Salty's Lighthouse

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Salty's Lighthouse
Salty's Lighthouse opening screen.
Genre Children's television
Created by Nina I. Hahn (show concept)
Theme music composer Chase Rucker Productions
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 41
Executive producer(s) Joe Bacal
Tom Griffin
C.J. Kettler
Carole Weitzman
Producer(s) Mark Stratton
Distributor Sunbow Entertainment
Original network TLC
Original release October 3, 1997 – June 26, 1998
External links
[{{#property:P856}} Website]

Salty's Lighthouse was a series for young children, produced by Sunbow Entertainment and TLC in 1997 to 1998[1] in association with the Bank Street College of Education in New York. The show centres on a young boy named Salty, as he plays and learns with his friends in a magical lighthouse. As well as the animated adventures of Salty and his friends, the series uses live-action footage for various segments. 41 episodes were produced in the series. It ran from October 3, 1997 to June 26, 1998 on TLC and later on Channel 4 in the UK.


Salty is a young boy who loves using his imagination. Every day, he goes to the lighthouse near his home to play with his seaside friends: Ocho, the octopus; Claude, the hermit crab; Sophie and Sadie, the bird twins; a group of tiny clams; Aurora, the light that shines over the ocean; and lighthouse owner Aunt Chovie. Through their adventures in each episode, they learn moral lessons that help them overcome their problems. Tied in to each story are other segments, told through live-action footage:

  • Through the eyes of Seymour (a walking pair of binoculars), the characters look out beyond the lighthouse to see what the tugboats in the harbour are doing. Their stories relate to the situations of the main characters. The tugboat footage is composed of live model animation, taken from the British television series Tugs (see below for more information).
  • Some episodes include a segment called 'Salty's Song Time' introduced by the lighthouse clock. These consist of original songs, which relate the moral of the episode. The songs are set to an arrangement of footage, mainly from stock libraries and silent films including Charlie Chaplin, Commando Cody & specially added animation for some scenes in the songs.


Theme song

The theme song was played to the Mister Softee ice cream truck.

Episode list

  1. Mixed Signals (October 3, 1997)
  2. Too Young to Be Included (October 10, 1997)
  3. Taking Off (October 17, 1997)
  4. Let's Party (October 24, 1997)
  5. Blackout (October 31, 1997)
  6. Eight is Too Much (November 7, 1997)
  7. One Bad Day (November 14, 1997)
  8. Hands Off! (November 21, 1997)
  9. Salty Come Lately (November 28, 1997)
  10. It's Magic (December 5, 1997)
  11. Count on Me (December 12, 1997)
  12. Knot So Nice (December 19, 1997)
  13. Taking My Turn (December 26, 1997)
  14. Backward Day (January 2, 1998)
  15. Banana Splits (January 9, 1998)
  16. Clear the Decks (January 16, 1998)
  17. Claude in Charge (January 23, 1998)
  18. The Favorite (January 30, 1998)
  19. Strike Up the Band (February 6, 1998)
  20. Blankety Blank (February 13, 1998)
  21. Last of the Red Hot C Gulls (February 20, 1998)
  22. Farley Frog (February 27, 1998)
  23. Boss Man (March 6, 1998)
  24. Sophie Come Home (March 13, 1998)
  25. Who Took My Crayons? (March 20, 1998)
  26. High Spirits (March 27, 1998)
  27. Some Guys Have all the Luck (April 3, 1998)
  28. Dream On (April 10, 1998)
  29. Sound Off (April 17, 1998)
  30. Treasure Hunt (April 24, 1998)
  31. Who Turned Off the Lights? (May 1, 1998)
  32. If the Clue Fits, Wear It (May 8, 1998)
  33. Desperately Seeking Sadie (May 14, 1998)
  34. Colossal Crab (May 15, 1998)
  35. The Big Birthday Splash (May 22, 1998)
  36. Stop the Music - (May 29, 1998)
  37. Let's Wing It (June 5, 1998)
  38. No Strings Attached (June 12, 1998)
  39. Guilty Gull (June 19, 1998)
  40. Bivalve Blues (June 26, 1998)


In the US, each of 2 episodes were released on "Video Buddy" VHS. In 2005, Metrodome Distribution (a distributor owned by Sunbow owners TV-Loonland) included the episodes 'Taking Off' and 'Let's Party' on a UK release called 'Toddler Time'. As of 2012, episodes are available online on Kidobi, a video streaming site for preschool content.[3]

Comparisons with Tugs

The segments featuring the tugboats in the harbour used footage from the British television series Tugs, a series produced in 1988 by Robert D. Cardona and David Mitton, who (along with Britt Allcroft) produced the popular series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. Whilst Allcroft drove the Thomas series to popularity among American audiences (through the PBS series Shining Time Station), Tugs did not spread far beyond its country of origin, lasting one season of 13 episodes (although it was aired and merchandised in the Japanese and Australian markets).

As a result of this, Sunbow saw fit to use the series' animation as a part of Salty's Lighthouse, licensing the use of the footage from Cardona: however, they repurposed the footage drastically to suit the needs of Salty's Lighthouse - a programme intended for the preschool American market. (Cardona was not involved in the show's production; however, he was credited as creator of the model footage.)

The original episodes of Tugs centered on two rival fleets of tugboats, working in 'Bigg City Port' during the 1920s, with its plotlines involving action and drama intended for an older audience of children. Due to the difference in intended demographic, the original plotlines (as well as the premise of rival tug fleets) were not used. Instead, the producers of Salty's Lighthouse wrote entirely new stories of the boats in 'Snugboat Harbour', relating to the theme of the main animated segment, with footage from the series edited and redubbed to tell these stories.

(This creates an interesting comparison to the Thomas segments of Shining Time Station; as Britt Allcroft intended to introduce Thomas to America through that series, its stories were redubbed and slightly rewritten, but still faithful to their source. In the case of Salty's Lighthouse, the show was completely repurposed for a new market, instead of attempting to create a faithful 'equivalent' of Tugs.)

Along with the newly created stories, various changes were made to the characters featured in them. The characters of Sunshine, Captain Star (the narrator), and Little Ditcher were made female, presumably to appeal to a wider audience of children. (Sunshine was referred to in some episodes as fellow switcher Ten Cents' sister.)

The American accents of the new voiceover replaced a range of British accents from the original characters (for example, the Glaswegian Scottish of Big Mac, or the Cockney accents of Ten Cents and Zorran).

Some character names were also changed, usually to avoid confusion with others of the same name: Of the main characters, Big Mac became 'Big Stack' (possibly to avoid legal trouble from McDonalds over the name of their famous sandwich).; O.J. became 'Otis' (possibly to avoid confusion with O. J. Simpson or the fact that O.J. can stand for orange juice).; while Zebedee became 'Zeebee' (his original nameplate is left uncensored which indicates his name may have been consistently mispronounced).

Izzy Gomez had an American accent instead of a Mexican one, despite having the sombrero.

Many supporting and incidental characters were also repurposed, to fit particular Salty's Lighthouse stories:

  • Johnny Cuba, a smuggler, was written as 'Steamer', a friendly but shy character.
  • Sea Rogue was used as a villain, stealing cargo.
  • Two different characters, Coast Guard and the Coast Guard's Messenger, were merged into a single character named 'Cappy'.
  • Puffa had different names in different stories: 'Stanley', and later 'Chooch'.
  • Big Mickey became 'Bigg Basil'.
  • Jack the Grappler became 'Scoop'.
  • The Fire Tug was known as 'Red Fin'.
  • The scrap dealers Burke and Blair became movie producers named 'Mr. Boffo' and 'Mr. Socko'.
  • The tramper Nantucket also went under different names, sometimes in speaking parts, sometime only communicating through a foghorn.

See also

External links


  2. 2.0 2.1 Bailey, Jeff Lenburg ; foreword by Chris (2009). The encyclopedia of animated cartoons (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Facts on File/Checkmark Books. p. 614. ISBN 978-0-8160-6599-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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