PEPPER ANNOriginal Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1997
Creator: Sue Rose
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The antics of kids on the edge of teendom are a perennial cartoon theme, to the point where even mighty Disney was no stranger to the genre by the time Pepper Ann came along not quite! But their acquisition of Doug was about contemporary with the creation of Pepper; about the only actual experience they'd had with that age group as
characters was to have temporarily aged Huey, Dewey and Louie into it for Quack Pack the year earlier.
In many ways, Pepper Ann was the opposite of Doug. Doug Funnie was quiet and introverted, whereas Pepper Ann Pearson was outgoing and often loud. Both helped kick off One Saturday Morning, Disney's two-hour programming block that dominated ABC's Saturday morning schedule during the late 1990s. They, and it, began on September 13, 1997 (tho Doug had a pre-Disney existence, before its acquisition). Another that debuted with them was Recess, which had younger characters.
There's some controversy about her name. Several sites list her with "Pepper" in quotes, like a nickname, indicating that her real first name is "Jennifer", but others claim that's not supported in the actual scripts of the shows. Thus far, none of the "Jennifer" sites have specified support for that claim, and we know (from a flashback) that she was called "Pepper" at a very early age.
Whatever her name is, at age 12, she's in the 7th grade at Hazelnut Middle School, and hangs out a lot with her pals Nicky Little (who, like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way) and Milo Kamelami (an artistic type, and correspndingly quirky). She also spends a lot of time in detention. Aside from her school life, her home life is also prominent in the series. Her mom, Lydia Pearson, is divorced and raising Pepper and her younger sister, Margaret Rose "Moose" Pearson, by herself.
The show didn't originate from Disney's own studio, but was developed outside, by creator Sue Rose (Angela Anaconda). Reportedly, Rose had Nickelodeon (Rugrats, Backyardigans) in mind for a market, before she took it to Disney. It was directed by Brad Goodchild (Beetlejuice, Kim Possible). Nonetheless, Pepper Ann is one of the few "modern" Disney characters to have crossed over with the classic character set. She made an appearance on House of Mouse in 2001.
Pepper Ann's voice was done by Kathleen Wilhoite, who has mostly done face acting, tho she also did Cathy in 1980s TV specials. Lydia was April Winchell (Cruella DeVil), Nicky was Clea Lewis (another with more face than voice credits) and Milo was Danny Cooksey (Montana Max). Voices of less central characters included Pamela Adlon (Ferngully), Don Adams (Tennessee Tuxedo), Mark Hamill (The Joker), Cree Summer (Elmyra Duff) and Kath Soucie (Maddie in Danny Phantom).
Pepper Ann remained in production for five seasons, a total of 65 episodes. The last one aired November 18, 2000. After appearing on ABC, they were rerun on The Disney Channel (Donald Duck Presents), Toon Disney (Gargoyles) and elsewhere. So far, it isn't available on DVD.