Peep and the Big Wide World is a Canadian animated series created by Danish-Canadian animator Kaj Pindal and based on a series of National Film Board of Canada shorts he made, which were narrated by Peter Ustinov. Seeking to teach math, nature and basic science concepts to young children, the show was a co-production between PBS affiliate WGBH Boston and 9 Story Media Group, in association with TVOntario and Discovery Kids.
The show is narrated by Joan Cusack and follows three main characters, who are a baby chicken named Peep and his friends, a blue duckling named Quack and a red robin named Chirp. Most episodes involve the three newborn birds learning something new about the world around them and solving some problem or having some adventure related to it. However, things are made ever more difficult (read: hilarious) for the little birds by their simple naivety and ignorance of how things work due to being, well, babies. But, there are many recurring plotlines, including Chirp trying to learn how to fly, Quack and his singing, or Peep and Chirp trying to get to Green Island in the nearby pond. Every episode runs for 9 minutes. Afterwards, there is always a 2-minute live-action segment with real kids exploring and demonstrating the topic that Peep and his friends learned about in the episode.
The series debuted in 2004 on Discovery Kids. It also aired in the United States on PBS Kids and TLC's Ready Set Learn block, as well as TVOntario in its origin country of Canada. It initially concluded in 2007 after running for 3 seasons and 49 episodes, but was resurrected in 2010 for 2 more seasons. The revival ran until 2011, adding 11 more episodes to the show's episode count.
Peep and the Big Wide World provides examples of:
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife:
- A blue duck. Yeah.
- Although, Quack looks more purple than blue, and this is lampshaded by Chirp in one episode. He still insists that he's blue, though.
- During night scenes, he's definitely blue. Day scenes amp up the purple tones but he's still fairly blue.
- Squeak may also qualify, due to being a pink mouse.
- Tom also, being a bright blue cat.
- A blue duck. Yeah.
- Aesop Amnesia: Any episode where Quack learns an ounce of humility will promptly be ignored soon after. Rather justified, since Quack's monster ego drives a lot of the show's humor.
- Armless Biped: Peep and Quack. They have no arms whatsoever. So they hold things in their beaks (like actual birds).
- Artistic License Biology: Quack implies a few times that ducks can't fly. Of course, most people know that this isn't the case.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Peep. Justified because he's still young and extremely curious.Peep: (in the midst of Quack and Chirp bickering) What's that interesting sound?
- Attention Whore: Quack. He thinks that ducks are the best animal ever.Quack: It's a duck's world, Chirp.
- Breakout Character: Quack has more episodes to himself than the title character!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The characters interact with the narrator sometimes. The narrator herself expresses Medium Awareness sometimes too.
- Buffy Speak: Used a lot, since the characters don't know the names of some things. Chirp once called a balloon a "round floaty thing" and Quack once gave directions to his pond as "...over the things and past the stuff."
- Cats Are Mean: Tom, who is the closest thing to a major antagonist the show has.
- Chained Heat: Quack and Chirp at first in "In A Bind". Eventually they get used to each other, and start to get along, neither of them realizing that the string that held them together broke a day earlier
- Cloud Cuckoolander: A number of characters, namely Squeak the mouse and Beaver Boy.
- Quack also qualifies.
- Con Artist: The Raccoon.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Hoot the owl.
- Deadpan Snarker:
Quack: (panicking) THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY POND AND IT'S COLD AND WET!Chirp: Yeah. It's called water.
- The narrator dabbles in this sometimes, too.
- Distaff Counterpart: An episode had a pink female duck that looks like Quack. Acts like Quack too. Oh, and she's also named Quack.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:Quack: I'm afraid I can't go with you. Ducks can't walk on water, despite what you may have heard.
- Feather Fingers: Played straight with Chirp, one of the few with visible wings that she sometimes uses but she uses them mostly to gesticulate.
- Gender Flip: In the original short film, Chirp was male. In the main series, she's female.
- Peep is an interesting variant. He was originally written as male, but when the original short was remade in 1988 he was referred to with female pronouns. The series keeps him a male, however.
- Game-Breaker: In-universe. All Quack has to do to win follow the leader is jump in the water, since most of his friends (except for Frog and Beaver Boy) can't swim. It's all but stated that this is why Quack loves this particular game.
- Giant Flyer: Hoot the owl, who fits the criteria of normal sized flyers, large flying predators and deus ex machina airlines all at the same time.
- Group Hug: Pops in from time to time between Quack, Peep, and Chirp. Since none of them have hands, they pull it off by nuzzling.
- Help, I'm Stuck!: One entire episode, "Stuck Duck", focused around this trope, with Quack getting stuck in a log and the cast trying everything to try and get him out.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Tom, in his debut episode, hand in hand with Cat Up a Tree.
- Hypocritical Humor: In the episode with Quack 2, she insults Quack's way of walking and says that only "squinks" walk like that, but when she shows off her walk to show that it's different it's EXACTLY like Quack's.
- In that same episode, Quack complains that Quack 2 is demanding, takes up a lot of space, and sneezes on others...while he's doing exactly the same thing with Peep and Chirp.
- I Can See My House from Here: A variant, when Peep is standing on top of a large, round rock:Peep: Hey! I can see Nellie's house from here!
- Quack does this very vaguely when he is waiting to tell the two turtles to go to the sunflowers, since he sees the trees both turtles live under.
- Informed Species: If not for the tiny cockscomb on his head, you probably wouldn't know Peep was a chicken. Quack looks very little like a duck too (Quack actually looks more like a penguin without wings). Humorously lampshaded when Quack happens upon a hunting decoy of a more realistic looking duck. While Quack somehow recognized it as a duck (but doesn't seem to realize that it isn't alive), everyone else is skeptical on the grounds that it looks nothing like him. Chirp is the only one who seems fairly close to her species.
- Interactive Narrator: Happens once in a while.
- International Coproduction: Between Discovery Kids and PBS with WBGH Boston.
- Implausible Deniability: Zig zagged in "Stuck "Duck". Quack has just gotten stuck in a hollow log during a game of follow the leader with Peep; Peep thinks he's found something great in the log, which Quack (who is embarrassed) hastily affirms. It only takes him a second to realize that it falls under this trope, and quickly backspaces.
- I Remember It Like It Was Yesterday: In fact, it was:Peep: I remember [moving into my can] like it was yesterday...Chirp: When was it?Peep: Yesterday.
- Land, Sea, Sky: Peep (a chicken) for land, Quack (a duck) for sea, and Chirp (a robin) for sky.
- Large Ham: Quack.
- Lemony Narrator: Well, it is Joan Cusack.
- Nervous Wreck: Squeak the Mouse.
- The Nicknamer: Beaver boy calls Quack, Peep and Chirp "Blue Sailor", "Yellow Guy" and "Red Round" respectively.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Peep will forever remain a baby chicken, even though they've been through too many winters to count. Also, Chirp stays a fledgling.
- My God, What Have I Done?: In the pilot, when Quack falls asleep on top of a flower the birds were taking care of, he is very remorseful.
- Older Than They Think: While this was the only TV show they had, Peep and his two friends as characters predate the show by several decades. They were first introduced in an animated short creator Kaj Pindal made in 1962 called The Peep Show. The short was remade in 1988 with the same title as the TV series. In both incarnations the character designs are near identical to those of the TV series, though the former was in black and white.
- Only Sane Woman: Chirp. Nelly fills this role when it's not Chirp.
- The Owl-Knowing One: Hoot.
- Pokémon Speak: A variant; our three heroes and some other characters have their given names based on the sounds they make. The main trio even more or less introduced themselves in this way.Peep: (bumps into Quack)
Chirp: (falls from the sky and looks up at the other two) Chirp!
- Punny Name: Newton is a turtle who lives under a crabapple tree and is always getting hit with said apples.
- Sdrawkcab Speech: Used whenever the characters are whispering or are talking and the scene is shot from far away.
- Semiaquatic Species Sailor: Quack, a duck, always wears a sailor hat (that looks a bit like a paper boat.)
- She's a Man in Japan: Much like in the original short, the Korean dub makes Peep a female and Chirp a male. Also, Hoot the owl was turned into a male as well.
- Team Mom: Nelly the dog acts as this to the birds.
- Title Theme Tune: Somewhat averted, but they do say "It's a Big Wide World..." at least twice.
- Too Dumb to Live: Most of the characters are kind of dumb, but three are of special note.
Narrator: The Blue Jays aren't smart enough to follow directions and push things at the same time, so things took longer than expected.
- Beaver Boy, who is so dumb that the rest of the cast thinks he's stupid, even compared to them.
- The Blue Jays, who were stupid enough that the narrator actually calls them out on it.
- Quack to some extent, however this is more due to genuine ignorance about how many things work and his arrogance.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Peep (male), Quack (male), and Chirp (female)
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Chirp and Quack, notably in "in a bind".
- Vocal Evolution: Due to the real-life time gap between season three and four, this happened in season four. Peep's voice lowered and Chirp's becoming so high it was virtually unrecognizable. While not as prominent, Quack's voice also sounds slightly higher. This didn't sit well with long-time fans.