ⓘ Doug (TV series)

Doug (TV series)

ⓘ Doug (TV series)

Doug is an American animated television series created by Jim Jinkins. The show focuses on the early adolescent life of its title character, Douglas "Doug" Funnie, who experiences common predicaments while attending school in his new hometown of Bluffington. Doug narrates each story in his journal, and the show incorporates many imagination sequences. The series addresses numerous topics, including trying to fit in, platonic and romantic relationships, self-esteem, bullying, and rumors. Many episodes center on Dougs attempts to impress his classmate and crush, Patti Mayonnaise.

Jinkins developed Doug from drawings in his sketchbook that he created over the course of the 1980s. Doug, a mostly autobiographical creation, was largely inspired by Jinkinss childhood growing up in Virginia, with most characters in the series being based on real individuals. He first pitched Doug as a childrens book to uninterested publishers before Nickelodeon purchased the show. Following this, the series underwent further development, in which Jinkins meticulously detailed every aspect of the shows setting. Jinkins was insistent that the series would have a purpose and instructed writers to annotate each script with a moral. The shows unusual soundtrack consists largely of scat singing and mouth noises.

The series premiered on August 11, 1991 on the cable network Nickelodeon, as the channels first original animated content alongside Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show. The series original run consisted of 52 episodes over four seasons that were broadcast from 1991 to 1994. In 1996, Disney acquired the series, retooling it with several creative changes, thus renaming it Brand Spanking New! Doug retitled Disneys Doug in 1998, and airing it for three years on ABCs Saturday morning lineup. It became a top-rated show, inspiring various books, merchandise, a live musical stage show, and a theatrical feature, Dougs 1st Movie, released at the series conclusion in 1999.


1. Premise

Doug revolves around Douglas "Doug" Funnie, an 11 later 12-year-old boy who wants to be another face in the crowd, but by possessing a vivid imagination and a strong sense of morality, he is more likely to stand out. He keeps a journal, which he treats as an autobiography, as he records numerous experiences over the series, which range from learning to dance to getting a bad haircut. Doug Funnie and his family move from the town of Bloatsburg to Bluffington after his dad receives a job promotion. Bluffington is in the United States but not in any specific U.S. state. However, Bluffington is loosely based on the city of Richmond, Virginia, where creator Jim Jinkins was born and raised.


2. Characters

Beyond the title character, Doug featured a large ensemble cast of characters. Many of the series ancillary characters, among them Ms. Wingo and Mr. Spitz, are based on authority figures from Jinkins childhood.

  • Beebe Bluff voiced by Alice Playten: The heiress to the Bluff family fortune. Beebe is the daughter of Bill Bluff, the richest man in the town and a friend of Mayor White. The Bluff family is the namesake of the town of Bluffington, and in the second series, the school is even named after Beebe. Despite a certain air of superiority over her peers, Beebe maintains friendships with Patti Mayonnaise and most of her other contemporaries. Doug had his first kiss with her in the episode "Dougs Secret Admirer", although it was out of gratitude rather than love, since she already has a crush on Skeeter. Beebe was Alice Playtens final animated role before her death in 2011.
  • Mr. Bud Dink voiced by Fred Newman: A slightly odd, purple-skinned, dimwitted, retiree who lives next door to the Funnies with his wife and foil, Tippy voiced by Doris Belack. Doug frequently approaches Mr. Dink for advice, but sometimes it is useless. He and his wifes last name comes from an acronym: Dual Income, No Kids, which supports Mr.Dinks spending on various things he claims as "very expensive". In later Nickelodeon episodes, Mrs. Dink becomes mayor of Bluffington, a role she continues in the Disney version.
  • Patricia "Patti" Mayonnaise voiced by Constance Shulman: Patti is an intelligent, lovely, talented, and athletic girl who is Dougs female best friend and love interest. She is kind and helpful, but she does have weaknesses, such as a tendency to be competitive and to anger easily if pushed too far. Jinkins based the character on his adolescent crush from junior high and high school, and culled her name from two girls from his childhood, Pam Mayo and a girl named Patty.
  • Porkchop voiced by Fred Newman: Dougs anthropomorphic pet Dog that is one of Dougs sidekicks and accompanies him nearly everywhere he goes. He sometimes assists Doug in making decisions and acts as his conscience. Pork chop is very talented in many things such as acting. He lives in an igloo-shaped doghouse in the Nickelodeon series, and a tipi in the Disney series. During a Christmas special, it is shown that Doug got Porkchop as a Christmas gift and that Porkchop once saved Beebe Bluffs life when she was about to fall through some thin ice. Porkchop, along with Doug, originally first appeared in ID spots for the USA Network childrens block, USA Cartoon Express.
  • Roger M. Klotz voiced by Billy West in the Nickelodeon series, Chris Phillips in the Disney series: Roger is Dougs nemesis and a school bully. He is not much of a bully, however, as he usually makes fun of everyone and plays practical jokes. He is older than others in his class, as it took him three years to graduate from sixth grade. Roger and his divorced mother lived in a trailer park in the Nickelodeon series; in the Disney series, Rogers family becomes wealthy from a real-estate deal struck between the owner of the trailer park and the Bluff family. Roger was inspired from a bully who lived in the same neighborhood as Jinkins. He adopted the bullys neighbors last name, Klotz, for the character.
  • Judith "Judy" Anastasia Funnie voiced by Becca Lish: Judy Funnie is Dougs older sister. Judy is very intelligent and especially dramatic. Unsurprisingly, she attends the Moody School, a school for artistically talented teenagers. Judy often gives or directs performances at Bluffington Elementary, which Doug initially dreads out of fear that Judy will embarrass him as she has done in the past. Judy is usually seen wearing only purple and black, and rarely takes off her beret or her sunglasses.
  • Chalky Studebaker voiced by Doug Pries: Chalky is considerably the most athletic of Dougs main circle of friends, and he is an excellent student. He wants to follow the footsteps of his older brother, Cliff.
  • Al and Moo Sleech voiced by Eddie Korbich: Nerdy twin brothers and two of Dougs best friends. Doug looks to them for technical help whenever he needs it. In the Disney series, they skip all of the middle school grades and enter high school, but they maintain their relationships with Doug and others. They are each shown to have a crush on Judy. The two try to hide the fact that their father is not as intelligent as they are and is a hardworking doughnut baker.
  • Mosquito "Skeeter" Valentine voiced by Fred Newman: Skeeter is Dougs best friend. He occasionally makes honking noises. Skeeter and his family have lived in Bluffington for some time, so he helps Doug acclimate to Bluffington. For example, Skeeter helps Doug order food at the popular Bluffington restaurant Honker Burger in the series premiere resulting in their friendship. The character was based on Jinkins high school best friend, Tommy Roberts.
  • Connie Benge voiced by Becca Lish: A naive schoolgirl who is best friends with Patti and Beebe, and also one of Dougs friends. She had a small crush on Doug in the Nickelodeon series. Although she was rather heavy-set in the first series, she lost weight between the two series and received a new wardrobe and hairstyle after visiting a beauty farm, making her look quite different in either show. In certain episodes of the first series, the color schemes for Connies hair and skin are switched, giving her lime green hair and violet skin instead of indigo hair and pale green skin.
  • Douglas Yancey "Doug" Funnie voiced by Billy West in the Nickelodeon series; Tom McHugh in the Disney series: Doug is depicted as a shy, insecure, self-conscious, and gullible 11 later 12-year-old boy who more often than not tries to deal with his fear of failure. He has talents for writing, drawing, making music he plays a banjo, and caring for animals he owns a dog named Porkchop. While Doug just wants to fit in with his peers, he has a vivid imagination and an unparalleled sense of morality that both make him stand out amongst them. Doug narrates every episode and writes his experiences in his journal. He has an alter ego, Quailman, who was inspired by Jinkinss and Robertss childhood home movies in which they posed as superheroes. Billy West, the original voice behind Doug, was assigned by executive Vanessa Coffey, to Jinkinss initial reluctance. Despite this, he would come to view it as the best possible voice for the character. West, in recording lines for Doug, noted that "Theres a lot of me in there, because Im going through my own experiences in there, because I have a conscience."

3.1. Production Development

Doug was created by animator Jim Jinkins. He was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1953, and grew up fascinated by drawing. He went on to animation and filmmaking at Ohio State University, and upon graduation, got a job working at PBS in their childrens programming unit. Jinkins first sketched the character of Doug while doodling without thought, not aiming to create a character based on himself. In the 1980s, he began working on an autobiographical character named "Brian", which he later changed to "Doug", as it was a very general, common name. He began to view the character as his "alter-ego", drawing him in variously cynical and silly scenarios in his sketchbook.

In 1984, Jinkinss career took a turn for the worse, as well as his personal life: he had a rough breakup and suffered injuries in a biking accident. During this time, he gained a new outlook on life. Desiring to "create a place where there was no overdue rent and no delinquent phone bills," he began doodling and formed the basis for Bluffington, the central location in Doug. The characters early designs were solidified alongside friend David Campbell at a small Mexican restaurant in New York. He later credited the characters odd coloring choices from being in a "margarita stupor". Campbell suggested he make Doug into a childrens book, titled Doug Got a New Pair of Shoes, which was rejected by all of the citys publishing houses. Simon & Schuster was interested, but management changed before it purchased the pitch. The character made its first animated appearance in a 1988 Florida Grapefruit Growers commercial, and it was also used for a 1989 promotional bumper for the USA Network.

Meanwhile, cable network Nickelodeon, aiming to expand its content and find creative auteurs, began a search for animators to develop their first original animated series. This was very unusual for the time period, which often consisted of pre-licensed characters, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Wheres Waldo?. Jinkins had actually worked at the network before it was renamed Nickelodeon; he was employed in the late 1970s, when it was named Pinwheel. Jinkins set up a meeting with executive Vanessa Coffey to show her the book prototype. Coffey ran out of the room, but only to inform her boss that "This guy is the real deal, and were taking him to pilot." Employing voice artists and writers from New York, Jinkins created a pilot for Doug, titled Doug Cant Dance. It was one of three six-minute pilots chosen out of eight to premiere as Nickelodeons debut animated series, or Nicktoons. The long contract development took nearly a year to complete. Jinkins made sure that his contract allowed him to take the series to another network if Nickelodeon did not complete the shows order.

In another unusual move, Nickelodeon allowed their purchased pilots to be animated at independent studios. Jinkins founded Jumbo Pictures to produce Doug. He would later recall the oddity of the deal, remarking, "that was a moment in time where we were able to be an independent production company and deliver those shows." Coffey was the main executive in charge of the series production, and Jinkins would later give her credit in bringing the show to air.


3.2. Production Writing and design

Jinkins characterized the series as not entirely autobiographical, but emotionally accurate to his childhood experiences. The show was designed and based on his experiences growing up in Virginia, designing it as such to give the viewers "a roller coaster of emotions." Each character in the series was based on people from Jinkins life, with some exaggerations. Prior to the shows premiere, Jinkins sent messages to each subject of inspiration, notifying them of their inclusion. Jinkins religious upbringing also made its way into the series, albeit without direct reference. For example, if an episode is set on Sunday, Dougs family is dressed in their church clothes. Jinkins felt it was important to not insert overly religious themes into the series, but he viewed it essential that each episode contain a moral. The series was also inspired by Peanuts.

The shows design was labor-intensive, intended to convey a certain logic to the shows universe. In the shows pitch bible, which Jinkins described as "huge," contain floor plans for each main characters homes, as well as maps of each street. In addition, Jinkins and the series developers paid particular attention to more hidden elements within the series, such as the founding fathers of the shows central town. In writing the series, the production schedule was built around spending several weeks writing the series scripts. Jinkins asked each writer to place a central theme at the top of each script - what issue Doug is dealing with, and what he learns. Jinkins often told staff that he wanted the show to remain relevant "in 30 years," aiming for a timeless effect. While developing the series, Jinkins wanted to change its name from Doug to The Funnies, but the network encouraged him to stick with the original name. There was a "cross-pollination" among the networks writing staff. This involved story editors being assigned to the show, among them Mitchell Kriegman of Clarissa Explains It All and Will McRobb of The Adventures of Pete & Pete. "There was definitely camaraderie and a quirkiness about who they were hiring," Jinkins later said. "Sometimes it didnt work quite so well, but working with McRobb was awesome!"

In translating the show into animation, the characters designs were solidified. "Jim Jinkins is an illustrator and not an animator, so his initial drawings were a little bit more of a wiggly line," said Yvette Kaplan. The designs were inspired by Jinkins period working for R. O. Blechman at the Ink Tank, incorporating Blechmans nervous line quality.


3.3. Production Music

Jinkins was also very involved in the shows music. One of the shows most notable elements is its unique soundtrack, which consists of various mouth sounds by voice actor Fred Newman. "Fred showed me how you could take out a guitar and use a tuna can filled with water that youd thump with your finger," said Jinkins. In the series Dougs favorite rock group is the Beets, a play on the Beatles. The bands members also visually resemble Ringo Starr of the Beatles and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and their penchant for endless reunion tours owes to the Who. Jinkins viewed the series music as an accent to the storytelling.

Creating the music for the series was a deliberate attempt to deviate from the standard for animated cartoons, which traditionally followed the works of Carl Stalling. The most complicated piece of music created for the series was for the opening sequence, which was recorded preceding animation, rather than the typical method of composing it afterward. Newmans scat singing plays over transitions in the series. The show also incorporated homemade sound effects.

In the closing credits for the first season of Nickelodeons Doug, two different pieces of music would play: the first piece would be taken from the second story in the episode, and during the last third, Porkchop would don headphones and listen to music from the first story, immediately drowning out the original background music and angering Doug. Subsequent seasons, however, use a single piece of music for their closing credits despite using the same animation. Starting with the Disney series, the credits have used Doug chasing Porkchop to the left and right while the credits play.


3.4. Production Disney acquisition

The original deal required Jumbo to produce 65 episodes of Doug, which Nickelodeon would air in blocks of 13 per season. After four seasons and 52 episodes of Doug, Nickelodeon declined to order the additional 13, citing the shows expensive budget. The network had a two-year window in which it could reverse the decision. The duo received strong interest from several networks, among them ABC. Each time they received interest, they would notify Nickelodeon in order to speed up ordering the series fifth season. In 1996, The Walt Disney Company purchased ABC while also purchasing Doug in a multimillion-dollar deal with Jinkins and Campbell. The deal involved buying Jumbo Pictures and "signing them to five-year contracts, with stock options, to be Disney executives." The company also purchased the Doug trademark and its rights to all future merchandising.

Due to the length of time between the series run on Nickelodeon and its beginning on ABC, there were several creative changes. Billy West was replaced by Tom McHugh as the voice of Doug, while the role of Roger was taken over by Chris Phillips. Disney could not afford West, as his fame had grown from voicing characters in Ren & Stimpy and other animated properties. Jinkins argues that he worked hard to keep West on the series, claiming that the deal the company offered him was breaking their budget. In 2013, despite not returning to the Disney version, West mentioned that hed like Nickelodeon to resume production with the original Doug and to return as the role/character.

Many original staff members of Doug regard the Disney run as inferior. Jinkins was less hands-on regarding the production of the shows Disney episodes due to other responsibilities. "I mostly agree with Doug fans who think the original 104 eleven-minute Doug stories made for Nick were the best", Jinkins later said. David Campbell felt the Nickelodeon episodes were "quirkier" and better, while Constance Shulman, Patti Mayonnaises voice actor, felt voice recording sessions were not the same in the shows newer incarnation: "I missed all the gang crammed in the studio, waiting for their turn for the big group scene. Someone just dimmed the magic a bit."


4. Themes

The series covers aspects of desiring to be different while coming of age. According to Jinkins, honesty is the series main theme:

We put ourselves through enormous pain to avoid pain and I had this notion of: What if we didnt do that? What if we just told the truth?" he said. "But thats complicated. In the adult world, the notion of truth and not-truth is complicated, but I didnt want to debate it. I didnt want to show all of the ambiguity of the adult world to kids. I wanted to show kids a world where everyone took honesty seriously."

For example, the episode "Dougs in the Money" finds the titular character coming across an envelope of cash and returning it to its elderly owner. It created a heated debate among the series writers regarding honesty. In the episode, Doug is rewarded with a stick of gum. "It comes down to how we think about who is involved in a story. In that case, I wanted Doug to do something that hurt where there was no tangible reward," said Jinkins.

After the series completion, much of the online debate ensued over the race of Dougs best friend, Skeeter, who some viewers felt exhibited traits stereotypical of African Americans, and who subsequently drew conclusions that the character was intended to be African American. Jinkins did not envision this discourse on the series colors. When creating the show, he came across his 200 design markers and employed an array of bright, wild colors for the characters. Jinkins later told The Huffington Post in 2014 that the series colors "came to symbolize the irrelevance of race."


5. Reception

The series premiered alongside Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show on August 11, 1991. The show was not as immediately popular as its counterparts, and Jinkins lamented to Coffey this fact. Ren and Stimpy is getting so much attention because of John Kricfalusi. I feel like the squeaky wheel gets the grease". Nickelodeon was largely attempting to push the limits of childrens programming, while Doug was a much gentler, quiet show. While the series on Nickelodeon received mostly positive reviews, the Disney/ABC version received a more mixed reception, and became notable for negative reception from fans.


5.1. Reception Ratings

The new Nicktoons block on Nickelodeon raised the networks ratings instantly. Doug constantly achieved over 2.0 in the networks most desirable demographics.

In its first season on ABC, Brand Spanking New Doug became the most popular program on ABCs Saturday morning lineup, attracting the highest ratings of any cartoon on the network. Its high-rated second season on the network contributed to its position as the number one network in Saturday morning ratings.

The show was later syndicated on various broadcast networks, including UPN.


5.2. Reception Awards and nominations

Doug received numerous domestic and international awards and nominations. It won two Parents Choice Awards, two Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, and was nominated for three CableACE Awards and four Daytime Emmy Awards. It was also nominated for the Prix Jeunesse International Award.


6. Other media

Stage show

On March 15, 1999, Disney premiered a new musical stage show, Doug Live!, at Disneys Hollywood Studios at the time known as Disney-MGM Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. The show ran until May 12, 2001. Following the stage show, a video game for Game Boy Color was released in 2000, titled Dougs Big Game.


A theatrical feature-length film, Dougs 1st Movie, was released on March 26, 1999, before production on the television show ceased. During this time, meet-and-greet costumed versions of Doug and Patti were seen in Walt Disney World. The characters have been retired, but sometimes make appearances.


7. Home media

Sony Wonder released a series of Doug videos between 1993 and 1996. Walt Disney Home Video released four videos of Disneys Doug in 1997; each collection featured two episodes.

Nickelodeon and teamed up to release Doug and other Nick shows on manufacture-on-demand DVD-R discs available exclusively through Amazon.coms CreateSpace arm. Seasons 3 and 4 of Doug were released on DVD on December 8, 2009, and December 22, 2009, respectively.

Season 4 was supposed to be released as a complete season, but Nickelodeon was unable to locate two episodes from the final Nickelodeon season of the show and opted to rename the DVD release Doug: The Best of Season 4. Doug: The Complete Nickelodeon Series was released on June 26, 2014.


8. Streaming

Currently, all Nickelodeon episodes including the two that are missing from the season 4 DVD, are available from video on demand services such as iTunes Store, PlayStation Network and Hulu, while the Disney episodes of the series and Dougs 1st Movie are on the Disney+ streaming platform.