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Educating and Entertaining


A new season of children's television begins unspooling this week, bringing forth the usual array of shows about aliens, monsters and dinosaurs. What is different this fall, however, is the number of series built around female characters, most notably WB's "The Legend of Calamity Jane," a cartoon in which the whip-wielding heroine fights for justice in the Old West.

Thanks to pressure from Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, there also are many series this season that are intended as much to educate as to entertain, among them ABC's "Science Court," CBS' "Wheel of Fortune 2000" and the Disney Channel's "Bear in the Big Blue House."

Here are highlights of what's new for youngsters this fall.


"101 Dalmatians: The Series": Animated adventures of the beloved spotted puppies. Saturdays at 7 a.m., beginning Saturday. Also weekdays at 5 p.m. on KCAL-TV Channel 9, beginning Monday.

"Pepper Ann": A glimpse into the life and mind of a 12-year-old girl, inspired by the real-life memories of its creator, Sue Rose. Saturdays in the 7:30-9:30 a.m. block, beginning Saturday.

"Recess": From the creators of "Rugrats" comes this new animated series following the escapades of a group of kids during their favorite time of the school day. Saturdays in the 7:30-9:30 a.m. block, beginning Saturday.

"Science Court": From Tom Snyder, the co-creator and executive producer of "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist," comes an animated combination of scientific learning and improvisational comedy, using a courtroom as a teaching ground. Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., beginning Saturday.


"The New Ghostwriter Mysteries": Based on the popular PBS series, this new version features three children and a ghost who come together to solve mysteries via their reading, writing and problem-solving skills. Saturdays at 8 a.m. beginning Sept. 13.

"The Sports Illustrated for Kids Show": Based on the children's magazine; reporters and guest hosts point out how sports embodies health, nutrition and the natural sciences. Saturdays at 9 a.m. Sept. 13.

"The Weird Al Show": Comedian Weird Al Yankovic hosts this "Pee Wee's Playhouse"-type series, featuring comedy segments, animated shorts and celebrity guests. Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 13.

"Wheel of Fortune 2000": David Sidoni hosts a variation of the popular game show, featuring children spinning the wheel to solve word and language puzzles. Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. beginning Sept. 13.


"Ned's Newt": Animated series chronicling the adventures of Ned and his 500-pound monster, a product of Ned's over-feeding. Saturdays at 8 a.m. Oct. 18.

"Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation": Everyone's favorite turtles are back in this live-action comedy series. Fridays at 4:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 12.

"Sam & Max": Animated series based on the comic about a gregarious dog and a manic rabbit. Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 4.

"Space Goofs": Five cartoon monsters from a distant galaxy crash on Earth and take refuge in an empty house. Trouble ensues when the incoming tenants arrive. Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.


"City Guys": Comedy set in New York City about two teen boys from different worlds: one is an African American from Harlem, the other a fast-talking Anglo. Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. beginning Saturday.


"Wimzie's House": For preschoolers, the adventures of a 5-year-old puppet monster with her friends, parents and lively 150-year-old grandmother. Weekdays at 11:30 a.m. on KCET-TV Channel 28, beginning Oct. 6.

"Theodore Tugboat": Another preschool series, exploring the issues of feelings, fairness and friendship through the adventures of a tugboat. Saturdays at 7 a.m. on KCET, beginning Oct. 18.


"Breaker High": Live-action series set on a cruise ship with 500 teens on board learning about math, science, geography, life and responsibility. Sundays at 10 a.m. beginning Sept. 21, and weekdays at 4 p.m. beginning Sept. 15.


"Channel Umptee-3": Norman Lear is an executive producer of this animated comedy set at a pirate TV station. Saturdays at 8 a.m. beginning Oct. 11.

"The Legend of Calamity Jane": The famous free spirit (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) brings truth and justice to the Wild West in this animated action series. Saturdays at 10 a.m. beginning Sept. 13.

"Men in Black: The Series": Animated adaptation of the summer box-office hit follows the government unit assigned to monitor alien activities. Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. beginning Oct. 11.

The Disney Channel

"Bear in the Big Blue House": The latest from Jim Henson Productions features a 7-foot blue bear host who teaches kids a real-world curriculum. Weekdays at 10 a.m. beginning Oct. 20.


"The All New Captain Kangaroo": John McDonough is the new Captain in a revival of the venerable series that ran for nearly 40 years on CBS. Sundays at 7 a.m. on KCOP-TV Channel 13, beginning Sept. 14.

"The Crayon Box": Crayons and books come to life in this companion to "Bananas in Pajamas," encouraging children to act with positive values. Weekdays at 8:30 a.m. on KCOP beginning Sept. 15.

"Mr. Men": Animated series featuring more than 40 characters in humorous, silly stories that teach children about emotions. Weekdays at 6:30 a.m. on KCAL-TV Channel 9, beginning Sept. 15.

"Mummies Alive": A group of Egyptian mummies is brought back to life after a 3,000-year slumber. Weekdays at 7 a.m on KCAL, beginning Sept. 15.

"Popular Mechanics for Kids": The series offers a first-hand look at what it takes to build and operate various projects. Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KCAL. Sept. 20.

Van-Pires: Derelict cars turn into human-life forms after a mysterious meteor crashes into an auto scrap yard. Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on KCOP, beginning Sept. 14.

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