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Western Animation / The Jackson 5ive

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"Easy as 1-2-5!" "3, sir!" 3!"

The Jackson 5ive was a cartoon show from Rankin/Bass Productions that starred (who else?) The Jackson 5. No, not the real onesnote .

It only lasted two seasons on ABC (1971-1973), but who wouldn't love seeing Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and dear adorable little Michael, in Saturday Morning Cartoon form? The episodes employed plenty of slapstick and clever one-liners, and you could be sure that you heard two Jackson 5 songs in every single episode. With a few exceptions, these songs usually had nothing to do with the plot, so it was like they were in a musical.

Most of the episodes starred all five Jackson brothers in silly situations, but other episodes centered on Michael as the main character having a dream based on fairy tales and popular stories, along the way making friends with characters who looked a lot like his brothers. When Michael wakes up from his dream, the others don't believe him when he tells them about it.


Other Recurring Characters include:

  • Ray and Charles: Michael's pair of pet mice. Their names are obviously a reference to the great R&B musician Ray Charles. It's impossible to tell them apart. They are very helpful.
  • Rosie: A pink snake who, as it turns out, is responsible for (this version of) the Jackson 5 becoming famous. Despite his appearance, Rosie is actually male; he is Bibbity-Boppity-Booed into Michael's male chauffeur in "Cinder Jackson", and is called a "he" in "Ray & Charles: Superstars". He is also a pet companion of Michael's. He is able to spell out cursive words with his/her body.
  • Berry Gordy: The Jackson 5's producer. He isn't such an important character, but he's in at least 2 episodes.
  • Hairy Godfather: This character only shows up in 2 episodes. His first notable role is in "Cinder Jackson", where he helps Michael get ready for the ball, and the second time he shows up is in "Groove to the Chief", where he grants Michael's wish of becoming Mayor. His catch-phrase is "Now hooooooooold on!"

The Jackson 5ive provides examples of:

  • All Just a Dream: Most of Michael's abnormal adventures end up with waking up, annoyed to find out that he'd fallen asleep.
    • Some of them fell into Or Was It a Dream? when characters that he'd encountered walked past him in the street.
      • Michael tries invoke Or Was It a Dream? in "Who's Hoozis?" after discovering that he'd fallen asleep under a tree and the birds he was trying to save couldn't talk. When he finds the same birds in the tree, he decides to cut out the middleman and take them directly to the owner of the park, in a hope to stop the hired construction team from bulldozing the park.
  • The Alleged Car: Tito's car is a rather old-fashioned car that needs to be cranked at the front, has jerky brakes that throw passengers out of the car, and has to have its exhaust pipe cleaned when it's driven. Michael also mentions that the engine leaks all the time.
  • And You Were There: Whenever Michael had a dream sequence that was an Affectionate Parody of a fairy-tale, his brothers would portray the supporting characters while he took the role of the protagonist. Unsurprisingly, when Michael believed that his dream was real, his brothers assumed he'd gone crazy.
  • Band Toon: Mostly misadventures with the band.
  • Berserk Button: Tito has a mild one whenever it involves his car. If someone insults it or it becomes damaged, he freaks out. He once assumes that his girlfriend hated him because his car wasn't good enough, but she was actually knocked out of it after a tyre ran over a rock in the street.
  • Black and Nerdy/Gadgeteer Genius: Marlon is pictured as the smartest when it comes to machines, though Tito is the best with the car they drive in.
  • Camp: The giant from "Jackson and the Beanstalk" played the piano and talked in a foppish voice. He is also a Momma's Boy, but his mother is ashamed of him for not being as fearsome like his cousin Harold.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Michael, occasionally? He has the craziest imagination. Probably, comes with being the youngest.
  • The Dark Age of Animation: Very much so.
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Jermaine did this a lot in order to distract guards whenever Michael was in danger.
    • Jacqueline Pearl's brother Jumbo pretends to be her mother in order to scare the Jackson brothers because of supposedly pranking her. Because he is a football player, it was easy for Jacqueline to claim that her mother used to be a wrestler and/or an Olympic athlete that specialised in track-and-field.
  • Distaff Counterpart:
    • Although the Jackson brothers had spent episode 17 fighting over a stewardess called Jacqueline Pearl, they needn't have bothered. It turns out that Jacqueline has four other sisters (and three pets) for the boys and Michael's pets to date, while she dated Jackie. The Pearl sisters even have names that are similar to the Jackson brothers.
    • In "Michael White", Michael and Jackie fight over the affections of an attractive model at a fundraiser. It turns out she is happily married, but she luckily has enough sisters for all the Jackson brothers to chaperone to the community dance.
  • Everybody Do the Endless Loop: There were at least two types of dances that the band did during musical numbers, depending on the tempo of the song.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Used a lot.
  • Expy: Rankin/Bass Productions follow-up cartoon The Osmonds that copied the formula of this cartoon series, right down to using the same standard dance cycle.
  • Freudian Excuse: The brothers had many of these when it came to dating. When one episode has the boys agree to stop showing an interest in girls, Jermaine and Jackie have decent excuses, but Marlon and Tito's reasons are very petty (Marlon broke up with his girlfriend because she defeated him in arm-wrestling, and Tito assumed that his girlfriend hated his car). Michael also has a petty excuse when he discovers that the woman he was trying to win over is actually married.
  • Green Aesop: A couple of episodes have the Jacksons sympathizing with the environment. "Pinestock USA" is a good example, annoying the landowner.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Unlike the actual Jackson 5, Diana Ross actually voiced her animated counterpart in the first episode.
  • Laugh Track: The creators allegedly used a laugh track just because it was popular at the time. If this is true, it shows, because the laugh track sometimes played when there was no joke in the dialog.
    • Rankin-Bass created the laugh track. It initially consisted of loud eruptions of laughter, and they even played during mid-sentence. When season 2 came on, (as well as Kid Power and The Osmonds), the laughter had better timing and no longer played during mid-sentence.
    • Also, applause followed all the songs, and obviously ended the episode.
  • Left the Background Music On: Like The Beatles, this cartoon had a musical number thrown into the plot at random, no matter whether the song fit the mood of the episode or not. In some cases, the musical number was justified after it finished as a quick rehearsal that the boys were doing on the spot before the plot rolled forward, even though the bass and electric guitar were the only instruments they have, whereas you could hear drums and other instruments.
  • Letters 2 Numbers
  • Limited Wardrobe: Many of the characters.
    • The brothers only wear one type of clothing with occasional wardrobe changes.
      • Michael — chartreuse shirt and yellow bell-bottoms with black rectangle-buckled belt.
      • Marlon — turquoise shirt with blue bell-bottoms.
      • Jermaine — pink shirt with purple waistcoat and white bell-bottoms with circular-belted belt.
      • Tito — yellow shirt with dark turquoise jeans, as well as a turquoise cap.
      • Jackie — pink shirt with navy blue waistcoat and purple bell-bottoms with rectangular-buckled belt.
    • Manager Berry Gordy wore the same blue suit throughout his appearances.
    • Diana Ross wore the same concert dress during her tour and her recording session a day after.
  • Make a Wish: Often happens to Michael, courtsey of the Hairy Godfather.
  • Meaningful Name: Some of the side characters (outside of the band and their manager) had names that fit with their personality and/or occupation.
    • The leader of the lumberjacks in "Pinestock USA" is called Sawdust.
    • Jacqueline's hunky brother is called Jumbo, who is a professional American football player.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Jermaine, who was mostly in the background and often was the voice of reason. Outside of that, he followed orders from his brothers and disguised himself to distract people.
  • Mr. Smith: Jacqueline's brother suggests that his sister should write an apology letter to Jackie for reacting harshly to him and his family, telling her to be formal. She begins the letter with "Dear Mr Jackson" and sends it, but when each brother discovers it one-by-one, they assume that it's addressed to them, making her wonder whether "Mr Jackson" is trying to make a fool out of her when he cannot decide where to meet her after work.
  • Musical Episode: Every episode has two Jackson 5 songs.
  • Native Guide: The farm owner Running Water is a form of this. He doesn't know how to run a farm and he cannot drive. His neighbour seems to enjoy making a fool out of him, which is implied to be the reason why the Jackson 5 are assigned to work with him.
  • Out of Focus: Although it was a cartoon series about the band, most of the episodes focused on Michael and/or his pets' antics. This was probably because in real life, Michael was the Face of the Band and the most popular, which led on to his successful solo career and nickname of The King of Pop.
  • The Power of Rock:
    • The brothers come across two horses that can only move unless they perform a song to them. The first one is able to make the group beat an ageist horse-track owner, and the other one manages to also work like a racehorse ... to the point of only riding in one circle like a racehorse.
    • When the brothers are looking after a farm, Michael discovers that playing music to crops and animals will help them work quicker, so the group decide to perform "My Cherrie Amour", and everything works perfectly.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: "Rasho-Jackson" has the brothers with different versions of what happened when they were late to a recording session: They helped a female motorist with their spare tank of gas only to run out of gas themselves. Each of the brothers tries to paint himself as the Nice Guy helping the motorist with other brothers in not-so-good lights: Jermaine was often called lazy (which he denied), Tito was pictured as a Handsome Lech (who argues that he was focused on the car instead of the motorist), Marlon was miserable, Jackie was called bossy (who argued that he was acting similar to George Washington), and Michael was called fussy. However, Berry had them followed with a film crew, and the important details were: They ALL gave her the gas willingly as their hands were over the can, their gas tank had a leak and Tito had a hard time getting a ride to the gas station before Jackie got the others to push the car out of the way of traffic—and out of Tito's sight.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: A "specially recorded" (according to The Other Wiki) medley of "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "Mama's Pearl" was used as both the opening and closing themes.
  • Running Gag: You think the brakes stick a little?
  • Signature Headgear: Tito, who is never seen without it. In one brief still-frame with the five brothers in three-piece suits, he is the only one that wears his hat whilst everyone else wore top-hats.
  • Spell My Name With a 5: In any reference to the show.
  • Spiritual Successor: In the musical sequences, the series obviously took inspiration from the film, Yellow Submarine, to become the soul music version of it.
  • Stock Footage: Most of the animation in the musical numbers were reused a lot, but appeared sporadically around the series amongst different visuals and recolouring, making it much harder to notice.
  • Team Pet: Ray, Charles, and Rosie.
  • Tempting Fate: In a way, with Michael in season 2. When he snaps that voting for politicians is boring, he claims that he'd be a much better person for mayor. He then falls asleep as is visited by the Hairy Godfather, who makes him the mayor of Los Angeles. Disastrous misadventures ensues.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Whenever a musical number was justified as a rehearsal until the band knew what to do next.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Happens in the theme song and the following songs: 
  • Vague Age: The brothers themselves zig-zag this trope. One would mostly calculate what the ages of the brothers would've been in real life at the time in order to make an assumption, however, the only two ages that are revealed in the series are Michael's and Tito's: Michael states in season 1 that he is 10, whereas in season 2, Tito is seen watching candidates for the mayor of LA on the television because he'd just turned 18.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Jackie's voice sounds much younger than Tito's or Jermaine's, despite being the oldest of the three elder brothers. This seems to be in reference to the fact that his real life voice is also more high-pitched than his younger brothers.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Popular tales such as "Cinderella", The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Treasure Island, "Snow White", Alice in Wonderland, and "Jack and the Beanstalk" are parodied quite successfully in this show. Michael is the central character while his brothers and pets play important secondary roles.
  • You Are the New Trend: The episode "The Michael Look" has a subplot of Michael being set up by street performers to put on dirty-looking clothes in a clothes' store in London so that none of the Jackson 5 fans would recognise them in the street. Ironically, this brought more attention to the band, and the scruffy clothing became the new fashion trend. It's a shame that "The Michael Look" was the best name that the British media could come up with for the phenomena.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Michael.