Tweenies is a British children's animatronic puppet series which debuted in 1998. Like other children's shows in rotation, it aimed to entertain as well as educate children about various life and social skills using songs, stories and the like. However, unlike some of its contemporaries, the characters spoke in a discernable language and often directly interacted with the "outside world".
The show revolved around the adventures of four young children in a daycare centre, with their two adult guardians and two dogs (who were in care of the centre). It enjoyed phenomenal success both inside and outside the UK, spawning no less than five top-twenty hits from spinoff records and merchandising that sold by the bucketload. In the U.S., it aired for a while on Noggin, before it became Nick Jr.. The series proper ended in 2003, but home video sales, reruns and large-scale live tours helped sustain the series' popularity for the remainder of the Turn of the Millennium. In fact, the show remains popular enough to continue having re-runs, nearly 20 years after its first episode debuted.
The main characters in the series included:
- Bella - at five years old, she was the oldest in the group and the default leader. However, this also meant she was the one with the biggest sense of entitlement. Bossy and argumentative, she was the series' main source of conflict, though Milo seemed to be her main sparring partner. There were numerous episodes where she learnt a valuable lesson by the end, but this of course was forgotten by the next episode.
- Milo - despite his purple skin, it was made clear that he was meant to be the token black kid in the group. He was also the daycare's resident "jokester", often making puns and playing tricks on his friends.
- Fizz - the Girly Girl to Bella's tomboy, taking an active interest in anything related to femininity, including the colour pink. Her introverted and shy nature provided a contrast to her three loud and outgoing friends, and she was often seen playing by herself or reading a book. It was hinted throughout the series that she had a crush on Milo. For some reason, whenever she was scared, shocked, angry or upset, her eyes would often spin or shake vigorously.
- Jake - at three years old, he was the youngest in the group, and therefore needed one of the other three to explain to him what they were doing. He had a superhero alter-ego which he used to explore his fantasies, and expressed a strong interest in "masculine" things such as motor cars and football. However, he had a tendency to cry a lot, leading to the others having to comfort him every so often. He also sported an interesting-looking hairstyle that resembled a mohawk.
- Max - the co-owner of the daycare centre and the Tweenies's trusted friend. He would accompany the group whenever they went "outside", and would frequently join in their activities.
- Judy - the other co-owner of the centre, and a mother figure to the group. Like Max, she would take the group outside the premises every so often.
- Doodles - the centre's resident dog. He had a positive relationship with everyone in the centre, but Jake was especially attached to him.
- Izzles - the centre's other dog, who was Doodles' Distaff Counterpart. She was introduced towards the end of the show's run.
The centre also had a special "Tweenie Clock" that, when pressed by a character, would dictate which segment would come next in each episode. The segments included:
- Story Time - Max or Judy would read a story to the four children and dogs. To the viewer, this would be an animated interstitial.
- Messy Time - the four kids would partake in some art or craft activity.
- Song Time - the characters would sing a song, either relating to the main theme or plot of the episode or a "standard" nursery rhyme.
- Telly Time - the gang would do something relating to technology.
- News Time - the gang would report on their experiences gathered from the episode.
- Surprise Time - occurred when all the buttons glowed, which wasn't very often. Usually a surprise would come of it.
Not to be confused with Tweeny Witches.
- Aesop Amnesia: Usually concerning the main cast, due to situations calling for some kind of conflict.
- Amazing Technicolor Population
- Animated Credits Opening:
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The gang did this on occasion by introducing themselves to camera and the like.
- Catchphrase:Jake: Wow-wee!Milo: Milo, away!All (especially Milo): Fab-a-roonie!All: Tweenie Clock, where will it stop?
- Christmas Episode: Had one of these per year. They usually attempted to marry the Father Christmas mythos with the Nativity Story.
- Cultural Translation:
- When the show was redubbed in America, it removed all references to its British environment and inserted Americanisms instead. Since the show was dubbed into many different languages, this most likely happened with their dubs as well, but the American edition is most egregious due to treating their audience like goldfish.
- In the US dub, News Time is called "Circle Time", which is the term most often used in American kindergarten classes. Telly Time is also called "Video Time", most likely because it looks more like a computer than it does a TV anyway (especially in the later seasons).
- Everyone Went to School Together: Bella reveals in Being Really Old that her grandmother and Max went to school together.
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: The Tweenies consist of two girls (Bella and Fizz) and two boys (Jake and Milo). There is a male and a female member of staff at the playgroup (Max and Judy respectively) and male dog Doodles is eventually joined by the female Izzles.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: In one episode, Bella drives her friends away by getting angry at them for minor occurrences while she is trying to build a tent behind a curtain. A 'shoulder devil' version of herself appears, but then begins to lecture them on why they are not a Tweenie, but rather, a Meanie, complete with a short musical number.
- Hair Decorations: Courtesy of Fizz and Bella. Fizz wears beads and Bella wears a bow.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bella. She is very bossy and can be pretty mean sometimes but she really cares about her friends.
- Kawaiiko: Fizz. She is cute and girly.
- Parental Bonus: Quite often:
- The adventures of the "Starship Tweenie" which turned into a parody of Star Trek.
- When they were dressed for the Ugly Bug Ball, Judy announced Doodles was dressed as a Beetle, to which Doodles replied Hey, Jude.
- Milo and Bella made racing cars out of the foam shapes to the tune of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, long used as the theme tune for Formula One on television.
- At least once Milo changed his catch phrase from "Fab-a-roonie" to "Mickey-Rooney"
- Pink Means Feminine: Fizz loves pink and anything that is feminine.
- Potty Emergency: There was one episode where the gang unwittingly tied themselves to each other with this being an unfortunate side effect. Jake also had these on occasion.
- Eye Pop: When shocked or witnessing something of theirs getting damaged, Fizz's eyes have a tendency to spin erratically at high speeds in opposing directions.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Bella was Red to Fizz's Blue and Milo was Red to Jake's Blue.
- Theme Tune Roll Call: "I'm Bella!" "I'm Milo!" "I'm Fizz!" "And I'm Jake!"
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Bella and Fizz were best friends. Bella wears overalls, is loud and bossy and likes playing sports with Milo and Jake, being in charge, and arguing when she doesn't agree with something, while Fizz wears a pink dress, is shy and more introverted and likes doing ballet, playing with stuffed animals, and dressing as a princess.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Despite her tomboyish traits, Bella also enjoys playing girly games with Fizz and dressing as a queen or a fairy.
- Unexpectedly Dark Episode: Though the series is normally very upbeat and lighthearted, Why Do People Do Bad Things takes on a more serious tone. It begins with the Tweenies asking the titular question upon learning that someone had kicked Doodles in the park. Later on in the episode, Bella tells the others about racist neighbours, prompting them to sing a song with a heavy anti-racist message (sung in a more solemn tone than usual songs).Look at me, look at meWhen you see my colour, what do you see?Look at me, look at meWhen you see my colour, do you really see me?
- Tsundere: Bella. Type A. She is very bossy and sometimes rude to her friends but she has a nice side.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When the Tweenies went outside, the general British public seemed to be unfazed by coloured foam-rubber people doing completely ordinary things.