Cool new shows

April 1, 2008


Producer: Dublin, Ireland’s Kavaleer Productions

Style: Animated in After Effects to make the textures of the characters’ fabrics really sing on-screen

Format: 26 x seven minutes

Demo: Three to five

Budget: US$3.4 million

Status: In very early development. Kavaleer is about to begin applying for Irish funding that should kick in about 50% of the budget, and talks are underway with potential co-development partners in France and Canada to help get a two- to three-minute trailer and some scripts done in time for Cartoon Forum. The goal will be to present the project there and secure presales and distribution partners to complete the financing picture.

Delivery: Early 2010

Premise: Debunking the oft-pondered mystery of where missing socks go, this show follows along as they slip down a magical chute in the back of sock drawers around the world and end up in Sock World. This parallel universe is inhabited by a motley crew of Sock Monsters, who collect the stray socks of the world as ad-hoc body parts.

Excitement ensues in one planned episode when a strange new sock named Nyla arrives in Sock World. The Sock Monsters marvel at Nyla’s see-through and light-as-a-feather nature before they gather up all their loose socks and roll them up inside her to make the biggest, most colorful Sock-Snake of all time.


Producers: L.A.- and San Francisco-based W!LDBRAIN and The Magic Store, also out of L.A.

Style: Live action and 2-D animation

Format: Half-hour eps, the number of which will be determined by the US broadcast order.

Demo: Tweens

Budget: Although a per-episode budget has yet to be hammered out, a pilot episode W!LDBRAIN is bringing to MIPTV cost in the neighborhood of US$400,000 to produce.

Status: In development

Delivery: The project is ready to hit production as soon as a US greenlight is secured, and will be wrapped in 2009.

Premise: Yo Gabba Gabba! co-creators Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz are behind this wacky show centering on an underground indie band that’s developed a slavishly devoted cult following over the last decade. With Jacobs (a.k.a. MC Bat Commander) as the lead singer and frontman, The Aquabats have woven an elaborate mythology around themselves in which they claim to be superheroes on a quest to save the world through music. In their bizarre live shows, band members perform in matching superhero costumes and often engage in mock battles with costumed foes on-stage. And their fans, who range from two to 50, eat it up in large doses, matching the bats’ costumed craziness ounce for ounce.

W!LDBRAIN’s plan for capturing some of this energy on-screen calls for a variety show treatment in which live segments taped at The Aquabats’ shows are interspersed with 2-D animated mini-stories and mock commercials for made-up products. Exactly how off-the-wall are we talking? In a full pilot that will be ready for MIPTV, the performing Aquabats must take down a giant tortilla that is spewing guacamole and refried beans all over the village. And in one of the animated cutaways, they drill underground and discover a wondrous city run by unicorns and other mythical creatures, who turn out to be evil and spoiling for a fight. Needless to say, W!LDBRAIN expects to draw in a healthy secondary audience of high school and college kids with this vehicle.

The concept debuted at KidScreen Summit, where the producers invited media execs to a live VIP concert. Interest from US broadcasters and the consumer products community has been extremely high, and W!LDBRAIN expects to see similar heat from the international market this month in Cannes.


Co-producers: Toronto, Canada-based Decode Entertainment and Barcelona, Spain’s Neptuno Films, in association with OLC Entertainment out of Tokyo, Japan

Style: 2-D Flash animation

Format: 52 x 11 minutes

Demo: Three to five

Budget: US$275,000 per half hour

Status: In full-blown pre-production, with scripts well underway and storyboards just begun. A gentle curriculum developed with Toopy & Binoo scribe Katherine Sandford is based around teamwork and elemental science discovery. The project is fully financed through the co-production deal and a slew of international presales (including Canal J and Disney International for the UK, Spain, Scandinavia, Italy, Australasia and Taiwan). Decode is now focusing on locking in a Canadian English-language broadcaster.

Delivery: January 2009

Premise: Based on a concept from Japanese creator Jun Ichihara that was developed by OLC into a local-market merchandise program featuring apparel and stationery/gift products, Popets Town stars a gang of critters who scoot around their Japanese mall-inspired town solving community problems.

In one story, goofy acrobatic troupe The Uki-Uki Brothers have been waiting all summer to have a backyard sleepover and perform their Uki-Uki Moon Dance. But when the night finally arrives, there’s no moon in sight. Patty conducts some quick research on her Patty-puter and discovers that the moon is just hidden by the shadow of the Earth and will be back in a few days. But The Uki-Uki Brothers aren’t exactly a patient bunch, so the Popets build them a tinfoil moon to dance under, and the whole town comes out to the Looney-Mooney Party to watch them perform.


Producer: Madrid, Spain-based Ink Apache

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 52 x seven minutes

Demo: Three to seven

Budget: US$3.9 million

Status: In development

Delivery: June 2009

Premise: This high-octane toon was presented at KidScreen Summit 2008′s Pitch It! competition, and came in a close second place. It’s set in Elf Land, where a community of elves have always lived extraordinarily long and active lives, thanks to super-powers derived from their diet of healthy fruits and vegetables. But an ambitious evil dictator burns all the crops in a bid to make the elves too weak to fight his takeover plot, and their survival hangs in the balance as a group of youngsters sets out on a quest to find secret and well-guarded stores of elfy food hidden in the land’s most uncharted corners. With ogres and baddies hot on their trail, the elflings must dip into their precious booty from time to time to power-up and escape capture.

In the pilot episode, for example, the elflings are trapped in a dark cave full of trolls. All hope seems lost, until they stumble onto a stash of Lumo Gooms. When they gobble the carrot-type tubers up, the wee elves find they’re able to see their way out through the minefield of cave trolls.

BIDDLYBUDS (working title)

Producer: Toronto, Canada’s guru animation

Style: CGI animated characters over extreme close-up photography backgrounds

Format: 40 x five minutes

Demo: Three to six

Budget: US$350,000 per half hour

Status: In very early development. The guru team has just started working on an animation test that will be ready in time for Banff, and Canadian children’s theater scribe Emil Sher has drafted a sample script. Pitches at KidScreen Summit were particularly well received by broadcasters in Japan and Europe. A Canadian broadcast home, international presales and distribution advances will likely comprise the financing, although guru is also reviewing whether co-production works for short-form programming.

Delivery: The goal is to go into production by Christmas in order to deliver by September 2009.

Premise: With backpacks and bedrolls firmly strapped on, the CGI stars of this mixed-media series start each ep on a new type of unfamiliar terrain. In one sample script, it’s a strange gorge lined with red walls. They pull out a map to try and figure out where they are, but it gets blown away by a gust of wind. So they start to explore. When their pickaxe digs into the wall of the gorge, a geiser of sweet red liquid gushes out. When they use a rope ladder to climb up one side of the gorge and check out the view with their binoculars, they see an entire landscape of shiny red hills just like the one they’re standing on.

To help connect these clues and identify their surroundings, the buds consult their handy-dandy fruit & veg flipchart, cycling through a few possible options before zeroing in on a picture of a raspberry. They end the journey with an exuberant bud dance that shakes the whole raspberry, which is revealed in life size as the camera zooms out.

guru is also working on an online companion piece that will propel kids into the world of a fruit or vegetable and they’ll have to ID it through clues, just like the TV characters do. Also on the web planogram is a community site where kids can inhabit and accessorize fruit and veg homes, à la Habbo Hotel.


Producer: London, England-based blue-zoo (the shop behind Those Scurvy Rascals)

Style: High-end CGI animation to give the sock-puppet characters a realistic look and feel

Format: The shorts are 15 x one minutes and will debut on Nickelodeon UK, US and International nets soon. But the format for the long-form series is still undetermined. Nick plans to conduct kid focus groups in early summer to inform the development process on this part of the property.

Demo: Eight to 12

Budget: Roughly US$400,000 per half hour

Status: Shorts are in post-production, and the long-form series is in early development.

Delivery: The shorts are almost ready to start delivering, and it will take 18 months to complete the long-form series once it goes into active development.

Premise: In what can best be described as a WWE/Banzai/Celebrity Deathmatch mash-up with sock puppets, Stitch-Up Showdown features a motley cast of 50-odd uber-daredevil warriors – each one uniquely wooly and handcrafted – who go head to head in an endless series of ridiculous challenges. Driven by an insatiable and kamikaze need to win, they go to the wall in every showdown, whether it’s holding their breath underwater, sumo wrestling, jigsaw puzzle assembly or canyon jumping.

The owner and ringmaster of this bizarre circus is Lazoo, a retired grand master warrior who pits the combatants against each other and fans the flames of rivalry. He’s also the only character to speak English, so he doubles as the narrator.

Shorts naturally focus on one-on-one competitions, while the long-form series will include team competitions and ‘Royal Rumble’ free-for-alls, with backstories on the battlers, behind-the-scenes training snippets and other dramatic build-up elements.

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