Shows for Youngsters and Their Parents Too : Chipmunks stake a claim on Easter in USA tale --listen up, bunnies
No one wants to pit bunnies against chipmunks, but the latter group of fur balls with tails celebrate Easter too. Case in point: The Easter Chipmunk, starring the precocious Alvin & the Chipmunks, airing Friday and Saturday on USA.
When Alvin’s grandfather tells him that he was the original Easter mascot, Alvin’s determined grandpa gets justice and Mr. Hoppity is revealed as a fraud.
“The Easter Chipmunk” joins Chipmunk holiday productions for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Alvin,” explains writer-producer and voice actor-editor Ross Bagdasarian, son of “Chipmunk” creator Ross Bagdasarian, “is absolutely outraged and wants everyone to know his ancestors are rightfully entitled to take credit for Easter.”
Bagdasarian, who took over the family business after his father’s death in 1972, has continued his father’s legacy of Chipmunk tales with his wife, Janice.
The Chipmunks made their first appearance on radio with “The Chipmunk Song” in 1958. “That record sold 4 1/2 million in seven weeks,” Bagdasarian recalls from his Santa Barbara offices. His father wrote the song after hitting it big with “The Witch Doctor,” Bagdasarian says, then sings, “It’s the ‘walla walla bing bang’ song.”
The Chipmunks first appeared in puppet form in 1958 on the Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark shows, and in animation in 1961. Various series, specials and videos followed.
“I think the Chipmunks are still popular because my dad created these characters with personalities that appeal to kids,” says Bagdasarian. “The relationship between Dave and Alvin, that antagonistic one, is not only universal, but one that kids often have with their parents.”
Asked if he and his two siblings were the inspiration for Alvin and his brothers, Bagdasarian laughs. “Maybe, we see some characteristics there, but as kids no one wanted to be the fat one, Theodore.”
“The Easter Chipmunk” airs Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at noon and April 16 at 9:30 a.m. on USA. “Chipmunks Go to the Movies” airs on USA’s “Cartoon Express” Sundays from 6 a.m. to noon. “The Alvin Show” airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Nickelodeon. For ages 2 to 8.
MORE FAMILY SHOWS
Two teen-age boys from broken families, locked away in a 1950s Iowa juvenile home, develop a magical way of looking at life called Shimmer (Monday, 8 p.m. KCET), in which every thing on Earth talks to every thing else. In the world of Shimmer, even the most mundane events take on extraordinary meaning. But when the brutal reality of the home interferes, the boys embark on a journey. Although never released theatrically, the film received the Heartland Film Festival Crystal Heart Award in 1993. For ages 10 and up.
Tune in, Thomas the Tank Engine fans! The Shining Time Station Family Special: Second Changes (Thursday, 10:30 a.m. KPBS; April 16, 6 p.m. KCET.) brings back Max, the town loner (Jack Klugman) who helps a confused young visitor to Shining Time learn to respect himself. Mr. Conductor (George Carlin) and Stacy (Didi Conn) are also on hand to help. For ages 2 and up.
A Rugrats Passover (Thursday, 8 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 p.m., and April 16, 10 a.m., Nickelodeon) offers up the network’s first Passover special. Here, the Rugrats visit their grandparents for the holiday. When the babies end up locked in the attic with Grandpa Boris, he tells them the story of Passover, which is seen through Angelica’s eyes as she stars as the first female pharoah, with the other Rugrats as key historical players. For ages 2 to 10.