Totally Spies! was first seen on November 3, 2001, on ABC Family (now Freeform) (Cartoon Network) in the United States. It premiered on TF1 in France on 3 April 2002, and on Teletoon in Canada on September 2, 2002. Since the series debut, 156 episodes have been broadcast, completing its sixth season to date, that includes several specials.
Several products tied to the series have been released, which include a series of comic books, novels and video games. A prequel theatrical movie production named Totally Spies! The Movie, made and released between the fifth and sixth seasons and co-produced with Italy, was released in 2009 in France.
The series centers around the adventures of three teenage girls from Beverly Hills—Sam, Alex, and Clover—who live a double life as spies working for the World Organization of Human Protection (WOOHP). The girls are recruited by the organization's leader, Jerry, to solve worsening crime conditions that arise across the globe. Their primary missions involve dealing with disgruntled and vengeful criminals who have been wronged in some form during their past. Other missions have some same villains plotting revenge on the spies by ruining their personal lives. Framing each episode is a subplot that focuses on the girls' daytime lives as high school (and later university) students, dealing with relationships and their longtime high school rival Mandy. Each of the three girls has a spy suit with a heart-shaped silver belt and spy suit identical colours with high-heeled shoes.
Sam is the intellectual of the group; she acts as a rational logical thinker in getting through the problems they encounter on their missions. She has long red hair, green eyes and wears a green catsuit.
Alex is the best friend character and the tomboy of the group, serving as the glue that holds their friendship together. She is affectionate and likes to express her feelings. She likes animals, and sometimes acts childish compared to the other two. She has short black hair, brown eyes, and wears a yellow catsuit.
Clover enjoys shopping, fashion, and good-looking guys. She is not only athletic and strong, but also impulsive and spontaneous. She has chin-length blonde hair, blue eyes and wears a red catsuit.
Jerry is the girls' boss at WOOHP (he's the founder and head of the organization), appearing as a middle-aged balding man in a suit. He is very protective of the girls, often invading their privacy to ensure that they are safe. Despite having a sedentary role in WOOHP's affairs, Jerry has displayed some martial arts skills when occasionally assisting on the girls' missions. He provides the various gadgets that the spies use on each mission.
Mandy is a classmate/rival to the girls in their lives outside of WOOHP. Mandy's rich, beautiful and popular, but also very mean, rude, snobby and self-centered. While she does serve as a rival to all three girls (to each of them as individuals as well as to all three of them as a group), Mandy's typically portrayed as being more of a rival to Clover than she is to Sam or Alex. Mandy has long black hair, violet eyes and a high-pitched nasally voice and is often seen wearing purple.
G.L.A.D.I.S. (Gadget Lending And Distribution Interactive System), a computer system with robotic arms that assists in gadget handling during the third and fourth seasons. GLADIS ultimately proved to be unpopular with fans of the show and was written out of the series early in the fifth season almost entirely due to fan complaints.
The show's conception came from the rise of girl band and female singers in the music industry. Wanting to capitalize on the niche, David Michel and Vincent Chalvon-Demersay put their idea into development, which later shifted into production within a year. According to Michel, the series' animation style was intended to incorporate anime influences. The production company, Marathon Media, intended on building on the series brand by forming a three-piece girl band, utilizing German talk show Arabella to create it. Using a panel of judges, 20 demo videos were selected and the winners were selected based on the strength of their performance and the show's viewers. The band was selected and released a single in the spring of 2002, through EMI. According to managing director Dirk Fabarius, "The plan is to eventually create an entire album and establish and promote Totally Spies as a real band." While the idea did not materialize, the series was promoted through other merchandising. It was announced in the spring of 2001 that the series would air in the autumn on ABC Family, and would be distributed to the European countries in the following year.
In an interview with WorldScreen.com, Michel said that prior to his show, there were a lot of boy action-adventure shows and practically nothing for girls, yet in pop culture, there was Britney Spears and Spice Girls. He said that the characters are heavily inspired by the movie Clueless and wanted to mix that with a James Bond format. When they first pitched the show, it had a moderate response, but when the first season was broadcast, the Charlie's Angels film came out, and suddenly the market was full of girl show properties.
According to an article "Achieving a Global Reach on Children's Cultural Markets" by Valerie-Ines de la Ville and Laurent Durup, the series was originally designed to reach an American audience, but has garnered appeal from its humor "based on a stereotypical European vision of American references" while "appearing to be original and innovative to the U.S. audience". Producer and artistic director Stephane Berry said that the style "is a melting between the American style, which associates action and comedy, and Japanese design for the aesthetic environment and the emotions expressed through the large eyes of the characters." Some of the common references have included Charlie's Angels, Beverly Hills, The Avengers, James Bond and its gadgets, anime, and Cat's Eye.
The head writers for the show were Robert and Michelle Lamoreaux who were based in Los Angeles, and who had worked on Nickelodeon shows. Demersay and Stephane Berry had both previously worked with Saban entertainment in Europe. In a GeoCities interview, Kate Griffin, who voices Alex, mentioned that the typical session for the three girls is that they would record as an ensemble, but through a phone patch, with Hale and Baker calling from Los Angeles, and herself in Toronto.
Following the end of the fifth season, the series's movie, Totally Spies! The Movie, was produced and released to theatres in France on 22 July 2009. The movie received a television release in the United States, on April 25 the following year, coinciding with the airing of the series' fifth season there.
In August 2011, Marathon Media confirmed that production for the sixth season was underway and set to premiere in 2013. The sixth series would be produced solely by Marathon in association with TF1 and The Walt Disney Company France. It was later confirmed that 26 episodes would be produced and that the show would be licensed in Spain and Latin America, with European territories following suit. To coincide with the sixth season's premiere, Zodiak Kids CP Paris, in association with Château de Versailles Spectacles (CVS) and TF1, organized an event at the Palace of Versailles, taking place during the summer of 2013. The event would be preceded with activities including a screening of a special featuring the spies on a mission in the palace gardens.
In 2013, the show was revived for a sixth season, premiering at an event at the Palace of Versailles. Twenty-six episodes were broadcast on French television and networks across Europe starting in September 4, 2013. In Canada, the sixth season premiered on September 7, 2014 on Teletoon, and on September 6 on sister station Télétoon. The show has been broadcast worldwide on various networks, including TF1 in France, Teletoon in Canada, Cartoon Network in the US and Latin America, Rede Globo in Brazil, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon in Asia, Africa, and Europe (formerly Fox Kids and Jetix).
Originally aired (Canadian dates unless otherwise stated)
4 September 2013 (France) September 7, 2014 (Canada)
3 October 2013 (France)[note 1] March 1, 2015 (Canada)
Totally Spies! premiered on November 3, 2001 on ABC Family (now Freeform). It later premiered in Europe on pay-TV and terrestrial channels such as Germany's ProSieben, France's TF1, United Kingdom's ITV 1 or the localised Fox Kids channels throughout the region during the spring of 2002. The show moved to Cartoon Network in July 2003 in the United States, where it attracted 1.6 million viewers (aged 4–10) daily and continued airing until September 10, 2010. The show has attracted over one million viewers in France since its debut. It was re-licensed and its sixth season, along with Totally Spies! The Movie and the show's spin off The Amazing Spiez!. The show aired its sixth season in France and is being broadcast around Europe. In Canada, season 6 began airing on September 7, 2014 on Teletoon, and on 6 September on Télétoon. The show has been broadcast worldwide on various networks, such as TF1 in France; Teletoon in Canada, Cartoon Network in the USA; Fox Kids, Jetix, Cartoon Network and Boomerang in Latin America and Brazil on pay-television; Rede Globo in Brazil on terrestrial TV; MBC 3, Spacetoon, Spacetoon English and ART Teenz in the Arab World; 4Kids TV, Jetix, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon channels in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In Australia, it was shown on Network Ten and later on 10 Peach (formerly Eleven) as part of their Toasted TV block. Seasons 3–4 was aired on POP in the UK from 2013. Season 5 started airing in 2015 and season six the following year. It was also briefly aired on its sister channel, Pop Girl. It was aired on BBC Alba in Scotland. Season 1 aired on Disney Channel and Disney XD.
Joly Herman of Common Sense Media gave the series a mixed review, writing that "We think it's a decent show to catch once in a while, but anything more regular might give viewers the like, slightest headache." Joe Corey of Inside Pulse had a more positive review, calling the show "fun enough for small kids who want a Charlie's Angels undercover action show. The trio does their best to balance the fun of being in the espionage game without it being too risky." Matt Hinrichs of DVD Talk gave a positive review, calling the action in the first three seasons "decently written enough for adults to enjoy." The Parents Television Council, in their March 2006 report, noted that the show did not contain offensive language but expressed concern about the "nature of the violence of the show" in an episode where rats were released to psychologically torture Jerry and Clover, and the sexual content exampled by a sunblock ad by a bikini-clad woman.
The show was also described as risky because it had targeted girls with a genre typically associated with boys' shows and that it was animated when the girls were more interested in live shows. After four seasons, the show had reached over 130 countries and was met with enthusiasm among ages 6–11 that included both girls and boys, and had a Pokémon-like appeal to a broad range of age and gender. In an interview before season three, David Michel said, "The one thing that surprised us the most is the consistency in the male / female viewership split: from Brazil to Italy, we have a 50% boys 50% girls audience ratio, whereas everybody was predicting the show would score very low on boys." Scott Stoute of ScreenRant listed the show among his "10 Girl Cartoons (That Guys Secretly Love)" list.
Goodtimes Entertainment released the first twelve episodes of the show's first season on VHS and DVD in 2004 in three volumes: Totally Spies Volume 1: First Secret Missions, Totally Spies Volume 2: The Getaway, and Totally Spies Volume 3: Spies Attack. Coinciding with the production and release of the show's sixth season, New Video Group/Flatiron Film Company acquired American DVD rights for the series as well as some digital rights for the first three seasons of the series. They've released the first and second seasons (in two volumes each), as well as a box set containing seasons one through three. The third season was finally released in two volumes on January 14, 2014.Totally Spies DVDs are also released in the UK by Sanctuary Visual Entertainment in 2005 and 2006, Totally Spies – First Secret Missions and Totally Spies – Spy Gladiators.
A spin-off series called The Amazing Spiez! features new characters as spies, retaining Jerry as a regular character in the show. While the series focuses on four young teenage siblings—Lee, Megan, Marc, and Tony Clark, the three spy girls make an appearance on the crossover episode "Operation: Dude Ranch Disaster" from season 1. The show had its world premiere on 15 March 2009, on Disney Channel Asia; and its US premiere on April 26, 2010, on Cartoon Network. In Canada, the show premiered on September 2, 2010 on Teletoon. Only the first season and ten Season 2 episodes aired in the US.
Totally Spies! also had a crossover episode in season 5 titled "Totally Mystery Much?" with Martin Mystery, a Marathon-produced series that aired from 2003 to 2006.
Comics and books
A Totally Spies! comics were released monthly in Sweden. Five books with about 90 pages came out in Brazil as well. Each book represents an episode from the series. There is another comic called Totally Spies Unleashed; this opens with "I Hate the 80s!", in which a bad guy, Boogie Gus, has invented a retro ray that de-ages people. The second story, "Attack of the 50 Ft. Mandy", turns their nemesis into a giant in a plot that involves a beauty contest and an escaped evil scientist.Chapter books have also been released.
^The season 6 end date of October 3, 2013, does not include the final two episodes which previously aired as part of a special event in June 2013.
^ ab"Interview With David Michel". Geocities. Interviewed by someguy959. October 22, 2003. Retrieved November 5, 2013. The trailer of the show is anime-looking but, from this to the first episode, we agreed with the show's director, Stephane Berry, who wanted to blend in even more anime.