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Between the Lions is a children's puppet series that aired on PBS from 2000 to 2010, designed to promote reading skills. The basic philosophy of the program is to get kids "wild about reading"; this is literalized through the use of a family of lions running a library: Theo and Cleo and their children Lionel and Leona.

Although it is not affiliated with The Jim Henson Company or Sesame Street, it does share many similar characteristics, along with some similarities to The Electric Company. It also features many cast and crew commonly involved with Muppet productions.


  • Several Sesame Street Muppets made special guest appearances during the second season:
  • In "Tweet! Tweet!," which aired on May 1, 2001, Theo and Cleo scoff at the possibility that birds and dinosaurs could be related. They change their minds when Big Bird enters the library, and introduces himself. As he leaves, the camera pans to Ernie, looking up from a book on Humongous Duckies, and Bert, reading about Humongous Pigeons. Both utter their trademark laughs.
  • Two different versions of the "Dance with Smartypants" segment featured Bert (appearing in the episode "Rats") and Elmo (in "Oh, Yes, It Can!") as celebrity guests. Credited guest performers for the collective appearances were Caroll Spinney, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Kevin Clash, and John Tartaglia.
  • Principal characters from Between the Lions joined Sesame Street, Bear in the Big Blue House, and The Muppet Show characters in the "We Are Family" music video.
  • Several 2006 and 2007 PBS interstitials for the Ready To Learn Service feature Between the Lions characters interacting with Sesame Street characters:
    • ”Star Finder" spoofs American Idol with Ernie demonstrating his rhyming skills. The judges are Theo, Emily Elizabeth from Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Oscar the Grouch.
    • Another one stars Leona and Theo. The segment takes place outside the normal realm of the show, and instead is set in a family living room, spoofing the sitcom genre, complete with laugh track. A brief set of credits appear under a voice over making references to other PBS shows including Sesame Street. The credits include: Camera Operator - Grover; Art Direction - Prairie Dawn; Leona's Body Double - Elmo Monster; Second, Third and Seventh Unit Director - The Count; and, Gaffer - Big Bird.
    • In a Mission: Impossible spoof, Cookie Monster receives instructions from Arty Smartypants, a Between the Lions character.
    • Grover was paired with Cleo in spoofs of Casablanca and Superman.
    • In a West Side Story spoof, Theo and Ernie sing a variation of "The Jet Song." Oscar makes a cameo.



Between the Lions title card

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