-Spears and in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein; Blue eyes in The Chipmunk Adventure, Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks episodes done by DiC/Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman and Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks; Amber eyes in the live action/CGI films, Simonnote Black eyes in The Alvin Show, Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks episodes done by Ruby-Spears and in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein; Gray-Blue/Blue-Gray eyes in The Chipmunk Adventure; Blue eyes in Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks episodes done by DiC/Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks and the live action/CGI films and Jeanettenote Green eyes through the Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks cartoon series, The Chipmunks Adventure and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman; Brown eyes in Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks; Purple eyes in the live action/CGI films went through three, Davenote Black eyes in The Alvin Show, the Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks episodes done by Ruby-Spears and in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein; Gray-Blue/Blue-Gray eyes in The Chipmunk Adventure; Brown eyes in Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks and in the live action/CGI films; Blue eyes in that one Easter Special done by DiC and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman went through four and Brittanynote Blue eyes through the Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks cartoon series, The Chipmunk Adventure, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks and the live action/CGI films is the only one who retained the same eye color thus far.
Simonnote Black in The Alvin Show, the first season of Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman and in the live action/CGI films; Blue in the rest of Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks series, The Chipmunk Adventure and Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks and Jeanette note Black in the first season of Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Pink for the rest of Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipmunks series, The Chipmunk Adventure and Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks; Purple (opal shaped) in the live action/CGI films went through different glasses frame colors.
Adaptation Personality Change: Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well as The Chipettes experience this with almost every new incarnation. While the characters have experienced some natural Character Development over the years (especially true of the 1980s cartoon series), they have also experienced complete changes in their personalities when it comes to the more recent live action/CGI movies. For example, Simon goes from being Deadpan Snarker with biting sarcasm to having a less cerebral sense of humor with a underlying perverted streak; Theodore's innocence and naivete not only becomes a thing of flanderization, but he also becomes more absent-minded (much like Jeanette usually is); and Brittany is hardly the Alpha Bitch diva that she's been known for in previous incarnations.
Age-Inappropriate Dress: The Chipettes are often accused of this, two particular occasions that stand out are the episode, "Goin' Down to Dixie," from the 80s series and The Chipmunk Adventure. In the former, The Chipettes entertain on a riverboat that's also a floating hotel, where they sing Creedence Clearwater Revival's, "Proud Mary," while wearing New Orleans-inspired dresses. This moment became the subject of controversy when the song surfaced on YouTube in 2007, with one troll's comments about The Chipettes being, "A pedophilic rape waiting to happen," sparking an entire internet article as to what exactly the motive behind The Chipettes are. In the latter, The Chipettes find themselves in Egypt, where the Prince wants to marry Brittany, and they are later dressed in harem attire for the rest of the movie; the fact that they also charmed snakes by singing a song called, "Gettin' Lucky," didn't help matters either.
All Just a Dream: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" musical segment for The Alvin Show in which the stage where Dave gets annoyed by the chipmunks goofing up the song doesn't happen for real. Dave wakes up in bed with his hand in the air at the end.
There were some other episodes in the 80s cartoon show like when Alvin had a fever or when Dave thought he'd shrunk where's he able to stand in someone's a palm.
Armenia: Creator Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. and his son are both Americans of Armenian descent.
Art Evolution: Starting with the '80s cartoon series, the Ruby-Spears episodes have the characters go through several subtle design changes over the seasons, most notably Dave who becomes less cartoony-looking and more realistic as the seasons go on, but the Chipmunks and Chipettes also look markedly different in the fifth season compared to the first; they get a more rounded, cuter look, which would be further developed in The Chipmunk Adventure and the DiC/Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson episodes.
Ironically however, it seems more effort was put into the animation of the Ruby-Spears episodes, the supporting and one-shot characters look more human, and more detail was put into the backgrounds and layouts, while the Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson and DiC episodes have that standard half-assed Saturday Morning look to them. The character designs did improve with the MWS episodes, and the animation was pretty decent, but the backgrounds and layout were really simplistic; the DiC episodes are pretty awful... a lot of lazy Off Model animations, the backgrounds continue to be simplistic, and unlike the Ruby-Spears episodes, the human characters have a less human, more cartoony look to them.
Now compare them all to the original cartoon designs of the 1961 series, from Format Films (an L.A. studio started up by Herbert Klynn and Jules Engel and various other UPA expatriates). The Chuck Jones special, A Chipmunk Christmas is a very notable bridge between the two very different styles, which is lampshaded in the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Back to Alvin's Future", where the '80s Chipmunks return to their home circa The Alvin Show, where Simon comments, "Everything looks so flat," to which Alvin adds, "Yeah, who painted this place? The Flintstones?" They even comment on how '60s Dave doesn't look right.
Birds of a Feather: The trope mostly describes the relationship between The Chipmunks and The Chipettes when paired with their individual Distaff Counterpart. Somewhat subverted with Alvin and Brittany, as their similarities make them clash more than they come to understand each other in their ever Belligerent Sexual Tension.
Breakout Character: Simon was overshadowed in The Alvin Show and a number of early episodes of the '80s cartoon (as reflected in fan mail), which devastated franchise co-owner Janice Karman (feeling like a mother neglecting the middle child), so she set out to remedy that, and soon, Simon became "Mr. Popular" among fans.
Similar can be said for Jeanette, although she IS constantly overshadowed by Brittany, she's just about THE most popular of the entire six among the fanbase.
Character Development: The Chipettes were originally conceived as female mirrors of The Chipmunks, however, over time, they slowly began to develop more dimension and personality that distinguished them from their respective Chipmunk counterpart.
Brittany remained as egotistical as Alvin, though she (being a girl) was much more of a diva, who had to have everything her own way, from whatever Zany Scheme she and her sisters got into, to whatever ensemble she would be wearing.
Jeanette became considerably more shy and withdrawn compared to Simon, while she expressed an interest more towards literature than science.
Reversed for Eleanor, she became more outgoing and far more active than Theodore, playing just about any sport the school had to offer, while still maintaining a passion for culinary delights.
Characterization Marches On: Depending on the medium, and the portrayer, Dave could be rather strict, overbearing, and have a short fuse making him quick to losing his cool (Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.), to being more laid back, easy going, while still being easily flustered (Ross, Jr.), to seemingly like a very reluctant surrogate father-figure (Jason Lee).
Character Tic: Each of them seem to have one, but the most noticable are
Simon, whenever conversing about something serious, will remove his glasses, wipe them with a hankerchief, then place them back on his face.
During the original incarnation, Theodore giggled at almost everything.
Simon made subtle remarks in The Alvin Show. Then when the '80s show came along, not so much in the first two seasons, but as the show goes on his sarcasms become both more frequent and more biting. In the Star Trek parody, he literally becomes The Spock.
Distaff Counterpart: The Chipettes. Lampshaded by Ian in Chipwrecked. He refers to Theodore as "chubby one" and to Eleanor as "girl chubby one". This also becomes a case of Flanderization for Eleanor; although each of The Chipettes eventually developed their own traits to differentiate themselves from The Chipmunks, Eleanor went back and forth between being a mirror to Theodore, to being her own character, back to being a mirror to Theodore for the remainder of the series.
Everyone Has Standards: Alvin, although can be a Jerkass at times, even he was disgusted at the way Brittney was treating and blowing off Jeanette just to get in good with some popular snobby group. You'd think Simon would be more angry at Brittney for this, but surprisingly not the case.
Fandom Specific Plot: Dear lord, they go through so many phases. Popular ones used in fanfiction over the years have included Miss Miller dying, resulting in The Chipettes being adopted by someone else (usually a much younger, and rather abusive foster mother); specific characters (mostly Jeanette) being kidnapped and sent somewhere far from home; one of the characters making a new best friend, who has a troubled past, or lives a sad and depressing life; Dave being a pedophile and secretly wanting Brittany (and it doesn't help there was moment from the show where he seems turned on by a new dress she is wearing). Don't even get the canon or the mixed shippers started on their opposing subjects, it's enough to start World War III.
Theodore gets one in The Alvin Show episode "Theodore's Dog".
We also have "DAAAAAVVIIIID!" and "BRIIIIIITANNNNYYY!"
Then in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, after both Chipmunks and Chipettes are stranded on the island, Alvin has to become the authority figure when Simon loses his personality, he tries to stop Simon from dancing with Jeanette:
In the twocartoons, the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are both peach colored, but the Chipettes look like they just have peach colored skin and have human-like head hair. The Chipmunks still look like they have fur, however. The subject matter has been debatable with fans, as it's never been exactly clear if The Chipettes have smooth skin (the more generally accepted idea), or if they have much, much shorter and lighter-colored fur than The Chipmunks (there's an odd number of people who will insist this).
An early episode of the 1980s series featured Alvin switching places with a wild chipmunk, even dressing it in his clothes; since 1961 and The Alvin Show, the Chipmunks had been stylized into their anthropomorphic state, however, this wild chipmunk resembled Alvin in both appearance and size (roughly four feet, according to franchise co-owner Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.). Alvin is captured by a woodsman who doesn't seem to find it odd that a chipmunk can talk, while Dave, Simon, and Theodore are curious over Alvin's sudden animalistic behavior.
Even though The Chipettes are chipmunks as well, they are a lot more anatomically correct compared Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, possessing human-like hair on their heads, and smooth human-like skin; they are even depicted with these features (as well as breasts) during imagine spots where they are matured as adults. It should also be noted that these characters do not have tails... Alvin, Simon, and Theodore's biological mother on the other hand, Vinny, not only has human-like hair on her head, but also body fur, breasts AND a tail.
In a few episodes of The Alvin Show, Theodore had a pet parakeet named George. Also in another episode, Dave and the boys go on a camping trip, where Alvin encounters a non-anthropomorphic bear. Not to mention, that basset hound Theodore got.
That horse in the "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" musical number is a questionable one. He acted like a stubborn horse who didn't want Alvin, Simon and Theodore on him to him holding the cue cards...
In some cases, some animal characters appearing within the '80s cartoon are depicted as both anthropomorphic such as "Uncle" Harry, and non-anthropomorphic; in the latter case, The Chipmunks later adopted a puppy named Lily (this after a stray kitten they found and named Cookie Chomper III was hit by a car).
In one episode, Simon and Theodore get back at Alvin for playing pranks on them by having him believe Theodore is transforming into a weredog (after Alvin tricked Theodore into eating a dog biscuit); Theodore even goes so far as to crawl on his hands and knees. Later in the same episode, Simon has Alvin dress as a dog and recite an incantation to break the spell, only to be caught by the dog catcher, who is surprised, but somehow convinced that a dog can talk.
On that same token, in Alvin and The Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Theodore is bitten by their new neighbor, Mr. Talbot, who becomes a werewolf by night, causing Theodore to turn into a weremunk, but at any given moment; when consulting with a television psychic, she explains that being a chipmunk, Theodore is already naturally closer to animalistic behavior, to which Alvin asks Simon, "Do we resent that?"
It has also never been confirmed or denied that The Chipmunks are vegetarians. On The Alvin Show, Theodore orders hamburgers from hotel room service, but is later reminded by Dave that he doesn't eat meat in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. Throughout the 80s cartoon, Theodore has been seen at least once making a huge sandwich that appears to have lunch meat on it. However, Alvin has been seen eating a salad for lunch once.
Furry Female Mane: The Chippettes have human-like head hair, whereas Alvin and his brothers only have tufts of fur on their heads.
Girls Need Role Models. Initially the Chipettes were designed so the creators could make chick versions of songs sung by women. However the girls also ended up being main stars of the show and animated movie.
The 1987 movie ended up featuring the girls in such a big role, you realize they drive the plot more than the boys. The girls are shown in more locations, one song featuring both groups is called "The Girls of Rock and Roll", when they're captured they escape on their own, rescue a baby penguin and take him home, discover the diamond smuggling plot on their own and rescue the boys from their own capture just before they were about to be eaten by crocs.
Not to mention that the last episode Ruby-Spears produced featured no token appearance from either Dave or the Chipmunks in both shorts — it was all Chipettes.
Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Averted with Jeanette, who is not the least bit graceful, but purple is her signature color, and many of her belongings and clothing range in various different shades of purple.
Inexplicably Tailless: The Chipmunks are drawn with tails on the original album illustrations and the live action/CGI movies along with The Chipettes but both groups are tailless in the cartoons.
Negative Continuity: The Chipmunk Adventure went into production shortly after the first season of the 1980s cartoon series. It was here that the character of Miss Miller was developed, as a babysitter for The Chipmunks. Because production of the movie was so massive, it wasn't released until 1987, and by that time, Miss Miller had been introduced a year earlier on the cartoon, as The Chipettes' adoptive mother. So, as far as the movie's universe is concerned, The Chipettes are still living on their own, and Miss Miller hadn't adopted them yet.
Nerds Are Sexy: Some fans are a little too obsessive over Simon and Jeanette.
Not So Above It All: Simon gets this a lot. Most of the time when he's criticizing whatever irresponsible thing they're about to do, he's eventually shown to have just as much fun doing it as Alvin and Theodore, especially in the movie (the Mexico scene in particular comes to mind). Also, more than a few episodes of the show have him criticizing Alvin and Theodore for getting scared of something, only to turn around and get just as scared a few moments later.
Pink Means Feminine: Besides Brittany wearing pink, the Chipettes have a lighter color scheme than their respective counterparts.
Rock & Roll: While the Chipmunks covered famous songs and delved into many genres, they were mostly portrayed as a Rock band in the cartoon series, usually with Alvin on guitar, Simon on keyboards/piano, and Theodore on drums.
Alvin as Captain Chipmunk in the Valentines special.
Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: In the live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, the Chipettes have longer hair than the boys and eyelashes. They do wear clothes for the majority of the film, but their first scene has them arrive from the wild (no clothes) with no non-primate breasts or Hartman hips in sight. (And then later, they possess both features, which they shake during their big musical number.)
You'll positively gonna love The Alvin Show There's Dave Seville And what is more Here's the boy we know as Theodore Now you see On camera three The brother known as Simon on the family tree And here's the star of the show Alvin, Alvin! (musical interlude) (spoken) I am Clyde Crashcup
On an episode of The Alvin Show, the Chipmunks do this to try and get a radio station to play their new record, and they probably would have succeeded if Theodore hadn't poked his head out of the disguise and said, "You're very, very welcome!"
For starters, both Chipmunks and Chipettes attend Thomas Edison Elementary School in the eighties cartoon series then attend middle school in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, but in The Squeakquel, they're in high school. (Then again, there's that "Children's Labor Law" that permitting child actors working for over a period of certain hours so they had to use older actors.) Looking back in The Alvin Show, the Chipmunks aren't seen attending school or working on homework but they appear younger than elementary school if Dave has to tell them what to do when they're finished with a chore. An example is from episode "Haunted House":
Simon: Hey Dave! I'm done with the dusting! Whaddaya want me to do next? Dave: Simon there are lots of things to do, I don't have to tell you what to do! Simon: OK Dave!
Throughout the franchise, it's been established the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are triplets. But in Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks, Alvin, Simon, Brittany and Jeanette are portrayed as preschoolers while Theodore is at least toddler age who hasn't started school yet and Eleanor is a baby!
Vocal Evolution: The Bagdasarians voiced the Chipmunks in a very slow and stiff manner for dialogue initially (likely due to issues timing according to the sped up audio), though throughout the eighties Animated Series onwards they slowly develop a more natural emotional range. This is particularly evident in cases such as Simon, whose better acting allowed for better use of his sarcasm and neuroses.
The overall squeakiness of the characters' voices have also changed somewhat throughout the years, and seemingly with each incarnation too. Throughout the 80s series, Simon's voice slowly deepened just about each season, however in more recent years, just about all of their voices seem to have deepened as well, as many fans have noticed; Theodore today, for example, sounds a lot like how Alvin used to sound, while it's rather difficult to tell the difference between Alvin and Simon's voices (listen to, "Ho Ho Ho"), and this combined with a more emphasized Valley Girl speech pattern makes Brittany sound more like a teenager.
In the two live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, where The Chipmunks and the Chipettes are normal-sized chipmunks, then their fear of snakes is perfectly justified.
Also justified in the episode of the '80s cartoon which shows how the Chipmunks came to live with Dave — they were babies, and much smaller, and Dave was torn to pieces when he thought they'd been eaten by a snake at the zoo.
In the 2009 live action/CGI movie, Theodore becomes afraid of eagles and Jeanette is for some reason scared of heights.
Inverted in The Alvin Show, in the episode "Stanley the Eagle", where The Chipmunks helps the title eagle fly. It's Stanley who's afraid of flying.
In the cartoon version, the chipmunks are Funny Animal played straight. The films, on the other hand, make them look more like real-world chipmunks.
Also true from series to series. The Alvin Show chipmunks look different than the '80s series Chipmunks (lampshaded in the episode "Back to Our Future") who look somewhat different from the "A Chipmunk Christmas" version.
Dave went through eleven face changes throughout the franchise.