The Jim Henson Company is cooking up a new Dr. Seuss adaptation that could not only serve as a remedy to the isolation children are experiencing during the pandemic, but also help them re-engage socially long after lockdown. In early development, Come Over to My House is a live-action unscripted series for five- to eight-year-olds based on Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel’s 1966 children’s picture book of the same name.
The book tells the story of an American boy who travels around the world and is introduced to the homes and customs of kids in different countries. According to Henson’s president of television, Halle Stanford, the bridge docuseries will re-cast the lead as a traveling puppet (tentatively named Katie) and be filmed documentary-style with real kids in their real homes.
“We hope to capture the joy of an unfettered, unstructured day of play between a kid and a puppet,” says Stanford.
The project idea percolated at Kidscreen Summit 2020 when Stanford and executive producer Michael Lewis (Splash & Bubbles) met Dr. Seuss Enterprises president Susan Brandt. Having previously collaborated on Nickelodeon’s classic ’90s live-action puppet series Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, Henson wanted to reimagine another book together—but one that didn’t feature Seuss’s familiar whimsical characters.
“These aren’t the classic Cat in the Hat fantasy characters,” she says.
To help bring Come Over to My House to life, Stanford tapped emerging documentary filmmaker Tiffanie Hsu to direct.
“Because we’ll be using real kids and loose scripts, and we won’t be shooting on sets, I went into the doc world to find a creator,” she says.
Though an estimated delivery date has not been set, Stanford plans to pitch the series in early spring. Despite the fact that unscripted content tends not to travel as well as animation, which is easier to dub, she’s confident broadcasters will be interested in the stories and drawn to the production’s potential speed to market.
“We’re hoping for 20 half hours, and if we set it up with the right partners, the show will come out at a time when kids and families across the globe will need to re-embrace connection as we start to come out of the pandemic,” Stanford says.
The series will also have a small crew, so Stanford says production could begin as early as this summer and deliver quickly to networks that need to put new live-action content into their lineups.
She says the biggest challenge will be figuring out where the show can shoot, and how it can be done safely if filming begins this year.
“It will be do-able, but we need to unpack that puzzle ahead of time in pre-production,” says Stanford.