Cool New Shows!

October 1, 2004


Producer: Paris, France’s Xilam Animation, in association with London, England-based Quintus Holdings

Premise: Co-created by Magnus Fiennes, a songwriter and record producer who’s worked with The Spice Girls and All Saints, Xilam’s newest toon centers around three teenage band mates who inadvertently discover the Thirteenth Note during their jam sessions. This musical energy force lends their anti-consumerism brand of rock ‘n roll a special kind of power over audiences – a power that greedy media mogul Mya de Zia and her henchmen (who form rival band Mantis) would just love to shut down. Although they go underground to get their music directly to the masses without corporate involvement, Freefonix still clashes with Mya and Mantis regularly. In one episode, the band’s instruments ‘mysteriously’ go missing from their rehearsal space right before a crucial music battle against Mantis. Come showtime, when they’ve exhausted all efforts to recover the AWOL gear, Freefonix comes to the realization that it’s actually their musical talent that will trump their rivals’ prepackaged tunes – regardless of how they deliver the sounds. Playing on antique instruments they find at the concert hall, the group taps into the Thirteenth Note and delivers an unforgettable performance.

Style: 2-D animation with a heavy anime influence

Format: 30 x half hours

Demo: eight to 12

Budget: roughly US$12 million

Status: A deal with the BBC is currently being hammered out, and Xilam is looking for financing in Germany and the U.S.

Delivery: spring 2006

Pinky Dinky Doo

Producers: Cartoon Pizza and Sesame Workshop, both based in New York

Premise: Developed from a collection of bedtime stories series creator Jim Jenkins made up for his own kids, this concept stars a seven year-old girl who spins fantastic yarns to cheer up her younger brother. When Tyler is laid low by a nasty cold, for example, Pinky makes up a story about events leading up to the fateful day that she was supposed to take her pet Mr. Guinea Pig to school for show-and-tell. She and GP had a lot to live up to, following on the heels of a monkey who could tap out ‘Yankee Doodle Dandee’ on his forehead, a back-flipping guppy and a prancing pony in purple underpants. But as luck would have it, Pinky woke up that morning to find her face covered in gigantic spots, a telltale sign of Polka Dot Pox. The whole class was afflicted, so Pinky invited them all over to her house for a Polka Dot Party. And since no party is complete without munchies, Pinky hooked up Mr. Guinea Pig’s exercise wheel to a popcorn popper to churn out snacks.

Style: Flash animation over live-action backgrounds

Format: 26 x half hours

Demo: four to seven

Budget: US$260,000 to US$280,000 per episode

Status: Presales to Noggin, ABC Australia, Canadian pubcaster the CBC, the BBC and Discovery Kids Latin America are locked in, and Sesame is focusing on securing German and French partners.

Delivery: Q1 2006

Combo Ninos

Producer: Paris, France’s SIP Animation

Premise: This new toon centers around an ancient Brazilian martial art form called Capoeira, which features combat techniques that look like graceful dance moves and was developed by 16th century slaves planning a revolt against the upper class on the sly. Also dabbling in Aztec mythology, the show casts a down-on-his-luck e-trader named Diadoro as its chief baddie, who gets a new lease on life after finding a book on the Divinos. These bratty magical cousins of pre-Colombian gods misused their powers and were eternally cursed to live as statues and artifacts. But Diadoro is determined to set them free and harness their magic for his own nefarious purposes. Standing in his way are four Capoeira students who have mastered a special move that partially transforms each of them into a different totem animal. In these forms, the heroes can drive the Divinos back into their artifact cages and restore peace to the city of Nova Nizza.

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 26 x half hours

Demo: six to 11

Budget: around US$370,000 per episode

Status: France’s TF1 and Jetix Europe are on-board, but SIP is still looking to shore up 40% of the show’s budget with presales in Europe and the U.S., or by finding co-production partners in Asia or South America.

Delivery: Q1 2006

The Giggle Factory

Producer: Toronto, Canada’s Decode Entertainment

Premise: Teaching kids how to keep their family and friends in stitches is the name of the game for The Giggle Factory, a kooky how-to show for telling jokes. Set inside a smiling mountain, a cast of real kids and digitally animated factory workers collaborate to come up with the best comedy sketches, knock-knock jokes and other pranks and antics based on each episode’s theme. But a side story line also delves into the lives of the cast. For example, Tammi is upset when she thinks everyone has forgotten about her upcoming birthday. But then she notices birthday accoutrements like cake candles and party hats stashed around the factory when she takes viewers on a company tour and realizes her cohorts have been planning a surprise bash.

Style: Live action and CGI

Format: 52 x 11 minutes

Demo: three to five

Budget: US$200,000 per episode

Status: Decode is trolling for Canadian and U.K. presales.

Delivery: fall 2005


Producer: Agoura Hills, California’s The Krislin Company

Premise: A science experiment gone awry creates a highly volatile neon goop that transforms five ordinary teenagers into superheroes made of rubber. But adjusting to newfound powers like supersonic squeaking and ultimate static-cling can seriously cramp the teen lifestyle. For example, when the football league decides their bouncy nature gives the Balloonatiks an unfair advantage on the field, they’re disqualified from further play. Flator’s loud and bitter complaints about the decision get picked up on a solar snooping device used by the Footballiens, an extraterrestrial team that’s eager (perhaps overly so) to drum up some new opponents. The Balloonatiks accept the challenge and rocket off to an alien asteroid stadium, only to find that the Footballiens are two-ton goons who vow to destroy Earth if they win. Luckily, Airbrain thinks fast and paints the team’s remote-controlled blimp to look like a football. The Balloonatiks maneuver this ‘ball’ into the other team’s endzone to win the game and save their planet from peril. Mark Hamill (who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars film franchise) lends his voice to the series.

Style: CGI

Format: 26 x half hours

Demo: five to 11

Budget: US$450,000 per episode

Status: Distribution partner Marvista Entertainment will be shopping for U.S. and U.K. presales at MIPCOM.

Delivery: September 2005

Tigga Togga

Producer: Toronto, Canada’s Cuppa Coffee Animation

Premise: If music is a universal language, then the international audience potential for Tigga Togga should be pretty wide. This non-verbal short series is on a mission to improve preschoolers’ listening skills and encourage creative expression of thoughts and emotions through music. Tigga and Togga are best friends who use the sounds around them to interact with each other. On a trip to the beach, Togga is inspired by the faint sounds that echo in an empty seashell, and plays it like a tuba to call a distant ship into shore. Not wanting to be left out of the action, Tigga finds a bigger shell and gives it a good blow, dislodging a very surprised castanet-playing crab. The three-way exchange between the ship, Togga and the crab forms the beginning of a structured song.

Style: Flash animation

Format: 26 x five minutes

Demo: three to five

Budget: US$1.3 million

Status: Cuppa Coffee is looking at presale and co-pro options in France, Germany, the U.S. and Canada, and at press time was in advanced discussions with a U.K. broadcaster.

Delivery: fall 2005

My Pet Robot

Producer: Vancouver, Canada’s Studio B

Premise: In this modern remake of The Odd Couple, a prim and proper young boy’s life is turned upside down when he wishes upon a star for a new friend. It turns out the star is actually a rowdy, orbiting space robot who means well but always ends up wreaking havoc. In one gut-busting episode, Weeble reconnects with a ‘flood brother’ (a fire hydrant he’s mistaken for a long-lost relative) and spends all his time hanging out with this curbside cousin – that is, until Casey gets jealous. While the two scuffle, the hydrant breaks and floods the town, leaving the reunited best friends stuck in a tree until the water levels go down.

Style: Flash/CGI animation

Format: 52 x 11 minutes

Demo: five to eight

Budget: US$225,000 per half hour

Status: Studio B is in development with provincial Canadian net TVOntario, and will be looking for additional broadcasters and financial partners in order to kick off production in 2005.

Delivery: spring 2006

Just Jamie

Producer: London, England’s Screentiger and Ottawa, Canada-based Funbag Animation

Premise: This show’s mixed-media animation style gives it a retro-trendy look that should really resonate with its tween target, along with little touches like clothes and hair gizmos that change way more often than necessary. Story lines revolve around 12-year-old only-child Jamie and her daily struggle to fit in at school and have fun with her friends. Jamie thinks she has her frizzy hair issues under control at a pool party thrown by her secret love interest when she opts for a chaise lounge rather than a dip. But things reach full-blown disaster pitch when Jamie accidentally takes a tumble into the pool and her hair explodes into a giant orange afro. Luckily, no one notices her bad hair because Jamie’s fall has inadvertently helped Robbie and his friends win a volleyball game against his sister and her snooty friends.

Style: 2-D/Flash/digital paper-cut animation

Format: 26 x 15 minutes

Demo: nine to 13

Budget: US$2.3 million

Status: With Canada’s YTV already committed, financing for the project is complete. Screentiger is aiming to lock in some sales at MIPCOM.

Delivery: November 2004


Producer: Montreal, Canada’s Cité-Amerique, Germany’s Scopas Medien AG and Image Plus out of Korea

Premise: Based on a book series by Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey, this gorgeous stop-motion show stars a little blue dragon who’s quite content to live alone in a snowy wonderland – until he finds a cat sitting outside his house one day. He takes her in, thaws her out, and sets about caring for his new pet. The only trouble is Dragon knows nothing about cats, so answers to questions like what to feed them and what those yellow puddles are all over the house elude him. He finally visits a pet store and loads up on know-how and all the necessary supplies, but in the confusion of porting all this new kitty gear home, Dragon leaves Cat behind somewhere. He launches into a desperate search when he realizes she’s missing, but can’t find her anywhere. Trudging home with a broken heart, Dragon looks up to see Cat sitting calmly on his stoop waiting to be let in. It seems the clever kitty found a way home on her own.

Style: Stop-motion clay animation

Format: 104 x 2.5 minutes

Demo: two to seven

Budget: roughly US$4.2 million

Status: The co-pro partners have secured presale deals with Treehouse TV (Canada), ZDF (Germany) and EBS (Korea) to complete the project’s financing. Now the goal will be to sign up broadcasters outside their home territories.

Delivery: This month

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