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Western Animation / The Alvin Show

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From left to right: Alvin, Theodore, Simon, and Dave.

"This... is... the... Alvin Show!
The Alvin Show! You're positively gonna love the Alvin Show!
There's Dave Seville! And what is more...
Here's the boy who giggles known as Theodore!
And now you see, on Camera 3...
The brother known as Simon on the family tree!
And here's the star of the show...!

- The theme song, written and composed by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.

The Alvin Show is a short-lived primetime animated series from the early 1960s, based on the highly successful "David Seville and the Chipmunks" records by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., produced in association Format Films for Bagdasarian Film Corporation. It is the first animated series to feature Alvin and the Chipmunks.

It follows the lives and shenanigans of the Chipmunks (in this series, they were further developed as a trio of rambunctious kids) as they often cause mischief towards their high-tempered human father figure and manager Dave Seville, who was based on the series' creator, Ross Bagdasarian, (Sr.)note . Bagdasarian provided the speaking and singing voiced the three rodents as well as voicing the hapless bachelor Dave.

Aside from the seven-minute Chipmunk segments, the show also had segments featuring the misadventures of bumbling inventor Clyde Crashcup voiced by Shepard Menken who essentially re-invented various items and took credit for dreaming it up in the first place. His “creations” often backfired on him until his silent, hyper competent assistant Leonardo saves him from any further self-destruction.

Twenty six episodes were produced for the "Chipmunks" and "Clyde Crashcup" segments along with fifty-two musical segments. It used a Three Shorts format with the "Clyde Crashcup" segments sandwiched in between.

Despite being drawn in color, the show was played in black-and-white format in primetime against the hit Wagon Train though it didn't fare well in prime time and was cancelled after the first season. However, the characters themselves proved to be enormously popular with young viewers — the show popped in in repeats on CBS Saturday morning in 1962, airing to widespread success for three seasons.

The series later was revived on NBC-TV, being promoted under the title Alvin and the Chipmunks Saturday morning between March 10, 1979 and September 1, 1979.

Viacom Enterprises distributed reruns of The Alvin Show to local stations to coincide with its successor, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Nickelodeon picked up broadcast rights for the show in 1994 and ran the episodes daily until early 1995. During that time as well as sometime afterwards, the individual cartoons and musical segments were inserted into episodes of Weinerville. After this run on Nickelodeon, the show vanished from the airways, never to be seen again…

NOTE: Tropes under here are specifically for the '60s cartoon series.

The Alvin Show provides examples of:

  • 6 Is 9: In "Crashcup Invents Do-It-Yourself", Crashcup decides to paint a room by numbers and asks Leonardo to hand him the 9 can. Leonardo brings a 6 can by mistake, and when Clyde asks, "That's a 9?" Leonardo turns the can upside down, pouring paint on Clyde by accident.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Mrs. Frumpington, their neighbor, can never get Dave or Alvin's name right no matter how many times they correct her.
  • Acrophobic Bird: In "Stanley the Eagle", the Chipmunks take care of an eagle named Stanley who's scared of flying and they help him face his fears.
  • Actor Allusion: In the "Witch Doctor" musical segment of The Alvin Show, Dave exclaims "I made that record once!" in regards to the Chipmunks wanting to sing the song. This is because Ross Bagdasarian didn't consider "Witch Doctor" to technically be a Chipmunks song, the first true song by the Chipmunk Trio being "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)."
  • Agony of the Feet:
    • At the beginning of "Working on the Railroad", Simon (of all people) and Alvin do this to Dave with sledgehammers. Thankfully, Theodore misses Dave's foot.
    • Clyde hurts his foot stepping on a tack thrice in "Crashcup Invents the Shoe"— the first two times in his bare feet, and the last time with a hat on his foot.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Done by Theodore and Alexander (the dog he brought home with him) in "Theodore's Dog".
  • All Just a Dream: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" musical segment in which the stage where Dave gets annoyed by the chipmunks goofing up the song doesn't happen for real. Dave wakes up in bed with his hand in the air at the end.
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    • In "Crashcup Invents the Boat" after Clyde calls the front part of his boat "the pointy part", Leonardo whispers in his ear, and Clyde replies, "Bow? Alright, Leonardo, if you insist.", and bows to him.
    • In "Crashcup Invents First Aid", Clyde's traction splint demonstration goes wrong and he ends up hanging from a chandelier. The telephone rings and Leonardo answers it, then tells Clyde he's wanted on the phone. Clyde says he can't answer the phone upside down and tells Leonardo to cut the line (the rope from which he hangs). Leonardo then cuts the phone line, and hearing nothing, assumes the caller hung up.
    • After Clyde asks Leonardo to dispose of a tack the the former stepped on, and the latter tosses it on the floor, causing Clyde to step on it again, Clyde gets a trash can and says, "In here!" Leonardo then climbs into the trash can, and Clyde angrily pulls him out to correct him.
  • Apathetic Citizens: See quicksand sucks below.
  • Art Initiates Life: Clyde Crashcup was an inventor who "invented" common things that have been around forever, using a Magic Crayon to create them.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: "Alvin for President"
  • Babies Ever After: Played for Laughs in "Clyde Crashcup Invents the Baby" when the stork Clyde "invented" keeps bringing more babies to his place, against the scientist's protests.
  • Balloonacy: In one of the teasers, Alvin buys a bunch of balloons and hands them to Dave, sending him floating away to the sky.
  • Banging Pots and Pans: Theodore does this in "Theodore's Dog", after the basset hound Theodore got made a loud noise in which Dave ask what that sound was, in order to make up a ruse on the fact he just shoved said basset hound through the basement's window.
  • Baseball Episode: "Clyde Crashcup Invents Baseball" and "Little League"
  • Bears Are Bad News: Subverted in "Camping Trip".
  • Beatnik: In the musical segment for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", Alvin dresses as one in order to attempt a rock and roll version of the song (much to Dave's annoyance).
  • Bedsheet Ghost: J. P. Lester, an actual ghost, haunting Chesley Estate in "Haunted House".
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Alvin uses one to get out of his house in "Alvin's Alter Ego".
  • Big Ball of Violence: After Clyde strikes out in "Clyde Crashcup Invents Baseball", the umpire and baseball fan get into a fight involving this, with Clyde getting caught up in it. When Leonardo tries to save Clyde, he winds up in the fight as well.
  • Birthday Episode: In the Clyde Crashcup segment "Birthday Party", Clyde thinks it's Leonardo's birthday and throws a party for him. Near the end, however, Clyde finds out it's actually his own birthday.
  • Book Ends: The "Witch Doctor" song segment, opening with an Ominous Owl flying and perching onto a branch and hooting at night, to which it pans to the Chipmunks' ranch house for the segment to begin. Then at the end, after Dave and the Chipmunks (unintentionally) scare the neighbors with their witch doctor masks, we cut back to the tree where the same owl flies off the branch and into the camera.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: At one point in the Clyde Crashcup "Baseball" segment:
    Umpire: Strike one!
    Clyde: What do you mean, "strike"?
    Umpire: That's "str-" for "str-", and "-ike" for "-ike"! "Strike"!
    Clyde: Oh, yes, surely, of course.
  • Bowdlerise / Lighter and Softer:
    • The 1994 "Working On the Railroad" sing-along video shortened the ending and replaced the director's dialogue. In the original, the director accused Dave and the Chipmunks of bad acting, while in the 1994 video version they cut because the crew forgot to put film in the camera. Regardless, both still end with Alvin saying to the audience, "Well, that's showbiz."
    • The 1994 sing-along video also censors the gunshots from "Ragtime Cowboy Joe", replacing three of them with whistles and the fourth with a musical chord.
  • Bungling Inventor: Clyde Crashcup.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dave is usually on the receiving end of some kind of misfortune.
  • By Tree That Is Holey: Theodore is asked to swing on a rope, which is tied to a very old tree with a gaping hole. When Theodore tugs at the rope, the tree topples over but Theodore is unharmed because he slipped through said hole.
  • Cassandra Truth: Dave called the cops about Stanley the Eagle. When the cops arrived, Stanley isn't there but high above the air, flying in circle and the cops (who think Dave spends too much time composing music) drag him to jail or wherever.
  • Characterization Marches On: Simon and Theodore lack their distinctive personalities that fans of the later media are used to, usually little more than more well behaved counterparts to Alvin. Dave is also noticeably more of a comedic hot head here.
  • Chicken Joke: Clyde tries to invoke this in "Clyde Crashcup Invents Jokes", but the chicken gets hit by a car and staggers away.
  • Clock Tower: "Eagle in Love" had Stanley the Eagle fall in love with a bronze eagle statue on top of a clock tower, thinking it's an actual female eagle. Whenever the clock strikes the hour, the eagle statue rotates, and Stanley mistakes this for the statue slapping him away in rejection when he stands right next to it as the clock chimes.
  • Comedic Spanking: Clyde does this to Leonardo in "Clyde Crashcup Invents the Birthday Party", then Leonardo's mother does it to Clyde at the end.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Simon is seen working on one in "Theodore's Dog".
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Theodore in "Theodore's Dog."
    • The episode "Haunted House" seem to focus little more on JP Lester (the bedsheet ghost) and his exploits on trying to scare Dave and the Chipmunks who are fixing up the Chesley Estate.
  • Delivery Stork: Clyde "invents" one in "Clyde Crashcup Invents the Baby" to spread happiness to everyone, and the stork brings him a baby.
  • Didn't Think This Through: After Clyde Crashcup builds a time-reversing machine, he finds out too late that when activated, it undoes everything that happened before.
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: Alvin keeps doing this to Dave to get him out of the garage so the Chipmunks can play in there for their "Git Along Little Doggies" number. The fourth time Alvin attempts it, Dave gets wise and opens the door before he can ring the bell.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There's the musical segment for "Pop Goes the Weasel" where we have Alvin walking into "Sam Merlin's Magic Shop" and Sam Merlin himself is this big, creepy guy with this... voice. The man starts asking Alvin if he likes magic as well as... mm, yeah we need a little help explaining this one...
  • Doom It Yourself: "Crashcup Invents Do-It-Yourself" has Clyde and Leonardo trying to paint a room, with disastrous results.
  • The Door Slams You: Happens to Dave in "Squares" and the ghost in "Haunted House".
  • Double Take:
    • In "Alvin for President":
      Dave: Hey Simon, Theodore, what's he doing?
      Simon: He's running for President.
      Theodore: (giggles) Yeah, President.
      Dave: Really? Well isn't that— (gibberish) PRESIDENT?!
    • At the end of "Lovesick Dave", the Chipmunks do this when Dave cancelled his plans on having a pool installed in the backyard.
  • Dragged into Drag: In the musical segment "My Darling Clementine", David is forced to stand in for the girl who was going to play Clementine.
  • Dream Sequence: Dave has a bitter one during the "Alvin's Harmonica" episode. While talking in his sleep.
  • The Eponymous Show
  • The Everyman: Theodore and Simon.
  • Evil Chuckle: The ghost, J. P. Lester, in "Haunted House" dons one when he prepares to scare Alvin via popping out of the fireplace. He fails.
  • Eye Glasses: Simon dons these.
    • As does Leonardo.
  • Eye Poke: Leonardo does this to Clyde in "Clyde Crashcup Invents Glass".
  • Eye Scream: When trying to find a talent for Dave's cousin, Chuck Wagon, Theodore tries to teach him how to play tiddlywinks. Chuck ends up shooting a wink right into Theodore's eye. After revealing he now has a black eye, Theodore quips, "He can't 'tiddly', and I can't wink."
  • Face Palm: Simon does this when Dave trips over his ball he forgot to put away in "Lovesick Dave".
  • Fantasy Sequence: "Sir Alvin"
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: The Alvin and the Chipmunks Sing Along videos in 1994, which only consist of sing-along versions of the 1960s Chipmunks musical cartoons. Invoked by the videos' theme song with the lyric "Let's all sing with the Chipmunks, follow the bouncing ball!"
  • Fountain of Youth: After Clyde destroys his "Reverse-Time Machine", Leonardo takes a part of the machine and puts it in his pocket. The part in question is the main component, which is still working, and thus he slowly ages down to a baby.
  • The Generic Guy: Theodore and especially Simon.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In "Fancy," Alvin keeps trying to impress a girl on the beach named Fancy, but she is not interested. But once she recognizes him as Alvin and exclaims she's a big Fangirl of his work and wants to hug and kiss him, much to Alvin's chagrin.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: "Alvin's Alter Ego"
  • Hat Damage: Sam Valiant's hat in "Sam Valiant: Real Estate" wounds up with arrows.
  • Haunted House: The "Chesley Estate". Heck, the title of the episode is called "Haunted House"!
  • Henpecked Husband: In one of the Clyde Crashcup shorts, "Crashcup Invents a Wife" named Pictorial. Their relationship turns out like this, and Clyde eventually reaches the breaking point:
    Clyde: Now look here, Pictorial, my patience is wearing thin. I am a scientist, not a chambermaid. Leonardo is my able assistant, and I demand that you release him this instant. Your presence is this household has become unbearable! Do I make myself clear??
    Pictorial: ...You all through?
    Clyde: ...Yes, Pictorial, sweetheart.
At the end, Crashcup throws Pictorial out of the house and promises the fourth wall, "I'll be back next week, a bachelor at work."
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Clyde Crashcup gets stuck in a chimney once in an episode where he's doing a lecture on "Do It Yourself". After Leonardo frees him, he begins a lecture on help.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Well, "Camping Trip".
  • Hypocrite: Look below.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the episode "Theodore's Dog", when the chipmunks are in bed after a long day of Theodore hiding the dog in house and bugging Dave about wanting one, this happens:
    Dave: Tomorrow, we hit the road boys, so get a good night sleep!
    Theodore: I could sleep better if I had a dog guarding me.
    Dave: Theodore! And Alvin! Take off your cap!note 
    Alvin: (to Theodore) Why do you always make Dave mad!?
    (Theodore gives him a quick dirty look)
  • I Am Not Weasel: In the Chipmunks segment "Oh Gondoliero!", the Gondoliero mistakes the Chipmunks for mice and they try to correct him by telling him "We're not mice, we're chipmunks!" Then they kick-start a song for him with "Oh, Gondoliero, we are not mice, we're singing chipmunks, we told you twice!"
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Dave gives Theodore medication after said chipmunk fakes eating himself sick in "Theodore's Dog".*"
    Dave: (to Theodore) You can't have a dog, so you eat yourself sick! And when you eat yourself sick, what do you do? You take something bitter! Right Theodore?
    Theodore: (eyes squeezed shut) Right Dave. (takes spoonful of medicine, face showing disgust)
  • Ink-Suit Actor: As drawn, Clyde Crashcup somewhat resembles the physical appearance of his voice actor, Shepard Menken.
  • Irony: When driving to the Chesley Estate Dave inherited in "Haunted House", he describes the old place as "Magnificent structure, those stately white pillars, that beautiful landscaping, those formal garden..." When we the viewer see the place, it's anything but that. The house is in shambles both inside and out, the garden is a sight for sore eyes... well he got the white pillars right...
    • In "Sam Valiant Real Estate", after seeing a vulture perch itself on a sign reading "Vachaua (?) Estates", which Sam Valiant called "Bird of Paradise", he says "Look at the enjoyed faces of those youngsters!" We cut to Alvin, Simon and Theodore, who were previously outside standing next to Dave, peeping out of the window inside the car looking anything but enjoyed.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: One episode has Alvin, Simon and Theodore singing "Alouette" in French. Then this occurs:
    Dave: I'm sorry, but I can't understand what you're saying. Can you please sing it in English?
    Alvin, Simon and Theodore: Can we sing it in English? (start singing) "If you love me, tell me that you love me, if you don't please tell me that you do! Tell me that you love me true, tell me that you really do! Do do do, love me true, aaaah!"
  • It's Been Done: Clyde Crashcup and Leonardo tried to invent the chair, baseball, jokes, the bed and dozens of other things, and seldom got it right.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Crashcup claiming to have invented inventions that already existed, or being the first to discover things already discovered.
  • Large Ham: Clyde Crashcup.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Rock-A-Bye Baby" in the Crashcup segments, namely the ones where he invents the bed and the baby. Played at the end of the episode — normally the first time around, then as things go awry for good it repeats — but speeds up and slows down like a warped record.
  • Laugh Track: Averted. Bagdasarian insisted that the show skip the addition of a laugh track, against the wishes of the network. Though there was the sound of clapping that could be from a machine in "Wild, Irish Rose", when Alvin mentions to Dave that the audience wants to see Dave have a haircut.
  • Limited Animation
  • Mad Scientist: Clyde Crashcup, again.
  • Medium Awareness: The musical segments of the show.
    Dave: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome! As we all know, the community that sings together, sings together, so come on all you happy people. Open and let's sing and swing together.
  • Motor Mouth: Sam Valiant. Ross Bagdasarian Sr. performs his voice, halfway sped-up (compared to being fully sped-up for the Chipmunks) to achieve the fast-talking effect.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: A musical segment based around "Christmas Don't Be Late" sees Alvin searching under the tree for a hula hoop and finding instead, to his chagrin, such gifts as a necktie and poetry book. Subverted when he finds a framed photo of Dave with a hand-written dedication, which gift Alvin quietly hugs to himself as he continues his search.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The director in the "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" song segment is based off Alfred Hitchcock.
    • Clyde Crashcup's own persona and voice, in addition, are inspired by unique character actor Richard Haydn, as "Prof. Edwin Carp".
  • Non-Indicative Title: "Clyde Crashcup Invents the Baby" has this, since Clyde actually "invents" a Delivery Stork, who brings him a baby- and eventually dozens more of them.
  • The Nose Knows: Subversion: A few episodes feature "Sam Valiant, Private Nose." He thinks his enormous schnoz solves mysteries, but he's always way off.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the episode, "Stanley the Eagle", when Dave finally sees the eagle*, he starts freaking out.
    • At the end of "Yankee Doodle" musical segment, Alvin sends a whole bunch of bowling balls that substituted as canons toward Dave, who's in the orchestra pit. Dave probably had to be in the hospital for... at least 100 days.
    • Midway toward the end of "Working on the Railroad" musical segment, Dave is pushing the tram on the train tracks the boys are on, trying to out run the train. Turns out it was just a prop and the four are actually on a set, filming.
    • At the end of "Lovesick Dave", the boys do a double take after Dave just cancelled about constructing a pool in the backyard for them.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Not only is J.P. Lester an actual bedsheet ghost but he's solid enough that Dave's able to pick him up and hold him, not to mention being able to fit into tight places like in a can.
  • Out of Character: In-Universe at the beginning of "Lovesick Dave", where Alvin breaks the lamp with his paddle ball and shatters it. Instead of yelling at Alvin, Dave asks if he's all right. Dave doesn't even yell at Theodore when zooming by him wearing roller skates or at Simon when he tripped over the bespectacled chipmunks' ball, which the Chipmunks to suspect something is up, though it appeared Simon noticed Dave's strange behavior before the episode started.
  • Painted Tunnel, Real Train: Clyde Crashcup "invents" by drawing things in midair.
  • Pie in the Face: Clyde and Leonardo do this to each other in "Clyde Crashcup Invents Jokes", and later engage in this with the Keystone Kops.
  • Playing Sick: Theodore in "Theodore's Dog". See If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You example for more elaboration.
  • Prime Time Cartoon
  • Quicksand Sucks: In "Sam Valiant Real Estate", when showing the Chipmunks the "sand pile", he's too busy talking that he doesn't notice he's sinking and all the while, Alvin, Simon and Theodore are standing right there in front of him! Fortunately, Dave pulls the idiot out in a nick of time.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: A variant using Christmas presents appears in a segment based on the "Christmas Don't Be Late" song, during which Alvin pops out of several wrapped boxes looking for his preferred gift.
  • Scooby Stack: Alvin, Simon and Theodore in "Lovesick Dave".
  • Shout-Out: See the main shout out page for the franchise.
  • Show Within a Show
    • At one point, the Chipmunks are watching a Clyde Crashcup segment.
    • The chipmunks appeared in some parody reality show in the "Chipmunk Fun" musical segment.
    • In "Ostrich", Dave tells the boys there will be no TV for two weeks unless they remove the ostrich from the top of their car (which the ostrich thinks is an egg):
    Alvin: You mean I can't even watch me??
  • Signature Laugh: Theodore's "huhuhuhuhuhuh!" giggle.
  • The Silent Bob: Clyde Crashcup's assistant Leonardo, who only speaks when he whispers something in Clyde's ear.
  • Single Tear: In "Crashcup Invents the Boat", Leonardo sheds one as Clyde reads Mrs. Festwhistle's message begging to be rescued from a deserted island.
  • Sleepwalking: Theodore fakes one in "Theodore's Dog".
  • Special Effect Failure: In-Universe with a film set in "Working on the Railroad" musical segment.
  • Table Cloth Yank: Another teaser, with The Chipmunk Song playing in the background.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Dave and the boys share one in "Haunted House".
  • There Was a Door: Often done in "Good Neighbor" with door or wall smashing.
  • Third-Person Person: The ghost in "Haunted House" refers to himself by name: "J. P." sometimes adding "Lester".
  • Three Shorts: Followed the A-B-A format, with Clyde Crashcup as the middle segment.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Seen in "Disk Jockey," when the Chipmunks do this to try and get a radio station to play their new record (wearing a long coat, with Alvin on top wearing a hat and wig), and they probably would have succeeded if Theodore hadn't poked his head out of the disguise and said, "You're welcome!" among being thanked by the DJ.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Supposedly Dave in "Haunted House", since the episode opens up with him saying "I still can't believe it! Me inheriting the Chesley Estate!"
  • The Unintelligible: Leonardo's only speech is whispering to Clyde Crashcup's ears. He only speaks audibly once, when upset, in an angry whimper like a Pekingese trying to talk.
  • The Unfavorite / Out of Focus: To a lesser degree, Simon didn't have one episode focused on him whilst all the episodes focus on Alvin* and Theodore had one episode based solely on him.
  • Variety Show
  • Verbal Tic: When describing what he's inventing, Clyde Crashcup will break it down into syllables, even if the item only has one syllable. (e.g.: for soap—"That's 'so' for 'so' and 'oap' for 'oap', soap.)
  • Voice Actor
  • Watch Out for That Lamppost!: One of the cold opens has Dave driving a car and waving at us, only to thud into a lamppost. Then comes the Chipmunks dressed as paramedics as Simon and Theodore try to take the damaged car to the ambulance, but Alvin corrects them and they decide to take Dave instead.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?
    • What happened to Alexander the basset hound in "Theodore's Dog"?
    • Speaking of dogs, where did that puppy go the Chipmunks and Dave were looking for in the "Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" musical segment?
    • Not to mention Theodore's pet parakeet, George?
  • Wingding Eyes: Dave gets swirly ones in his Oh, Crap! moment at the end of the "Yankee Doodle" number.
  • Wraparound Background


Video Example(s):


Alvin's Totem Pole Trench

It probably would've worked if Theodore didn't have to be so polite...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TotemPoleTrench

Media sources: