Alvin and the Chipmunks (animation)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Alvin and The Chipmunks)
Jump to: navigation, search
Left to right: Theodore, Alvin and Simon.

This '80s Animated Series is about a suburban singing trio of chipmunks and their adoptive human father, Dave Seville, based on a series of songs by Ross Bagdasarian. Revival of the 1960s Animated Series, The Alvin Show.

The history of the chipmunks begins in the 1950s. Songwriter Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. had his first success as a singer when he released a catchy little tune titled "Witch Doctor" under the stage name "David Seville". The success of "Witch Doctor" was mostly due to the simple but cute sound technique (doubling playback speed) he used to render the voice of the Witch Doctor for the song's nonsensical refrain, "Ooh-eee-ooh-ah-ah ting-tang walla-walla bing-bang".

Bagdasarian decided to capitalize on this success by assigning the voice technique to a trio of singing chipmunks -- brainy Simon, gluttonous Theodore and High School Hustler Alvin -- for the best-selling Christmas tune "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", in which an increasingly annoyed David Seville's attempts to keep his chipmunk singers on-message served as a Framing Device, and led to Dave Seville's trademark Catch Phrase, "Alvin? Alvin? ALLLLLLLVIN!"

In 1961, after releasing several albums as "Dave Seville and the Chipmunks", Bagdasarian was able to persuade Format Films and CBS to launch a prime-time cartoon, The Alvin Show, based on the exploits of the Chipmunks in addition to the misadventures of inventor Clyde Crashcup (who invents pretty much everything that already exists), which ran for only one season on CBS due to low ratings. (Competition from NBC juggernaut Wagon Train was a factor, but the main reason for the low ratings was production delays which were largely caused by disagreements between Bagdasarian and Format Films over acceptable character designs for The Chipmunks. In addition, Bagdasarian insisted that The Alvin Show skip the addition of a laugh track, against the wishes of CBS.) A number of further Chipmunk albums were released, but interest eventually died down and Bagdasarian retired in the late '60s. The Alvin Show did get replayed on NBC at mid-season of the 1978-79 season (where TV listings billed it as Alvin And The Chipmunks) followed by a syndication run and another on Nickelodeon in the early 1990s.

In 1977, though, his son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., took on the mantle of Dave Seville and revived the franchise. In 1981, an animated TV movie was made, based (loosely) around the original "Chipmunk Song", in which somewhat cuddlier Chipmunks helped an Inspirationally Disadvantaged boy perform alongside Alvin at Carnegie Hall.

This animated special formed the basis for the 1983-1990 Animated Series Alvin And The Chipmunks. The series also introduced Distaff Counterparts to the Chipmunks, "The Chipettes": Jeanette, Brittany and Eleanor. In addition to the usual Sitcom and Animated Series plots common to the era, the show features a great deal of musical numbers, with the Chipmunks and their female counterparts covering popular eighties hits in musical sequences, which is why the series (save for the last season) will never EVER see the light of day on DVD. Although, with the success of the new live-action movies, some select episodes have been released by Paramount.

The show ultimately got rebooted in its final year to feature Something Completely Different episodes casting the Chipmunks in satires of the various shows and movies of the era -- Moonlighting, Miami Vice, A Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. (They were not limited to their contemporaries, either; they also cast Simon as Sherlock Holmes, facing Alvin's Moriarty). It also spawned a nostalgiariffic feature film The Chipmunk Adventure, which involved the Chipmunks and the Chipettes going around the world on a scavenger hunt.

The show ultimately vanished from the airwaves in the 1990s, save for a couple of direct-to-video movies that downplayed the music angle in favor of generic Holiday plotlines. In the last couple of years however, a live-action adaptation with computer-generated (and realistically sized) chipmunks and Jason Lee as the new David Seville, has revived the characters somewhat. So much so, in fact, that it has spawned two sequels, at least one of which averts Sequelitis.


Tropes used in Alvin and the Chipmunks (animation) include:
  • The Abridged Series: The Chipmunks Parody Show.
  • Animation Bump: For the animated movie, Bagdasarian Productions picked up a lot of the Disney animators who were laid off after The Black Cauldron flopped.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: The Chipmunks went from looking like actual chipmunks to looking only sorta like chipmunks and back again.
  • Art Shift: Compare the character designs for the Ruby-Spears episodes to The Chipmunk Adventure and the DiC and Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson era designs.
    • Ironically however, it seems more effort was put into the animation of the Ruby-Spears episodes, the supporting and one-shot characters look more human, and more detail was put into the backgrounds and layouts, while the Mukarumi-Wolf-Swenson and DiC episodes have that standard half-assed Saturday Morning look to them. The character designs did improve with the MWS episodes, and the animation was pretty decent, but the backgrounds and layout were really simplistic; the DiC episodes are pretty awful... a lot of lazy Off-Model animations, the backgrounds continue to be simplistic, and unlike the Ruby-Spears episodes, the human characters have a less human, more cartoony look to them.
    • Compare them all to the original cartoon designs of the 1961 series, from Format Films (an L.A. studio started up by Herbert Klynn and Jules Engel and various other UPA expatriates).
  • Attack of the Political Ad: The episode "May the Best Chipmunk Win": at one point, Alvin rides around the playground in a wagon pulled by a donkey, while Simon and Theodore proclaim, "Don't be a donkey, vote for Alvin!" THEN, in comes Brittany, riding on the back of a elephant asking for votes.
  • Auction: In one of the '80s episodes, Alvin gets in over his head bidding on expensive items to impress a rich girl he likes.
  • Autobots Rock Out: The opening/closing themes of Season 6.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: Alvin and Brittany have these moments sometimes.
  • Be Yourself: Basically, the Aesop for aforementioned episode "My Fair Chipette".
  • Beautiful All Along: Jeanette - She Cleans Up Nicely. Confirmed and done in the episode "My Fair Chipette", to the point that even Brittany was threatened.

Brittany: "Jeanette looked beau-beau-"
Eleanor: "Beautiful?"
Brittany: "I've got to find a real show stopper for the talent contest!"

  • Belly Dancer: The Chipettes get dressed up like this in The Movie, and Brittany on the series at least once.
  • The Bet: Alvin and Brittany's egos make this a routine trope.
  • Big Damn Movie: The Chipmunk Adventure had a round-the-world trip, diamond smuggling, and international intrigue... and "The Girls of Rock 'n Roll".
  • Big Eater: Eleanor and Theodore.
  • Bigger Than Jesus: One cartoon formatted as a documentary on the rise and popularity of the group shows one segment where Alvin shocks everyone at a press conference, including Simon and Theodore, by shouting, "We're bigger than Mickey Mouse!" People start destroying their Chipmunks merchandise as Alvin is forced to make an apology to the press soon after.
  • Birds of a Feather: The trope mostly describes the relationship between The Chipmunks and The Chipettes when paired with their individual Distaff Counterpart. Somewhat subverted with Alvin and Brittany, as their similarities make them clash more than they come to understand each other in their ever Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Blind Without'Em: Simon and Jeanette.
  • Brainy Brunette: Jeanette.
  • Breakout Character: Simon was overshadowed in a number of early episodes (as reflected in fan mail), which devastated franchise co-owner Janice Karman (feeling like a mother neglecting the middle child), so she set out to remedy that, and soon, Simon became "Mr. Popular" among fans.
    • Similar can be said for Jeanette, although she IS constantly overshadowed by Brittany, she's just about THE most popular of the entire six among the fanbase.
  • Brought To You By the Letter A: Alvin usually has a large 'A' on his sweater.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: In the Batman parody episode, of course.
  • Butt Monkey/Chew Toy: Dave, and Simon on occasion.
  • Catch Phrase: Alvin's "Aw, nuts".
    • In the 60's version, it's Dave's "Why me?"
  • Celebrity Star: The '80s installment "Urban Chipmunk" has a guest appearance by Dolly Parton, unusual for Saturday morning cartoons of the time.
  • Chick Magnet: Alvin, when he's not screwing things up with his latest Zany Scheme.
  • Child Prodigy: Simon.
  • Chromatic Arrangement:
    • Alvin - Red.
    • Simon - Blue.
    • Theodore - Green.
      • Also applies to The Chipettes, who go by pink, purple (with some blue), and turquoise respectively.
  • Class Trip
  • Clip Show: The episodes "Chipmunkmania" and "Alvin in Analysis".
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Guess.
  • Comic Trio: Alvin = Moe; Theodore = Curly; Simon = Larry.
  • Conspicuous Consumption
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: "The Girls of Rock and Roll," for The Movie. They changed every other recitation of the chorus to "We are the boys of rock and roll," so that the Chipmunks and Chipettes could have a Battle Of The Sexes song.
  • Cover Version: When you get right down to it, the Chipmunks are basically a cover band. The fact that they're chipmunks who have some decent vocals is what gives them a pass, though.
  • Crossover: With Mr. T! Both their cartoons premiered simultaneously and are made by the same production company.
    • And the 80s/60s chipmunks with their 60's incarnation
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Jeanette is a rare Western example.
  • Darker and Edgier: Some surprising moments...
    • The Chipmunk Adventure deals an international crime ring.
    • An episode of the series deals with death (see Death by Newbery Medal).
    • A Halloween special in the mid-90s features a boy named Michael who has a deformity that other kids ridicule him for, but Theodore quickly becomes good friends with him and realizes he's really no different from other kids.
    • Some of the last season episodes (Chipmunks Go to the Movies) are very slightly more mature than the rest of the series, probably considering they did parody some more "grown-up" movies.
    • One episode actually dealt with the Berlin Wall!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Simon.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: "Cookie Chomper III".
  • Depth Deception: A bug mistaken for an alien.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Chipettes.
    • Lampshaded by Ian in Chipwrecked. He refers to Theodore as "chubby one" and to Eleanor as "girl chubby one".
  • Door Step Baby: The Chipmunks, when left by their mother, Vinnie, in Dave's forest cabin.
  • The Drag Along: Simon occasionally in the show, and in all the movies, especially The Chipmunk Adventure.
  • Epic Race: The Chipmunk Adventure.
  • Fantastic Voyage: The episode "Inner Dave".
  • Fiery Redhead: Britanny Miller qualifies.
  • First Name Ultimatum: The series' famous Running Gag - AAAAAALVIIIIIIN!
  • Five-Man Band: When with The Chipettes.
  • Franchise Killer: Inverted with The Movie. It managed to increase Chipmunk popularity and spawned two sequels (without Sequelitis, fortunately).
  • Freudian Trio: Both the Chipmunks and Chipettes.
  • Funny Afro: The Chipettes, of all characters, inadvertently gain them after a run-in with a hurricane in the animated movie.
  • Gagging on Your Words: In The Chipmunk Adventure, Brittany can't bring herself to say she was wrong, and changes the subject instead.
  • Genre Busting: The writing was pretty impressive for a Saturday Morning cartoon.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The entire "Getting Lucky" number in The Chipmunk Adventure.
    • Intercourse with You
      • In the infamous "Sploosh" episode, Brittany's character at one point asks Jeanette (as the mermaid), "Are mermen sexier than human men?"
      • Even better: from the episode "Simon Seville, Superstar", Simon (an eight-year-old boy chipmunk) is asked how he feels about being a SEX SYMBOL! He is unsure how to answer that directly, but suggests that his glasses may have sex appeal.
    • In the episode where Brittany dreams herself in the role of Cinderella, a scene of her forced to do various chores has her giving baths to her sisters. Both Jeanette and Elanor's expies in the dream are shown sitting in small bathtubs, uncovered from the waist up, with small dots drawn on. Admittedly, such a thing back in the 80s was probably no big deal unlike today, but come on, what the hell?
    • An episode which parodied the show Moonlighting has what appears to be a distraught Alvin suffering a hangover. Then we see that he's just been drinking root beer and he's had far too much.
    • In general, there seem to be a lot of PantyShots (from the Chipettes and other young girls) for no reason, although that may be an attempt at realism, as some of their skirts are quite short. Still...
    • Depending on how you interpret it, in an early episode of the series, Alvin runs for school president, and at one point, his campaign slogan is: "Don't be a donkey, vote for Alvin!"
  • Girl Group: The Chipettes.
  • Girl Posse: Brittany tries to initiate herself in one in the episode "Sisters".
  • Girlish Pigtails: Eleanor.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: In "Mind Over Matterhorn".
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Alvin and Brittany place a bet to see which group can "out rock and roll" the other. "The Boys / Girls of Rock and Roll" consumes the rest of the scene.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The TV show's theme contains quite a bit. The series's Totally Radical pretensions don't help matters. "We'll give you action and satisfaction" indeed...
  • High School Hustler: Alvin. Though the proper term would be Elementary School Hustler.
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Spoofed with Theodore drinking carrot juice at a bar.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: An episode had one involving a Girl of the Week, Simon, and a biker boy. Alvin convinced Simon to try out for a bike competition to impress the girl, only to find out that the biker was her cousin.
    • Played with VERY briefly at one point where both Alvin and Simon try to impress a Girl of the Week (Alvin with his athletic abilities, Simon with his manners and chivalry).
  • Interspecies Adoption/Happily Adopted: The chipmunks are raised, and treated as Dave's 'sons'.
  • Interspecies Romance: In the animated movie, the prince of Egypt falls in love with Brittany and intends to make her one of his brides.
    • The Mexican girl who kissed Alvin in their I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (Cuanto le Gusta) number.
      • The whole show was full of this, considering the Chipmunks (and Chipettes) interacted with humans. More so Alvin with his constant flirting. In one episode, Brittany wants to ask the most popular boy in school to the dance.
  • Jerkass: Alvin, though he eventually comes around to being the Jerk with a Heart of Gold at some point.
  • Large Ham: Clyde Crashcup.
  • Long Runners: While most Saturday Morning cartoons lasted a season or two at best, this cartoon lasted for eight seasons, with over 100 episodes, and spawning a number of TV specials associated with it.
  • Mad Scientist: Clyde Crashcup, again.
  • May the Farce Be with You
  • Medium Awareness: "Quick! Cut to a commercial!" in the episode "Food for Thought".
    • The entire episode "Back to Our Future" was practically this trope personified, from the Chipmunks talking about the year they were created (not born, as in previous episodes) to them meeting their original designs, to the dramatic shift in animation, which both the 60's and 80's Dave notices. They even complain about how flat everything is in the 60's, a time when cartoon backgrounds were as simple as possible and things like proper perspective were not established as a standard.
  • Meganekko: Jeanette.
  • Missing Mom: The Chipmunks' mother, who they search for in a special episode.
  • Mistaken Age
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Some fans are a little too obsessive over Simon and Jeanette.
  • Never Say "Die": Subverted rather often. One episode even has a frustrated Eleanor shout in anger, "I swear, if we don't get to New Orleans soon, I'm going to KILL her!" as she was sick of Brittany's constant whining. ELEANOR of all people!
  • New Transfer Student: When The Chipettes join the Chipmunks at their school in "May the Best Chipmunk Win".
  • Not So Above It All: Simon gets this a lot. Most of the time when he's criticizing whatever irresponsible thing they're about to do, he's eventually shown to have just as much fun doing it as Alvin and Theodore, especially in the movie (the Mexico scene in particular comes to mind). Also, more than a few episodes of the show have him criticizing Alvin and Theodore for getting scared of something, only to turn around and get just a scared a few moments later.
  • Obviously Evil: Both played with and played straight with FIVE characters in The Chipmunk Adventure. The viewers know what the 'Munks and 'Pettes don't know about the rich European couple, but the two men following the Chipmunks and Chipettes, along with their shady employer, are actually cops having the appearance of cartoon villains.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Chipettes and their original human caretaker, Olivia, lived in one of these in Australia, as seen in their backstory episode.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Alvin, Simon, and Theodore wear ankle-length nightshirts most of the time.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The episode "Ask Alvin".
  • Parental Abandonment: Alvin felt this way when he wonders why their mother, Vinnie, left them with "a stranger". Vinnie revealed that during the great winter migration, there wasn't enough food to feed her children; she gave them up to David Seville, whom she knew that he was friendly to the animals. She later tried to come back for them, but she sees how happy they are with him; Alvin feels guilty for thinking otherwise.
  • Pretty in Mink: Given that the Chipmunks and Chipettes frequently try mingle with, or get into, high society, quite a few furs appear, usually by Socialites.
  • Raised by Humans
  • Random Events Plot: Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks has Dave put the Chipmunks and the Chipettes under the care of a woman named Lalu for a few days, and the screentime is filled out with things varying from Theodore overflowing the toilet with toys, to Alvin and Simon fighting over a cape, to Jeanette eating Brittany's lipstick and having to make money to buy a new one for her (while wearing a ridiculous costume to help Lalu clean up).
  • The Rashomon: The episodes "Every Chipmunk Tells A Story" and "Once Upon a Crime".
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In both bands.
    • Chipmunks: Alvin and Simon.
    • Chipettes: Brittany and Jeanette.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Road Show
  • Rock and Roll: While the Chipmunks covered famous songs and delved into many genres, they were mostly portrayed as a Rock band in the cartoon series, with Alvin on guitar, Simon on keyboards/piano, and Theodore on drums. And if they wanted, they could switch instruments too.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The episode "Home Sweet Home".
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Theodore and Alvin.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: In an episode where Dave reads Treasure Island, the story is (loosely) shown this way.
  • Series Continuity Error: The episode "Miss Miller's Big Gamble" established Miss Miller's first name as Beatrice, but the animated movie says her name was Rebecca. Additionally, "A Dog's Best Friend Is His Chipmunk" shows that Dave is allergic to dogs, but in "Cookie Chomper III", he only starts developing an allergy to dogs once the Chipmunks brought Lilly in at the end. Also, Dave's parents are established as farm people in "Grandpa and Grandma Seville", but "Back to Dave's Future" showed that they lived in the city when Dave was a kid, and his father was an accountant.
  • Shout-Out: The Chipmunks were named after the top executives of Liberty Records, their original label, Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker, and Theodore Keep.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: It's mentioned a couple of times during the series (probably as a reminder to somewhat confused viewers) that Alvin and Brittany are the oldest of their litters. It's also confirmed that there's a five minute difference between Alvin, Simon, and Theodore; while not confirmed, the common idea is that the same applies to The Chipettes, except for a ten minute difference between Brittany and Jeanette, which makes the age order: Brittany, Alvin, Simon, Jeanette, Theodore, and Eleanor.
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Alvin and Brittany.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Parodied in "Whatever Happened to Dave Seville?"
  • Something Completely Different
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: ALVIN & The Chipmunks.
    • Even worse in the original series which was simply The Alvin Show, not even giving Simon and Theodore the And the Rest treatment.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Juliet to Alvin in the episode "Theodore and Juliet".
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Happens very often. For example, the Chipettes sing "It's My Party" after Brittany gets upset at her birthday party.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: All the cover songs in the show.
  • Take That: Elwy and the Tree Weasels, which was used in an episode of Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse show. Their manager/surrogate dad was Sandy Bottomfeeder.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Alvin as Captain Chipmunk in the Valentines special.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Alvin, Simon, The-o-dore! Doot, doot, doo-doo-doo-doot...
  • This Is No Time for Knitting: One Halloween special has Simon listing off things they need to save Alvin, Buffy-Speak style. Theodore goes to the snack table, to get the items Simon was asking for.
  • Three Shorts: The Alvin Show followed the A-B-A format, with Clyde Crashcup as the middle segment. The Ruby-Spears episodes of the 80's series are all two shorts except for four (both Backstory episodes for the Chipmunks and the Chipettes, the episode introducing Miss Miller, and the Cinderella episode), while the DiC episodes of The Chipmunks had seven out of 26 episodes as whole episodes. Only the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson episodes and The Chipmunks Go To the Movies are all whole episodes.
  • Time Travel
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Eleanor and Brittany.
  • Tsundere: Brittany.
  • The Voiceless: Clyde Crashcup's assistant, Leonardo.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: This happens to the guys, specifically Simon, from time to time.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: This happens to the Chipettes in the movie. This instance is justified because snakes really do eat rodents, including chipmunks.
    • Justified considerably less (but still not completely unjustified) because these chipmunks are somewhere between the size of a house cat and the size of a human.
      • The snakes are also absolutely humongous as well.
      • But if you're talking about the two live action Alvin and The Chipmunks movies, where The Chipmunks and the Chipettes are normal-sized chipmunks, then their fear of snakes is perfectly justified.
    • Also justified in the episode of the '80s cartoon which shows how the Chipmunks came to live with Dave -- they were babies, and much smaller, and Dave was torn to pieces when he thought they'd been eaten by a snake at the zoo.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Simon (who nevertheless gets a lot of Not So Above It All moments to remind us he's still a kid), and to a lesser extent all the Chipmunks and Chipettes except Theodore.