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Western Animation / Golden Book Video

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In 1985, the Western Publishing Company, famous for its series of children's literature, the Golden Books, cashed in on the home video trend of the 1980s with a series of videos that adapted many of its Golden Books. These Golden Book Videos typically utilized the pictures from the books, with limited animation effects added (a forerunner of Adobe Flash animation), such as eyes blinking or an animal's tail wagging, etc. Golden Book Video usually referred to this technique as "Picturemation." They also often featured musical numbers made for the video, sometimes featuring on-screen lyrics inviting the audience to sing along.

The Golden Book Video series also featured sing-along videos, usually containing old public domain or original children's songs, with a semi-animated original story to carry along the songs, as well as the "Golden Step-Ahead" video series, which were educational videos that taught subjects like basic math, learning to read, and what school is like. These video series also utilized the same partial animation techniques as the book adaptations did.

Some Golden Book Videos also adapted books featuring popular children's characters or franchises, such as Masters of the Universe, Sesame Street, the Care Bears, the Pound Puppies and the works of Richard Scarry.

In 1987, Golden Book Video started straying away from book adaptations, and began releasing general entertainment (i.e. cartoon episodes, TV specials, etc.) under their then-new "GoldenVision" banner, along with some newly created content (usually live-action), but by 1990, the GoldenVision banner was dropped and all new products, including general entertainment productions, were released under the regular Golden Book Video branding.

One of the videos, Journey Through the Jungle of Words (officially titled Working with Words), now has its own page.

These series provide examples of:

  • Adaptation Decay: Occasionally, a story would be changed drastically when adapted. The Scuffy the Tugboat book had a scene where Scuffy is actually placed in a brook where his adventure eventually ends up in the sea, but the man in the bowtie and his son find Scuffy and rescue him. In the video adaptation, Scuffy's adventure turns out to be All Just a Dream while napping in the bathtub.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Happens quite a bit with books that are adapted.
    • What Was That! opened with Baby Bear getting ready to go to sleep, and ended with a short breakfast scene resulting in an "Everybody Laughs" Ending, both of which were not present in the original book.
    • The Sailor Dog added a lot more to Scuppers's life growing up on the farm, and his journey back to the sea.
    • Richard Scarry's Goldilocks and the Three Bears added a small mouse that hangs around the bears' house and watches what Goldilocks is doing, along with a bit where Goldilocks finds a laundry basket and decides to play with the clothes before she goes to take a nap.
    • How the Trollusk Got His Hat focused quite a bit on a 40-Mile Fun Run race, which was simply a minor running gag in the original book. An All-Knowing Singing Narrator, Bobby Chim, is also added, who was simply an unnamed background character in the original book. It also alters the ending; the final page of the book had the Trollusk and Reggie going to church together feeling "very dapper indeed." The video version alters it to make it look like Reggie and the Trollusk have entered the 40-Mile Fun Run the following year and win the race (complete with adding a ribbon they break through).
    • The Sesame Street story "Everyone Makes Mistakes" had Little Bird added into the video adaptation (through using illustrations from Big Bird and Little Bird's Big and Little Book) where he would keep trying to convince Big Bird to tell the truth about accidentally knocking down the clothesline.
    • Another Sesame Street story, "Wanted: The Great Cookie Thief", added short bits where the Cookie Thief (played by Cookie Monster) briefly sneaks out of the saloon to pull more cookie heists, including robbing them from a birthday party and from a stagecoach.
    • Richard Scarry's The Wolf and the Kids adaptation added a bit where the Wolf tries to sweeten up his voice so he could do a good imitation of Mother Goat and throw the stones in his well and fall to his demise (while the original tale included these elements, the book this video adapted did not feature them.)
    • The GoldenVision video Dinosaurs! A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time! is basically the 1980 Claymation short Dinosaur with new scenes filmed in 1987 preceding it, which stars Fred Savage as Phillip.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In Three Sesame Street Stories, Susan was renamed "Mrs. Washington" and Slimey the Worm was renamed "Squiggly", along with Five Sesame Street Stories renaming Maria as "Dolores." These were all to avert recasting any existing characters from the show with new voices by simply renaming them.
  • Adapted Out: Two chapters from The Exciting Adventures of Super Grover were not adapted in Five Sesame Street Stories; "Super Grover Meets Hot Fudge Man: A Short But Sweet Story" and "I Was a 98 Oz. Weakling". Illustrations from the former story were, however, used and/or modified for the other chapters that were adapted.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The "4 Masters of the Universe Stories" video utilizes this at the end of the second chapter of each of the two story arcs presented. He-Man presents a life lesson relating to the story, in a manner very much like at the end of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) series. "The Battle for Castle Grayskull" has He-Man explain how being bad would eventually get to you while doing good things would come to reward you, and "The Cosmic Clock" has He-Man explain how using your smarts can often be better than strength.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of a sort, though it was typically done with quite limited "Picturemation."
  • Animation Bump:
    • The videos Cioni Artworks worked on would put in a bit more effort with the animation, such as characters' lips actually moving when they speak, or actually be animated walking instead of just sliding to simulate doing so.
    • Several of the Golden Step-Ahead Videos and Golden Book Music Videos that use original artwork (not adapted from existing books) would often add a bit more animation and drawings to characters moving, even though it would still be quite limited. Animagination Inc. would start actually animating characters' lips moving as they talk in the 1987 titles they worked on (such as in "Sing, Stretch and Shape Up" and "The Rainy Day Number Show.")
  • Ascended Extra: Some story adaptations make take a minor/background character and promote him or her to a larger role, such as being an All-Knowing Singing Narrator (such as Bobby Chim in How the Trollusk Got His Hat) or the non-singing variety (such as the scarecrow in The Little Red Hen story adapted in "3 Amye Rosenberg Stories.")
  • Battle of the Still Frames: Prominent when possible, especially in the "Masters of the Universe" adaptations.
  • Big Ball of Violence: Added to the story of "Super Grover and the Three Bears" during Grover's struggle to capture the three "bears" (actually Bert, Ernie and Herry Monster performing in a play.)
  • BGM: The majority of the background music on these videos were stock music cues taken from the Associated Production Music library, including familiar tunes from Spongebob Squarepants, The Mighty B!, KaBlam!, and The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • Bowdlerise: It doesn't happen often, but a few book adaptations would try to soften up a few intense moments:
    • When "The Three Little Pigs" was adapted from the book Richard Scarry's Animal Nursery Tales, in the original book the Wolf eats the first two pigs. In the video adaptation, the two pigs run into the "deep, dark forest" to hide after the Wolf blows down their houses, and reunite with the third pig after the Wolf is defeated.
    • The Little Red Riding Hood book that was adapted in the video Three Fairy Tale Classics changed a small bit, where in the book the Wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood among revealing himself at Grandma's house. Then when the woodcutter kills the Wolf, he pulls both Red Riding Hood and Grandma out of the dead Wolf's body. In the video adaptation, the Wolf eats Grandma, but not Little Red Riding Hood, and chases her around the house before the woodcutter arrives to kill the Wolf.
    • The What Was That! adaptation's ending could be seen as this; the book ended with the mice and bugs crying out "What was that?!" among hearing the bear parents' bed collapsing. The video adds onto the ending to make it Lighter and Softer, with a short breakfast scene that concludes with an "Everybody Laughs" Ending.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Usually added for "dark" scenes, most often not featured in the original books, perhaps most notably in What Was That!
  • Catching Some Z's: Often done when a character in a book is sleeping, typically added just for the video adaptation.
  • Circus Episode: The Golden Step-Ahead Video "Get Ready to Read" involves the "Readiness Circus," which teaches basic letter and spelling methods, along with some simple concepts like beginning and end, tall and short, etc.
  • Clip-Art Animation: As mentioned, the illustrations from the Golden books being adapted would be used with occasional limited animation effects added, a technique Golden Book Video called "Picturemation."
  • Cuckoo Clock Gag: In the 3 Favorite Fairy Tales adaptation of The Elves and the Cobbler, the shoemaker owns a goofy cuckoo clock that serves as a Running Gag through the story, annoying the shoemaker and his wife at times.
    "Cuckoo! Cuckoo! It's twelve o'clock! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! It's midnight, everyone! Wake up and go to sleep! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The opening credits to some of the Sesame Street storybook adaptations:
    • "Wanted: The Great Cookie Thief" has "Featuring Jim Henson's Sesame Street' Muppets. A Sesame Street'' story."
    • "Big Bird Brings Spring to Sesame Street" has a pretty bad example during its' opening credits: "Adapted from the Golden Book of the same name. A Sesame Street story. A Golden Book."
  • Deranged Animation: Sometimes the pictures may be altered a bit for dramatic effect, or additional clips such as creepy moving silhouettes and such are added to the story.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: As stated by the female narrator in Dinosaurs! A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time!, people in early history believed dinosaur bones belonged to "monstrous beasts" like dragons.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Many of the earlier storybook adaptation videos from 1985 have this, compared to later titles...
    • Several early "3 Stories" titles had a short animated bumper featuring a small girl in-between the second and third stories. The first had the girl turning a book's pages to which party horns and confetti, a fish and a small UFO come out of the book. The second had the girl watching TV and eating popcorn, to which a big friendly monster joins her.
    • Several of the adapted stories featured a lot more Adaptation Expansion, such as "What Was That!", "The Sailor Dog," the three Richard Scarry Animal Nursery Tales, "How the Trollusk Got His Hat" and "Wanted: The Great Cookie Thief."
    • In many cases, each of the three stories would have its' own end credit sequence. Later releases in 1985 would start to just have one end credit sequence after all the stories had played out, perhaps to avoid confusion into thinking the video is over after the first story.
    • A few early titles such as 3 Richard Scarry Animal Nursery Tales, Herbert the Timid Dragon and Other Tales and 3 Masters of the Universe Stories have a strange Golden Book Video closing Vanity Plate logo featuring a comet collision in outer space. Not the kind of thing you'd play after a set of children's stories...
    • Some early stories relied more on utilizing character silhouettes for certain shots in place of the original illustrations.
  • Everybody Do the Endless Loop: This is occasionally done in the videos, including "Journey Through the Jungle of Words".
  • First Day of School Episode: The Golden Step-Ahead Video "Get Ready for School" does this, using Richard Scarry's characters and artwork to tell of little Brewster's first day of kindergarten.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: The Golden Book Music Videos, along with certain regular titles, would have on-screen sing-along lyrics to accompany many songs.
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: Besides adapting books that utilize this (such as "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "Just For You"), two Golden Book Music Videos ("Sing, Giggle and Grin" and "A Child's First Nursery Songs") and a Golden Step-Ahead Video ("Get Ready For School") end this way.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: One of the songs featured in "Sing, Giggle, and Grin" featured a song that had lyrics like this:
    Singers: Robin, robin, happy and gay. Robin, robin, fly away.
  • Limited Animation: Lots of it, sometimes the only animation would be someone's eyes blinking, or a dog's tail wagging, or someone sliding by to look like the character is "walking," etc.
  • Medium Blending: The Golden Book Music Video "Songs From Mother Goose" is hosted by a live-action Mother Goose hand puppet, and a horse puppet and Peter Piper puppet appear as well, while the rest of the nursery rhymes are presented as animated segments. There are even a few instances combining puppetry and animation in the same shot.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Prevalent in "Journey Through the Jungle of Words." Besides one of the lead characters being a dog named Groucho Barx, there's also a zebra that talks like Ed Wynn, a ghost that speaks like Boris Karloff, and more.
  • Officer O'Hara: The cop that confronts the Big Bad Wolf in "The Wolf and the Kids" speaks with an Irish accent.
  • Pictorial Speech-Bubble: Often added to stories being adapted, usually in the form of a thought bubble containing a picture of what the character is speaking about.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Some Golden Book Music Videos utilized many classic public domain children's songs and some original compositions (such as See, Sing 'n' Play and Sing, Giggle and Grin).
  • Randomly Reversed Letters: The opening for Sing, Giggle and Grin featured the R in the title reversed. This was later corrected.
  • Silly Simian: This is the basis for the Golden Music Video See, Sing 'n' Play, where a group of monkeys fool around with various hats and other costume parts on an outdoor stage.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Some of the videos made frequent use of the Hanna-Barbera sound effects library.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "The Wolf and the Kids", when the titular wolf is confronted by a cop at his door.
    Big Bad Wolf: I know what you're thinking, officer. Why, I haven't been anywhere near Mother Goat's cozy house, and I didn't sneak in and pop her little kids in my sack.
    Cop: Kids in a sack, eh?
    Big Bad Wolf: Even though they were alone.
    Cop: Just a minute. I have a warrant here that says ya stole some flour and powdered sugar. And what's all this about kids in a sack?
  • Written Sound Effect: Happens sometimes, typically being not part of the original book that is being adapted.


Video Example(s):


The Wolf and the Cop

If failing to catch Mother Goat's kids was bad enough for the Big Bad Wolf, he's now got a bigger problem on his paws.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuspiciouslySpecificDenial

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