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R.I.P. infuses old-time horror with lots of laughs
October 1, 2009

R.I.P. infuses old-time horror with lots of laughs
New animated tween comedy series R.I.P. M.D., from L.A.-based animation studio Lincoln Butterfield, follows the adventures of Ripley Plimpt, an ordinary boy with a secret vocation – he’s a monster doctor. Ripley’s always been determined to meet an honest-to-goodness real monster, but entry into this exclusive community only comes after he finds and repairs the broken wing of a tiny vampire bat. The bat, however, is in fact a young female vampire, who informs her monster brethren about Ripley’s skills. He is finally admitted into the monster world as friend, confidante and protector, and unbeknownst to his parents, he becomes known simply as R.I.P. M.D. to monsters across the globe.

Oddly, the monsters often suffer from the same kinds of problems that humans do. ‘The difference with these monsters is that in any other circumstance, they would be life-threatening, but because they’ve come to R.I.P. for help, you find that they are very vulnerable,’ says Mitch Schauer, creative producer at the prodco. For example, in one episode of this 26 x half-hour show, Ripley befriends Dead Guy, who looks like a zombie and is feared by everyone. Gradually Ripley gets everyone on-board to help him help Dead Guy.

The series is being developed simultaneously with a graphic novel and will fuse the graphic aesthetic with a dark, shadowy look designed to evoke the feel of classic horror movies. The novel from Seattle, Washington-based Fantagraphics drops in the US in Q1 2010, and Schauer says it should help build buzz for the animated version.

Schauer says the budget will settle somewhere between US$300,000 and US$400,000 per ep, and he’s still working on pinning down a delivery date pending presales and the addition of partners.

High school hijinks drive Detentionaire
Detentionaire, the new 26 x 22-minute 2-D animated series for kids six to 12 from Toronto-based Nelvana, revolves around Lee Ping. He’s a fresh-faced 10th grader who just wants to study hard to get into Harvard, have a few laughs and chill with his buddies. However, one day during the school’s morning assembly, Lee excuses himself to go to the bathroom and ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is falsely accused of pulling off the biggest prank in the school’s history that involved, among other things, subjecting the entire assembly to choking stink bombs, ear-splitting sirens and sticky potato-flake foam spewing from the overhead sprinklers.

Lee naturally had nothing to do with the devious deed, but his circumstantial guilt leads to a one-year sentence of after-school detention. His mother, a teacher at the school, also punishes him by grounding him. So if Lee isn’t in class, he’s either in detention or under house arrest. What a way to spend 12 months!

His mission in life is to find out who pulled off the prank and clear his name. He escapes the heavily fortified detention room each day to interview students and infiltrate each school clique (i.e. Goths, Math-letes, Jocks and Skaters) in order to unravel the gigantic, mysterious prank puzzle. In every episode, viewers learn one new vital piece of information.

The deeper he gets pulled into the mystery, the more Lee realizes that he might be on the cusp of unraveling a much bigger conspiracy. In fact, it might even affect the fate of the entire world. Or, it could be that someone just really wants Lee to have the worst sophomore experience – ever.

With Canada’s Teletoon on-board as a broadcast partner, the pilot is set to go into production in spring 2010. The studio is working with a budget of between US$275,000 and US$325,000 per episode.

Planet-hopping robots plan to amuse preschool crowd
A series of Australian books that feature the curious and determined main character Rob the Robot form the basis for a new CGI preschool co-production of the same name from Ottawa, Canada’s Amberwood Entertainment and One Animation in Singapore. The 52 x 11-minute series features Rob and his friends as they work through the challenges they encounter while visiting strange planets in the robot galaxy.

Rob’s friends include bubbly and bossy alien Ema; Orbit, a creative inventive robot; and T.K. (Tool Kit) – a handy robot with a talent for fixing things. In the series’ plot/character-driven stories, Rob and his pals work together to show kids how to use their creativity to get themselves out of tricky predicaments and deal with frustration, anger and hurt feelings.

In one episode, the rocket flies too close to the sun and it’s up to the gang to find a way to cool the ship down. On the hunt for something cold, they visit the Ice Planet and end up having a ball, making snow angels and sliding around on a natural ice rink.

Amberwood plans to go into production full swing on Rob the Robot this fall and is working with a budget of approximately US$4.5 million for the entire series. Canadian provincial pubcaster TVO is the commissioning broadcaster and fellow nets SRC and Knowledge Network are also on-board. Amberwood should have initial animated test sequences ready for some sneak-peeks at MIPCOM.

Pesky bites on Billion Dollar Bow Wow
Billy the Chihuahua (a.k.a. Mr. Bow Wow) has a massive pink mane that attracts the attention of spoiled 10-year-old Sugar-Plum Pott, who wants him at any price. The Paris Hilton-esque Sugar-Plum has no problem throwing diva-worthy tantrums to get what she desires, and it’s not surprising that her billionaire father, Roly Pott, purchases the wee mutt for a billion dollars. Therein lies the premise of Billion Dollar Bow Wow from London-based prodco Pesky Productions.

Dramatic tension in the new 26 x half-hour core kid series is driven by the fact that Billy is wild at heart and has no wish to be a posh pet. It’s not long before he makes a break for it, taking Polly, the Pott’s reluctantly freed parrot, with him. Papa Pott then does the only thing he can think of to keep his little girl happy and offers a billion-dollar reward for Mr. Bow Wow’s return, employing his high-tech spy gear to help in the search. Some of the maddest, baddest (not to mention weirdest) trackers take on the challenge. Sugar-Plum’s fame makes the search for the dog big news. In fact, it becomes a reality TV contest.

Pesky is working with with The Secret Show director Andrea Tran on bringing the in-house concept to life and has two full scripts and a trailer completed. Pesky debuted the trailer at Cartoon Forum last month, with development funding from MEDIA, and will be shopping the toon at MIPCOM to secure more funding, presales and co-pro partners. The studio is working with an estimated budget of US$7 million.

BRB hopes Canimals stacks up
Canimals, a new preschool series from Barcelona-based BRB Internacional, is based on a collection of cute, mischievous can-shaped critters that leave a trail of chaos in their wake as they go about their playful lives. The thing about Canimals is that humans cannot see them, but evidence of their presence appears, for example, as a suspicious spill on the kitchen floor or the mysterious slamming of a door. The most normal objects, monotonous tasks and simple activities are a constant source of experimentation for these toyetic creatures.

Six main cat- and dog-like Canimal characters each embody one of the five senses. The sixth one has developed extra senses, and although a magnet for danger, she manages to avoid things like electric shocks. A plethora of other Canimals round out the population, including Chloe the Turtle, Dada the owl, Folly the gorilla and Ju-Ju the mouse. One typical episode focuses on the Canimals getting ready for their first bath and the employment of the trappings surrounding that daily ritual like soap bubbles, towels and bath toys.

The CGI-animated Canimal characters operate against a backdrop of real-world footage from places that exist in kids’ daily routines, such as a bedroom or a playground. At the heart of the preschool series is a mandate to show kids how the Canimals solve problems through co-operation and maintain relationships through play.

BRB has partnered with Seoul, Korea-based Vooz and is working with a budget of US$4 million for 104 x five-minute eps. The prodco expects the first 26 eps to be delivered by Christmas 2010 and has plans to launch a corresponding licensing program in early 2011.

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