Lutherans’ doc revives popular
children’s animated TV series

“Davey” of the ’60s and ’70s returns in a Lutheran doc that could be a precursor for a new series.

The catalyst for a new documentary about the old “Davey and Goliath” children’s TV series occurred when PepsiCo asked Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to license the two characters for Mountain Dew commercials.

That led to thinking about bringing back the popular 1960-1975 stop-motion animation series that portrayed the adventures of a tow-haired boy, Davey, and his dog, Goliath.

Each episode had Davey and his family encountering situations that provided a way to inject a Christian moral or lesson. The Lutheran Church gave the show to 190 TV stations around the world.

The new hour-long documentary, “Oh Davey?” the history of the Davey and Goliath television series,” airs over ABC affiliates from now through November.

The broadcast opportunity came through the National Council of Churches and the Interfaith Broadcast Commission that have relationships with the networks to broadcast programming by faith groups, said Ava Odom Martin, ECLA’s broadcast media production manager.

The budget, said Martin who also directed, was $85,000 to $90,000. “What helped is we owned the original footage and everyone was willing to work with us. We are all working towards bringing the show back for a new generation,” she said.

Rev. Eric Shafer is ELCA’s director of the project to revive the “Davey and Goliath” series.

The original “Davey and Goliath” series was animated by Art Clokey’s Premavision studio of Los Osos in Central California (creators of the “Gumby” series) from scripts provided by the Lutheran Church. In 1960 alone, Premavision created 65 15-minute episodes.

The original episodes were produced non-profit for the Church for $900 per animated minute or $15,000 an episode.

The “Oh Davey” doc, hosted by actors Clifton Davis and Mary McDonough, showcases the development of the original series. They were taped in Post Effects’ cyberstudio.

Clokey is interviewed, along with the original executive producer, ECLA executive producers Eric Shafer and Kristi Bangert and Premavision producers and animators who are finishing production of an ELCA 45-minute holiday special to air during the 2004 Christmas season. .

Martin was an independent producer for more than 20 years and a partner in her Chaz Elise Video company. She most recently was a contract producer with Ch. 7 before joining ELCA last year. She produced the 2002 “This Holy Night” Christmas Eve special that aired over the CBS network.

Ava Odom Martin can be reached at 773/380-2941.