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Series / Dumbo's Circus

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The cast of the show.

Dumbo's Circus was a live-action/puppet show that aired on the Disney Channel. It premiered in 1985 and ran for 114 episodes, with reruns continuing until 1997. The main characters were portrayed by animatronic puppets. It was a companion show to Welcome to Pooh Corner, which had similar characters and production techniques.

In the show Dumbo, the titular elephant from Disney's 1941 classic is now grown and runs his own circus. No other characters from the film appeared, in their place was a cast of original anthropomorphic animal characters, who perform in the circus and help Dumbo run it: Lionel the lion; Lilli, a cat; Sebastian, also a cat; Fair Dinkum, a koala; Q.T., an orangutan, and Barnaby, a dog.

Notable for being Jim Cummings' first professional acting job and the first in a long line of projects he'd do for Disney, voicing Lionel.

This show provides examples of:

  • Balloonacy: In one episode, Dink gets a crystal ball that shows him the future, and he tells Lionel he'll be flying in the show. Turns out he flies because he holds onto too many balloons.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • Dumbo's "lucky feather" does give him the ability to fly, unlike the original film, when it turns out that Dumbo can fly all by himself without the need of the feather. This is illustrated in one episode when Dumbo's feather disappears and the show can't possibly go on without it.
    • The main characters are all Funny Animals, most of them fully dressed, and they talk to humans and perform human-like roles in the circus. In the original film, the animals are Nearly Normal Animals who can't talk to humans and who perform typical animal acts in a human-run circus.
  • Cat Girl: Lilli
  • Chroma Key: The backgrounds for a lot of the outdoor scenes are this.
  • Clown Car: The circus wagon.
  • Dumb Muscle: Q.T.
  • Ear Wings: It's Dumbo, what do you expect!
  • Exact Words: In one episode, Dink gets a crystal ball that shows him the future. Among the future things he sees, he tells Q.T. that he will play like the organ like never before and Lionel that he will fly in the show. As it turns out, Q.T. "plays like never before" because he gets tied up and has to use his feet which he never had, and Lionel flies after holding onto too many balloons.
  • Forgetful Jones: Barnaby has an extremely poor memory, the others often have to remind him of what he's supposed to do. One episode centers around him getting lost due to forgetting where the circus was.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Most of the cast.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Sebastian.
  • Hypno Fool: In one episode, Barnaby adds hypnosis to his magic act and hypnotizes Fair Dinkum to run in circles whenever he sees the color red. Then Sebastian uses Barnaby's hypnosis song to make Lionel grab a broom and sweep the floor whenever he sees the color blue, and to make Q.T. jump around and knock things over (so Lionel will have to sweep them up) whenever he sees the color yellow. In the end, Barnaby hypnotizes Sebastian to do chores like mad whenever he sees those three colors, and then returns Fair Dinkum, Lionel, and Q.T. to normal.
  • Laid-Back Koala: Ironically inverted with Ringmaster Fair Dinkum. He is a koala who is afraid of heights, despite koalas spending most of their days up in trees.
  • National Animal Stereotypes: Fair Dinkum (his brother Rinkum and his sister Matilda, too) is a koala from Australia.
  • Pale Females, Dark Males: The two cats Lilli and Sebastian, respectively. She's cream colored, he's purple. They're also an example of Messy Male, Fancy Female.
  • Plot Allergy: Dumbo is allergic to flowers, and due to his size, his sneezes tend to be destructive.
  • Role Swap AU: There's one episode where Sebastian dreams that he's running the circus in Lionel's place, while Lionel is the one with janitorial duties. He finds that it's more difficult than he thought.
  • Signature Laugh: Barnaby's "A-hee!"
  • Sick Episode: In one episode, the circus travels to Lilli's hometown, but Lilli comes down with a measles-like illness just as they arrive, so the others build a lifelike mechanical copy of her to perform in her place.
  • Species Subversives: Ringmaster Fair Dinkum is a koala who is afraid of heights, despite koalas spending most of their days up in the trees.
  • Stage Magician: Barnaby, who doubles as a clown.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Q.T. loves bananas, Dumbo likes peanuts and Fair Dinkum enjoys eucalyptus leaves.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Unlike in the movie, Dumbo talks. Justified, since he's older here, while in the movie he was only a baby.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Lionel for Timothy Mouse, from the movie. Both are Dumbo's best friend, both have New York accents and similar personalities, and they even dress alike, though Lionel's costume is blue while Timothy's is red.