Alfred J. Kwak

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Alfred Jodocus Kwak, commonly known as Alfred J. Kwak, is a funny animal character of furry interest that stars on a Dutch theatre show by Herman van Veen, and later animated as a television series in 1989 by VARA and Telecable Benelux B.V..

The television series consists of 52 episodes, with the characters designed by Harald Siepermann.

Story[edit]

Alfred J. Kwak was born as the son of Johan Sebastian and Anna Kwak. Some time after his birth, Alfred loses his parents and his brothers and sisters who died when a car hits them. Henk the mole, a good friend of the Kwak family, raises the little yellow duck. Alfred experiences a lot of adventures.

Unlike many other cartoons targeted for children, Alfred J. Kwak features exceptionally mature and often sad themes. Amongst others it deals with different social and political issues, such as abuse of power, but also raises important values such as friendship and solidarity.

The cartoon is also notable for the political themes on which it touches. In the cartoon, Alfred fights against a fascist dictator, takes in refugees fleeing from a country under Apartheid (with white geese and black ducks), saves whales against hunters, and oversees the changeover of his country from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Such themes are far from typical in a children's cartoon, and form a big part of Alfred J. Kwak's appeal. Other episodes have satirised the Japanese love of golf, and criticised countries which have sharp north/south economic divides.

The cartoon is also unusual for the subtlety of its long-term narrative. In most children's cartoons, the characters do not age. In Alfred J. Kwak, we see the progress of the main characters from very young children to adulthood as the series progresses. This is particularly striking in the character of Dolf. At first a mere naughty schoolboy, we watch as his evil steadily progresses.

Origins[edit]

   
Alfred J. Kwak
When our children were still young, I wrote the first story on Alfred Jodocus Kwak. Mainly, this was caused by two things. One night I was on my way home and drove my car through the countryside, and accidentally ran over a duck. I regretted it a lot. A few days later I was at home on the telephone and saw a mother duck and seven little ducklings wobbling through our garden. The man I was talking to on the phone was the leader of a symphonic orchestra. He asked if I could write a fairytale and if I could come over and tell and sing about it, while the orchestra would provide musical accompaniment. While I was talking to the man I thought: “Could that mother duck be looking for her husband, and how do you explain to a duck that you ran over another duck?”. “Hello?” the voice on the phone said.“What do you think?” I said: “I'm thinking of a duck?” and the man said “Excellent, so you'll write us a fairytale about a duck”. That's how Alfred was born. By accident.
   
Alfred J. Kwak

Herman van Veen[1]

The series has been broadcast in many countries and has been dubbed and subtitled in Dutch, French, Japanese, Greek, English, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Finnish, Serbian, Polish, German, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Chinese, and Norwegian.

In 1991, Herman van Veen won the Golden Camera, the German television award, for the animation in this cartoon.

Characters and settings[edit]

Main article: List of characters in Alfred J. Kwak

Setting[edit]

Great Waterland[edit]

Great Waterland (Groot-Waterland in Dutch) is arguably the most important setting within the series. It is Alfred's birthplace as well the home, or future home, of many of the shows characters. It is, partly, a caricature of the Netherlands. The land consists of polders, the town Alfred lives in is build in a typical Dutch style, while he himself lives in a house made from a clog. In addition; many of its inhabitants wear traditional Dutch clothing, perhaps most notably Alfred's parents. For most of the series Great Waterland is an absolute monarchy, led by Franz Ferdinand: a lion. Near the shows conclusion Dolf assumes command, and Waterland briefly becomes an authoritarian fascist state, before reverting to a monarchy and eventually becoming a democracy.

Episode list[edit]

Season 1

  1. Alfred comes to life
  2. Alfred’s first birthday
  3. The ruby of the crown
  4. My father is Henk
  5. Dolf’s secret
  6. The great race
  7. Sea scouts part 1
  8. Sea scouts part 2
  9. The strange bottle
  10. Flying Carpet
  11. Alfred joins the circus
  12. Alfred's chess adventure
  13. The queen loses her crown
  14. Let's find the sawfish
  15. Alfred's perilous voyage
  16. The search for the whales
  17. Visitors from outer space
  18. The southern cross
  19. The ocean belong to all of us
  20. Alfred - desert dream
  21. The king takes a loan
  22. Dolf is justice
  23. Escape from the crow party
  24. Emperor Dolf the first
  25. The decline and fall of emperor Dolf
  26. The unabominable snowman

Season 2

  1. Love at first sight
  2. A gift from the king
  3. Journey to at
  4. A turtle island
  5. Drilling for oil
  6. They come to atlantis
  7. Gunfight at tombstone
  8. The riddle of the pyramid
  9. The labyrinth
  10. The course of true love
  11. An invitation from the prince
  12. Love unites
  13. Who wants to marry a witch
  14. The stolen pan
  15. The volcano erupts
  16. Save the dragon
  17. Vote for Ollie
  18. Dolf takes a chance
  19. The strange epidemic
  20. Clown in the moon
  21. The magic fiddle
  22. How about a game of golf
  23. Looking for the rainbow
  24. Pot of Gold
  25. Forests of fuel?
  26. Dolf’s last stand

Theme Songs[edit]

Dutch Version[edit]

Zo vrolijk, Zo vrolijk

Ik ben vandaag zo vrolijk

German Version[edit]

So fröhlich, So fröhlich

Warum bin ich so fröhlich

Japanese Version[edit]

Yakusoku da yo (約束だよ)

Happy Happy ~ Alfred's Walk (ハッピー・ハッピー)

Alternative titles[edit]

  • Alfred J. Quack
  • Little Duck's Big Love Story
  • The Adventures of Alfred J. Quack
  • Alfred Jodocus Kwak (Dutch)
  • Alfred Jonatan Kwak (Polish)
  • Приключения Альфреда Квака (Priklyuchenia Alfreda Kwaka; Russian)
  • Niente paura, c'è Alfred! (Italian)
  • Rasmus Rap (Danish)
  • آلفرد كواك ("Alferd Quack" , Arabic)
  • あひるのクワック (Ahiru no Kuwakku; Japanese)
  • 小さなアヒルの大きな愛の物語 あひるのクワック (Chiisana Ahiru no Ooki na Ai no Monogatari Ahiru no Kuwakku; Japanese)
  • שאלתיאל קוואק (Sha'al'ti'el Quack; Hebrew)
  • Alfred Andreas Kvakk (Norwegian)
  • Alfred Jeremias Kvack (Swedish)
  • Alfred Jodocus Kwak (Finnish)
  • Alfréd a kacsa (Hungarian)
  • Alfred Džonatan Kvak (Serbian)
  • Alfreð Æringi Önd (Icelandic)

Other facts[edit]

  • Dolf indulges in a many great villainous acts aside from the fascist-style coup he stages. At various points he steals gems, indulges in arms dealing, captures an intelligent dragon to sell to a zoo, shoots Lispel, and deliberately damages a dam during the country's election campaign, leading to several deaths. The depiction of Dolf's rule is a satire on Nazism, complete with references to Dolf enforcing "racial purity". Dolf is revealed at one point as being "part-blackbird", a sly reference to Hitler himself hardly living up to the Aryan ideal. Just as Hitler was rumored to be partially Jewish, Dolf colors his yellow beak black to seem like a full crow.
  • Aside from Dolf and Lispel, other villains Alfred has to face include the corrupt Mayor Crocodile, selfish landowning ape Mr. NittyLocopan, Scratchpaws the ravenous cat, and the authorities of the Apartheid South African style state "Atrique".
  • That Alfred's girlfriend fleeing Apartheid is called Winnie is probably a reference to the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela.
  • One episode features a womanising pop star duck who nearly steals Winnie off Alfred. He appears to be loosely based on Prince and Michael Jackson.
  • Although most of the worlds population is depicted as anthropomorphic animals, there are apparently humans present, however the humans are described as savage beasts, that are for example caged in circuses, with "human tamers" to train them for shows.
  • In the episode of Desert Dream, Alfred is introduced by a singer named Leifeet, to the problems of drought in a poor country. This clearly refers to the charity actions taken for Ethiopia by Bob Geldof through his live aid-project in the mid-1980s.
  • The time setting of the cartoon is somewhat surreal. On the whole the technology and dress of most characters seems appropriate to the late 20th century, and yet Alfred and Paljas/Boffin often travel in a spaceship with a technology far more advanced than that, while many characters such as the King's staff, Scratchpaws the cat, and Dolf in his Napoleonic incarnation wear clothes more appropriate to previous ages. Other surreal elements to the cartoon include such strange characters as the evil genie of the bottle, living chess pieces from Alfred's chess game, Pied Piper style Clown On The Moon, and aliens who appear like ducks except for their human-style feet, and a "dream" style Wild West episode during which Dolf seems to become aware that he is a character in a cartoon.
  • British actor Melvyn Hayes, best known for It Ain't Half Hot Mum, voiced several characters, including Dolf, in the UK, English-dubbed version.
  • In the UK version the main character is Alfred Jonathan Kwak.
  • In the Israeli version, Alfred is called Shealtiel, and "Shalti" in short. The name's meaning is "I asked God", referring to his curious nature.
  • The J. in Alfred's original name stands for "Jodocus", which is Latin for "lord".[1]
  • In the Danish version the main character is Rasmus Rap, a name earlier used for Donald Duck in that country.
  • In the Dutch, German and UK version Alfred has an occasionally used catchphrase:- "Piccobello!"; used to express extreme enthusiasm or happiness.
  • Popular polish scenic and movie actor Henryk Talar was voice-over in Polish version.
  • The Dutch version was one of the first cartoon series in the Netherlands to feature an all-star cast; actress Ryan van den Akker voices the starring role while creator Herman van Veen is Paljas/Buffon (Paljas is an alternative Dutch phrase for clown, and refers to one aspect of Van Veen's career that spans four decades); the flying windmill originally appeared in his 1978 television series Herman and the Six. Van den Akker and Van Veen also feature in the German version. The newsreader is courtesy of Harmen Siezen, a real-life anchorman who quit in 2002 after 33 years of faithful service.
  • In the 1976 theatre-show Herman van Veen tells the story of Alfred borrowing the King money and not seeing it back. In the cartoon series this episode preludes the return of Dolf after a one month out of town. He wasn't laughing when he heard what happened to Alfred, taking it as a sign that "this country's going backwards". Dolf already considered to go politics and by inheriting dodgy money her had the tools to fund the National Crow Party. The King responded by saying "It's not fair; Dolf wants to be King, but I can't be Dolf".

The show has had some PAL VHS releases in the United Kingdom and Germany (as spotted on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de), but does not appear to have an NTSC release in the United States and Canada.[citation needed]

A DVD Region 2 box set of the whole series has been produced and is sold in the Netherlands. An English DVD release was made late 2007 and is now available to buy on Amazon.com [2].

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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