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Pooh

Welcome to Pooh Corner is a live-action/puppet television series that aired on Disney Channel, featuring the characters from the Winnie the Pooh universe portrayed by actors in human-sized puppet suits, except Roo, who was originally a traditional puppet. The animatronic costumes used for the characters were created by Alchemy II, Inc., headed by Ken Forsse who later created the toy sensation Teddy Ruxpin. It was first aired on April 18, 1983, the day Disney Channel was launched, being the first Disney Channel Original Series. Its timeslot for its early run was at 7 AM Eastern Time, making it the first program of the Disney Channel's 16 (later 18) hour programming day. The series was partially Disney Channel's first original series.

Very few of the actors who played the characters in Disney's original Pooh short films reprised their roles here, and none of the parts were played by any of the characters' current voice actors, such as Jim Cummings. The show's title derives from the second Winnie the Pooh storybook, The House at Pooh Corner.


Background

The show was hosted by a middle-aged Englishman (played by Laurie Main) who would present each episode. He would relate what he was talking about to an event that occurred in the Hundred Acre Wood, the home of the Pooh characters, and then he would proceed to read from a book entitled Welcome to Pooh Corner. He would then narrate the episode acted out by the characters. The action was filmed before a blue screen, rather than using traditional sets (the same technique was used for Dumbo's Circus, another live-action/puppet series that ran on The Disney Channel).

Since the show was designed for The Disney Channel before it began airing commercials, there were no breaks for commercials. As a result, the show lasted a full thirty minutes. The main story ran about twenty minutes followed by two shorter segments. The first segment was a sing-along music video featuring one of nine songs, used over and over throughout the show's run. These songs were written by the Academy Award winning Sherman Brothers who had provided the majority of the Winnie the Pooh music over the years. The Sherman Brothers also wrote the show's theme song, using the music from the original Winnie-the-Pooh theme song from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, albeit with a slightly altered tempo.

The last segment of the show was a presentational arts and crafts demonstration that took place at the Thoughtful Spot. One of the cast members would speak to the narrator, looking directly into the camera, while they showed the viewers at home how to make something.

When the series first started out, the narrator was seen siting in a small library. As the series progressed, he is moved into a small playroom which eventually is seen having plush versions of Pooh and his friends.

The costumes, Pooh plushes, the narrator's wicker chair and his book are now displayed in the walk-in prop warehouse of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Holiday Specials

   Pooh Corner Thanksgiving (1983)
   Christmas at Pooh Corner (1983)
   Pooh's Funny Valentine's Day (1984)
   Because It's Halloween (1984)
   Christmas Is For Sharing (1984)

Educational Specials

   Too Smart for Strangers - a 1985 TV special (which was also released to home video), where Pooh and his friends explain to people about strangers and molestation and what to do.
   Pooh's Great School Bus Adventure - a ten-minute 16mm educational film produced in 1986, where the characters explain the importance of school bus safety.
   One and Only You - a ten-minute 16mm educational film produced in 1989, where the characters explain about positive self-image and getting along with others.
   Responsible Persons - a ten-minute 16mm educational film produced in 1989, Pooh and friends demonstrate responsibility and promote interpersonal skills.

Voices

   Hal Smith - Winnie the Pooh and Owl
   Will Ryan - Rabbit and Tigger
   Ron Gans - Eeyore
   Phil Baron - Piglet
   Kim Christianson - Kanga and Roo
   Robin Frederick

Songs

The songs used in this series were written by Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman, including the theme songs that represent each character:

   "Try a Little Something New" (Rabbit's Theme)
   "Just Say, 'Yes I Can'" (Eeyore's Theme)
   "You're the Only You" (Tigger's Theme)
   "I Hum to Myself" (Piglet's Theme)
   "The Right Side" (Pooh's Theme; this song was originally written for Mary Poppins, but it was not recorded.)
   "Responsible Persons" (Owl's Theme)
   "Be A Buddy, Be A Pal" (Tigger and Roo's Theme)
   "Please and Thank-You" (Pooh and Piglet's Theme)
   "Tiggers Go Up and Down" (Tigger's Theme)

"A Part of Me"

Sometimes, if an episode ended a few minutes early, a certain character would sing a song entitled "A Part of Me", which was written by one of the voice actors, Phil Baron. The song depicts the importance of a certain body part that each character was singing about:

   "Eyes" (Owl)
   "Ears" (Pooh)
   "Feet" (Piglet)
   "Nose" (Tigger)
   "Mouth" (Eeyore)
   "Hands" (Rabbit)

Notable differences

Welcome to Pooh Corner differs from its other incarnations in a number of ways:

   Piglet always has on a scarf (or a muffler, as the narrator calls it). He also has a talent for music.
   Tigger has a black nose, and has a talent for art.
   Rabbit is a talented magician, aside from being a gardener.
   Eeyore has a talent for dancing. His house is made of wooden planks, complete with a door and weather vane.
   Owl always has on glasses, and on several occasions, has on a pilot's cap and scarf when flying. As Owl begins to take off, a sound of a plane's engine starting can be heard, followed by the take off. He also loves to cook.
   Roo's character originally was a toddler and would most often be sitting on something like Eeyore or Tigger's back, Kanga's pouch, or his high chair. In later episodes, his character was portrayed as being more preschool-aged; he was then able to walk around in more scenes and was never in his mother's pouch. He also always wore a red shirt, but later a white collared shirt. (One Disney book actually depicted Roo wearing a red shirt.)

VHS Releases US releases VHS cover of Welcome to Pooh Corner.

Six VHS tapes were released by Walt Disney Home Video in the mid-1980s for the then new video home rental market. Each tape contained four episodes.

   Volume One contains the episodes "You Need A Friend", "Doing What I Do Best", "The Pooh Scouts" and "Brighten Your Corner".
   Volume Two contains the episodes "Safety First", "Rabbit Learns to Share", "The Great Outdoors" and "Surprise, Surprise".
   Volume Three contains the episodes "Piglet Pride", "Roo's Great Adventure", "Eeyore Talks to Himself" and "Snow Falls On Pooh Corner".
   Volume Four contains the episodes "Hello, Hello There", "Practice Makes Perfect", "The Old Swimming Hole" and "Pooh Makes a Trade".
   Volume Five contains the episodes "A Bicycle Built for Five", "My Echo and I", "Pooh Learns to Remember" and "Wishing".
   Volume Six contains the episodes "Don't Quit", "Holiday for Pooh Bear", "Pooh Builds a Bee House" and "Piglet Lends a Helping Hand".

UK releases

The show was also released on VHS PAL in the UK as part of a six-volume set which also each featured an episode of Good Morning, Mickey!, Donald Duck Presents, The Mouse Factory and Mousercise. Each tape contained one episode of Welcome to Pooh Corner.

   Volume One contains the episode "Eeyore Joins the Band".
   Volume Two contains the episode "Spaghetti".
   Volume Three contains the episode "A Bicycle Built for Five".
   Volume Four contains the episode "Piglet's Slumber Party".
   Volume Five contains the episode "Eeyore's Costume Party".