This was a live-action children's series that aired on CBC from 1986 - 1993, and also the Disney Channel in the early 1990s. The setting was an upscale apartment in what was probably supposed to be New York, and the main characters were freelance artist Holly Higgins and her three young animal friends (actually portrayed by puppets): Gloria the Gopher, Iggy (short for "Ignatz Julio") Iguana and Jacob the Bluejay.
Under the Umbrella Tree was a pretty entertaining series overall. Gloria, Iggy and Jacob essentially have the minds of children (well, mostly; see Ping-Pong Naïveté below), so the plots did get a bit Anvilicious — but the scripts were so well written that they were nowhere near as bad as they could have been. The three animal friends were also funny, largely because they seemed to believe they were actually people.
Occasionally, guest stars (both human and "animal") would drop by the apartment for visits.
Disney's rights to the show expired in 2005, so since then its creator Noreen Young has been selling DVD's of the series independently through the official site.
This series contained examples of:
- Alliterative Name: especially Gloria (see Overly Long Name below)
- Animal Stereotypes: Inverted with Iggy. Despite his slightly creepy appearance (think something that Jerry Garcia might dream about after eating too much pepperoni pizza), he was the most lovable and relatable of the roommates.
- Catch-Phrase: Jacob, when corrected on something, would always say: "I knew that!" In one episode he Lampshaded this by listing his hobbies as "flying, playing with my friends and saying 'I knew that.'"
- Free-Range Children: Furthermore, they did live by themselves until Holly came (as explained in one flashback episode).
- Genius Ditz: Jacob didn't have much in the way of common sense and often got things wrong, but he was very knowledgeable about flying and recognized as somewhat of an authority on the subject, even among other birds.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Despite essentially becoming Holly's "kids" (once she moves in), Gloria, Iggy and Jacob have lives of their own. Not only did they occasionally receive visits from their animal relatives, but the Very Special Episode described below established that there were other animal residents in the neighborhood.
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: There was the time that Gloria's wealthy "Aunt Gloxinia" died and Gloria inherited the services of her butler. This butler was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who constantly shadowed her and forbade her to do many things (such as eat ice cream, for example) because "Your Aunt Gloxinia never [did X]." This eventually drove Gloria to scream in frustration: "My Aunt Gloxinia isn't me!" The problem was eventually resolved when the butler quit his job, admitting that even he had become sick of all the social pretension.
- Monkey Ball: Although usually The Comically Serious, Holly could be counted on to get herself humiliated from time to time for a cheap laugh. A notable example was an episode when she dressed in a gorilla suit and went around the neighborhood performing singing telegrams in order to make extra money — but got mistaken for an actual gorilla, captured by zookeepers, and was taken to a local zoo where she was locked in a cage for several hours! And in an episode where one of Iggy's relatives visits from the Southwest, Holly undergoes a Humiliation Conga that includes her sitting on a cactus and burning her mouth on some spicy chili.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Iggy's favorite actress was a pert-lipped, pompous British reptile named "Elizardbeth Taylor".
- Overly Long Name: Gloria's full name is Gloria Gladys Grace Gabrielle Gardenia Glenda Gale Gopher.
- Ping-Pong Naïveté: Gloria, Iggy, and Jacob swung from being sophisticated pseudo-adults to hapless waifs whenever the plot demanded it.
- Team Mom: Holly. Gloria was likely this before Holly moved in.
- Totem Pole Trench: In an episode, the three main puppets attempted to do this with Gloria on top.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Jacob's is banana smoothies.
- A Very Special Episode: During an episode that took place in December, Holly and the gang were visited by a neighbor who outed himself as Jewish by saying he was getting ready for Hanukkah. This inspired the roommates to plan a huge Hanukkah bash, despite the slim likelihood of that many Jewish people (and animals!) residing in their neighborhood.
- Word Salad Title: The titular "umbrella tree" is a tropical plant that Gloria actually lives "under", but was rarely referenced.