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Western Animation / Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse

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Clockwise, beginning bottom left: Elizabeth, Fast-Talking Jack, Marvin, Diamonds, Stripes, Edna, The Penguin's Five, and Eddy Largo

"He can dance!
He can dance!
He can dance!"

Marvin The Tap-Dancing Horse is a Canadian animated Preschool Show produced by Nelvana for Teletoon and PBS Kids. It is based on a children's book by the mother-son team Betty and Michael Paraskevas, the same duo behind Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, another preschool Nelvana cartoon produced in association with Teletoon. Like with Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, the Paraskevas were both involved in the production of this show and served as executive producers.

The show tells the story of Marvin The Tap-Dancing Horse, an equine performer who works at a circus and carnival run by Fast-Talking Jack. A seasoned artist who has danced on stages across the world and for countless people, Marvin is joined in his line of work by a number of fellow circus animals, namely an irritable tiger named Stripes, a gentle elephant named Diamonds, and an emotional pig named Elizabeth, as well as resident carnival fortune teller Edna. However, Marvin's best friend is 9-year-old Eddy Largo, who was hired by Fast-Talking Jack to help around the circus when he came around looking for a summer job (so he wouldn't have to attend "Office Camp" like his dad wanted him to). Alongside their fellow carnival employees and performs, Marvin and Eddy always find adventure to be had around the circus.


It originally aired on Teletoon in Canada and on PBS Kids as part of their Bookworm Bunch, running for 2 seasons and 26 episodes. Reruns of the show later popped up on Qubo in the United States.

Tropes found in this series:

  • Everyone Knew Already: In "Edna the Singing Sensation", Edna the fortune teller joins the rest of the cast in singing karaoke, but she can't sing very well. Problem is, she managed to get an act at the circus that night. Everyone thinks she's going to embarrass herself trying to sing in front of an audience, and spend most of the episode trying to tell her that she isn't good at singing. When they finally get the courage to tell her, it turns out Edna knew all along that she can't sing well, and instead uses her act to break glass.
  • Expy:
    • Very likely a mere coincidence, but most of the group has similarly matching personalities to the characters of The Brave Little Toaster, including Marvin being the optimist (Toaster), Elizabeth being the emotional Cowardly Sidekick (Blanky), fiesty and impulsive Diamonds the Elephant (Lampy), and even "Fast-Talking" Jack (Radio). The most obvious example is Stripes the Tiger whose grumpy personality is very similar to that of Kirby the vacuum cleaner. His voice even bears a somewhat striking resemblance to Kirby's voice actor, Thurl Ravenscroft. Plus, Stripes gets easily annoyed by Elizabeth's emotional outbursts, just like how Kirby gets with Blanky.
    • Also, Elizabeth is basically a combination of Piglet from the Winnie the Pooh franchise and Hamilton from Maggie and the Ferocious Beast (Her appearance is based on a female version of the latter except with Black Bead Eyes.)
  • Friend Versus Lover: When Lula Belle, an old flame of Marvin's, shows up, Eddy ends up becoming the third wheel. She's refreshingly understanding, and even apologizes to Eddy for Marvin's behavior.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "Jokers Go Wild", Stripes tries to mess with the Ferris wheel so that Elizabeth will get stuck at the top. He ends up getting himself stuck up there.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Marvin is very prideful and can sometimes get envious, but he's still one of the nicest guys you could meet.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Eddy in the first episode. He quickly befriends everyone and becomes an expert working backstage of the carnival.
  • invokedOld Shame: Marvin isn't too proud of his first acting job in 43rd Street.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Eddy Largo's real name is Edward Larue III.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Stripes uses this excuse in the episode "Eddy's Fortune" when, after getting attached to a lost puppy, tears up when the latter is reunited with his owner.
    Stripes: What are you looking at? It's just my allergies acting up. I must be allergic to dogs...
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • "When the Stars Come Out" has Eddie, Marvin, and Stripes making a trip to the top of a hill to see the Perseid meteor shower. Despite the entire universe seeming determined to stop them, they finally make it... and then it starts raining. When they get back, though, they find that their friends have set up a planetarium version of the shower in the main tent.
    • "The Visit" has the whole cast getting excited over the prospect of a famous astronaut visiting the carnival and doing special things to get his attention despite Eddy's objections; Marvin and Diamonds try out new acts, Jack makes up a song about, Stripes pretty much tries to ignore everyone, and Elizabeth fails at a new juggling act before Eddy convinces her to give him some of her corn. When the astronaut finally shows up, he simply takes an ear of corn and drives off, without even getting out of his limo. Everyone (except Eddy and Elizabeth, who were standing right outside the limo) is clearly disappointed.
    • In "Stripes' Sticky Situation", Stripes is trying to collect enough gum wrappers to win an unknown "fabulous prize". After the other animals and Eddy help him by chewing gum until they're almost sick of it, and waiting for a number of weeks, the prize finally arrives: a lifetime supply of the very same gum.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Marvin and his brother Clyde. It's a one-sided example, as Clyde is only too happy to see Marvin. However, Marvin is jealous of how fast Clyde is, and obsesses over beating him in a race.
  • Tempting Fate: Jack decides to do Eddy's chores when he gets sick, because they can't possibly be that hard...
  • Vocal Evolution: Eddy's voice was starting to deepen by the end of the series.