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File:Beakmans-world 1158.jpg

A Saturday morning kids' Science Show based on an award winning comic strip, Beakman's World was a fast-paced romp through topics germane to any kid's lives, like "How is snot formed?" and "Why do we fart?" (The latter was saved for the very last episode).

The show starred Beakman, played by puppeteer Paul Zaloom, as he answered questions from viewers with a zany tower wig and a green lab-coat. Helping him on his quest for science is guy-in-a-rat-suit (and resident skeptic who would be a Deadpan Snarker if he weren't wrong all the time) Lester (played by the late puppeteer Mark Ritts), and the lovely young female assistant, of which there would eventually number three (Alanna Ubach as Josie; Eliza Schneider as Liza; and Senta Moses as Phoebe).

The structure of the show was pretty controlled for being so chaotic. Each episode started with The Teaser, in which South Pole penguins Don and Herb (a Shout-Out to Mr. Wizard, aka Don Herbert) turned on the show after some witty hijinks. The first act focused entirely on one question. The second act was Beakmania, a rapid-fire run through many short questions, followed by a longer skit with a fun experiment or The Beakman Challenge. The third act was much like the first, focusing on another single question. The Tag gave the viewer one more piece of information, then ended with Don and Herb turn off Beakman after some witty hijinks.

Some staples of the show included Famous Dead Guys who'd drop by the studio, accompanied by the sudden disappearance of one of the cast (wink, wink), to tackle the question at hand. There were also several skits besides the Beakman Challenge that occured on Beakmania, including "Those Disgusting Animals" and "Cooking with Art Burn".

The show lasted from September, 1992 to March, 1997. A total of three-and-a-half seasons' worth of shows stretched out to a full five seasons, first on TLC, then on CBS.

As it ran during the same stretch as Bill Nye the Science Guy, the two shows get compared often.


You glomp em! I'll stomp 'em! Let's Caramelldansen! Edit

  • Actor Allusion: One of Beakman's occasional exclamations was "Zaloom!"
    • A last-season segment on sound frequency had a Blues Brothers motif. Senta Moses (aka Phoebe) got her start in movies as a dancing extra in The Blues Brothers.
  • Anime Hair: Beakman: "SPACKLE! And plenty of it!"
  • Aside Glance: Lester often turns to the audience to make a snarky comment. Or a pun. Or a snarky pun.
  • Becoming the Costume: In a way; Lester apparently has an empathic connection with his rat suit...causing him to cry when Beakman stands on the suit's tail, and causing him to burst into giggle fits when someone tickles his rat feet...when he's not even wearing them.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Art Burn
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Lester just cannot catch a break...
  • The Cast Showoff: All the girls could sing, so the show gave 'em a chance. Senta Moses could break boards, so the show gave her a chance to do that, too.
  • Catch Phrase "Bada-Bing, Bada-Bang, Bada-Boom."
    • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Part of kicking off Beakmania: "You [X] 'em, I'll [something that rhymes with X] 'em, let's [dance]!"
    • Every time a reference to miles comes up: "Of course, YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY."
    • "Nothing disappears!" Soon replaced with "Everything goes somewhere!"
    • Several screaming cut voice-overs were frequently used, most often "PENCIL ALERT!" preceding a list of things for an experiment, and "REPLAY!" for...well, replays.
  • Call Back: Many props that were previously used in demonstrations are seen lying around the center, most notably the working diagram of a car engine.
    • When Lester introduces Beakman to his "fiancee", Cindy the Camel, Beakman asks what happened to Wanda the Cow from the previous season. Cue the cow puns.
  • Cross Dresser: Lester at times will put a dress over the rat suit, most famously in the "WHAT'S 4 LUNCH?" segments.
  • Dawson Casting: Averted with Josie (Alanna Ubach was 16) and Liza (Eliza Schneider was 17), and played straight with Phoebe (Senta Moses was 23).
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Art Burn: "Yo! Welcome to mah humble commode!" Lester a little: "I'm a victim of circumnavigational evidence!"
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "See, it's not funny when you have to explain it." "Well, could you draw me a picture, then?"
  • Don't Try This At Home: Rarely; most experiments could be done at home if done as instructed and with parental supervision, and indeed, were often designed and were encouraged to be done by the children who watched the show.
  • Embarrassing Slide: When Beakman did a slideshow about libraries, he accidentally put one in with him in his underwear.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Don and Herb
  • Exact Words: In one of the few times Lester was able to technically do the Beakman's challenge, Beakman challenged Lester to raise something without lifting up his arms. He had Beakman take it and then threatened him into lifting it.
  • Excited Kids' Show Host: Beakman is a type 2, bordering on 3.
  • Eyecatch: the robotic-voiced bumpers
  • The Faceless / He Who Must Not Be Seen: Ray the cameraman
  • Fingerless Gloves: Omnipresent on Liza
  • Flanderization: Lester was originally just a trained actor with a bad agent, but later became much more disgusting and obtuse.
  • Foot Focus: Usually it's Lester's feet...but not always...
  • Genre Savvy: Lester would occasionally succumb to the inevitable and inform Beakman that he was not going to pooh-pooh the latest Challenge, because he knew from experience Beakman was going to turn out to be right and make Lester look foolish in the process.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Herb: "Turn Beakman on." Don [sensually]: "I love you, Beakman." Lester the Rat was shown on the phone to an unidentified female telling her that "I can keep the nose on if that's what you like..."
    • While pretending to be a Dingo in a segment about dogs, Lester pulls off a pun that can be considered literally getting crap past the radar:

  Lester: *holds a basket of berries* And these are my dingo berries

    • In one scene, Lester is reading A Ratboy magazine, which he scrambles to hide when Beakman and Liza come into the scene.
    • Roy G Biv is quite obviously The Stoner. Pointed out in his second appearance, when he admits that his memories of his last visit were pretty hazy, and Beakman notes afterward that they were lucky he even found his way to the lab.
    • Calling a pair of doohickies that demonstrate rotational inertia "Beakman Rotational Aerodynamic Thingies"...gives way to plenty of "spinning our thingies" jokes...
    • The entire last segment, on flatulence, but especially when Beakman says that the gas has to go through the...drumroll please...ANAL SPHINCTER!
  • Greek Chorus: Don and Herb
  • Hair Decorations: So many are in the girls' hair that you lose count after awhile.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Lester, who routinely gripes about being stuck in a two-bit "lab rat" role.
  • Hey, It's That Sound: Apparently, the crew were avid Scrabble fans. (Producer Marijane Miller was a contestant on Scrabble.)
    • You might note the similarities some of the background music has to that of Rugrats. Denis Hannigan and Rusty Andrews composed background music for both shows.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Don Penguin's voiced by Alan Barzman, who also did the Energizer Bunny commercials ("They keep going and going and...")
  • Hurricane of Puns: Once an Episode by the time Phoebe came around, though the early episodes were no slouch when it came to wordplay either.
  • Hypocritical Humor: On the question "How can birds talk?" (and remember that Don and Herb are penguins):

 Don: Birds can talk?

Herb: Where do they get this stuff?

Don: Talking birds...

Herb: Of all the ideas.

  • I Am Not Spock: Paul Zaloom's other main job is as a political puppeteer...and those shows are very much not safe for kids...
  • Iconic Item: Who else but Beakman wears a fluorescent green labcoat? Okay, other than him...
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Unlike most examples, it's been played enough times that there are plenty of tapes to be circulated, plus Netflix now offers the (almost) entire series.
  • Leitmotif: "Lester's theme" plays anytime the rat appears and says something off the wall...which is about every 30 seconds or so.
  • Lethal Chef: Art Burn.

 "An' speakin' o' boils, check out dis baby right here! I'm savin' dat one for later when I make a batch of my secret sauce!"

  • Limited Wardrobe: Played a little differently with each character. Lester wore the same rat suit every episode, the girls had a rather colorful wardrobe, and Beakman had a fairly extensive wardrobe of ugly shirts, covered up by his trademark green labcoat.
  • Logo Joke: This show had a rocket flying around the Columbia logo, which had just recently changed when the show debuted.
  • Lovely Assistant: Featured three lovely assistants (Josie, Liza and Phoebe, depending on season), and one not-so-lovely assistant (Lester).
  • Missing Episode: Or, missing segment. In the Beakmania segment in the "Camels / Density" episode, depending on the version, you either get a "Doctor & Meekman" segment on strep throat, or a "Wide Beak-World of Sports" segment explaining how Michael Jordan can look like he's defying gravity. Syndicated reruns give the former; the Netflix version has the latter.
  • Nitro Express: In the dynamite segment, guess which rodent was tasked with bringing the nitroglycerin over from the "REALLY DANGEROUS STUFF" cabinet?
    • And, of course, the whole point of the segment was to let Famous Dead Guy Alfred Nobel tell us how he was able to make the Nitro Express safe.
  • No Budget: Three actors (and rarely some extras) and a bunch of simple props. Of course, that means the do-at-home experiments fit right in.
  • No Fourth Wall: Normal for a mail-in-your-questions show, but they still play with it occasionally. In one episode, Lester provides an intelligent and concise explaination of the science behind a Beakman Challenge. When Beakman asks Lester how he knew that, Lester says that he read Beakman's cue cards. And then, of course, Beakman regularly converses with Ray the Cameraman.
    • When discussing electrical plugs:

 Beakman: Here's a lamp plug, this is a plug for a toaster oven, 'Be sure to watch "Beakman's World" right here on this station'; this is a plug for our show...

  • Non Sequitur Thud: Lester does many of these...several of them to himself.
  • Parental Bonus / Noodle Implements (One experiment requires "A bowling ball, a chainsaw, a Macintosh apple, a picture of Raymond Burr in short pants sitting on vinyl furniture..." sadly, this is interrupted before we find out what it entails.)
  • Post Modernism: They don't even try to pass Lester off as a real rat, he's always just been an actor in a suit. The Famous Dead Guys are played straighter in that the cast actually plays along, but it's clear they're in on Beakman's Paper Thin Disguises and the audience is expected to be, too.
  • The Professor: I.M. Boring, originally of Inert State University, the resident substitute for sleeping pills.
  • Punny Name: Lessee, Art Burn, Jim Shorts & Harry Pitts, Axl Greeese, Roy G. Biv, the Great Beak-ini...
  • Rainbow Motif: Roy G Biv is the name of a a colorful hippie who explains the visible spectrum in "Scientific Method, Beakmania & Rainbows". He returns in a second season episode to help answer the question "Why is the sky blue?"
  • Repeat Cut: The show was quite fond of this; for both Stuff Blowing Up and Lester's pratfalls.
  • Rules Spiel: Done for all the do-at-home experiments: Always have adult supervision, take appropriate safety precautions, follow directions exactly, and don't make substitutions.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: The crazy invention Liza makes to brush Lester's teeth while he sleeps.
  • Science Marches On: While the science in the shows is still completely accurate, some facts have been revised(for example, Pluto's not a planet anymore). The last episode of the first season is also Hilarious in Hindsight for this reason: in it, Beakman establishes an empirical process for the kids to answer any science question they have. The steps involved are:
    • 1)Formulate a Precise Question,
    • 2)Home Resources (dictionaries and encyclopedias in print),
    • 3)Phone Tips (calling a related expert on the topic) and
    • 4)Field Research (going to a library or other institution of learning).
      Step 1 pretty much stays the same, but it's mindblowing how the Internet has rendered the three other steps, if not obsolete, at least inconvenient.
    • In their second segment on optical illusions (focusing on 3-D pictures), they repeatedly make mention of recording the show so you can have more time to see the picture...via VCR. Now, you can just pause your Netflix playback.
  • Shown Their Work: But of course, as you can't very well teach science without knowing about it (and props to science consultant Al Guenther for aiding the cast in this.) Notably, the movie stunts segment featured a vignette featuring stuntmen Chuck Picerni, Jr. and Kane Hodder (yes, that Kane Hodder), who helped coordinate and do the stunts shown.
  • Smarmy Host: Parodied in "WHAT'S 4 LUNCH?!?" With your host, Steve Shallow!
  • Snow Means Cold: Every episode is begun, ended, and occasionally interrupted by a scene of two penguins watching the show from the South Pole. It is perpetually snowing during all of their scenes, which is particularly interesting because in one rapid-fire Q&A session, Beakman explicitly points out that the South Pole actually gets very little snow.
  • Special Guest: Averted. Every single Famous Dead Guy (and Girl) was some member of the cast, usually Beakman.
    • Though Jean Stapleton guested as Beakman's Mom a couple of times. (Her daughter was part of the production staff.)
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Twice with the lovely young female assistant. Josie gives way to Liza, who'd give way to Phoebe.
  • Take That: "Let's Macarena!" "LET'S NOT!"
  • Throw It In: It appears the general rule of the director is "If what's shot is funnier than what's scripted, go with it." It seems this was largely a one-take show (and some of the screw-up first takes were thrown in as well, like Liza's cockroach freak-out.)
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In one episode, Lester proposed a Challenge of his own, where he proved to a doubting Beakman that it is indeed possible to tear a phone book in half with your bare hands.
    • Subverted in another Lester Challenge, in which he challenged Beakman to make 5 squares into 4 by moving (not removing) 2 lines. Just when it seems that Lester's won, Beakman manages to get it.
      • Of course, Lester did get back at him by placing a "KICK ME" sign on his back.
  • Uncanceled: CBS shut the lights out after 65 eps, but fan outcry got it back; this was the reason for the second Suspiciously Similar Substitute above.
  • Wiki Walk: Beakman was ahead of his time: in the episode where he gives the process to look for answers(see Science Marches On) he also mentions how looking for research on one topic can lead you to learn about other topics, a perfect definition of a Wiki Walk years before wikis even existed.

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