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Cult Cartoon Essentials: Pole Position

“From now on, like your parents were, you are the secret force of Pole Position”

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Pole Position
was a Saturday-morning animated action/mystery series loosely based on a popular 1980s race car video game. It was produced by DIC Entertainment and premiered on CBS in the fall of 1984 and ran for 13 episodes, which were rebroadcast until the end of August 1985. The name Pole Position was used under license from Namco, who held the rights to the name due to the video game Pole Position. The show sought to capitalize on the popularity of the video game. However, there is very little in common between the game and the show.

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Pole Position followed the adventures of three children, teenagers Dan and Tess Darrett and their younger sister Daisy, who worked for a secret crime fighting organization called Pole Position, run by their uncle, Dr. Zachary Darrett.

Dan (voiced by David Coburn) is the eldest of the Darrett siblings. He tends to be a bit stubborn and arrogant, especially about his driving, and to say and do things without thinking. Dan drives Roadie, the blue Pole Position car. Tess (voiced by Lisa Lindgren) is Dan’s slightly younger sister, but is definitely the more mature and level-headed of the pair. She drives Wheels, the red Pole Position car. (Trivia: In the show’s development, Tess was originally named “Tase” — rhymes with “ace”, short for Anastasia — because the creators wanted a slightly unusual name for their female lead.) Daisy (voiced by Kaleena Kiff) is the youngest of the three Darrett children, looking to be about ten. She dreams of being a racer like her big brother and sister, but has a tendency to sneak off and get herself nabbed by the bad guys. Daisy likes video games and playing with Kuma and the car computers. She seems to have a special bond with Wheels in particular. Dr. Zachary Darrett (voiced by Jack Angel) is the wheel chair bound head of Pole Position, he gives the kids their missions, and serves as a source of information, though he rarely tells them the full story until it’s over.

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As the opening states, their parents were the original Pole Position team, Tess and Dan inherited the role after their parents died in a accident. The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons by Jeff Lenburg states that the Darrett parents “disappear in an unexplained explosion during a stunt race”, and the show never elaborates. Uncle Zachary seems to believe they’re dead, or at least never hints otherwise to the kids. Co-developer and writer Michael Reaves tells me that the original plan was for the kids to eventually come across clues about their spy parents. Unfortunately the series didn’t last past the first season, and no specific planning was ever done for a second. The episodes were written as stand-alones, with no extended formats or “mythology”, to allow them to be run in any order and still make sense.

 

Founded Cult Faction in 2014; previously crawled out of the Black Lodge in 1976, only to find himself in the Village.

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