Doctor Dolittle (TV series)

Doctor Dolittle is an animated series produced by DePatie–Freleng Enterprises in association with 20th Century Fox Television (both of these are now under the same Disney ownership). It was created for television by David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng in association with Paul Harrison and Lennie Weinrib. The series was broadcast on the NBC network. An altered version of the song "Talk to the Animals" was heard during the opening credits.

Doctor Dolittle
GenreCartoon series
Created byDavid H. DePatie
Friz Freleng
Paul Harrison
Lennie Weinrib
Written byPaul Harrison
Lennie Weinrib
Voices ofBob Holt
Don Messick
Hal Smith
Robert Towers
Lennie Weinrib
Opening theme"Talk to the Animals" by Hal Smith and Lennie Weinrib
Ending theme"Talk to the Animals" (instrumental)
Country of originUSA
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes17
Executive producer(s)David H. DePatie
Friz Freleng
Running time30 min.
Production company(s)DePatie–Freleng Enterprises
20th Century Fox Television
Distributor20th Television
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 12, 1970 
September 2, 1971


The series is loosely based on the books by Hugh Lofting, as well as the 1967 film of the same name which center around Doctor Dolittle (voiced by Bob Holt), an animal doctor who has the ability to talk to animals. Doctor Dolittle travels around the world by ship to help out any sick animal in need. He is aided in his missions by his first mate, young sailor Tommy Stubbins (voiced by Hal Smith), who can also talk to animals. They share the ship with its animal crew, which includes:

  • Chee-Chee - The cabin monkey.
  • Dab-Dab - A duck who is also the ship's cook.
  • Polynesia Parrot - The Doctor's pet parrot that taught him how to talk to the animals.
  • The Pushmi-Pullyu - A llama which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. It serves as the ship's lookout.
  • Too-Too - The wise owl.
  • Jip - The Hound Dog.

The series' other notable characters are George and the Grasshoppers (a rock group of grasshoppers that lives inside Doctor Dolittle's medicine case). At one point during each episode of the series, the group would launch into a rock or pop song, popping the sides of the medicine case open and using it like a stage, with Doctor Dolittle's bottles of pills and medicines glowing and flashing into different psychedelic colors behind the group as they sang.

Wherever the Doctor Dolittle's ship was, Sub-Mar Island is never far behind. A disguised submarine, Sub-Mar Island is actually the stronghold of Sam Scurvy (voiced by Lennie Weinrib) and his pirate crew:

  • Cyclops - A hulking dimwit pirate with an eye patch over his good eye.
  • Zig-Zag - An uptight Frenchman.
  • Nico - An Italian pirate.
  • Miko - A Chinese pirate.

The pirates dress in an unusual mixture of old-fashioned pirate and gangster gear. Sam Scurvy wears a fedora and a business suit and speaks with a Brooklyn accent. The pirate crew were also a branch of the Democratic Order of Pirates, International, or "DOPI" for short. Sam Scurvy has one goal in life: world domination. He believes that if he can get the secret to talking to animals from Doctor Dolittle, he will be able to raise an army of "creepy creatures" to help him take over the world. By using his eavesdropping device the Sneaky Snorkel, Scurvy gets wind of Doctor Dolittle's latest missions and then plots to hinder, disrupt, or even kidnap the Doctor, Tommy, or any one of his animals, in order to force him to reveal how he is capable of talking to animals. However, due to Doctor Dolittle's skills as well as the pirates' ineptitude, they never succeed.


Title Air date
1"The Grasshoppers Are Coming, Hooray, Hooray!"September 12, 1970 (1970-09-12)
The pirates will stop at nothing to learn the Doctor's secret. They track him to Grasshopper Island, where he has gone to treat the entire grasshopper population who have lost their voices after munching on poisoned grass. When the Doctor and Tommy are taken prisoner, only the insects can save them.
2"The Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly"September 19, 1970 (1970-09-19)
Montgomery the Goonie bird suffers from a chronic lack of confidence and simply cannot take to the air, although he tries to convince Doctor Dolittle it's more of a lack of interest. His chance to be a hero comes when the Doctor gets into a fix and Montgomery has to summon the animals to the rescue.
3"The Land of the Tiger Moo"September 26, 1970 (1970-09-26)
The creatures of a Florida swamp are upset by an agitated alligator for whom the cure is milk from the Tiger-Moo, a hybrid of a cow and a tiger. But when the Doctor travels to Tiger-Moo island to acquire the milk, he finds the pirates have arrived there first and now the unique animal is in danger...
4"The Great Turkey Race"October 3, 1970 (1970-10-03)
Polynesia's old friend, Toots the turkey, attempts to escape from Sandwich Island turkey farm. When she is captured before escaping, she becomes the first prize in the Thanksgiving Ocean race. Dolittle enters the Flounder in the race knowing he has to win to save Toots—but runs into some engine trouble along the way!
5"The Peanut Conspiracy"October 10, 1970 (1970-10-10)
Eric the elephant is allergic to peanuts, so the Doctor needs to find some Peanut Cillin. Along with Tommy and Chee-Chee, he visits the jungle drugstore—run by a very strange pharmacist—but only Peanut oil is at hand. The Doctor's plan is to make the medicine using green-scented mushrooms mixed with the oil, so Tommy and Chee-Chee set out to pick them. Behind those giant mushrooms, though, lurks a trap...
6"The Bare Bear"October 17, 1970 (1970-10-17)
Dolittle heads for the Bering Strait to assist the thin-skinned polar bears living there who have lost their fur and are freezing. He concocts a special formula to restore their fur coats, but with the pirates trying to steal his medicine it looks like the Doctor will need help from the local Mountie.
7"High Flying Hippo"October 24, 1970 (1970-10-24)
Hannah, the overweight hippo, isn't looking where she's going and falls down a mountain, but fortunately lands on a ledge. A pair of eagles spot her and summon the Doctor, and they help him up onto the ledge to treat Hannah. The ingenious Doctor contrives a makeshift balloon for getting them all off the crumbling mountain, but as they are about to go Hannah loses her nerve—can George and the grasshoppers inspire her?
8"The Near-Sighted Bull"October 31, 1970 (1970-10-31)
The group are in Spain sourcing supplies for the Flounder when Romeo, the bull who can't see a thing, goes on a rampage and ends in the water. After the crew rescue the animal, his owner Don Carlos asks Doctor Dolittle for help. The Doctor provides Romeo with glasses which somehow transform him into the best bull in town, and now he must enter the ring in the fiesta—where Scurvy is posing as the matador and has taken the bull's glasses.
9"The Silver Seals of the Circus"November 7, 1970 (1970-11-07)
Stanley and Cyrus, two performing seals, are injured in a fall during a show and send for Doctor Dolittle. With the seals out of action, it's up to the Pushmi-Pullyu to save the circus. The pirates, meanwhile, trick their way into the big top disguised as trapeze artists, and once inside use clown costumes in their latest attempt to steal the Doctor's secret—with a determined sheriff on their tail.
10"A Girl for Greco Gorilla"November 14, 1970 (1970-11-14)
The Doctor and Tommy are visiting a zoo in Ireland where they encounter Greco, a lonely and homesick gorilla whom they agree to take back to Africa. Aboard the ship it's discovered he's also pining for a mate, so they resolve to find the ape a girlfriend. In the jungle, Greco sees his dreamboat and chases her, but then the Doctor and Tommy meet attractive gorilla Raquel... and they quickly realise the female Greco's after isn't who she seems!
11"A Tail of Two Snails"November 21, 1970 (1970-11-21)
Oil pollution has destroyed the habitat of Hamilton, the last of the giant pink sea snails, and has also meant there are no sea-cumbers—his only food source. Dolittle plans to tow the snail to Sea-cumber Island, with a cargo of three tons of sea-cumbers cut from the ocean bed by the swordfish. All is going well until the appearance of a second giant snail... only this one's on wheels and hides the pirates inside!
12"A Fox Called... Sherlock?"November 28, 1970 (1970-11-28)
As the crew are taking the opening tour of the Doctor Dolittle Wax Museum, Jip is 'dog-napped' by the pirates. The Doctor, Tommy and the animals enlist the help of Sherlock, the fox sleuth, to crack the case and rescue Jip, but time is short—eight hours, to be precise. Further confusion arises when the pirates use Jip to create a second statue of the dog—how will the real one be identified?
13"The Tomb of the Phoenix Bird"December 5, 1970 (1970-12-05)
Polynesia tells of the legend of the Phoenix Bird, a supposedly mythical creature who comes back to life once every hundred years. As the fateful day approaches, the group head off to Egypt to verify the tale and find out if the animal really exists. Scurvy and his men are there too, and capture the Doctor with the use of a fake 'pyramid'... but help is at hand from one magical bird set to have the time of his century!
14"The Barnyard Rumble"December 12, 1970 (1970-12-12)
In mid-West America, Cogburn the rooster loses his voice and can't wake up the barnyard. The Doctor diagnoses laryngitis and, after the treatment, finds that Cogburn can't stop talking, a useful talent when a band of motor-cyclists turn up looking to cause mayhem.
15"The Baffled Buffalo"December 19, 1970 (1970-12-19)
The Flounder is docked in Washington when the Doctor is summoned by the President. He requests that the Doctor goes West to find a buffalo to be the model for a special commemorative medallion—a mission made harder by a runaway train, a buffalo deeply mistrustful of all humans and a posse of 'Indians' who look worryingly familiar...
16"A Hatful of Rabbit"December 26, 1970 (1970-12-26)
While in London preparing for another leg of the round-the-world trip, the Doctor is called to treat a hyperactive rabbit which is part of a magician's act. The group then attend the magic show, unaware that it has been taken over by the pirates. Scurvy, disguised as the magician, selects an audience volunteer to help with the disappearing trick—guess who gets the call-up?
17"The Bird from O.O.P.S."January 9, 1971 (1971-01-09)
As a birthday gift from his people, the Maharajah Sheldon will receive his weight in diamonds. Unfortunately for his mum, Sheldon is 'all skin and bone' and thus will not earn her many jewels. She plans to fatten him up by feeding him a rare ogle-bird egg—so rare, in fact, it's the only one in existence. Can the Doctor save the Ogle bird from extinction... or will Scurvy's levitation device help the pirates make off with the prize?


Syndication problems

Aside from a brief period in the early 1980s as part of The Krofft Supershow, the series has never been shown in syndication, possibly due to the politically incorrect stereotypes of the pirate crew, as well as the strong drug implications present during George and the Grasshoppers' rock and pop numbers.

It first appeared on British TV on BBC 1 on Thursday, 25 November 1971. It was dubbed in Sinhala in Sri Lanka as "Dosthara Hoda hitha".

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