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Western Animation / The Magic Roundabout

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The Magic Roundabout is an English dub for a French stop-motion show, Le Manège Enchanté. When it was translated into English by Eric Thompson (father of actresses Emma and Sophie), rather than voice act the characters, he chose to narrate the whole thing himself. Because Thompson despised the original writing, he dubbed the show based purely on the animation, including many gags that appealed to parents. It subsequently became a Cult Classic in the United Kingdom and was adapted into two feature films. Many viewers of the French show, unaware of the redub, were baffled by the show's English popularity.

In the early 1990s, after Thompson's death, Channel 4 acquired some episodes that had not been translated and hired Nigel Planer to adapt them in a pastiche of Thompson's style.

Dougal and the Blue Cat (1970/1972), the first movie, was itself a cult classic. It contained a satirical parody of racism (Blue is beautiful! Blue is best! I'm blue! I'm beautiful! I'm best!) as well as the first (and only?) songs to appear in a Magic Roundabout setting. The other film, a CGI version titled simply The Magic Roundabout (2005), had a much more epic plot and was later released in the US (with all but two of the original British voices re-dubbed) as Doogal [sic]. Despite its promise, the American release failed to capture the spirit of the original series and fell into obscurity.


This English localisation provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Ermintrude (Azalée) often does this in the French version of the original show, as well as Dougal and the Blue Cat. She calls Pollux (Dougal) "Mollusc" (or "Moogal" in the American Pinwheel translation) and Ambroise (Brian) "Antiboise".
  • Affectionate Nickname: Ermintrude often calls her friends "dearheart".
  • Animation Bump: The animation in the 1974-1977 episodes of the original series, is much more energized and fast-paced, compared to earlier episodes from 1965-1971. Also, gradually throughout the color episodes, certain characters gain eye expressions (Dylan, in particular, gains eyelids whenever he sleeps).
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Dylan the rabbit.
  • Big Bad:
    • Zeebad in the 2005 film.
    • Buxton in Dougal and the Blue Cat.
  • Big Damn Movie: The 2005 film is about the characters trying to stop Zeebad, Zebedee's Evil Twin, from creating a new ice age - a complete 180 from the Random Events Plot the series prided itself on.
    • Also the 1970 film Dougal and the Blue Cat counts as this.
  • Birthday Episode: Dylan's and Ermintrude's birthdays are celebrated in the original series. In "Happy Birthday, Dylan", his presents are all of ties, and the last one from Zebedee is a box to keep them in. For "Ermintrude's Birthday", Dougal presents a fireworks show (which Dylan almost ruins), topped off with a cannon of flowers.
    • Florence also has two birthday episodes. In one of them, "Florence's Party", she is given a Not-So-Forgotten Birthday surprise, with the entire gang putting on a talent show.
    • The CGI reboot series has Basil and Coral's birthdays celebrated in the episode "Florence's Squeaky Toys". In the episode, Florence has ordered some toys for her two friends, but Mr. Grimsdale (who has lost his glasses) mixes the deliveries, and they are sent to Dylan and Ermintrude instead. Further confusion arises when the presents end up with Dougal, who unawarely gets annoyed with the toys and hides them.
    • Another CGI reboot episode celebrates Dougal's birthday in "Brian's Gift to Dougal". In the episode, Brian's jigsaw puzzle is left unfinished when some of the pieces mysteriously go missing. Unbeknownst to everyone, Zebedee has taken the pieces to block the pipes of Mr. Rusty's barrel organ, which apparently doesn't seem to be working.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "'Time for bed,' said Zebedee." ("Tournicoti, tournicoton!" for Zebedee (Zébulon) in the French version)
    • "'Oh, what's the use,' said Dougal."
      • One of Dougal's expressions in the original French version is "Douce reine" (translating to "Sweet queen")
      • Also for Dougal whenever he's surprised or shocked, "What? What-what-what-what-what-what-what?!" (or "Qu'est que ça que ce que ça?" in the French version)
    • "I'm so evil" for Buxton (in the French version, his catchphrase is "Moi, le chat" which is literally "Me, the cat")
    • In the French version, Mr. Rusty (a.k.a. Père Pivoine) has the catchphrase "Tourne tourne, mon beau manège" whenever he operates the roundabout.
    • The French version also has Brian (a.k.a. Ambroise) frequently exclaim, "Oh va ça alors!" out of shock, surprise, or joy.
  • Cats Are Mean: The villain of Dougal and the Blue Cat is (who else), the blue cat, Buxton, whose motivation is to become the Blue King and turn the entire world the color blue.
  • Crocodile Tears: Buxton uses this on the gang in Dougal and the Blue Cat to keep them from getting suspicious about his plans, despite Dougal's protests.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: The American dub of the 2005 film was called Doogal, and was advertised as an action-adventure film. It ended up being a mess of pop culture references, lame jokes, toilet humor, and Totally Radical dialogue, all seemingly because the distributors believed that American audiences wouldn't know what the hell the original series was. The dub ended up bombing at the box office, and ended Jon Stewart's film career.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dougal (his English voice is based on Tony Hancock).
    • Also, Zeebad in the American dub of the 2005 movie.
    • Ermintrude, Dylan, and Brian shows shades of this in the 2005 movie as well.
  • Deus ex Machina: Zebedee serves as this in the original series (and occasionally in the CGI reboot series as well) to solve the protagonists' problems.
  • Disney Death: In Dougal and the Blue Cat, Brian is seemingly killed when he rushes back to retrieve Zebedee's magic mustache from Buxton's factory, just before it collapses.
    • Also, in the 2005 film Zebedee upon battling Zeebad, and later Florence, after being trapped in the frozen roundabout. Luckily, Zebedee is revealed to be alive near the end and Dougal manages to revive Florence with kisses.
  • The Ditz: Ermintrude (especially in the French dub), Brian, and Dylan can come off as this in the original series.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: For the first few of the earliest episodes, the mouths of the children were briefly animated and moved.
    • For Fly's first appearance in the CGI reboot series premiere "Dougal's Bad Smell Day", he is a lot smaller and barely seen. For all subsequent episodes, beginning with "Dougal Goes to the Moon", he is bigger and more visible.
  • Erudite Stoner: Dylan, although obviously he was never actually said to be stoned. He was just tired a lot. Really. However, the 2005 movie got a lot more blatant, including Brian chiding him that "This is no time to experiment with exotic substances!"
  • Endless Winter: Zeebad's Evil Plan was to freeze the sun and bring about a new Ice Age.
  • Five-Man Band: Dougal the (self appointed) Leader, Brian the Lancer, Zebedee the Smart Guy, Ermintrude the Big Guy (or Girl) and Florence the Chick.
  • Funny Animal: Mainly Dougal but there are several others.
  • Gag Dub: The English version of the original series used a script that was not a translation of the French, instead it was a new comedic script in English that Eric Thompson thought would suit an English audience.note 
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Believe it or not, the original French version of the series went through this. Sometime around the 70s and 80s, Patricia Danot, who voiced Florence (Margote), re-recorded her character for the older color episodes that were made before Pollux et le Chat Bleu (Dougal and the Blue Cat), probably due to a case of Vocal Evolution, since her voice became deeper around the post-Blue Cat episodes. Another minor revision was done in 1983, when the show went into reruns on FR3, and a new theme song was used. However, the most notable change came around 1989, when AB Productions bought the rights to the series. Along with a new batch of episodes, the original carousel theme was replaced with an entirely different pop tune, and all of the color episodes had their original music tracks replaced with new underscores of said pop tune. (These underscores were also used for Nigel Planer and Jimmy Hibbert's English re-narrations in the UK, although the original carousel opening and closing theme was kept intact.) All the color episodes also used the opening and closing footage from the post-Blue Cat episodes, along with a modified opening title card.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The American dub of the 2005 movie. The original version of the film made a couple of drug references.
  • Grumpy Bear: Dougal. "Oh, what's the use" (or "Oh dear") is a Catchphrase of his.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Dylan.
  • An Ice Person: Zeebad, from the 2005 movie.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: In the 2005 film, Brian, who has a crush on Ermintrude, is a bit too shy to confess his love for her. When he tries to do this twice, he is interrupted on both occasions.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dougal. Some would argue he's a bit more of a Jerkass in Nigel Planer's re-narration of the original series.
  • Keet: Brian is this in the original series.
  • The Killjoy: One episode features a hat called the "Bossy Hat" which makes the wearer grumpy and bossy, disallowing activities the others find fun.
  • Long Runner: In the UK, the original series initially ran for 12 years, and has since then, reruns have been airing until the mid-2000s.
  • Mellow Fellow: Dylan.
  • The Movie: Two in fact. Or three, if you count Doogal as a separate movie.
  • National Stereotypes: In the original French version, Dougal has a heavy English accent, Zebedee has a Spanish accent, and Dylan has an Italian accent. In the original French show, Dylan simply has mañana attitude. For the French dub of the 2005 CGI film, Dylan's Italian characteristics are replaced with that of his British hippie personality. (This even results in the character having a deep baritone voice, as provided by Eddy Mitchell, causing him to sound nothing like he did in the original French show.)
    • Also, in the original French version, Florence is Chinese.
    • In the English dub of Dougal and the Blue Cat, Buxton has a Northern British accent.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The American re-dub of the 2005 film was presented to be much better than it actually turned out to be.
  • Nice Guy: Brian the snail is usually very cheerful and happy-go-lucky (especially in the French version) despite Dougal's insults.
  • No Antagonist: Both the original and reboot series has no Big Bad, while the only exceptions are the film adaptations (Dougal and The Blue Cat and the 2005 film).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: As mentioned above, Dougal's voice was based on Tony Hancock. And Dylan's voice is, well...
  • One-Shot Character: There were several of these during the original series. One of them, a blue scarecrow was sold as a figurine.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr. Rusty is this to Florence and the other children when necessary. (Oddly, the parents of Florence and the children are not present, nor even mentioned.)
  • Playing Sick: Dougal does this in the CGI episode "A Very Dodgy Exercise" to avoid attending Soldier Sam's exercise class.
  • Product Placement: In the US redub, Dylan mentions two chocolate bars in one scene—Snickers and Three Musketeers.
  • Put on a Bus: For unknown reasons, Mr. MacHenry the gardener fell into this in the 2005 CGI film and somewhat replaced with a new character, Mr. Grimmsdale the baker. Thankfully, he returned (albeit with a redesign) for the 2007 reboot series. (Unlike the original series though, the French dub of the reboot series uses his English name, instead of "Bonhomme Jouvence", while Mr. Grimmsdale the baker has the gardener's French name instead.)
    • The first batch of color episodes from 1970 introduced a few additional characters that appeared occasionally amongst the main cast. The characters included a knitting spider named Penelope and a pair of twin birds. Those characters stopped appearing after 1971, although some of the episodes featuring the characters were resurrected during the early 90s when Nigel Planer began re-narrating the series.
    • Also, the other three kids (Paul, Basil, and Rosalie) who occasionally accompanied Florence made less appearances during the 1970-1971 color episodes, until they eventually stopped appearing all together starting with the post-1974 episodes (although they continued to appear during the show's opening and closing titles).
  • Redubbing: The film was redubbed for the American version and retitled "Doogal" from "The Magic Roundabout".
  • Second Episode Introduction: In the original series, the first two characters to appear in the pilot were Mr. Rusty and Zebedee. Florence and the other children were introduced in the second episode, while Dougal (the later main star of the show) appeared a couple of episodes later. Brian, Ermintrude, Dylan and Mr. Mac Henry were introduced a little later. (Interestingly, Brian and Ermintrude's introductory episodes are switched between the French and English adaptations, with Brian being introduced first in the French version, while the English show first introduced Ermintrude.)
    • Oddly, some sources (including the 2003 documentary The Magic Roundabout Story) incorrectly claim that Ermintrude and Dylan first appeared on the show after the series switched from black-and-white to color, when they were actually introduced in the black-and-white episodes.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Train is a female only in Thompson's English dub of the original show (as well as Dougal and the Blue Cat).
    • Also, the aforementioned blue scarecrow (see One-Shot Character above) is a male was named Jasper in Nigel Planer's English re-dub, despite having a female appearance.
  • Shout-Out: Dylan, the stoner/folk musician rabbit, after Bob Dylan.
    • This line from Dougal and the Blue Cat referencing Hamlet:
    Dougal: To eat or not to eat... that is the question. Whether 'tis noble in the stomach to suffer — (to himself) oh shut up, Dougal!
  • Signing-Off Catchphrase: Most episodes in the English dub of the original series end with Zebedee saying, "Time for bed".
    • Similarly, episodes of the 2007 reboot series end with Zebedee announcing "It's time to party!" to which the characters do so, with Dylan drowsily saying "I wish it was time for bed, man..." (or simply "I wish it was time for bed..." in the second season)
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: In the original French version of Dougal and the Blue Cat, Buxton's singing voice is deeper than his speaking voice.
  • Signature Laugh: In the French version, Mr. MacHenry had a constant chuckle in Dougal and the Blue Cat, but in the series, this was more of a Verbal Tic, which has him saying something like "Hep, hep hep!"
  • Sleepyhead: Dylan.
  • Slow "NO!": In the 2005 movie, Brian, Ermintrude and Dylan all do this when Doogal's chewed gum is about to trip a laser in the temple.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's supposed to be "Dougal" and not "Doogal", no matter what the 2005 film's American re-dub might tell you.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The moose and the temple skeletons in the American dub of the 2005 film. Also in the 2005 film (if you don't count the original series), the Train in both English dubs (and all other foreign dubs) as he had no dialogue only in the French version. (The Train was also silent in all dubs of the CGI reboot series.)
  • Sugar Bowl: Would almost certainly count if it weren't for both of the movies.
  • Talking Animal: Ermintrude is a cow, Dougal is a dog, Dylan is a rabbit, Brian is a snail, and all the characters talk.
  • Token Wizard: Zebedee is the only main character who can do magic. However, one episode of the CGI series, "Magic Fairy Ring" reveals that fairies exist (although they are only one-shot characters).
  • Verbal Tic: Zebedee has this in the French version, in tandem with his catchphrase "Tournicoti, tournicoton!" (Usually after a sentence, he would say "Tournico-" followed by the ending adjective of the last word he says. For example, in the American English dub for Pinwheel, he would say something like, "There he is, tournico-tis!")
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: In the original show, Dougal and Brian are a Type 1 example. Dougal often gets annoyed with Brian and insults him on a regular basis, but on occasion, genuinely considers him his best friend.
    • Unlike the original show, Dougal, Ermintrude, Brian, and Dylan seem to be a Type 2 example in the 2005 film.
  • Vocal Evolution: Originally, Eric Thompson never changed his voice for any of the characters (with the possible exception of Dougal who he intendedly based off of Tony Hancock) when narrating the stories. During the early 70s, when the series was broadcast in color, he gradually began doing this for all of the other characters as well. (As he explained in an interview, he had been narrating the series for so long to a point that each of the characters eventually become identifiable enough.)
    • Also, in the CGI reboot series, Brian's voice (provided by David Holt, who also voiced Dougal) was originally deeper during the first few episodes of the first series (almost to somewhat match with Jim Broadbent's voice from the 2005 film), but became much higher for the rest of the show.
  • White Gloves: Dylan and all of the human characters (including Florence and Mr. Rusty) used to wear these during the original series, until the post-2005 CGI era. Zebedee wears them too, although they were blue during the original era.


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