The Club Dorothée was a hugely popular French morning and afternoon kids show that, for many people of the generation that watched it, came to be fondly associated with The '90s, and remains a heavy hitter in many a French nostalgia-driven work or event about the era. It aired on the TF1 channel from 1987 to 1997.
It was essentially a variety show that combined games for children, edutainment, concerts, music videos, comedic skits and broadcasting of animated and live action series, and was hosted by the eponymous Dorothée (stage name of Frédérique Hoschedé, born July 14th 1953), who built up a gigantic network of ancillary co-stars, music bands, gags, sets etc. She previously hosted some kids shows on Antenne 2 in The '80s with much success, but none was as big as this one would become. The show also launched the careers of quite a few French acting and show business personalities.
For better or worse, this show introduced France to a number of animes and tokusatsu series — French audiences got their first taste of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Super Sentai and countless others there. Animes were already broadcast on French TV in The '80s, but not on such a massive scale. It did not go without some infamous Animation Age Ghetto controversies, but undeniably left a mark, considering France's modern appetite for animes.
The show was a product of impresario Jean-Luc Azoulay's AB Productions. Azoulay (under the pseudonym "Jean-François Porry") was also the showrunner of AB Productions' numerous sitcoms/soap operas, a significant number of which were broadcast in the Club Dorothée, forming a Shared Universe of its own. He also contributed to the writing of the French opening songs of many of the Anime and Toku series in it.
The Club Dorothée ended when TF1 severed its association with Azoulay and AB Productions in some still unexplained circumstances in 1997, and also because its audience ratings started to dwindle due to increasingly competitive shows such as Les Minikeums on France 3. Nowadays, the show's legacy lives on in the IDF1 channel, co-founded and co-owned by Azoulay and available on the Télévision Numérique Terrestre broadcasting system.
An official YouTube channel, Génération Club Do, has uploaded hours of restored footage of the show, music clips, homages from people of that generation as well as some animes that have fallen into Public Domain.
Series that were broadcast in the original show (with their French names):
- Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari (as Les Quatre Filles du docteur March)
- Ai Shite Night (as Lucile, amour et rock'nroll)
- Astro Boy (as Astro le petit robot)
- Attack No. 1 (as Les Attaquantes)
- Attacker You! (as Jeanne et Serge)
- Candy Candy (as Candy)
- Captain Future (as Capitain Flam)
- Captain Tsubasa (as Olive et Tom)
- City Hunter (as Nicky Larson)
- Dai no Daibouken (as Fly)
- Dragon Ball
- Dragon Ball Z
- Dr. Slump
- Fist of the North Star (as Ken le Survivant)
- Fushigi no Kuni no Alice (as Alice au Pays des Merveilles)
- Galaxy Express 999
- High School Kimengumi (as Le collège fou, fou, fou)
- Kimagure Orange Road (as Max et Compagnie)
- Kinnikuman (as Muscleman)
- Magical Angel Creamy Mami (as Creamy, merveilleuse Creamy)
- Magical Princess Minky Momo (as Gigi)
- Maison Ikkoku (as Juliette je t'aime)
- Mashin Hero Wataru (as Adrien le sauveur du monde)
- Mister Ajikko (as Le Petit Chef)
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (as Nadia, le secret de l'eau bleue)
- Oniisama e... (as Très cher frère)
- Princess Sarah
- Rainbow Brite (as Blondine au pays de l'arc-en-ciel)
- Ranma ½
- Ronin Warriors (as Les Samouraïs de l'éternel)
- Sailor Moon
- Saint Seiya (as Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque)
- Sally the Witch (as Sally la petite Sorcière)
- Sherlock Hound (as Sherlock Holmes)
- The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island (as Flo et les Robinson suisses)
- UFO Robo Grendizer (as Goldorak)
- Urusei Yatsura (as Lamu)
- Around The World In Eighty Dreams (Les Aventures de Carlos)
- Beverly Hills Teens (as Bécébégé)
- Biker Mice from Mars (as Les Motards de l'Espace)
- Bionic Six (as Les Bioniques)
- Care Bears (as Les Bisounours)
- Dennis the Menace (as Denis la Malice)
- Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (as Les Trois Mousquetaires)
- The Get Along Gang (as Les Amichaines)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (as G.I. Joe)
- Inspector Gadget
- Jem (as Jem et les Hologrammes)
- The Littles (as Les Minipouss)
- Les Misérables (1992)
- My Little Pony 'n Friends (as Mon petit Poney)
- Pole Position
- Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea (as Les Mondes engloutis)
- ThunderCats (as Cosmocats)
- The Twins of Destiny (as Les Jumeaux du Bout du Monde)
AB Productions sitcoms/soap operas:
- Badass Beard: The late Corbier had a big bushy beard, that became some kind of trademark of his, even being subject to a wacky novelty song he did.
- Celebrity Star: The late famous hawaiian shirts-wearing singer and Big Fun celebrity Yvan-Chrysostome Dolto a.k.a. Carlos was a sponsor of the show and regularly showed up in it over its ten years of existence. He even had his own animated series, which was broadcast in the show.
- Gag Nose: Dorothée was famously drawn in cartoon form with a huge long pointy nose all the way back to her show on Antenne 2 in the 1980s, by the late cartoonist Cabu. It became a trademark of her, featured in many of her album artwork, animated segments, etc. While there were jokes about her nose, she was always treated positively and as attractive in those cartoons.
- Saturday Morning Kids Show: It did air on Saturday mornings... as well as every morning in the week bar Sunday, and every afternoon bar Saturday and Sunday.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Happened all the time to Japanese and American cartoons broadcast here. The opening songs for them were sung by people from the show, most (in)famously Bernard Minet and Ariane Carletti a.k.a. Ariane, one of Dorothée's five regular co-hosts. Although, for some of the anime series listed above (such as Captain Tsubasa, Attacker You, or Creamy Mami), the alternative openings were not made by this show, because these animes originally aired on La Cinq, a now dead channel which also had its own alternative theme songs for anime series.
- Bowdlerise: Violence (including verbal) was heavily censored in the series displaying it. Especially after many parents complained about the likes of Fist of the North Star and Dragon Ball Z. Some of the bowdlerising was done at the request of the dubbing actors themselves, who refused to work if a number of dialogues were not heavily changed.
- Dub Name Change: A number of anime series broadcast in the show had their characters' Japanese names turned into French names, specially those that took place in fairly normal urban settings, for fear of the Japanese names being too confusing for young French viewers. Which ran directly into Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change territory.
- Inconsistent Dub: Notorious victims of this, sometimes giving the impression that the dubbing actors only had a vague idea of what was going on, let alone having adequate translation work done for them.
- Magical Girl: All the classic/older ones were to be found there, Sailor Moon being of course the most popular.
- Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: Along with the name changes, the dialogue was also rewritten to imply those anime were set in France, despite the very Japanese look of the environment. An infamous example is Ai Shite Night, which namedrops many parts of Paris (such as the Bercy concert complex) in a painfully obvious Tokyoite landscape.