Mission: Magic! is an animated cartoon series starring pop singer and musician Rick Springfield. It was produced by Filmation, and was a spinoff of the television show, The Brady Kids. Although only 16 episodes were ever produced, it aired on the US television network ABC weekly on the Saturday morning lineup from 1973 through 1975. It was also shown in television in Springfield’s native Australia, where Springfield was a bigger celebrity.
Even though Springfield still spoke with a pronounced Australian accent in the mid-1970s, he provided his own voice for his animated doppelgänger. On the show, Springfield always wore white pants and a white sweater which sported on the front an encircled lowercase “r” with a lightning bolt in the background; this design was taken from the back cover of his 1973 album Comic Book Heroes.
Springfield is joined by a cast of characters:
- Miss Tickle, a bubbly teacher who is secretly an expert on magic (her name is a pun on the word “mystical”)
- and six teenaged students:
- Vinnie, who spoke with a thick New York accent
- Carol, a blonde girl who had a crush on Springfield
- Socks, a quirky Jughead-like character who wore a light blue hat
- Franklin, a black athlete
- Harvey, a short, stocky and bespectacled nerd
- Kim, an Asian girl.
They were involved in a weekly after-school group called “The Adventurers Club,” although it was the subject of debate whether the organization was a social club or an actual class as Miss Tickle often incorporated various school subjects into the group’s adventures, added to which before and after every adventure they would be visited in the classroom by Mr. Samuels, the principal of the school who knew nothing of Miss Tickle’s magical abilities.
Each Mission: Magic! adventure began by way of an enchanted Gramophone; Rick would communicate with the Adventurers via the Gramophone telling them where he was and invite them to come along. At this point Miss Tickle would aim her magic ring at Tut Tut, a ceramic cat on her desk who would come to life after Miss Tickle recited the incantation:
- “O Tut Tut, cat of ancient lore,
- ‘Tis time to draw the magic door.”
After drawing a magic door on the blackboard, Miss Tickle, Tut Tut and the students would meet up with Springfield and his familiar, an owl named Ptolemy, and then in their travels to mythical lands and various times solve a variety of mysteries encountered. At the end of each show, Springfield would perform a song, the theme of which was usually tied into the moral of the story. Springfield wrote, composed, and performed all of the songs on the program.
Although Mission: Magic! was primarily intended to promote Springfield’s teen idol status in America, the cartoon itself would be a forerunner for the 1990s PBS series, The Magic School Bus, in which Lily Tomlin provided the character voice of Miss Frizzle.
Both shows featured redheaded teachers who possessed magical powers, and both featured groups of students from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. Moreover, the themes of both shows were twofold: entertainment and educational. On each weekly episode, both groups would go off on a variety of adventures, transcending both time and space, by use of magical means.
Ironically, Springfield himself eschewed this series years later – claiming that it “scarred me for life.”