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The Jackson 5ive (TV series)

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The Jackson 5ive (TV series)

The Jackson 5ive
Title Card
Directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Jules Bass
Voices of

The Jackson 5
Paul Frees (The J5's Producer/Additional voices)

Donald Fullilove (Michael)
Edmund Sylvers (Marlon)
Joel Cooper (Jermaine)
Mike Martinez (Tito)
Craig Grandy (Jackie)
Diana Ross (Diana)
Country of origin United States
United Kingdom
No. of episodes 23
Producer(s) Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Jules Bass
Running time 30 min.
Production company(s) Rankin/Bass Productions
Motown Productions
Halas and Batchelor
Distributor Worldvision Enterprises (syndication)
Original channel ABC
Original run September 11, 1971 (1971-09-11) – September 1, 1973 (1973-09-01)

The Jackson 5ive was a Saturday morning cartoon series produced by Rankin/Bass and Motown Productions on ABC from September 11, 1971 to October 14, 1972; a fictionalized portrayal of the careers of Motown recording group The Jackson 5. The series was rebroadcast in syndication through Worldvision Enterprises during the 1984–1985 Saturday morning season, during a period when Michael Jackson was riding a major wave of popularity as a solo artist. The series was animated mainly in London at the studios of Halas and Batchelor, and some animation done at Estudios Moro, Barcelona, Spain. The director was Spanish-American Robert Balser.


Other than appearing in the introduction where actual photographs are shown morphing into animated cartoons, the actual Jackson brothers themselves—Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael—were unable to contribute to the show in any way due to scheduling conflicts, although the group did pose for some posters prior to the show's release to advertise the forthcoming Saturday morning cartoon. Only their music was used; however, during the music montages, a clipping of the Jackson 5 appearing in concert would air occasionally to blend in with the cartoon. Though Berry Gordy/The J5's producer did not provide the original voice (his character was voiced by Paul Frees) nor advertised his name, his character was frequently involved as the "adult figure" to the group. R&B/Pop singer Diana Ross contributed to voice her fictionalized self in the debut episode. The premise of the show is that the Jackson Five would have adventures similar to Josie and the Pussycats, Alvin & the Chipmunks or The Partridge Family, with the unique addition being that Berry Gordy, the manager of the band in the show's universe, would come up with an idea for publicity for the band, such as having to do farm work or play a concert for the President of the United States. The series was followed by The Jacksons, a live action show, in 1976.


A specially recorded medley of four Jackson 5 #1 hits—"I Want You Back", "The Love You Save", "ABC", and "Mama's Pearl"—served as the show's theme song. Each episode would feature 2 songs by the Jackson 5. The songs were derived from their albums Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5, ABC, Maybe Tomorrow, and Third Album. In the newer episodes, from 1972–73, eight songs were derived from Michael Jackson's album Got to Be There and two songs from the Jackson 5 album Lookin' Through the Windows.


Because Michael Jackson owned many pets in real life, a few pets were added as extra characters to the cartoon. They included Michael's pet rats, Ray and Charles (alluding to singer Ray Charles), and his pet snake Rosie 'The Crusher'. Other than the mice chirping, the pets never spoke, but usually either attributed to assistance, mischief or joining the Jackson Brothers in performances on the show.

Laugh track debacle

Like most 1970s-era Saturday morning cartoons series’, The Jackson 5ive contained an adult laugh track. Rankin-Bass experimented with creating their own laugh track, a practice Hanna-Barbera had implemented in 1971. This was done to avoid paying large fees to Charley Douglass, who edited laugh tracks onto the majority of network television shows at the time. Like Hanna-Barbera, Rankin/Bass isolated several snippets of canned chuckles from Douglass’ library, and inserted them onto the soundtrack. Unlike Hanna-Barbera, which contained a very limited selection of laughs, Rankin/Bass had a wider selection of laughs, including a titter track and even one to two applause cues, and it was mostly updated to resemble Douglass' real laugh track from the current season.[1] However, because Hanna-Barbera's laugh track was milder and a little more balanced, Rankin/Bass' chuckles were mostly just loud eruptions of laughter; mild jokes received unnatural bouts of laughter, while other times, the laughter would erupt mid-sentence. As a result, Rankin/Bass ceased using laugh tracks after The Jackson 5ive ended its original run in 1973.[1]


Season 1 (1971–1972)

No. Title Original airdate
1 "It All Started With..." 11 September 1971 (1971-09-11)
The pilot episode, introducing the five brothers, their pets, their producer (Berry Gordy) and the apocryphal origin story of the Jacksons depicting Diana Ross as their mentor who discovered them when they saved her from their pet snake, Rosey, then their struggle to get discovered in Motown.
Songs: "ABC", "Goin' Back to Indiana"
2 "Pinestock U.S.A." 18 September 1971 (1971-09-18)
The Jackson brothers agree to play an outdoor concert similar to Woodstock, but learn that the concert is endorsed by a logging camp where a bunch of lumberjacks will level the forests right after the concert concludes.
Songs: "I'll Be There", "The Young Folks"
3 "Drafted" 25 September 1971 (1971-09-25)
The Jackson 5 is scheduled to give a USO concert at Fort Paratrooper, but due to a mixup Marlon and Michael have been mistaken for recruits. The other brothers do jobs such as kitchen patrol and running the obstacle course in order to rescue Michael and Marlon before they get a new look: having the post barber turn their afros into "cue ball" haircuts!
Songs: "I Want You Back", "2-4-6-8"
4 "Mistaken Identity" 2 October 1971 (1971-10-02)
The Jacksons, out west driving to a tour date in Las Vegas, get sidetracked in an Old West town where they are mistaken for five ornery bandit brothers.
Songs: "I'll Bet You", "16 Candles"
5 "Bongo, Baby, Bongo" 9 October 1971 (1971-10-09)
Michael finds himself the unwitting and reluctant adopted son of a female gorilla whose bongo-playing offspring is pet-napped by a malevolent clown for his circus act. The remaining Jackson brothers are forced to find ways to rescue Michael from the lovesick animal.
Songs: "My Little Baby", "It's Great To Be Here"
6 "The Winners' Circle" 16 October 1971 (1971-10-16)
Visiting a race track, Michael is tricked by a somewhat shifty horse racer into accidentally buying a lazy, unmotivated horse. When the brothers learn that the horse can race real fast when their music is being played, the horse racer comes up with a plan to make sure they lose everything.
Songs: "The Love You Save", "How Funky Is Your Chicken?"
7 "CinderJackson" 23 October 1971 (1971-10-23)
The brothers hear at a press conference that Mr. Leo F. King, a show business entrepreneur, is holding a lavish birthday party for Samantha Christie, the Princess of Pop, but Michael is sick and is unable to attend her party. Then he receives a package from Gary, Indiana, which he thinks is chicken soup, but is soon greeted by an Afro-crowned "Hairy Godfather" fairy who grants him a wish to see the star. He sneaks to the ball regardless and dances with the celebrity.
Songs: "Reach In", "Can I See You In The Morning?"
8 "The Wizard of Soul" 30 October 1971 (1971-10-30)
Michael wanders into an oasis called the Land of Soul he sees each of his brothers play a familiar Wizard of Oz character. Together they journey to find the "Wizard of Soul," who if located can help him get back to his (real) brothers and get to the show on time.
Songs: "The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage", "Oh How Happy"
9 "The Tiny Five" 6 November 1971 (1971-11-06)
The Jacksons are shrunk to miniature size and have to avoid large household perils to reverse the mishap that miniaturized them.
Songs: "The Wall", "I Will Find A Way"
10 "The Groovatron" 13 November 1971 (1971-11-13)
The Jacksons tour themselves to exhaustion and long to take a break. Marlon, depicted as a gear-head genius, builds an Afro-wearing musical robot titled "The Groovatron" to stand in for them for future performance dates. However, a shifty salesman named Sam Sham witnesses the successful maiden performance of the robot, kidnaps it, and sends it on tour on its own, replacing The Jacksons and selling out instead of them. The brothers scheme at once to kidnap their robot back before their careers are destroyed.
Songs: "Maybe Tomorrow", "Nobody"
11 "Ray & Charles: Superstars" 20 November 1971 (1971-11-20)
Ray and Charles become envious of the success of their owners and decide to become stars on their own. Discovered by Hollywood, the two mice become superstars overnight and soon as they do, the brothers fear that the success will go to their heads.
Songs: "(Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need", "(We've Got) Blue Skies"
12 "Farmer Jacksons" 27 November 1971 (1971-11-27)
Jackie decides that his family should have a break from superstardom and place a bet with a crook to run a farm, which leads to disasters with the animals, food and the farm itself. But with the help of their singing, they might be able to work as a team.
Songs: "My Cherie Amour", "Honey Chile"
13 "Jackson Island" 4 December 1971 (1971-12-04)
On a flight to Hawaii, the five brothers crash onto an island. Michael hits his head on a coconut and meets the most fictional and evil pirates in history.
Songs: "Ready or Not (Here I Come)", "La La Means I Love You"
14 "The Michael Look" 11 December 1971 (1971-12-11)
When stranded without his stage clothing in a travel mishap at Heathrow Airport in London, Michael unwisely consults two envious Pearly Kings threatened by his success who use the opportunity to plot to discredit him. The two Pearlies conspire to trick Michael into dressing in shabby patches and rags for his royal performance, but once he is seen on Carnaby Street, his look becomes a British fashion sensation.
Songs: "Darling Dear", "I Don't Know Why I Love You"
15 "Jackson Street, U.S.A." 18 December 1971 (1971-12-18)
The Mayor of Gary, Indiana, declares a street in town will be renamed "Jackson 5 Boulevard", and invites the Jackson brothers to perform on declaration day. The Jacksons plan to touch down in the town square by means of a hot air balloon, but a mishap sends the balloon soaring past and out of the city. (Ironically, the group's final album would be called 2300 Jackson Street.)
Songs: "Petals", "She's Good"
16 "Rasho-Jackson" 8 January 1972 (1972-01-08)
In eerie precognition of future events, "Rasho-Jackson" depicts the Jackson brothers becoming alienated after an argument by their stalled car and refusing to perform with each other ever again, all becoming "The Jackson Ones." Intended to parody the Japanese artistic film Rashomon, the episode predicts how the Jackson phenomenon would end in twenty years. Berry Gordy is depicted bringing the brothers back together again.
Songs: "One More Chance", "I Found That Girl"
17 "A Rare Pearl" 15 January 1972 (1972-01-15)
The Jacksons swear off girls after a series of romantic mishaps, but immediately fall in love with an attractive female flight attendant named Jacqueline Pearl on their next tour flight. Jacqueline shuns all interest in the brothers and recruits her muscular football player older brother to give the Jacksons the scare of their lives when they pursue her at home.
Songs: "Never Can Say Goodbye", "Mama's Pearl"

Season 2 (1972)

This season is billed as The New Jackson 5ive Show.
No. Title Original airdate
18 "Who's Hoozis?" 9 September 1972 (1972-09-09)
The Jacksons are scheduled to perform at an outdoor concert, but when Michael discovers a talking "blues bird" (a play on "blues" and bluebird) and learns that the jazz-musician voiced bird and his nest, containing an egg soon to hatch, are in danger from bulldozers scheduled to tear down the concert park, Michael investigates. He learns a wealthy magnate named Hoozis owns the building overlooking the endangered park, and at once moves in to interfere. Hoozis is patterned after eccentric U.S. millionaire Howard Hughes.
Songs: "Rockin' Robin", " Wings Of My Love"
19 "Michael White" 16 September 1972 (1972-09-16)
When he bumps his head in a bicycling accident, Michael dreams he is a storybook prince hiding in a tiny cottage where his brothers are dwarf-sized and warn him not to eat the poisoned apple a visiting crone soon offers (as in the story of Snow White). Naturally, Michael bites the apple and immediately collapses as though dead.
Songs: "Sugar Daddy", "I Wanna Be Where You Are"
20 "Groove to the Chief" 23 September 1972 (1972-09-23)
Michael fantasizes about what it would be like to become Mayor of Los Angeles. His Hairy Godfather (back from the episode "CinderJackson") grants his wish and Michael discovers that it's a bigger job than he thought. The Hairy Godfather is the only character to play a recurring role in The Jackson 5ive besides Berry Gordy.
Songs: "I'm So Happy", "In Our Small Way"
21 "Michael in Wonderland" 30 September 1972 (1972-09-30)
Before a show in the Wonderland theme park, Michael accidentally falls unconscious while testing a new roller coaster ride and dreams he is in Wonderland, where he encounters soul and funk-related versions of Wonderland's famous characters.
Songs: "Got to Be There", "Maria (You Were the Only One)"
22 "Jackson and the Beanstalk" 7 October 1972 (1972-10-07)
Michael comes across magic beans that grow a beanstalk outside his and his brothers' Indiana apartment (as in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk). When he climbs to the top, he wanders a fabulous land and encounters the giant.
Songs: "Love Is Here (And Now You're Gone)", "Girl Don't Take Your Love From Me"
23 "The Opening Act" 14 October 1972 (1972-10-14)
A promoter books the brothers on a heavy radio tour schedule, while trying to find an opening act for their upcoming concert.
Songs: "Little Bitty Pretty One", "If I Have to Move a Mountain"

DVD release

On January 15, 2013, DreamWorks Classics released The Jackson 5ive: The Complete Animated Series on DVD and Blu-ray in Region 1 for the very first time.[2] The 2-disc set features all 23 episodes of the series.


  1. ^ a b Iverson, Paul: "The Advent of the Laugh Track" Hofstra University archives; February 1994.
  2. ^

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