|Inertia. Gravity. Sound. The water cycle. What do these intriguing wonders of science have to do with the criminal justice system? In Science Court, chief component of Tom Snyder Productions' silly Squigglevision, science was always the star witness.
Science Court combined the drama of a courtroom with the even greater drama of science to create an animated series that taught its audiences about justice and the scientific method. Each case involved a dispute between two parties-usually a rich guy and a little guy-over issues that required in-depth scientific investigation. For instance, when I.M. Richman slipped on some water leaking from a pipe in the subway, he attempted to become an even richer man by suing the makers of the pipes. It was up to the defense to prove otherwise by asking, "Is there water around us?" Other questions the show probed included, "What takes more work, reading a book or pushing a wall that won’t move?," "Would you lose weight if you were on Mars?," and "Would you be able to hear an explosion in outer space?"
Through it all, the kind yet iron-fisted Judge Stone, aided by the lovably dopey Stenographer Fred, came to the correct, scientifically-proven ruling. The well-meaning, bumbling prosecutor Doug Savage always lost graciously to Alison Krempel, the competent defense attorney. Court reporter Jen Betters kept viewers updated on the goings-on, and at every gut-wrenching trial, young science fans Julie Bean, Micaela and Tim learned as they assisted the professionals. The man who always got the last word was expert witness Professor Parsons, whose encyclopedic mind and scientific savoir faire got to the bottom of each case.
The hilarious animated show won rave reviews for its signature animation style called "squigglevison." Co-created by Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder, the technique required that a figure be manually drawn five times and those five drawings be melded digitally to produce an oscillating-line effect. The same effect was used on Katz and Snyder's other shows, including Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist and Home Movies.
The boys and girls of the Saturday morning jury gave a big thumbs up to Science Court, as did parents and educators. After its first hit season, Squigglevision gained two more "edutainment" segments: See You Later Estimator gave that multi-talented Professor Parsons the chance to do for math what he had already done for science, and Fizz and Martina's Last Word had the title hosts expanding kids' vocabularies with a "word of the day."
The revamped show still revolved around Science Court, and the first season's episodes were trimmed down to fit the new format. Squigglevision joined Doug, Pepper Ann, Recess and others as part of Disney's powerhouse One Saturday Morning block, where it remains today.