Fantasy and Adventure with Kevin Saves the World!
Our January Pop Up Event focused on the recently catalogued Kevin Saves the World series, a children’s animation series written by Daniel Postgate and produced by Bob Godfrey Films and Kine Aune. Based on the book of the same title, the series features Kevin, a young boy who wants to live an ordinary life but keeps finding himself involved in all kinds of unusual adventures. These unusual adventures transport the viewer into various fantasy scenarios, and so the natural theme for our Pop Up Event was fantasy and adventure.
Fantasy is a term generally used to define a genre that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element. The genre was traditionally inspired from mythology and folklore, but developed as a distinct type of literature during the Victorian period. Farah Mendlesohn attempts to define the types of literary fantasy in her book Rhetorics of Fantasy. She offers the follow categories into which fantasy genre can fall:
Portal Quest: Essentially there is a portal through to another world that has magical elements
Immersive: The entire story is set in a magical world
Intrusive: Elements from the magical world seep into our own
Liminal: The story is set in our world. Magical elements are accepted as opposed to being surprising
We find elements of Portal Quest fantasy (Kevin and the Computer Game, Kevin and the Big Lizard, Kevin and the Baked Beanstalk). We also find elements of Intrusive fantasy (Kevin and the Genie, Kevin and the Boogie Woogie Bogeyman, Kevin and the Recipe Book, Kevin and the Ghosts, Kevin and the Goblet of Eternal Life). However we have a crossover with Kevin and the Vikings, where the hero is transported through a portal, but then returns to the real world with the magical elements escaping and following him to create an Intrusive fantasy. And then of course, every episode borders on the Liminal. Throughout his adventures, we are reminded that Kevin is an ordinary boy who wants an ordinary life, and whilst he sees the fantastic elements as an annoyance, he does not seem particularly surprised by them.
It should be noted that Mendlesohn specifically states that her book applies to literary fantasy, and does not consider television and film. So perhaps we should not categorise Kevin Saves the World in this way. Instead of categories, we can look at sub themes. There are clearly influences from legends (Kevin and the Big Lizard, Kevin and the Goblet of Eternal Life), fairy-tales (Kevin and the Genie, Kevin and the Baked Beanstalk), folklore (Kevin and the Boogie Woogie Bogeyman, Kevin’s Christmas Treat), mythology (Kevin and the Vikings), and even the supernatural (Kevin and the Recipe Book, Kevin and the Ghosts, Kevin and the Seven Deadly Drop-Ins). Alongside these influences, we also see an element of popular culture – the Kevin and the Goblet of Eternal Life storyboards and scripts pose more than one similarity to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!
Whichever way we choose to define or categorise the episodes of Kevin Saves the World, it is apparent that the series as a whole combines a number of influences from which its roots stem. However, at the end of each episode Kevin, much to his relief, is able to return to the real world and resume his ordinary life… Until the next adventure!
The Kevin Saves the World series is now catalogued as part of the Bob Godfrey Collection. View it via the UCA Archives and Special Collections Online Catalogue.
Kevin Saves the World images copyright Bob Godfrey and Daniel Postgate.
All images are for educational purposes only.
Hannah Ratford, Archive Cataloguer