The first of two educational miniseries, this 1984-1985 production was the precursor to 1988's "The Second Voyage of the Mimi." Like many schoolchildren, I was subjected to this show repeatedly in elementary school, complete with all of the complementary reading materials and research projects.

Each episode was 30 minutes long, split into two parts: the first 15 minutes was the pseudo-drama, where the very diverse crew (including a deaf woman, and a young child played by Ben Affleck) would get into very dangerous situations involving looking at whales. For example, sometimes they would have to identify a whale by its tail pattern, which would get very tense. During storms, one crew member on the Mimi was subjected to hypothermia. At one point, they were shipwrecked. The second 15 minutes consisted of the actors talking at length about the actual science behind their most recent adventure. Topics included navigation, longitude and latitude, all sorts of incredibly boring facts about whales, and so forth.

Lazy teachers liked "The Voyage of the Mimi" because of all of the free teaching materials provided by the distribution company. So after 15 minutes of drama, and 15 minutes of lecture, teachers can give their students 15 days of collaborating on busy work about whales. I, for example, co-wrote a 10-page report about the right whale in elementary school. (It's endangered. That's all I remember.)

The show also taught me that I can live off of water collected in stills and a huge tub of watery peanut butter if I ever get shipwrecked. I still have the show's nautical-sounding theme song stuck in my head.

Homestar Runner has included the theme to the Voyage of the Mimi in one of their famous Strong Bad e-mails. It plays as Strong Bad lies on the couch half-asleep mumbling things like "Super Bomberman."

"The Voyage of the Mimi" was one of those video rites de passage they everyone had to endure, right up there with the sex education cartoon with the guy getting aroused on the diving board upon seeing comely young ladies in the pool and the infamous "Are you choking? Are you choking? Help!" video, which I believe was vaguely related to first aid.

The show, was, of course, shown in front of a captive audience of bored students. Whales seemed to be a major issue in the 1980's. By the time we were watching it in the early 90's, "Voyage of the Mimi" was already ridiculously outdated. Additionally, the show was extremely unentertaining. I mean, what sixth grader cares about balleen-bearing whales versus Odontoceti? The answer: Not a one.

Still, it was hilarious, if you knew where look. There were little gems buried deep in the minidramas that were funny as hell. Not on purpose, of course. Funny in the same way "The Last Dragon" and "Troll 2" were funny.

Demysti(ceti)fying the Mimi

The drama aspect of the show mainly focused around C.T. Granville, an annoying little kid whose parents were getting divorced, and to take his mind off things, his grandfather Captain Granville offered to take him on board the good ship Mimi for the summer. This gives us, the disinterested viewer, the alien perspective we so very need. The Mimi's mission: To ferry the most boring people ever to sail the Seven Seas on a glorified whale watch. As mentioned in the previous writeup, the second "educational" part of the show had the actors talking about some tangental issue. Like the time C.T. and the good Captain went to MIT to talk about nuclear fusion. From whales to Tokamak reactors a subtle connection must exist.

Dramatis Personae

The Mimi was indeed a diverse ship. Let's go over its crew:

Choice Snippets

Here are some snippets from the show, though my memory is hazy. It's been twelve years.

Arthur's Got it Locked Down

Arthur's jamming to some music, it sounds vaguely like Afrikaa Bambataa or the Sugar Hill Gang.

Ramon: Hey, Arthur, you better turn it down. The Captain doesn't like that "rap" music. (N.B.: Scare quotes Ramon's)

Arthur plugs in earphones. He winks at Ramon

Arthur: No problem. I'm wired for silence.

That Damn Sally Ruth

Captain Granville leans over the side of the ship, looking at Sally Ruth.

Captain Granville: Hey.

Sally Ruth doesn't respond.

Captain Granville, growing irate: Hey!

Anne comes over.

Anne: She can't hear you. She's deaf.

Captain Granville: She's what?

Anne: She's deaf. She can't hear anything.

Captain Granville: What? I don't want no goddamn deaf mute on my ship.

Anne: She's not mute. She can read lips, too. If you want her attention, just bang this hammer on the rail.

She does and Sally Ruth straightens up, looking over.

Captain Granville: Still, grrr.. He wanders off, grumbling.

Anne: It's OK, Sally Ruth. The Captain will just have to learn.

And, of course

C.T.: Holy chickens! Look at all that peanut butter!

We went on a field trip to see Peter Marston, the actor who plays Captain Granville, at the Peabody Museum. Apparently, he's some kind of physicist/folk singer. He sang some sea chanties. In retrospect, he was a dead ringer for Robert Jordan.

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