Mole Miner is an American-Japanese-Canadian animated television series produced by Act III Productions, Jazz Television Media, Latikuu Edacra Entertainment North America, Tribune Entertainment, Fuji Creative Corporation (seasons 3-7), and Ocean Productions in association with WNET, with animation produced by Soup Cup Cartoons (seasons 1–6), The Roelandts Group (season 7), Group TAC (seasons 1-5), P.A.Works (seasons 6-7), Studio Mir (season 8-present) and YES Somni Asia (season 8-present). The series premiered on November 5, 2001 on PBS. The series originally ran for 7 seasons from 2001 to 2007 and ran for 200 episodes, being one of the longest-running PBS Kids series. A revival, with animation produced by Studio Mir and YES Somni Asia, was ordered in 2020 for an 8th season.
Mole Miner received widespread praise from critics throughout its run, and the series proved to be an extremely popular draw for PBS. The series received multiple Daytime Emmy and Annie Award nominations, as well as a Humanitas Prize nomination for the episode "Rochester's Dad". It was named the 5th-greatest PBS Kids show of all time by The Worcester Beacon in 2016.
Currently, the franchise is owned by Seagrounds Financial Group, who acquired the series in 2014 after distributor Alfred Haber Distribution Co. wrote the series off for tax purposes. Seagrounds would later acquire the rights to the albums from Warner Music Group in January 2016.
In August 2019, the characters were featured in a CGI-animated PBS Kids online video, Mole Miner: Strike It Richer, with the aim of increasing "self-esteem and general confidence" in youth. After it's success, PBS, Latikuu Edacra and Seagrounds all confirmed they were exploring the idea of putting Mole Miner back into production. In May 2020, PBS confirmed the series' revival for a 8th season, set to premiere on December 24, 2020 with the Christmas special "It's Yet Another Mole Miner Christmas!". Much of the 8th season was produced, written, voiced and animated remotely from the production crew members and actors' homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with YES Somni Asia using a small skeleton crew of four which remained working at their Seoul studio.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Origin and development
- 3 Cast and characters
- 4 Episodes
- 5 Broadcast
- 5.1 United States
- 5.2 Japan
- 5.3 Canada
- 5.4 United Islands
- 5.5 United Kingdom
- 5.6 El Kadsre
- 5.7 Eruowood
- 5.8 France
- 5.9 Czech Republic
- 5.10 Poland
- 5.11 Germany
- 5.12 Kuboia
- 5.13 Hungary
- 5.14 Italy
- 5.15 Brazil
- 5.16 Dryicor
- 5.17 Laioria
- 5.18 Joseje
- 5.19 Middle East and North Africa
- 6 Reception
- 7 Home media
- 8 Trivia
- 9 See also
Darren, an anthropomorphic mole miner, works the mines in the Rockies, a fictional mineral-rich mountain region in the American state of Montana. He work alongside other moles and at the same time teaches the audience middle school-level knowledge about geology, engineering, history of mining, and industrial uses of different minerals.
Origin and development
Creator Phelan Morkel was only a 15-year old high schooler when his comic Darren the Mole Miner was featured in the school paper of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Massachusetts in 1996. The comic gained national attention for its teaching of geology and the history of mining and Morkel soon signed a deal with Little, Brown and Company to release collections of the comic. The first collection, Hey, It's Me, Darren!, made Morkel one of the youngest authors to have a title on the New York Times Best Seller List. In 1999, Morkel was approached by Norman Lear to produce a television series adapted from the comic. Lear had noticed that one of his grand-nephews had outgrown Arthur and felt there was no educational kids program that could appeal to him or other kids of his age range, and thought Morkel's comic would work great as a TV series. Lear and Morkel produced a pilot and pitched the series to WNET of New York City in 2000. WNET producer Kristin Laskas Martin thought the show could have appeal since the titular character, Darren, "wasn't as divisive as Barney and wasn't as neurotic as Arthur".
Lear's Act III Productions worked with Chicago-based Tribune Entertainment, Asheville, North Carolina-based Jazz Television Media (a division of the Asheville-based advertising agency HRV Advertising, who helped fund PBS programming through their charitable arm The Harry R. Voskanyan Foundation), and Latikuu Holdings USA (who also took interest in the original pitch) to produce a pilot for the series. Several Japanese and Canadian firms, Soup Cup Cartoons and Group TAC being among them, were contracted to animate the pilot, with the Vancouver-based Ocean Productions providing the voice recording and casting. The pilot was screened to WNET and PBS executives and a test audience of local children at a private event in August 2000. The children "fell in love with the characters", and the executives agreed that a Mole Miner show would be successful for PBS. WNET & PBS immediately greenlit the series for a initial season of 20 episodes, which debuted on November 5, 2001. The aforementioned firms returned to produce the series, being joined by WNET. At age 20, Phelan Morkel was, at the time, the youngest creator of a daytime television series.
Cast and characters
Main article: Mole Miner/Characters
Main article: Mole Miner/Episodes
The following seasons were aired:
- Season 1 (2001-2002) - 40 episodes
- Season 2 (2002-2003) - 25 episodes (combined with Season 1's 40 episodes - this made 65 episodes - which the series was originally scheduled to end with)
- Season 3 (2003-2004) - 30 episodes
- Season 4 (2004) - 15 episodes
- Season 5 (2004-2005) - 30 episodes
- Season 6 (2006-2007) - 30 episodes
- Season 7 (2007) - 30 episodes
- PBS (November 5, 2001 - reruns until August 2, 2009 on national feed)
- PBS Kids Channel
- Original version: November 7, 2001 - September 26, 2005
- 2017 version: reruns since June 2, 2020 - present
- Qubo Channel (reruns from August 2012 - May 2014)
A Japanese dub titled Moru Kōfu aired in Japan.
- CBC Television (November 18, 2001 - reruns until May 3, 2011)
- TVOntario (November 8, 2001 - present)
- Knowledge Network (November 11, 2001 - reruns until June 2013)
- Citytv Saskatchewan
- As SCN: November 12, 2001 - reruns until May 2010
- As Citytv Saskatchewan: reruns from June 2015 - May 2017
- Access Alberta (November 8, 2001 - August 15, 2008)
- TFO (November 8, 2001 - present) (dubbed in French as Le mineur taupe)
- Télé-Québec (November 2001 - December 2009) (dubbed in French as Le mineur taupe)
In the United Islands, the series' funding credits are removed.
- NBS Kids (late 2001 – mid-2004, June 2020)
- ETVKK (April 23, 2002 - May 5, 2009)
- KadsreTV stations (2002 - 2012, 2015 - present)
- El TV Kadsre Japanese (May 9, 2007 - July 30, 2010) (dubbed in Japanese as Moru Kōfu)
- TechEruo Kids (June 4, 2002 - May 9, 2008)
- France 5 (August 2002 - May 2011)
Aired dubbed in Czech as Krtek horník.
- TV KAO (August 2002 - May 2009)
- Minimax (October 3, 2002 - April 4, 2004)
- MiniMini (January 3, 2004 - October 7, 2008)
- TVP1 (November 2, 2004 - January 22, 2008)
- KiKa (December 2002 - 2007)
Dubbed in Hungarian as A vakondbányász.
- M2 (March 3, 2003 - December 31, 2009)
Series was dubbed into Italian in Milan. The Italian dub kept the English name, but was also known as Mole Miner - Lavorare il giorno di distanza nelle miniere (the name of the custom Italian theme song by Cristina D'Avena used for the dub's airings on Mediaset channels).
- Italia 1 (December 1, 2003 - October 27, 2007)
- Surtiopouio (June 7, 2003–October 31, 2010)
- Channel 6 (21 November 2002 - 14 September 2011)
- Channel 6 (21 April 2021 - )
Icelandic (Mole Miner)
- Channel 66 (21 January 2003 - 11 May 2011)
- Channel 66 (23 June 2021, planned)
Norwegian (Mole Miner)
- Channel 66 (24 May 2003 - 29 June 2011)
Icelandic (Mole Miner)
Laiorian (Կølё Կønør)
- LTV (21 November 2002 - 15 May 2008)
Main article: Dè Mòl Maìna
- JTV Kidz (May 2004–2008)
Middle East and North Africa
In the Middle East and North Africa, the original Arabic dub (by Venus Centre in Syria) aired on Spacetoon and was also syndicated to various regional channels in the Arab World's countries. The new Modern Standard Arabic dub (made by VoiceMedia in Tunisia) aired on Disney Channel Arabic.
- Spacetoon (October [Ramadan] 2005 - August 2013)
- Disney Channel Arabic (February 15, 2019 - present)
Season One holds a Metacritic score of 95 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim".
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2001||Mole Miner||Annie Award for Best Animated Television Production||Nominated|
|2002||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program|
|Andrew Francis for Darren in Mole Miner||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program|
|2003||Mole Miner||Annie Award for Best Animated Television Production|
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program|
|Release name||Ep #||Company||Release date||Notes|
|Various DVD/VHS releases||188 (total)||PBS Kids Video, Warner Home Video (2002-2004), Paramount Home Entertainment (2004-2008)||2002-2008||Various home video releases containing between two and five episodes.|
|Various DVD/VHS release||190 (total)||BBC Video (2003), 2 Entertain (2004-2008)||2003-2008||Various home video releases containing between two and five episodes.|
|Various DVD/VHS releases||95 (total)||Coast Lifestyle Media (US)||2002-2003||Various mail-order-only home video releases containing between two and three episodes. Seasons 1-3 only.|
|Mole Miner - The Complete Series||200||Shout! Factory (US)||October 11, 2015||The complete series (as of 2015) on 12 DVDs with bonus material. Bonus material includes the documentary featurettes "The Early Days of the Mole Miner", "Phelan Morkel's Scrapbook", and "From the Eyes of Darren".|
|Mole Miner - The Complete Season One||41||Shout! Factory (US)||October 11, 2015||All 40 episodes from Season One plus the Season Three finale "Darren Saves Christmas".|
|Mole Miner - The Complete Season Two||25||Shout! Factory (US)||October 11, 2015||All 25 episodes from Season Two.|
|Mole Miner - The Complete Season Three||29||Shout! Factory (US)||November 1, 2015||29 episodes from Season Three except "Darren Saves Christmas".|
|Mole Miner - The Complete Seasons Four & Five||45 (total)||Shout! Factory (US)||November 1, 2015||All 15 episodes of Season Four and all 30 episodes of Season Five.|
|Mole Miner - The Complete Seasons Six & Seven||60 (total)||Shout! Factory (US)||November 1, 2015||All 30 episodes each of Seasons Six and Seven.|
- It was the third most watched program on the Eruowoodian children's television channel TechEruo Kids in 2002, behind House of Mouse (2nd) and SpongeBob SquarePants (1st).
- The series was originally cel-animated for the first season, but switched to digital ink-and-paint in the second season.