January 27, 2006 – The Disney Channel Animated Series The Emperor’s New School Premieres
“Friends? I thought this was all about me! Spell my name again!”
On January 27, 2006, the Disney Channel animated series The Emperor’s New School premiered. Based on the Disney animated feature film The Emperor’s New Groove, the series takes place right after the events of the film, with main character Kuzco being given the task of graduating from school before being able to claim the throne. Having been banished from the palace until receiving his diploma, Kuzco is sent to live with Pacha and his family. The series ran for 52 episodes in 2 seasons. The series stars JP Manoux as Kuzco, Patrick Warburton as Kronk, Eartha Kitt as Yzma, Jessica DiCicco as Malina, Wendie Malick as Chicha, Fred Tatasciore as Pacha, and Rip Taylor as the Royal Records Keeper. Through its run, the series won several awards, including two Annie Awards for Best Voice Acting for actress Eartha Kitt as Yzma, and two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, also for Kitt’s performance. Patrick Warburton was nominated for an Annie in 2007 for his role of Kronk, and Jessica DiCicco was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 2008 for her role of Malina; Howy Parkins was nominated for an Annie Award in 2008 for Best Directing in an Animated Television Production.
The first episode, entitled “Rabbit Face,” begins with Kuzco having been turned into a rabbit by Yzma. Yzma plans to make Kuzco fail at school so she can become Empress. Kuzco takes the viewers to a bit earlier in the day in PE to explain what happened. The gym teacher explains that a cross country test is coming up, but Kuzco refuses to participate in any activity, bringing in yet another doctor’s note excusing himself. The gym teacher is done with Kuzco’s excuses, and tells him that not only is he running the race, he will fail PE if he doesn’t win. Kronk then meets up with Principle Amzy, who is Yzma in disguise. She is confident that Kronk will win, therefore making her Empress. Around town, everyone is placing bets on Kronk to win, as Kuzco hasn’t exercised a day in his life.
Kronk stops by to intimidate Kuzco, leading to an awkward moment between everyone
That night, Kuzco overhears Pacha’s kids Tipo and Chaca saying how there was no way Kuzco could beat Kronk, and tries to pretend he’s not worried about the race. Pacha and Chicha are unconvinced, and Pacha reassures him that all Kuzco needs to do is his best. Kronk stops by Pacha’s house to say hello as he heads out on his nightly 20 mile jog. After he leaves, it turns out he was sent by Yzma to go and intimidate Kuzco, which worked well, as Kuzco went upstairs to his room and started to wail about what a loser he was. Pacha reassures him to do the best he can, and surprises Kuzco by setting up his treadmill for him, as well as setting up a specialized exercise program for him. Kuzco then heads off to the big race at school. Yzma sees how encouraged Kuzco is, and decides she won’t take any chances. She and Kronk head to the secret lab where she gets a potion to turn Kuzco into a turtle.
At lunch, Kronk brings Kuzco some “special dipping sauce” for his lunch, which contains the potion. Kuzco refuses to eat the sauce, but Kronk forces it into Kuzco’s mouth. However, it is soon evident that Kronk grabbed the wrong potion, turning Kuzco into a rabbit instead of a turtle. He runs into Malina, and alerts him that he’s turned into a rabbit. Kuzco begins to panic, and decides to hide in the locker room, resigned to failing PE. Malina shows up in the locker room, wanting to see that he was okay. She tells him that she wanted to catch up with him earlier, but he was running so fast she couldn’t catch up. Kuzco suddenly realizes that, as a rabbit, he’s much faster than Kronk, and goes off to win the race. Yzma is shocked to see that he’s a rabbit, and decides to sabotage the race as best she can, but Kuzco is able to win it in the end. Kuzco passes PE, and Yzma blames Kronk for the failure of her plan.