Cool New Shows from Down Under

The Shapies
November 22, 2002

The Shapies

Producer: Brisbane-based Light Knights Productions

Distributor: L.A.’s Porchlight Entertainment, with Camperdown, Australia-based Haven Licensing handling worldwide merchandising

Broadcaster: Nine Network

Premise: A group of magical toy blocks comes to life to explore the world beyond the toy box and round up the lost members of their tribe. Once all the Shapies are united again, they dream of becoming the most famous sing-along band in the world.

In one ep, the bulk of the toys have been taped to a mobile on their little-boy owner’s bedroom ceiling. Two Shapies left out of the craft project must use their noodles to rescue their friends, teaching kids that some problems are better solved with brains rather than brawn.

Style: 3-D animation

Demo: Two to seven

Format: 13 half hours

Status: In production

Budget: US$3.6 million

Delivery: 13 episodes have just been delivered to Nine, with another 13 in production

Lucky Lydia

Partners: Sydney-based Film Graphics and Sticky Pictures, with Tim Brooke-Hunt and Jude Lengel

Premise: Sporting a cheap shamrock T-shirt may or may not be the reason why nine-year-old Lydia is blessed with so much luck. Amazingly, no matter what she does, things tend to go her way, and Lydia and her friends test the limits of this luck to great comical effect.

Style: 2-D animation

Demo: Six to nine

Format: 52 x 12 minutes

Status: In development. Bible and pilot completed. Financing and presales under discussion, with all partners eyeing a production start date in early 2003.

Budget: US$240,000 to US$270,000 per half hour

Delivery: 2004


Partners: Denmark-based Egmont Imagination, Sydney’s Film Graphics and Tim Brooke-Hunt

Premise: Imagine a world where your neighbors are giants, your local store is run by a pirate, and ghosts, demons and witches are a daily threat. Based on a best-selling nine-book series by Anna and Barbara Fienberg, this show centers around Tashi’s attempts to save his home from warlords and bandits.

The books have sold in excess of 250,000 units in Australia alone since the first was published in 1995, and they are now rolling out in Germany, Italy, China and Korea.

In one episode of the TV series, a fortune-teller warns Tashi that he will die on his next birthday, which is just days away. To reverse his fate, Tashi enlists the entire village to concoct the God of Long Life’s favorite feast. Unfortunately, not only are the ingredients scarce and dangerous to collect, but Tashi’s foe The Baron is trying hard to ensure that he fails.

Style: 2-D animation

Demo: Six to nine

Format: 52 x 12 minutes

Status: In development Budget: US$250,000 to US$280,000 per half hour

Delivery: 2004

SS Sucks

Partners: Melbourne-based December Films and Sydney’s Pacific Vision

Premise: The series is centered around the adolescent foibles of a mismatched collection of teens attending Space Academy. The ensemble cast includes Jet Starbuck Jr., the lazy son of a famous space explorer, who’s having difficulty living in his dad’s shadow; Tiffany Azaargh, who is part human, part Hazchemi warrior and enjoys shopping just as much as a good intergalactic battle; Omm, a cute and fuzzy telepath; and Robot, an extremely advanced über-bot whose intelligence allows him to learn human behavior.

Style: Live action

Demo: Early teens

Format: 26 half hours

Status: In development

Budget: US$110,000 per half hour

Delivery: TBA

Don’t Blame the Koalas

Partners: Southern Star Pacific, Channel 5 in the U.K., Nine Network, the Australian Film Finance Corporation and the New South Wales Film and Television Office

Premise: A down-on-its-luck upper-class British family inherits a back-water wildlife park in Australia and must adjust to life amongst the koalas and kangaroos. The King family’s culture shock is the source of endless laughs for its trio of rugged Aussie cousins.

Style: Live action

Demo: Eight to 11

Format: 26 half hours

Status: Started in October on Channel 5 in the U.K. and Nine Network in Australia

Budget: US$4 million

Delivery: Now

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