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The Big Comfy Couch

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The Big Comfy Couch

Director

Wayne Moss

Creator

Cheryl Wagner

Presented By

Alyson Court (1992–2002)
Ramona Gilmour-Darling (2006)

Starring

Bob Stutt
Fred Stinson
Grindl Kuchirka
Edward Knuckles (2002-2006)
Robert Mills
Taborah Johnson (1992-1996)
Jani Lauzon
Jackie Harris

Number of Seasons

7

Number of Episodes

100

Original Run

March 2, 1992 - December 29, 2006

Location

Wallace Avenue Studios
Toronto, Ontario (1992–2002) Studio City
Toronto, Ontario (2006)

Producers

Cheryl Wagner
Robert Mills

Production Company(s)

Radical Sheep Productions
Owl Communications
YTV
Amity Entertainment
Tadpole Kids
Nashville Public Television
Benny Smart Productions
American Public Television

The Big Comfy Couch is a Canadian preschool television series about Loonette the Clown and her doll Molly, who solve everyday problems on their "Big Comfy Couch". It aired from 1992 until 2006. It was produced by Cheryl Wagner and Robert Mills, directed by Wayne Moss and Mills. It premiered on March 2, 1992 in Canada and in 1995 in the USA on public television stations across the country.

The show's format revolves around Loonette the Clown, who lives with her dolly Molly on the eponymous Big Comfy Couch. Episodes are generally focused on a theme or a lesson. For example, Season 3's episode "Full of Life" explored the concepts of "full" and "empty", while another episode, "Sticks and Stones" dealt with name-calling and teasing.

SynopsisEdit

Each episode contains several common elements that take place throughout the episode. Early in each show, Loonette performs an exercise routine she calls the "Clock Rug Stretch", often extended, sometimes short to save time for other surprises, fast if she's in a hurry and normal when she comes back, or is in a floppy mood; and toward the end, she performs a high-speed clean-up routine called the "Ten-Second Tidy". If, however, there is no mess made, then it is called the "Ten-Second Untidy, Tidy" (where Loonette has to make a mess and then clean up afterward). If the mess was already cleaned up, then it is called the "Ten-Second Silly" (where Loonette has to be silly for 10 seconds). If Loonette did not make a mess but Molly did, then Molly has to do the "Ten-Second Tidy" with Loonette's help.

Other oft-repeated elements include reading a story to Molly, who sometimes either chooses a story to hear, gives Loonette a book and oversized glasses (often by holding the book and wearing reading glasses), or turning on the lights for Loonette (half episodes of Season 7 did not feature Loonette and Molly reading a story); encounters with the dust bunnies who live under the couch; visits to various places in "Clowntown", songs that emphasize the episode's lessons or themes, and a trip to Granny Garbanzo's garden and house. Here she encounters Snicklefritz (full name being Snickle-Gustav-Amadeus-Fritz), Granny Garbanzo's cat; Major Bedhead, the local mail-delivery clown, who travels on a unicycle; and of course, Granny Garbanzo herself. The conversation with Granny Garbanzo is often used as the episode's "teachable moment", where Granny offers Loonette advice or lessons, often with the help of Major Bedhead, who delivers gifts and messages from Auntie Macassar or Uncle Chester. All episodes end with Loonette and Molly having a nap and sometimes reminding the viewers to remember the rules on today's episode.

In season 7, Loonette and Molly play the Dream Game and Molly gives out the letter that the dream starts with and provide what they will be dreaming about. In season 6, Loonette and Molly play the Doll School Game where Molly learns the alphabet as well as numbers (mainly 1–10). A similar element used in seasons 1–5 is the Alphabet Game, where a certain letter is shown on a giant alphabet block and Loonette uses certain words beginning with that letter and also makes the letter's shape with her body to get the viewers to guess the letter.

Along with the lessons and problem solving sequences, the show also emphasized imaginative play. These episodes often take place in the context of a "visit to Clowntown", with sites such as Granny Garbanzo's "Cabbage Club Cooking School", and Major Bedhead's "Clown Chi Mojo Dojo and Dancing School". Additionally, Loonette is gifted in the art of classical dance and runs "Miss Loonette's Dance Academy". In early episodes, Loonette was too young to visit Clowntown alone, but in later seasons, she makes frequent trips to Clowntown, and volunteers at the "Clowndergarten", where she teaches "little clowns" (played by young children) games, songs, and stories. This imaginative play was also demonstrated through dress-up games and through Loonette's dollhouse, in which she imagined the adventures of "The Foley Family". Shown first as a doll-sized family, in Loonette's imagination they would become a family of regular-sized clowns, whose actions were shown in high speed and with a musical background in the style of old silent movies. The Foleys (a mother, father and son) did not speak. Early in the first season, Molly had discovered "The Dust Bunnies". However, Loonette didn't believe that there are dust bunnies under the couch.

The two lounge around the couch all day, with the exception of the "Clock Rug Stretch" and daily adventure, sometimes involving Granny or Major Bedhead, a postal service employee who also plays bit parts. Each day includes a few songs and a story (which, when told by Loonette, involves her wearing huge yellow reading glasses and holding a blue storybook); and is concluded with "The Ten-Second Tidy", and a nice nap.

ProductionEdit

The show was originally produced by Radical Sheep Productions and Owl Television, then Canadian children's television network YTV and WITF-TV Harrisburg, with a run of 65 episodes. In 2002, 13 new episodes were produced with Benny Smart, an American children's television production company, Tadpole TV and Treehouse TV, a companion channel of YTV, and Nashville Public Television.

From 1992 to 2002, the show was filmed at Wallace Avenue Studios in Toronto, and from 2006 onward, it has been filmed at Toronto's Studio City.

Radical Sheep Productions and Amity Entertainment, in association with Treehouse TV and Nashville Public Television, produced 22 additional episodes, which debuted on American Public Television in 2006.

CharactersEdit

LoonetteEdit

Loonette the Clown is the lead character, portrayed by Alyson Court from 1992 to 2002 and Ramona Gilmour-Darling from 2006 onward. She is a young clown living with her doll, Molly, on the eponymous Big Comfy Couch, an over-sized couch.

She frequently reads stories to Molly, always performs a Clock Rug Stretch, and likes to visit her Granny Garbanzo. Auntie Macassar (or more recently, her Uncle Chester) frequently sends Loonette postcards which Major Bedhead delivers on his unicycle (similar to Reba the Mail Lady from Pee-wee's Playhouse). Her Parents are never seen or mentioned. Loonette is gifted in the art of classical dance and runs "Miss Loonette's Dance Academy". Another gift she possesses is the unusual ability to clean just about any mess up in ten seconds, which she calls the "Ten Second Tidy". (In reality, the video's action was sped up during post-production of an episode.)

Originally, Loonette was too young to visit Clowntown, but starting from 2006, Loonette makes frequent (adult supervised) trips to Clowntown to visit Granny Garbanzo's "Cabbage Club Cooking School" and Major Bedhead's "Clown Chi Mojo Dojo and Dancing School". The trips to this second location indicates that she practices martial arts. Loonette also takes Molly to "Clowndergarten" and helps out with the other little clowns. This third location is similar to a preschool.

MollyEdit

Molly is Loonette's dolly. Loonette found her in a barrel with a sign marked "Free to a good home", and adopted her. She is puppetered by Bob Stutt.

Molly wears a blue dress (sometimes a yellow one, an orange one in a couple of episodes and a light green one in the books), and occasionally bunny pajamas. She believes that dust bunnies really exist, despite Loonette's disbelief. Her favorite food is doughnuts. She only speaks by cartoon bubbles, and usually answers Loonette's yes–no questions by either nodding or shaking her head.

Additional charactersEdit

  • Fuzzy and Wuzzy (puppeteered by Bob Stutt and Robert Mills): they are the Twins of Dust Bunnies who live under the Big Comfy Couch. Only Molly knows of their existence, and she always does her best to protect them so she can play with them.
  • Andy, Jim and Eileen Foley (Fred Stinson, Jani Lauzon and Jackie Harris): A very silly family known as the "Foley Family" who lives inside of Loonette's dollhouse. They appeared from Seasons 1-5.
Note: One of the dust bunnies appeared inside the dollhouse in an episode.
  • Granny Garbanzo (Grindl Kuchirka) Loonette's next-door neighbor who loves her very much, even Molly too. She comes from the old country and has a Slavic accent. Granny also likes growing in her garden and she lives inside a wagon with Snicklefritz, her cat.
  • Snicklefritz (puppeteered by Bob Stutt): Granny Garbanzo's scallywag cat, who was introduced in Season 2. Likes to play pranks on the others, and sometimes tries to get out of getting flea-baths. The name Snicklefritz comes from slang in German culture.
  • Major Bedhead (Fred Stinson): The local clown courier who makes deliveries to Loonette from her Auntie Macassar and Uncle Chester. Can be quite goofy at times and a bit clumsy. He also dislikes lying and being dishonest, seen in the episode "Pants on Fire".
  • Auntie Macassar (Taborah Johnson): Loonette's travelling auntie who likes to make an entrance whenever she visits. Appears in Seasons 1–5. Her name is a pun on antimacassar.
  • Wobbly (Gary Farmer): A close friend who lives in Clowntown. Appears in 2 episodes in season 2 only.
  • Uncle Chester (Edward Knuckles): Loonette's travelling uncle who appears in Seasons 6–7.

Reruns and other original channelsEdit

In the United States, the series was syndicated by American Public Television to public television stations in that country, most of which were affiliated with PBS, starting in February 1995 and ending in May 2009.

MerchandiseEdit

Additional items for kids, like coloring pages, could be found on the Big Comfy Couch websiteTemplate:Citation needed. Other merchandise include VHS tapes, DVDs, coloring books, stuffed plush dolls, puzzles, and life size dolls (example: Molly).

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