With its first project Iggy Arbuckle: Nature Freak poised to head into production as soon as a pending co-pro deal has been finalized, Nat Geo’s kids entertainment arm is turning its attention to finding partners for four new shows that have the youth age spectrum well covered.
Furthest along is Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies, a preschool concept that mixes 2-D animation with stock footage to come in under US$200,000 per half hour. The star of the 26-ep show is a wise elephant who helps young animals from around the world work through typical preschool problems by watching her home movies – which consist of live-action clips from Nat Geo’s 25,000-hour-plus wildlife programming library. In one episode, a young cheetah doesn’t see the point in taking a bath – ever. Mama explains that while it’s fun to get dirty and while mud helps keep some animals cool in hot weather, getting clean is also fun. She seals the deal when she shows the cub clips of animals having a blast in the water.
Next up on the development slate is Hugh’s View, based on Tony Porto’s Adventures in Color book series from Little Brown. Using intense graphics, the 26 x half-hour show for the five to eight set is about a boy with an overactive imagination and an eye for color. Although story lines were still being hammered out at press time, one potential episode that mirrors the book title The Blue Aliens follows along as Hugh tries to find out why his blue jeans and the blueberries in his waffles have disappeared. He suspects that his teacher, Mrs. Sapphire, who always wears blue, is really an alien who’s stealing the color from Earth. In the end, it’s up to the viewer to decide if she’s from another planet.
From the mind of Animaniacs writer Paul Rugg, Loco Starburn will play to six- to 11-year-olds with stories about a robotic space rover – albeit more Gilligan than Galileo – who crash-lands on the technologically advanced planet of Visaloona.
Rounding out the lineup is a half-hour live-actioner from That’s So Raven creator Susan Sherman and Kate & Allie writer Sheri Coben. In Kicking & Screaming, 13-year-old Stella hates everything that doesn’t revolve around shopping and her friends. But when her scientist parents land dream jobs running a lab on a remote island, this mall rat is dragged to the South Pacific to live uncomfortably close to nature. At the end of each episode, she begrudgingly learns to appreciate something about her new environs, whether it’s the rugged beauty of the island or the handsome young hunk she has a crush on.