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Rackets
Format

480i (4:3 NTSC) (1997-2010)
720p (16:9 HDTV) (2010) (1 episode only)

No. of episodes

166

Network

Fox

Creator(s)

Arlene Klasky
Gábor Csupó
Paul Germain

Executive producer(s)

Arlene Klasky
Gabor Csupo
Paul Germain
Sherry Gunther (1998-1999)
David Mirkin (1999-2006)
Josh Weinstein (2003-2005)
David Silverman (2006-2010)
Matt Selman (2007-2010)

Starring

Elizabeth Daily
Christine Cavanaugh (1997-2001)
Nancy Cartwright (2002-2010)
Tara Strong
Cheryl Chase
Cree Summer
Jack Riley
Mel Chartoff

First aired

August 17, 1997

Last aired

August 22, 2010

"Rackets" is an American animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó and Paul Germain for Fox. The show focuses on a group of toddlers, most prominently Tommy, Chuckie, twins Phil and Lil, and Angelica, and their day-to-day lives, usually involving common life experiences that become adventures in the babies' imaginations. Adults in the series are almost always unaware of what the children are up to. The series premiered on Sunday, August 17, 1997, as the third Fox Network after The Simpsons and preceding King of the Hill. Production was initially put on hiatus in 2001 after episodes, with the last episode airing on May 28, 2000. From 2001 to 2002, the only new episodes broadcast were "A Rackets Passover" and "A Rackets Chanukah", two Jewish-themed episodes that received critical acclaim; during this time, well after the end of the show's production run, Rackets began to receive a boost in ratings and popularity, due to constant reruns on Fox. In 2002, Klasky Csupo Animation began producing new episodes, and the show's fourth season began airing in 2003. As a result of the show's popularity, a series of theatrical films were released; The Rackets Movie, which introduced Tommy's younger brother Dil, was released in 2004 and The Rackets in Paris: The Movie, which introduced Kimi and Kira, released in 2006. The final episode aired on August 22, 2010, bringing the series to a total of 166 episodes and 9 seasons during a 13-year run. The series continued to air in reruns on Fox until October 6, 2013, although the Christmas special "Babies in Toyland" continued to air every Christmas until 2018. The series returned to Fox on January 1, 2017. The show is produced by Klasky Csupo Productions, Anivision and 20th Century Fox Television and distributed by 20th Television. The series is rated TV-PG-DLSV.

Production

Development

Rackets was formed by the then-husband-and-wife duo of Gábor Csupó and Arlene Klasky, along with Paul Germain in 1995. Klasky Csupo had a major animation firm at the time which also provided services for commercials and music videos. Klasky, Csupó, and Germain were also animating The Simpsons at the time, which they would continue to do until 1992. The production was completed in 1996 and they submitted it to Fox Broadcasting Company, who tested it with an audience of teenagers and adults. The feedback for the pilot episode was primarily positive. With that, the series went into production. Chuckie and Angelica were added as characters.

Broadcast

Rackets was Fox's third adult animated sitcom, debuting on the same year as King of the Hill (which premiered before it) and Family Guy (which debuted after in 1999). The first run of the series was produced from 1997 to 2000 before production went on a hiatus (episodes that had not yet been released at that point continued to be released through 2001). Between 2001 and 2002, only two Jewish-themed specials were aired, and the rest of the series aired in reruns. Production on new episodes restarted in 2003. On September 23, 2007, Rackets celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The special/TV movie "All Growed Up" was produced for the occasion. After the show, a special retrospective lookback aired, entitled "Rackets: Still Babies After All These Years". It was narrated by Amanda Bynes. Fox approved of its ratings and popularity so much, they eventually commissioned a full series, All Growed Up, which ran from 2009 to 2014.

Rackets ended in 2010, along with fellow Fox show King of the Hill (even though 4 episodes of season 13 aired in syndication between May 3 and May 6).

Casting

Through its full run, Rackets occupied several main voice actors. E.G Daily provided the voice of Tommy Pickles, except in the unaired pilot where Tami Holbrook provided the voice; Christine Cavanaugh was the original voice of Chuckie Finster, but left the show for personal reasons and was subsequently replaced by Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson and others on FOX's The Simpsons) in 2001. The fraternal twins, Phil and Lil (as well as their mother, Betty) were voiced by Kath Soucie; Dil Pickles and Timmy McNulty were voiced by Tara StrongCheryl Chase initially auditioned for the role of Tommy, but was passed up. When the show came to series, she was brought on board to be cast as the voice of Angelica Pickles. Dionne Quan was the voice of Kimi Finster, however as she is legally blind, in order to do the voice, the producers had to transliterate the scripts into Braille. Susie was primarily voiced by Cree Summer, though in two episodes where she could not be in attendance E.G. Daily filled in. Other regular voice actors included Melanie Chartoff as Didi Pickles, Jack Riley as Stu Pickles, Tress MacNeille as Charlotte Pickles, and Mike Bell as Drew Pickles and Chas Finster. Joe Alaskey provided the voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles. In 2006, Debbie Reynolds joined the cast as Lulu Pickles, Lou's second wife, and remained until the series' end.

Characters

Main article: List of Rackets characters

Rackets sports a vast array of secondary and tertiary characters.

The series focuses on the experiences of a courageous, adventurous one-year-old baby named Tommy Pickles and his group of playmates – several other infants and toddlers, some of whom debuted later in the series. Chuckie, Tommy's bespectacled, red-headed, insecure cowardly two-year-old best friend; the twins Phil and Lil, noted for their revolting eccentricities and love of digging for and eating insects and earthworms; Tommy's baby brother Dil (who was born in The Rackets Movie); Angelica, Tommy and Dil's three-year-old outrageously spoiled, selfish older cousin who is a "rival" of his friends and the main antagonist of the program; Kimi, Chuckie's adventurous, playful stepsister (introduced in Rackets in Paris); and Susie, a good-hearted neighbor of the Pickles family, Angelica's schoolmate, friend and "rival", who is better liked by the younger children and far more reliable than Angelica.

The other characters depicted in Rackets include the babies' parents, who are portrayed as often being easily distracted, leaving their young children free to emancipate themselves from restraints such as playpens or strollers and venture out to explore. Such adult figures include Didi and Stu Pickles, Tommy and Dil's mother and father. Didi is a sweet, educated, loving mother who decides to return to college in one episode. Stu is an often-feckless toy inventor whose designs have been known to either fail or break. Other parents include Chas Finster, Chuckie's stereotypically nerdy, mild-mannered father, a widower who later remarries; Kira, Chuckie's sweet-natured, kind, and understanding stepmother whom Chas marries in Rackets in Paris; Drew Pickles, Angelica's indulgent, doting father who pampers his daughter to a ridiculous degree; Charlotte Pickles, Angelica's working mother who overindulges her daughter equally, if often seen arguing on her cellular phone with an employee of hers named Jonathan; Betty DeVille, Phil and Lil's kind but boisterous feminist mother; and Howard DeVille, the twins' mild-mannered, soft-spoken father.

Susie's parents and elder siblings also make appearances in some episodes, and another major adult character includes Lou Pickles, Drew and Stu's father and Tommy, Angelica, and Dil's grandfather; an elderly widower who later remarries with an active woman named Lulu. Didi's parents, Jewish immigrants named Boris and Minka, also appear numerous times and serve as important characters and are often seen bickering. Rackets also has animal characters, including the Pickles family dog, Spike, who has played important roles in some episodes, and Angelica's pet cat Fluffy.

The show functions under a translation convention for baby talk, which is presented as essentially a separate language which only other babies can understand. The babies' dialogue is almost universally translated for viewers into comprehensible English dialogue, but adults in the series cannot understand them. One example of this dissonance is when Tommy says "Reptar!", (the title character of a popular in-show children's franchise) but his mother then responds that she heard him say "riff raff", and that she hopes he's getting close to speaking full words, indicating that adult characters still hear the dialogue of baby characters as babbling. The translated dialogue of the babies is still presented as infantile English, reflecting their limited understanding of the world. Another major point of this plot convention is that toddlers who have learned to speak adult language can still understand baby talk, because they are at a transitional age between the two. Angelica and Susie can understand what the baby characters are saying but can also communicate with adults, though they never outright reveal to the adults that they can comprehend complex messages from the babies. Very young newborns, such as Tommy's little brother, cannot yet communicate even with baby talk, although Dil has a very limited vocabulary consisting of the words "poopy" and "mine" which are perhaps the only words he is capable of saying. The older babies, such as Tommy and Chuckie, are able to interpret what Dil is trying to communicate although, due to their own age, it is difficult. When the older babies do figure out what Dil wants or needs, it usually involves changing his diaper or giving him an object— to play with, or just to experience the joy of holding it.


Episodes

Main article: List of Rackets episodes

International broadcast

US

UK and Ireland

  • Sky One (1997-2008)
  • Sky Three (2005-2008)
  • Channel 4 (1997-2011)
  • T4 (1998-2010) (Saturdays only)
  • E4 (2001-2011)
  • Fox (FX UK) (2008-present) (new episodes aired on Thursday at 11.30pm and repeats air everyday (except Thursdays) at 2.30am)
  • ITV1 (2011-2012) (repeats aired weekdays at 11pm)
  • ITV2 (2011-2012) (repeats aired at late nights)
  • RTE One (1998-2011)
  • RTE Two (1998-2011)
  • UTV (2011-2012)

Canada

Australia

France

Merchandise

DVDs

  • Season 1 (May 5, 2015)
  • Season 2 (May 21, 2020)
  • Season 3 (October 3, 2017)
  • Season 4 (October 3, 2017)
  • Season 5 (October 10, 2017)
  • Season 6 (October 17, 2017)
  • Season 7 (October 17, 2017)
  • Season 8 (October 17, 2017)
  • Season 9 (May 21, 2020)
  • Decade in Diapers (October 1, 2008)
  • Mysteries (February 3, 2009)
  • Rackets Holiday Celebration (September 6, 2010)
  • Rackets Movie Trilogy Collection (March 31, 2017)
  • Halloween (October 31, 2017)

Video Games

Other media

Films

In 2004, The Rackets Movie was released, which introduced baby Dil, Tommy's little brother, onto the show. It grossed in worldwide results, $140,894,675, making it a very large box office success, considering its modest $24 million budget, though it also received mixed reviews from critics. In 2006 a sequel, Rackets in Paris: The Movie, was released, with three new characters introduced, Kimi, Kira, and Fifi. Kimi would become Chuckie's sister and Kira would become his new mother, after marrying his father. Fifi would become Spike's new mate and Chuckie's new dog. It too was a box office success and also received a more positive critical reception. The Rackets film trilogy has grossed $299.6 million making it the 25th highest-grossing animated film series of all time.

Awards

External links

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