Pole Position

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CBS (ended 1985)

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Pole Position

Show Summary

Pole Position was a Saturday-morning animated action/mystery series loosely based on a popular 1980s racecar video game. It followed the adventures of three children, teenagers Dan and Tess Darrett and their younger sister Daisy, who worked for a secret crimefighting organization called Pole Position, run by their uncle, Dr. Zachary Darrett. With their computerized talking cars Roadie and Wheels, and their squeaky mascot Kuma, the children travelled around the country on missions, using a racing stunt show as their cover. Picture Speed Racer crossed with Inspector Gadget, with a few elements of Knight Rider and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? thrown in for good measure. The show premiered on CBS in the fall of 1984 and ran for 13 episodes, which were rebroadcast until the end of August 1985, and again on other networks such as USA through the remainder of the decade. It was also on the Family Channel (now ABC Family) in 1991 - 1992. The Cast Tess Darrett: Tess is Dan's slightly older sister and definitely the more mature and levelheaded of the pair. She drives Wheels, the red Pole Position car. (Trivia: In the show's development, Tess was originally named "Tase" -- rhymes with "ace", short for Anastasia -- because the creators wanted a slightly unusual name for their female lead.) Dan Darrett: Dan is the middle child of the Darrett siblings. He tends to be a bit stubborn and arrogant, especially about his driving. He often says and does things without thinking. Often that gets him into hot water. Dan drives Roadie, the blue Pole Position car. Daisy Darrett: Daisy is the youngest of the three Darrett children, looking to be about ten. She dreams of being a racer like her big brother and sister, but has a tendency to sneak off and get herself nabbed by the bad guys. Daisy likes video games and playing with Kuma and the car computers. She seems to have a special bond with Wheels in particular. Roadie: Roadie is the computer module for the blue Pole Position car, a more modern 1980's hot-rod than Wheels (with some resemblance to a DeLorean, complete with gull-wing doors). Roadie loves to race and exchange banter with Dan, while trying to keep him out of trouble. Wheels: Wheels is the computer module for the red Pole Position car, based on the classic muscle cars of the 1960's (particularly a Mustang convertible). Wheels is something of a worry-wart, often voicing concerns that he's getting too old and run-down for crimefighting work. (Trivia: Wheels' voice was provided by Mel Franklin of the Temptations, who passed away in 1995.) Kuma: Kuma is the Pole Position team's squeaky-voiced mascot, a hybrid of several different kinds of animal. His antics provide much of the show's comic relief. (Trivia: "Kuma" is Japanese for "bear", and was the name of Michael Reaves' dog at the time he developed the show.) Dr. Zachary Darrett ("Uncle Zach"): Dr. Zachary is the head of Pole Position, gives the kids their missions, and serves as a source of information, though he rarely tells them the full story until it's over. Questions and Answers Q: Where can I get episodes of Pole Position on tape? A: In North America, four commercial Pole Position tapes were produced by Karl-Lorimar / Kideo Video. Two compilation tapes, Racing to Adventure (#138) and Road Fever (#190), were released in 1986/1987. Racing contains the episodes "The Code", "The Canine Vanishes", "The Chicken Who Knew Too Much", "Strangers on the Ice", and "The Race". Road Fever contains the episodes "The Thirty-Nine Stripes", "The Thirty-One Cent Mystery", "Dial M for Magic", "The Bear Affair", and "To Clutch a Thief". There is also a mislabelled copy of Road Fever that was packaged in the Racing to Adventure box, hence some possible confusion about both compilations being identical; they're not. In 1989 two single-episode tapes, "The Secret" (#485) and "The Trouble with Kuma" (#486), were released. All of these are relatively available online, though you may have to look a bit. Good places to start are eBay, Half, and Amazon, or you can search the web for used or out-of-print video dealers. Expect to pay around $15 - $25 apiece for the compilations, but the single-episode tapes can usually be had for about $5 - $8. If the condition of the outer packaging is important to you, be warned: A lot of video stores cut the oversized compilation boxes to fit a standard VHS plastic case. Uncut boxes can be difficult to find. Unfortunately only 12 of the 13 episodes were made commercially available. The only way to get "Shadow of a Trout" is to find someone who recorded and kept the shows when the networks aired them. (That's a shame, as this episode contains one of the best moments of the entire series.) Try a Google search on "Pole Position cartoon". There are plenty of fans out there who will share their episodes. (Legality and quality cannot be verified) In the U.K., Pole Position was sold commercially on PAL-format tapes containing two episodes each. Not for certain which episodes were released, but one tape (#LR 2223) with "The Code" and "The Canine Vanishes" has been confirmed. In Australia, "Racing to Adventure" (Roadshow-Lorimar, #2668) was also released with 5 episodes, so it's possible "Road Fever" and the single-episode tapes were too. Others likely exist as well, including versions in other languages. The series was also aired in France and Brazil, and possibly Italy, Spain and Germany. If you would like to help petition DIC Enterprises to release the entire series on DVD, you can write to them at the address below. ATTN: K.R. Hartlove Home Entertainment Coordinator DIC Enterprises 4100 West Alameda Avenue Burbank, CA 91505 You can also vote online to express your interest in purchasing the series on DVD. Q: What are the lyrics to the theme song? A: (UNCLE ZACH: From now on, like your parents were, you are the secret force of Pole Position.) They're movin' real fast They're the only ones who can get there on time (TESS: Let's go, Dan!) (DAN: O-kay, sis!) And never too far behind They are always fighting crime (ROADIE: Step on it, Dan!) (DAN: Ready when you are, Roadie!) Round the turn they will face an adventure In the danger zone Pretty soon they'll be off on a mission Come and watch them go! (DAN: Hydrofoil mode, Roadie!) (ROADIE: Hydrofoil engaged, Dan.) Pole Position! What's behind their stunt show? (TESS: Wheels, hovercraft, quick!) (WHEELS: Anything you say, Tess.) Pole Position! What's behind their stunt show? (Kuma squeaks, Daisy giggles) Pole Position! Only their Uncle knows! Pole Position! Sit back and watch them go-ooo-oh! Hey-Oh! Hey-Oh! Hey-Oh! Hey-Oh! Hey-Oh! Q: How do you know the episode titles? A: Episode titles for Pole Position were never given in the actual shows. During the initial CBS run they were revealed in a brief "coming up next" snippet immediately prior to each episode. Reruns on other networks omitted these, so they are hard to come by nowadays, though a couple of the commercial tapes give the title of the episode on them. Q: What kind of creature is Kuma, exactly? A: Writer Marc Scott Zicree says that the original concept was for an "intelligent raccoon", but Kuma has also exhibited characteristics of a cat, a monkey, a dog, and possibly a koala. The show never says specifically. Q: What happened to the kids' parents? A: The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons by Jeff Lenburg states that the Darrett parents "disappear in an unexplained explosion during a stunt race", and the show never elaborates. Uncle Zachary seems to believe they're dead, or at least never hints otherwise to the kids. Co-developer and writer Michael Reaves tells me that the original plan was for the kids to eventually come across clues about their spy parents. Unfortunately the series didn't last past the first season, and no specific planning was ever done for a second. The episodes were written as stand-alones, with no extended formats or "mythology", to allow them to be run in any order and still make sense. Given the show's nature for surprise twists ("Shadow of a Trout"), it wouldn't be too surprising to learn that the Darrett parents were still alive (possibly in an episode titled "Mr. and Mrs. Darrett"?) Q: Who is the older sibling, Dan or Tess? A: The show never specifically says, but Michael Reaves tells me that Dan is older. Q: Why do so many Pole Position pages, including the Internet Movie Database, list Helen Minniear in the role of "Teacher"? A: Not sure - Jeff Lenburg's Encyclopedia has it too, but there is no teacher character in any of the episodes, and the name Helen Minniear does not appear anywhere in the show's credits. In fact, Pole Position is the only credit the IMDB gives for her! Michael Reaves had no idea either. Maybe it's an error, possibly a credit from another show, that got entered by mistake on one site and has propogated across the Net ever since. Q: I heard this show was actually a dubbing of a Japanese cartoon that was renamed Pole Position for the U.S. distribution. Is this true? A: This is a persistent rumor, but it is not correct. Itseems to stem from the fact that the show's animation style has a Japanese appearance to it, and the inevitable comparisons to Speed Racer. Head writers Marc Scott Zicree and Michael Reaves, the latter of whom co-developed the series with Jean Chalopin have stated that, although the animation was done by a Japanese studio known then as Anime International Company- in conjunction with studios KK C&D Asia and Visual 80 (hence the look and feel), the series itself was conceived and created in the good old U.S. of A.

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Themes

mind bending moves, siblings, extraordinary situations, characters with hidden agendas, characters with double lives