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Wacky adventures rock this jr. high
August 1, 2006

Wacky adventures rock this jr. high

Take a rundown school named after a 1970′s Brit rock star, add a precocious and well-intentioned eighth grader and his close group of pals and you have the main ingredients of Paris, France-based Alphanim’s new 2-D series Zap Jr. High.

Modelled on the popular French comic book of the same name, Zap’s slapstick comedy and slightly snarky humor is aimed squarely at the six to 10 demo, although its pop references and wordplay should help it skew a little older.

Along with his buddies Melody, Eddy, Victor and Hyatt, the good-hearted Alistair Heath-Wilson tries to get everyone to work together to make life at Cliff Richards Jr. High better. The school looks brand new from the outside, but is internally in shambles.

In the episode ‘Save Section E!,’ for example, Alistair takes it upon himself to tutor his friends; it’s a desperate attempt to simultaneously impress goofy principal Mr. Goddard and turn his classmates’ academic fortunes around. Before too long, our hero discovers teaching is not as easy as he thought it would be. He quickly becomes a classroom tyrant and starts ordering everyone about while accomplishing nothing. But with a little inspiration from Melody, Alistair discovers good teachers need to tailor their methods to meet the needs of each student. So in this case, the very vain Patty studies a poem written on a mirror, while anime fan Victor learns geography through pictures. In the end, Alistair saves the day by helping his classmates bring up their grades and they aren’t held back a grade.

The 52 x 13-minute series is budgeted at approximately US$6.5 million. Alphanim, along with production partners Canal J and M6, is planning on a Q2 2007 delivery date. Markets in Italy, Spain, the U.K. and Germany are also being scoured for possible partnerships.

Feline frolicking should amuse four to sevens

Montreal, Canada-based Zoe Mae Productions and Subsequence Entertainment are bringing an enigmatic and enthusiastic cat to the small screen. The new 2-D series Gofrette features the feline title character and his friends – floppy-eared Fudge, Ellie Copter, a leggy bird, and a talking refrigerator named Red – as they journey through the land of Zanimo. With an eye to entertaining the older preschool four to seven demo, the series contains a healthy dose of silliness and plenty of clowning around.

The ‘Blue Torteloony’ episode sees Gofrette regretting accidentally having eaten every blue torteloony in sight. It turns out his cousin Fabuloso Chef Garbanzo needs the fabled ingredient to prepare a concoction for the Zanimo cooking contest. After searching far and wide to no avail for the elusive foodstuff, the optimistic cat is left with only one option – to transform Ellie Copter’s hair salon into a blue torteloony laboratory, of course. After conducting a number of crazy unsuccessful experiments, Gofrette stumbles upon the solution and creates the perfect blue torteloony. The discovery helps propel his cousin to a first place finish in the contest.

The partners have already made a deal with Canadian pubcasters CBC and French-language SRC to produce 52, 11-minute episodes. Budgeted at US$4.5 million, the series is slated for a September 2007 broadcast debut. At press time, the pair was also close to signing on a worldwide distributor to take on international sales.

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at


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