Tutenstein is an American animated television series, produced by Porchlight Entertainment for Discovery Kids based on the comics by Jay Stephens. The series premiered on November 1, 2003 and ended on October 11, 2008. It features young mummy Tutankhensetamun (based on real-life Tutankhamun and usually called "Tutenstein" as in the title) who is awakened about 3,000 years after his accidental death and now must face the fact that his kingdom is gone. The name is a portmanteau of Tutankhamun and Frankenstein.
|Created by||Jay Stephens|
|Directed by||Bob Richardson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||39 + 1 film (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||William T. Bauman|
Bruce D. Johnson
|Running time||18–22 minutes per episode|
|Production company(s)||PorchLight Entertainment|
|Distributor||Buena Vista International Television (Outside North America)|
|Original network||Discovery Kids|
|Original release||November 1, 2003 –|
October 11, 2008
Tutankhensetamun was an impulsive but kindhearted young Egyptian Pharaoh who lived a luxurious but short life. He died because back in Ancient Egypt he saved a friend of his from being smashed by rocks from a collapsing temple, so he himself was crushed to death. He carries the mighty The Sceptre of Was, and the circumstances of his death are unknown at first.
In the 21st century, 12 year-old Cleo Carter accidentally witnesses his awakening after a bolt of lightning hits the mummified body of Tut that is on display at the local museum. She with her cat Luxor must now help Tut to find his way around in these days modern world. During the whole series Set with his demons is trying to destroy Tut and gain possession of his sceptre of Was to become the ruler of all. To deal with that Tut and his new friends have their schedules full, plus there is one or the other problem with ancient scrolls, squeamish gods, silly teenagers and a bored out living mummy who doesn't want to spend its days in a sarcophagus...
ABN reported "with regard to the ongoing theme of ancient temples and history found in his animated shows Tutenstein and The Secret Saturdays, [Jay] Stephens quips, "I'm a nerd. I like reading about history and mythology. And the past is full of surprises." Stephens spent many years developing the show for television, coming up with the new setting and cast of characters that diverged significantly from the original comics. Stephens became the creative consultant of the show, with character designer Fil Barlow reinterpreting the look of the entire series. Barlow was the production designer until his contracted 20 episodes expired and was fired. His successor was his student, Thomas Perkins.
The production company, PorchLight Entertainment, which is based in Los Angeles, California, has won Emmys for the first and second seasons of the series. Irish TV production company Telegael, which is based in An Spidéal, Co Galway, also won an Emmy Award for the second season.
Note: The voice actors were credited under pseudonyms as the series was not approved by SAG-AFTRA until the movie "Clash of the Pharaohs".
Many of the gods portrayed in the series resemble their historical portrayals and all the Egyptian myths mentioned in the show are genuine. The Scepter of Was being portrayed as an all-purpose magic wand is fictional, though the Was itself is a genuine Egyptian symbol. Unlike Tutankhamun, who died at the age of 19, this Tut (Tutahnkensetamun) died when he was 10. On the other hand, Tutenstein is drawn with a cleft lip, just like the real Tutankhamun. The ancient game senet did exist, but as no precise rules for the game have been preserved, the rules as shown in the series are not accurate. Egyptologist Dr. Kasia Szpakowska served as a consultant to the series.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||November 1, 2003||March 6, 2004|
|2||13||September 4, 2004||November 19, 2005|
|3||13||September 9, 2006||January 13, 2007|
|Special||1||October 11, 2008|
Common Sense Media gave the show a rating of 3 stars out of 5, saying "The character of Tut is amusing, with his combination of childishness and egotism, and his interaction with Cleo and Luxor can be quite funny. The resolutions of the stories are fairly predictable – Tut uses his powers for good to help his friends, and harmony is restored – but the situation is unusual enough to keep the show fresh." DVD Verdict said "To be fair, as a product of the Discovery Channel, the producers have tried something slightly different with Tutenstein. Its educational children's programming, the attempt of an educational station to compete with more popular stations. Each episode incorporates some educational tidbits: explaining aspects of ancient Egyptian mythology and history. Unfortunately, the learning gets a bit mixed up with all the other nonsense." The Sydney Morning Herald wrote "It's The Mummy for kids... There's no Brendan Fraser or Rachel Weisz here, but the humorous dialogue – and the inclusion of a talking cat – should be a winner among younger viewers."
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2004||Tutenstein||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program||Won|
|2006||Tutenstein||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program||Nominated|
|2007||Tutenstein||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program||Won|
After the series ended, reruns continued to air until December 30, 2012. It also aired on the American Spanish network Azteca America from December 1, 2013 until June 1, 2014.
In 2004 the series had its British terrestrial television debut on ITV – first as part of the Saturday morning children's programme Ministry of Mayhem, and later in a weekday afternoon slot on CITV, where it was one of the highest-rating shows for kids aged 4-15.
In August 2003, Jetix Europe acquired the show's television, home video and consumer products rights for Europe, Israel, India and French-speaking Africa. Thus, it premiered on european channels of the network one year later. It also aired on Nickelodeon and ABC in Australia, and Maxi TV in Turkey.
- "Secret Origins of 'The Secret Saturdays'". Animation World Network. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
- Piccione, P. A. (1980), 'In search of the meaning of Senet', Archaeology, 33, 55–58.
- "Tutenstein - TV Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-29. Retrieved 2014-10-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Tutenstein". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 September 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
- "Tutenstein". Jetix Europe. 2004-06-09. Archived from the original on 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2019-07-08.