Cool New Shows!

March 1, 2004


Producer: New York’s Honest Entertainment

Premise: Based on a line of plush inspired by the doodlings on letters written by a young couple separated by geography, the Uglydolls are a family of fuzzy little creatures who live on a mountaintop near the bustling town of Okydokyo because their adored pet Icebat can’t hack it in a warm climate. Every day Wage heads off to town with Babo in tow to earn a living. Though Wage is good at getting jobs, he often comes home with a box of unusual odds and ends rather than hard currency for the day’s work (which goes over surprisingly well with his junk-loving kin). Throughout the series, the group learns to work together to solve everyday crises like a cookie shortage or a surprise visit from neighbors Ox and Wedgehead, who have a nasty habit of ‘borrowing’ things permanently. In one episode, the Uglydolls decide to have a yard sale, which means each of them has to part with something they treasure. Babo, for one, doesn’t want give up his three duplicates of the Swarthyman action figure because he insists they are stunt doubles.

Style: 2-D animation with CGI elements

Format: 52 x 11 minutes

Demo: Eight to 14

Budget: US$325,000 per half hour

Status: In pre-production

Delivery: September 2005

Mr. Ramsbottom

Producer: Toronto, Canada-based Radical

Sheep Productions

Premise: This CGI/marionette hybrid series stars a vindictive ghost who returns to his former house to freak out its current inhabitants. Unfortunately, Ramsbottom’s attempts at scaring the young family are constantly foiled by youngest son Gordon, who finds his antics hilarious rather than bone-chilling. In one episode, Gordon decides to set up a tent and sleep outside – a perfect haunting opportunity, thinks Ramsbottom. But prankster neighbor Mickey has the same idea, and the two would-be frighteners scare each other silly when they meet in the bushes. Gordon, meanwhile, sleeps on soundly.

Style: CGI animation and marionettes

Format: 26 x 15 minutes

Demo: Six to 12

Budget: Roughly US$130,000 per episode

Status: In development, with Radical Sheep looking for presales

Delivery: 2005


Producer: Britt Allcroft Productions, based in London, England and Los Angeles

Premise: After a brief hiatus from the kids biz, Thomas the Tank Engine creator Britt Allcroft is back with a new live-action series that aims to introduce a new generation of kids to the joys of scuba diving. Co-created by Allcroft, the underwater action in Scoobs! centers around a group of tweens who, in one episode, discover caged manta rays that are being fed tofu donuts from the local café. Further inspection reveals that an eccentric biologist was trying to see if a new diet would make the mantas fly. This waterway to adventure teaches viewers not only about ocean preservation, but also about local wildlife and regular kid activities such as gymnastics. An interactive website will accompany the show.

Style: Live action

Format: 13 x half hours

Demo: Six to 10

Budget: US$300,000 per episode

Status: In development, with Allcroft looking for partners

Delivery: Q1 2005


Producer: Toronto, Canada’s Nelvana

Premise: Sleep. Eat. Play. Sleep some more. How hard can it be to be a dog? Pretty hard, according to Darth, an overwrought pooch who always sweats the small stuff – like another dog’s teeth marks on his chew toy, or what an ambiguous wag of a tail actually meant. Darth usually lets these trivialities spin out of control and get him and his posse (including an opinionated weiner dog, a sharp-tongued Chihuahua and a Great Dane who’s obsessed with digging holes) into trouble. For example, Darth’s inability to do ‘the licking thing’ in front of other canines sends him on a search for privacy that takes him halfway across the world.

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 26 x half hours

Demo: Six to 11

Budget: US$250,000 to US$300,000 per ep

Status: In development

Delivery: 2006

Guess With Jess

Producer: London, England-based Entertainment Rights

Premise: Postman Pat’s adorable feline sidekick takes

preschool viewers on journeys to explore the world around them, seeing new things like where other animals sleep and what his friends do for fun. Jess poses a question at the beginning of each episode and then spends the rest of the show hunting down the answer. In one ep, Jess asks ‘What do I like to eat?’ Bored by his usual kibble, he goes off in search of some new grub. But when his animal friends offer up old veggies and bugs, Jess learns that perhaps his boring old lunch isn’t that bad after all. Featuring an upbeat musical score that helps maintain the show’s fast pace, Jess is expected to bound onto television screens with as much success as his best friend Pat. Sold into 55 countries, Postman Pat has a 90% brand awareness among British moms, and its first video cracked the top five on Britain’s best-selling kidvid charts last November.

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 52 x 10 minutes

Demo: Zero to three

Budget: US$4 million

Status: In development, with broadcaster pitches ongoing

Delivery: 2005

Beat Freaks

Producers: Toronto, Canada’s Spin Entertainment and Vancouver-based Mainframe Entertainment

Premise: Rock revolution takes a freaky turn in this new toon about a group of tween monsters who decide to start a band and rebel against the white-bread sameness of their suburb home. Frankenstein-esque front woman Deloris Deadhead is backed by a hunchback with vertigo on bass, a neat-freak demon on drums and a pre-pubescent werewolf wailing on the guitar. Each episode centers around the band’s quest for a little respect, but because they’re not very good, the group tends to get stuck with gigs no one else wants – like the opening of a new pet cemetery or a souvlaki festival. This group of misfit monsters is just trying to make it through junior high, and the band is their way of making up for the fact that they fall a little short on the scary scale. Each episode features catchy, original songs.

Style: CGI animation

Format: 26 x half hours

Demo: Six to 11

Budget: US$350,000 per episode

Status: In development with Canada’s Teletoon

Delivery: Fall 2005

Infinite Darcy

Producer: Gendale, California’s Cybergraphix and India’s UTV Toons

Premise: Darcy Chang is a nine-year-old Chinese-American girl who leads a perfectly normal life – at least in this world. Gifted with the ability to travel into alternate realities, Darcy can take a break from her average schoolgirl existence anytime she wants by uttering the phrase ‘One, Two… Infinity.’ Taking on new identities as a rock star, a secret agent, a cat, etc., Darcy embarks on adventures that poke fun at pop culture. When she switches places with her kitty Mao to find out what the feline does all day, for example, Darcy finds out her pet is living a double life as a Ter-Mao-nator charged with stopping the Mao-chines from taking over the Earth. Arnold himself even shows up in this ep as the governor of California.

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 125 x 11 minutes

Demo: Girls six to 11

Budget: US$250,000 per half hour

Status: In production

Delivery: Spring 2005

The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton

Producer: London, England’s TV-Loonland

Premise: Based on two best-selling picture books by American children’s writer and poet James Poimos, this comedy toon centers on the adventures of grade-school misfit Johnny Mutton, who happens to be the only sheep in class. Most of the goofy episodes find Johnny in a power struggle with his arch-nemesis Mandy Dinkus. In one episode, Mandy’s prized position as teacher’s pet is threatened when Johnny revolutionizes the blackboard-cleaning process. By using his powerful hooves to clap the chalk brushes free of dust in one go, Johnny endears himself to teacher Mr. Slopdish. But Johnny doesn’t have Mandy’s appreciation for some of the duties that fall to the teacher’s pet – like fetching Mr. Slopdish’s false teeth from the staff room – and he ends up relinquishing his role by the end of the episode.

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 26 x half hours or 52 x 11 minutes

Demo: Seven to 11

Budget: Roughly US$300,000 per half hour

Status: A commission from a major Euro broadcaster is in place (but unannounced), and a Canadian co-production partner is very close to being confirmed. TV-Loonland is looking for presales and possibly an additional co-pro partner.

Delivery: Q2 2006

Dragons – Fire and Ice

Producers: Vancouver, Canada’s Bardel with Montreal-based toyco

Mega Bloks

Premise: Given the recent Lord of the Rings Oscar sweep, Bardel’s latest TV movie is sure to pique the interest of young fantasy fans the world over. Based around Mega Bloks’ best-selling Dragon toy line, the movie looks at two mythological kingdoms, Norvagen and Draigar, which have been at war for thousands of years. One fateful day, a mysterious wizard visits both Prince Dev of Norvagen and Princess Kyra of Draigar, hinting that he can put an end to the seemingly eternal feud once and for all. Both monarchs are skeptical of the old man until Thronon the Dragon King appears, bringing wisdom and eventually peace to the lands.

Style: 2-D and 3-D animation

Format: 72 minutes

Demo: Seven to 11

Budget: US$2.5 million

Status: Securing broadcasters

Delivery: Fall 2004

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