Franklin is a Canadian/French children's animated television series, based on the Franklin the Turtle books by Brenda Clark and Paulette Bourgeois, and produced by Nelvana. It has since been taken off the air and replaced with a new adaptation, Franklin and Friends.
The animated Franklin has also appeared in several TV-movies: Franklin and the Green Knight (2000), Franklin's Magic Christmas (2001) and Back to School with Franklin (2003).
Franklin focuses on the eponymous growing young turtle who, as his television stories and books always begin, "could count by twos and tie his shoes". He goes to school, lives in a small village called Woodland with his friends, and has many adventures playing and learning in the world around him, sometimes with the helping hand of an adult such as his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle. Franklin likes swimming, arts and crafts (especially drawing), and loves shoofly pie. He's been known to be afraid of the dark and of thunderstorms. Franklin has a best friend named Bear, as well as a blue blanket and a blue stuffed dog named Sam. In earlier seasons, he sleeps with his blanket and Sam. When Franklin is scared by thunderstorms, Sam and his blue blanket help keep him calm.
The development design of Franklin the Turtle for the animated TV series character, was the achievement of Canadian Animation artist and Illustrator Kurt Lehner, which he worked on during his time at Nelvana Studios in 1997. These designs were studies taken directly from the Franklin the Turtle book series itself. Though Lehner did not continue to work with the "series" design team which was hired after the development process, at that time he was given the privilege of also designing Beaver, Rabbit and Skunk as well.
In May 2004, new episodes of the series began airing on the Canadian network, Treehouse TV. Franklin and many of his friends had new voice actors in these new adventures, including award-winning American actor Grant Eubanks. Many of the show's strongest writers and staff-members remained on board, however. These new stories saw Franklin facing a flood, worries about the old treehouse, and earning a badge in a group called the Woodland Trailblazers. For the sixth season Funbag and other animation studios joined in the development of Franklin. The most recent movie in the series is Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure. The film was written by John van Bruggen and directed by Dominique Monféry. The 76 minute long film premiered in theatres in 2006 and had its debut on Noggin on New Year's Eve, 2007, as part of a celebration of the network's conversion to a 24/7 format.
Franklin is traditionally animated with some computer aid, especially in the later seasons. Franklin is closed-captioned.
Franklin almost always aired with two 11-minute stories, except on Canada's CBC, which splits the stories apart and shows one at a time. The Franklin DVD and video releases include individual stories grouped together as part of a theme, rather than complete episodes. Unlike many animated children's programs, Franklin has no interstitial segments or end-tags featuring the characters. The scenes shown in the cartoon opening introduction were changed after the show's first season. Many of these scenes featured Otter, a character who left the series early in the first season and was only seen once more in later seasons.
Differences in the colouring of the cartoon can be spotted from season-to-season. The more recent feature films, most noticeably Back to School with Franklin have a somewhat different look from the television series. The film Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure had considerably higher production values, with more colour differentiation between the various turtles, higher quality animation, an overall brighter look, and beautifully painted backgrounds.
In Canada, the series aired on Family Channel and Treehouse TV.
In the United States, it aired on CBS as part of their Saturday-morning CBS Kidshow block from 1998 to 1999. Then it aired on "Nick Jr. on CBS" for 2 years from September 16, 2000 to September 7, 2002. It also aired on Nickelodeon as part of the Nick Jr. television block from January 11, 1999 to July 30, 2004. It even aired on Noggin (now Nick Jr.) from February 2, 1999 until September 27, 2009 when Noggin was re-branded as Nick Jr., and continued to air reruns until March 8, 2013 after 16 years.
In the United Kingdom, it aired on Sky One from March 21, 1998 until May 27, 2000, Channel 4 from November 1, 1998 until August 31, 2004, Nick Jr. from 1999 to 2008, Five from October 2004 and Tiny Pop in 2013. It has also been broadcast in India on Pogo along with another animated series, Angelina Ballerina.
The show was well received by critics and parents. Joly Herman of Common Sense Media stated in a review, "Franklin is a show that takes for granted respect for elders and vice versa. There's no whining, fighting, yelling, provocation, or aggravation. Franklin ultimately sets a good example of responsible TV programming, and it is a rare show that celebrates the innocence of childhood."