Up Next: What’s developing in kids production

Flushing out the toilet humor at PorchLight
February 1, 2005

Flushing out the toilet humor at PorchLight

Remember the ’60s spy spoof Get Smart? Well turn the lead characters into kids, set the show in a sewer, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Bladder Lad & Plunger Pete is all about. Created by Four Eyes mastermind Darryl Kluskowski, this 2-D animated concept from L.A.’s PorchLight Entertainment should register high enough on the gross-o-meter and the slapstick scale to forge a connection with boys six to 11.

The show revolves around two members of F.L.U.S.H, a top-secret government agency that fights crime in the bowels (excuse the pun) of Standard City. In each 13-minute episode, Lad and Pete zip through the sewer on their Sludgefighter 3000 (a versatile vehicle that morphs into whatever form is needed, be it a boat, a rocket or a racecar) in search of evidence that evil organization D.R.A.I.N. is up to no good. The dynamic duo uses high-tech gadgetry like The Showercap of Truth and Eye-Smell-You odor-detecting goggles to put a wrench in this group’s nefarious plans to take over the underground metropolis.

PorchLight is developing the 52-episode series with Jetix Europe, and it should be delivered by fall 2006 for a total cost of roughly US$6.5 million.

Counting S4C’s sheep won’t put the kids to sleep

A larger-than-life family of sheep stars in the latest live-actioner for preschoolers from Welsh broadcaster S4C. Featuring actors wearing sheep costumes that have been created by Tweenies designer Nia Ceidiog, The Baas is about an extended family of sheep trying to keep the peace while living in rather tight quarters. Headed up by a Greek grandfather and a Welsh grandmother, the clan is rounded out by their daughter and her mate and twin lambs, and a special satellite TV service keeps the family in touch with kinfolk living abroad.

In one ep, Jaason scares his twin sister Meedea when he dons camouflage to blend into his pastoral surroundings and then jumps out at her suddenly. Bent on revenge, she paints his beloved pet snail green. But when the snail escapes into the grass that grandpa is about to mow, the twins must work together to save the tiny gastropod in time. Budgeted at around US$2 million for 52 x 15 minutes, a pilot episode of The Baas will be ready in time for MIPTV, and the entire series should be wrapped by Q3.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…pink flamingo?

For anyone who’s ever been the shortest person in the room or the only kid in class who couldn’t do a chin-up, Breakthrough’s developing a little show called Captain Flamingo just for you.

Inspired by comic-book legend and a rather severe Napoleon complex, the Flash-animated series’ shrimpy star Milo gets fed up with his diminutive stature and decides do something about it. He reckons that if Peter Parker and Clark Kent could overcome their personal problems and become superheroes, he can do the same thing. All he has to do is rustle up a few superpowers, don a pair of tights, and he’ll be the biggest story in town!

But first he needs an alter-ego that signifies power, bravery and intelligence. As he surveys his suburban environment for inspiration, however, Milo realizes that most of the good ones are already taken (i.e. Batman, Catwoman, Wolverine, etc.). And then his gaze alights on a neighbor’s tacky lawn décor, and it hits him: The only creature that hasn’t been tapped into for superhero schtick is the noble pink flamingo! In each episode, Milo transforms himself into the flightless bird, but his crime-fighting skills aren’t up to snuff. Luckily his one-person fan club – Milo’s next-door neighbor Lizbeth, who has a crush on the hapless hero – works furiously behind the scenes to help Captain Flamingo look like a star.

A 26 x half-hour co-production with PASI Animation out of the Philippines and Canadian studios Heroic Film Company and Atomic Cartoons, the series went into production last month fuelled by a presale to Canuck kidnet YTV. Captain Flamingo, which sports a budget of around US$7.8 million, should be finished by Q1 2006.

Kids save the world in futuristic Kiwi drama Maddigan’s Fantasia

Anticipating that Lord of the Rings’ youngest fans may be ready to move into a slightly darker fantasy realm, Auckland, New Zealand’s South Pacific Pictures is working with children’s author Margaret Mahy to create an original live-action TV concept for eight- to 14-year-olds. Maddigan’s Fantasia, a 13 x half-hour drama, is set in a strange post-apocalyptic world and centers around a mysterious circus troupe of clowns, contortionists and magicians.

The star of the show is a gifted 13-year-old acrobat named Garland (also the ringmaster’s daughter), who must journey into the wilderness to retrieve a precious power source that may save humanity. Danger lurks at every turn, especially as the planet’s resources grow scarce. But fortunately, Garland receives help from three kids who were sent back from the future to ensure that she and her circus cohorts survive the journey.

With a pricetag of roughly US$6 million, Maddigan’s Fantasia has been presold to CBBC in the U.K., Nine Network in Australia and New Zealand’s TV3 for a Q3 2005 debut, and additional distribution is being handled by London, England’s All3Media.

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