Kaboodle: Masters of disguise

Kaboodle: Masters of disguise
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A criminal and ‘master of disguise’ (voiced by Patrick Frost) has taken on the form of a moustachioed dustbin, but Great Detective Alex Holmes (voiced by Lachlan Haig) and his faithful but reluctant canine assistant Watson (voiced by David Burchell) are on to him. When the criminal makes a quick escape, Alex decides that in order to catch him, they too must become masters of disguise. They meet some interesting characters at the bus stop and when the bus departs and the stop sign disappears, Watson is again suspicious. Summary by Tammy Burnstock.

This imaginative and multilayered claymation was created by the ongoing partnership of director-animator Michael Cusack and producer-director of photography Richard Chataway who together run Aniflex, an animation company based in South Australia. In addition to advertising, the duo are also responsible for a number of award-winning short animations for both children and adults including AFI award-winning shorts Waltzing Matilda (1985) and Gargoyle (2006).

In the well-worn tradition of playing with the characters and conventions of the Sherlock Holmes detective series by British author Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859–1930), this new take on the famous partnership is given life and humour through the animators’ understanding of movement, timing and characterisation. Cusack brings personality and a real sense of life to his characters, child detective Alex and his droll sidekick Watson.


Kaboodle synopsis

Kaboodle is an anthology of stories for television produced by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. Each episode comprises self-contained segments mixing 2D and clay animation, live action and puppetry to tell stories drawn from a variety of sources, including published books, fairytales, myths and original ideas. This first episode in series one consists of four separate stories.

In the animated ‘Molly Makes Music’, Molly’s imaginary friend Willy (voiced by William Upjohn) helps Molly (Cara Schwarz) come to terms with her parents’ separation. In the live action ‘Double Take’, directed by Sue Brooks, a mix up of children in a train station is finally resolved despite a language barrier. ‘The Wheelie Wonder’ tells the story of Royce, born with wheels instead of feet. Finally, in ‘The Great Detective Alexander Holmes’, Alex (Lachlan Haig) and his faithful dog Watson (David Burchell) go looking for an unusual criminal when the television disappears.


Kaboodle curator's notes

Kaboodle was a platform and showcase for the talents of many up-and-coming Australian filmmakers of the 1980s. According to ACTF publicity, the series was designed to 'encourage imagination, stimulate creative play and encourage exploration of values and issues’ in its young audience.

In this first episode there are stories about divorce, disability, getting lost in a public place, and a child protagonist solving a mystery. All stories are told firmly from the child’s point of view and truthfully explore issues such as reconciling separated parents and dealing with the perceptions and behaviour of others. This episode also demonstrates the rich variety of storytelling techniques in the series with a combination of innovative animation as well as live-action drama.

The two series of Kaboodle were first broadcast on the ABC during 1988–89. The series won awards from the Chicago International Festival of Children’s Films, Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) and the Australian Television Society.

Notes by Tammy Burnstock

Production company:
The Australian Children's Television Foundation
Richard Chataway, Michael Cussack
Executive Producer:
Patricia Edgar
Supervising producer:
Jeff Peck
Eversley Farnback
Title Music:
Chris Neal
Produced with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission and Film Victoria