I'm quite sure we've all seen the show 'The Backyardigans' at least once in our lives. It bright colors, amazing songs, funny parodies, and loveable cast of characters honestly made the show great and enjoyable. Not just for young children, but also for adults as well. Now unless you've been living under a rock for seventeen years, or you lived in an Amish community or a monastery for your whole life, allow me to give you a summary of the show and what it was about.
The Backyardigans was created on October 11th, 2004 by Janice Burgess, and animated by (obviously) Nickelodeon Studios. The series itself was inspired by a small, live action Pilot episode called 'Me and My Friends'. The series stars five main characters;
Pablo (voiced by Jake Goldberg and Sean Curly) is a blue and yellow penguin that is considered the main leader of the group. His personality consist of him generally being a good friend and leader to the other four characters. He is also prone to spontaneous "panic attacks" whenever something tends to go wrong, to which the others would snap him out of it.
Tyrone (voiced by Reginald Davis Jr. and Leon G. Thomas III) is a orange moose that wears a blue and orange striped shirt obverse his body. His personality consist of him being a very calm and laid-back kind of guy.
Tasha (voiced by Naelee Rae and Kristin Danielle) is a yellow hippopotamus that wears a long orange dress with Red shoes. Her personality, despite being very rational and serious, is very bossy at times. She also has moments that make her out to be a bit spoiled at times, although this might just be because of the Adventure she's in at the time. She also has a very heavy desire for anything that has to do with fashion,
Uniqua (voiced by Lashawn Jeffries and Jamia Nash) is a very "unique" kind of character to say the least. It it rather unknown what kind of animal (if she even is one) or creature she really is. Many have speculated that she might be an alien (due to her antennae) or a pink ladybug (due to her multiple spots on her body). She wears a pair of overalls that match the color of her skin. Her character personalities consist of her being rather kind and considerate to the other characters, however she does voice some very strong opinions and mild stubbornness at times, which tend to dampen the mood sometimes.
Austin (voiced by John Bobo and Thomas Sharkey) is a purple kangaroo that wears a pair of blue jeans and a blue shirt with a yellow stripe in the center. He is the only character on the show that has very little screen time on the actual show. He also very rarely takes any of the leading roles (whether it be a hero or villain) and is often just one of the other characters just playing along. He is a very shy and reclusive character on the show. He is looking the youngest out of all of them.
The show usually would involve said characters going out on random and silly adventures using their imagination as guides and settings for each episode and plot. Often times these adventures would parody many different movies and genres; "International Super Spy" a parody of the James Bond movies, "Who Done it?" a parody of Sherlock Holmes, just to name a few. The episode would then end with them saving the day, and one of them getting hungry. With one of the characters inviting all of them to one of their houses for a snack. They would then sing, and say goodbye to the viewers.
With that little summery out of the way, I do have a few things that I'd like to talk about you guys. As many fans of the show would know, the series ended on July 12th, 2013 with four seasons in total. This, of course, was a very big disappointment for many fans of the show, as it had a relatively nice charm to it. And not only that, it was actually a very well made show, with a very realistic plot and proper ways of solving them. Now, many fans had to deal with garbage TV shows like Dora the Explorer and other crap shows. Now, what if I told you that there where actual plans for a reboot of the show? Now I know that sounds relatively shocking, and the same time a bit unbelievable. However, as I am currently speaking, the creator of the Backyardigans are trying to get Nickelodeon's approval for the reboot. How do I know this you might be asking yourself? Simple, I worked for them. No, I wasn't an intern, at least not in the past two years that is. I was actually one of the main animators and editors that was put on charge for the Pilot episode of the new reboot.
Now, this new reboot series would be called 'Backyardigans Backyard Adventures', and would be directed by the same person who created the Backyardigans. It would be animated in the same CGI animation, however the quality of the background and characters themselves would be a lot better than the original animation. The characters would also go through a few changes themselves, although not too much would actually change. For one, the ages of the characters would be heightened up a bit (with Pablo being eleven, Tyrone being twelve, Uniqua being ten, Tasha being nine, and Austin being seven). The characters’ models would also change as well. For one, Pablo would not only support his beanie, but would also have small blue sneakers as well, Tyrone would a have larger antlers, a pair of orange sneakers, and blue jeans for pants. Tasha would have the same dress, but she would support some new jewelry (a pearl necklace, an emerald ring, and two gold earnings. Uniqua would pretty much remain the same, but taller. Austin would also support the same clothing, but he would have a long locket necklace around his neck. The setting would change as well, with all of the characters homes lining up around each other instead of it just being the usual blue, pink, and orange houses. There would also be more playground equipment and toys scattered around the area.
The show's only major difference between the original 'Backyardigans' and 'Backyardigans Backyard Adventures' (plot wise that is) is that instead of the show just being about the Adventure they were going on. The show would have two different plots in one episode that would coincide with one another. This was intended to not only provide viewers with an amazing adventure, but also provide a much needed sub plot about a problem or issue that either one, or all, of the characters were going through that day. These problems could be minor like fighting, bossy people, or school. But there were also darker and somewhat controversial topics like bullying, abuse, depression, divorce, and even death. The reason for this was to try and educate children about real life problems and topics and teach them how to deal with these things properly. Of course, these things would be slightly toned down in order to try and not scare their audience away or frighten them too much with the subject matter. However, it wouldn't be sugar coated either, as to not try and dull the message that was trying to be given. This leads me to the Pilot episode of 'Backyardigans Backyard Adventures ' called "Forest Gruff".
This episode took almost two years to actually write, produce, and animate. The reason for this, was because the original creator of 'The Backyardigans' wanted the new show to be as accurate as possible when it came to characterization and how children really acted. She even went as so far to consult child psychologists and Pediatricians to really help set the characters personality in stone. After one whole years of writing, rewriting, and the occasional writers block the episode was ready to be casted by new cast members (as well as original singing voices) animated, and edited for syndication. The final product being transferred to at least 20 USB drives manually, to prevent any loss of animation. Each USB drive where then sent off with me and a few editing staff to watch the episode and take notes on any kind of issues that we may come across, so that the animation could be properly buffered for postproduction.
I myself not going to bore you with what I did when I got home (as it’s rather boring and would have me drag on this encounter for too long, so I'll cut to the episode).
The episode begins with a full framed shot of each of the characters houses, with a more musical cover of the original theme song. The shot would then pan to Pablo's home with him opening the door and greeting the viewer as well as introducing himself while putting on his bow tie. The same transition would then play for each of the other characters, with them introducing themselves and getting something or doing something comedic. Then it would quickly pan to all of them running into the main backyard and getting together. After this, the main song would begin. The one thing that I found rather interesting with this sequence was that the song itself was the original theme song. This would certainly be a nice hit of nostalgia for older viewers. As the characters sang their theme song, it would cut to older episodes of the show with the opening credits being played below each scene in Bubbly red and yellow font. The intro would then end with all the characters jumping onto the main title of the show and posing as they sang the final line of their song.
The show then transitions to a title card (which was one of the new themes to the show) which had all two characters navigating through a thick and dense forest with Pablo leading Tyrone with a flashlight with the words. “After the title card, it cuts to the backyard of all five of the main cast, with Austin sitting on a picnic table drinking some juice from a juice box. The camera pans over to him, and he looks at the screen and says
"Oh hi there! It's nice to see you all after some time. It's sure been quite without you guys with us."
Austin took a drink from his juice box, and then looks at the viewers once more.
"I see you've noticed my new locket! I got at my seventh birthday party. It was a gift from my mom and dad."
Austin then grabbed the base of the locket and opened it up revealing the inside of the locket.
"This is a picture of my Mom and Dad." Austin said, pointing at the picture with a pair of purple kangaroos that looked very similar to Austin, with the sole exception of the father wearing a suit and supporting a mustache. And the mother wearing a blue dress and long blond hair.
"And this a picture of me and my friends." Austin then pointed at a picture of him with Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, and Tasha all grouped together.
"We were a lot younger when we took this picture, but that's okay. I love seeing us when we were younger."
Austin then laughs a bit , before it stopped and a frown appeared on his face. He let out a sigh before looking at the viewer.
"Can I tell you guys something?" Hey said before looking at both sides to check if he wasn't being watched.
"I have a bit of a problem with Pablo and Tyrone. They've been fighting with each other for the past two days about something that happened at school. Apparently, from what I've heard at least, Pablo stole Tyrone's pizza at school. I doubt that it's true, because Pablo wouldn't steal anyone's food. He doesn't even have a big appetite to begin with! So I'm trying to think about what I can do to make them be friends again.
At this point, Austin immediately starts breaking into song. However, this song is more of a slow sad song than the usual happy, peppy music that I've listened to in the past. After about three minutes of this somber singing and music, it ended with Austin sitting back down at the picnic table. Then, after a few seconds, a light bulb pops up above him, which quickly fizzles out. Austin then gets a slightly annoyed face, as he flicks at the bulb multiple times to try and get it working again. This doesn't work, so he walks off camera and throws a few random items across the screen (a toy, a rake, and a few fake chainsaws) before coming back with a new light bulb in his hands. He then sits back down at the picnic table, unscrews the light bulb, and puts the new one in. After that, the light bulb flashes to life and Austin says "Aha!"
He then goes to the house of Pablo and knocks on the door. There is no answer at first, but after the second knock, the door flies open with Tyrone and Pablo arguing over each other. Austin, haven been flattened by the force of the door, bushes the door closed and takes a step forward. His body then pops right back into his model and he walks over towards the arguing pair.
"Guys." Austin said to them.
Both Pablo and Tyrone ignore him as they continued to fight.
"Guys." Austin said once more, this time a bit louder than before.
Still no response from the two.
Austin, at this point, regains his annoyed look once again. He looks at them, and then at the viewer before reaching into his pants pocket and pulling out a small megaphone. He reaches for the nob on the device and twist it about a few times to the right. Then after giving a gentle cough, he breathes in and yells in a high pitched voice.
I honestly not only shitted my pants from hearing that noise, but my earphones that I had on at the time stopped working after that. I had to pause the video and go get a new pair of headphones from my room. After retrieving them, I plugged them into my computer and made sure to lower the volume. I then clicked play and resumed the video.
Both Tyrone and Pablo both wobbled around for a few seconds completely dazed and disoriented. After a few seconds, they both regained their composure and looked at Austin with an angry glare.
"What was that for?" they both said in unison.
"To stop your fighting, and to have an adventure together." Austin replied.
The two of them looked at each other for a brief second, before sighing and asking.
"Where are going this time?"
"How about a camping trip at the Yellowstone Forest!"
"That actually sounds kinda fun." Pablo said.
"I agree." Tyrone responded.
"Great, let's go!"
After that it showed Austin, Tyrone, and Pablo running across the screen with the background changing into a densely wooded area. Then it cut to a makeshift camping ground with lit fireplace, tents, and sleeping bags. Then it showed Pablo, Tyrone, and Austin all running towards the campgrounds in camping gear.
"Well, here we are!" Austin said.
"Hey A..Austin." Pablo said stuttering.
"Yeah Pablo?" Austin replied.
"W..why is it so d.dark?"
"Don't tell me you’re still scared of the dark?" Tyrone said coldly.
"N...no I'm not!" Pablo rebutted.
It then showed the two starting another fight, yet again. This time Austin face palmed at what he was seeing. He then decided to try and break up the fighting with a story.
"Hey guys, how about a scary camping story?" Austin said with a creepy grin on his face.
"Sounds good!" Tyrone replied "I bet I could listen to it without getting scared."
"S...so can I!" Pablo retorted.
Then, it was at that time that Austin broke into another song. This time this song had more of a Halloween feel to it. Austin then sang a song about a creature that roamed the forest called "The Tentacle Man". He then sings about how the 'Tentacle man was a man in a black overcoat, had no face, and had tentacles that came out of his hands and back, and would eat children as a snack if he caught them. Once the song was over, both Tyrone and Pablo were huddled together in fear.
"T...that w...wasn't scary at a...all." they both said.
Austin smiled a wicked grin before noticing that the fire was going down, and fast.
"Hey guys, the fire's going down. I need you guys to come and help me get some firewood."
The two of them looked at Austin wide eyed before saying okay, and walking into the forest with Austin. After a few minutes of them walking in the forest, it cut to Pablo's tripping on a tree branch and landing straight on top of Tyrone.
"Hey watch it!" Tyrone yelled.
"Hey I just tripped over a branch.."
"Sure you did. Just like you didn't steal my pizza at school?"
"I told you a million times Tyrone. I DID NOT STEAL IT!"
The arguing continued for a good minute and a half before Austin couldn't stand the bickering anymore, and turned towards the two of them.
"Can you guys just stop fighting for just five minutes!" Austin yelled out at them.
This caused the both of them to stop and listen to Austin.
"We're all trying to have a fun time together, but you two keep on ruining it just because of a dumb piece of pizza!"
Austin then walked towards some bushes, and then turned to face the two in front of him.
"This has to stop you guys, it's not cool. We're supposed to be friends, and not argue."
Just as Austin continued to rant and rave, Pablo noticed a pair of tentacles coming up from behind the bushes. This also caught Tyrone's attention as well, as fear plastered over their faces once again. Austin took note of this and asked
"What? What's wrong?"
Both Pablo and Tyrone pointed their fingers/flipper at behind the bushes. Austin turned around and before he could say anything, a pair of tentacles wrapped themselves around Austin and dragged him away with him screaming all the while. Pablo and Tyrone both looked at each other in fear before screaming in unison
"THE TENTACLE MAN!!!!"
Immediately, the two of them ran back to camp. Upon returning to camp, Pablo started having one of his trademark panic attacks.
"What do we do, what do we do! The Tentacle Man sure is going to find us and get us! He's gonna get us!
"Pablo." Tyrone said.
"If he gets us, he's sure going to eat us! I wonder what barbecue sauce he'll use? He'll probably smother us in in spicy barbecue sauce!"
"But what if he runs out of barbecue sauce? What's he going to eat us with next! What if he eats us with ranch dressing!"
"PABLO!" Tyrone screamed.
"We're not going to get eaten! Austin was right, we need to stop fighting, and stop this monster!" Tyrone said as he slammed his fist into his palm.
"You're right!" Pablo said " And I think I know how were going good to do it."
The scene then transitions to a Montage of both Tyrone and Pablo constructing and setting up numerous traps to try catch the beast. All the while, another song came up in an upbeat pop rock style about capturing the monster. After a few minutes, they had finally finished with their traps.
"Alright, now we have to set up a plan." Tyrone said.
"And what plan is that?" Pablo asked.
Tyrone then gave a sinister grin, before the screen transitioned to Pablo standing in the middle of the woods with a single flashlight. He looked a bit freaked out.
"Umm Tyrone, is this really your plan, or is this your attempt at getting revenge?' Pablo asked worriedly.
Tyrone then popped out a bush he was hiding in and said quietly, "A little bit of both, but mostly it's my plan. Now keep quiet and wait for the monster to find you."
"Geez, thanks." Pablo said sarcastically.
After a few moments of Pablo looking intently for the Tentacle Man, he stopped to try and calm himself down a bit. When he did this, he felt something breathing on him. He then turned towards the camera with a cocked eyebrow and said, "He's right behind me isn't he?"
Pablo then turned around to see the Tentacle Man booming over him with tentacles growing out of its hands. Pablo then turned right back to the viewer and said, "Yup, he sure is. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!"
Pablo immediately ran down the path screaming his lungs out, Tyrone immediately heard the que, and pulled out a makeshift saw and placed it on a rope.
"Hurry up and get him!!" Pablo yelled.
At that very moment, Tyrone cut the rope to the first trap which spilled marbles all over the ground. This caused the Tentacle Man to slip and slide across the path and into the camping area. Then, after finally gaining composure, the monster then ran towards Pablo at full force, only to be caught in a huge net. Upon seeing this both Tyrone and Pablo jumped for joy and high fived each other in joy at capturing the monster. However, their joy stopped abruptly as they heard another one of their traps go off.
"What was that?" Tyrone said.
The two of them immediately walked over to the trap that had been activated, only to discover that another Tentacle Man was caught in their net.
"Wait a minute, two Tentacle Mans in in two nets? What's going on here?!" Pablo yelled.
"I think I can answer that." Came a voice from the other side of the screen. The camera panned out to reveal it was Austin.
"Austin! It's you, you’re okay!" The two said in unison once again.
"Of course I am you guys. Hey Tasha and Uniqua! You can take off the costumes now!" Austin shouted.
"Costumes?" Pablo said with confusion.
Immediately, both Tasha and Uniqua both took off the mask that they were both wearing. This caused both Pablo's and Tyrone's jaws to drop to the floor at what they were looking at.
"So this was all a prank?" Tyrone asked.
"Not really," Tasha began. "After you two started fighting, we all decided to pitch in and teach you guys a lesson," she said as she cut herself down from the net.
"Yeah, we don't like seeing you guys fight. And especially over a pizza," Uniqua pitched in.
The two friends looked at each other before realizing their mistake and apologizing. This caused everyone to cheer before Pablo's stomach started growling.
"Is that another Tentacle Man?" Tyrone asked scared.
"No, it's just my stomach. Getting the pants scared off of you really works up an appetite."
"Wanna come over to my house for a snack? We've got smores!" Austin said
The others agree, and the setting immediately returns back to normal, with the characters running back to their homes. The episode ends with all the characters singing the outro to their theme song and waving goodbye to the viewers.
After watching the episode, I honestly found it rather enjoyable. However, I did mark down a few suggestions for toning down the "Tentacle Man" a bit so that he wouldn't freak out viewers. And that my friends was the Pilot episode of the new reboot series. I honestly don't know if Nickelodeon will approve it or not, but zip I have a feeling that we might just get a shot at this.