The Backyardigans

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The Backyardigans
The Backyardigans logo.svg
Also known as Backyardigans
Genre CGI
Created by Janice Burgess
Directed by Dave Palmer
Starring Jake Goldberg
Chris Grant Jr.
LaShawn Tináh Jefferies
Jonah Bobo
Gianna Bruzzese
Composer(s) Evan Lurie (score/songs: music)
Douglas Wieselman (songs: music)
McPaul Smith (songs: lyrics)
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 77 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Janice Burgess
Robert Scull
Producer(s) Nelvana
Guru Studio
Running time 25 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Treehouse TV (Canada)
Nickelodeon (U.S.)
Original run October 11, 2004  – May 31, 2010

The Backyardigans is a Canadian/American musical pre-school TV series that premiered in 2004 and was created by Janice Burgess. It features five animal children, who imagine that their backyard becomes an adventure place. It is a co-production of Treehouse TV, and the Canadian animation studio Nelvana. Debuting on October 11, 2004, it was originally directed by Robert Scull. Dave Palmer began directing the show in the middle of season one, and directed all subsequent episodes. It aired on CBS from October 2004 until September 2006. The songs for the show are music by Evan Lurie, of The Lounge Lizards, and Douglas Wieselman and lyrics by McPaul Smith. The characters were designed by children's author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino.

On April 30, 2006, Nelvana and Nickelodeon jointly announced that twenty new episodes were ordered for the upcoming fall schedule.[1] In the UK, the second season debuted on October 30, 2006. The third season was released in Canada in March 2008, and the series made its Australian debut in the same year. A fourth season has been produced and is currently being released in Canada as of February 22, 2010. Six DVDs from this series were released on October 13, 2009 (Robot Repairman), January 5, 2010 (Join the Adventurer's Club), March 30 (Escape From the Tower), July 14, 2010 (Operation Elephant Drop), October 5, 2010 (Christmas With the Backyardigans) and March 8, 2011 (We Arrrr Pirates!).[2] The We Arrrr Pirates! DVD includes the episode The Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon which is a sequel to the season 3 episode Tale of the Mighty Knights.

David Palmer, director of the show, announced that the season 4 finale is the series finale because Nickelodeon ended the show. It also aired on Nickelodeon until sometime in 2009. Petitions are being signed to bring the show for a fifth season. The series finale aired on May 31, 2010.

The show airs on Treehouse TV Canada under Nickelodeon.

Plot[edit]

The series follows a ritualistic pattern and centres around an assortment of neighbouring playmates depicted as bipedal, anthropomorphic animals; Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, Austin, and Tasha. Designed to encourage imaginative play, the characters communicate with the viewers through breaking the fourth-wall, albeit the series rests particular focus on the role-playing games in which the friends participate varying with each episode, and said games are visualized through dream sequences lasting for a majority of the episode and serving as the primary focus of that certain episode. Usually, the group will visualize a unique scenario, ranging from prehistoric times to adventurous fantasies, and they are often presented with multiple dilemmas along the way to accomplishing a certain goal or priority, or may be challenged with a major single obstacle to defeat or problem to solve. The program also follows a musical format, featuring multiple musical numbers sung throughout the course of an episode regarding whatever imaginary predicament in which the characters have situated themselves or perhaps a challenge that they have met, every episode opening and concluding with a particular song. When the Backyardigans have achieved their mission or defeated any disadvantages, the fantasy sequence fades, restoring actuality to the setting of the episodes as the closing song is sung, the characters scurrying to their houses for a snack. The main character or characters then opens the door to the Backyardigans house of fence and shouts the main catchphrase for the final time and then closes the door. The picture then freezes with some background bird noises often heard as iris closes, ending the episode.

Characters[edit]

Each of the five characters on the show have two voice actors: one for the speaking, and the other for singing. In the English version, all the voice actors and singers are actual children.

The dancing on the show is first performed by live-action dancers, and their movements are later transported to animation. Choreographer, Beth Bogush, describes the process: "What we do is we film the live footage in the studio, send that off and they do a Leica, and then they send it to the animators. The animators watch, and were pretty precise. What we film for that day is pretty close to what you see in the character."[3]

Voice cast and Major characters[edit]

Uniqua[edit]

A curious, self-confident and high-spirited pink character (the series uses the name "Uniqua" for both the character and her species). She is the second-youngest of the group.[citation needed] She wears pink polka-dotted overalls and has a pair of swirly antennae on top of her head. Uniqua is very sweet and friendly, though her strong opinions and occasional stubbornness get in the way of her relationships. While imagining herself having the roles that require brains and fortitude (such as scientist, pirate captain) and despite her love of books (as seen in episodes such as "The Masked Retriever"), she is more tomboyish than her friend, Tasha.

Uniqua is the only character to appear in every episode of the series.

Creator Janice Burgess describes Uniqua as 'the child she wishes she was like as child'.[4] She has been called simply "Uniqua, the pink" in Knights Are Brave And Strong.

Speaking voice: LaShawn Tináh Jefferies (Seasons 1-4)
Singing voice: Jamia Simone Nash (Seasons 1-3) and Avion Baker (Season 4)
Dancer: Hattie May Williams (Seasons 1-4)

Pablo[edit]

Pablo is the smallest and most naive of The Backyardigans; a yellow-beaked blue penguin wearing a blue bow tie and a blue and yellow propeller beanie, is the one who most often has the ideas and tends to be the most excitable of the group. He is best friends with Tyrone. Due to his energy and impetuousness, he takes the lead in many situations, but often goes into a "panic attack" when he faces an obstacle, running around in circles flapping his flippers and telling everyone not to panic until someone interrupts him to propose a solution by calling his name and then shouting it, at which point he stops, turns to the character and asks "Yeah?". The number of panic attacks decreased considerably after the first season, though in the Fourth Season episode The Flipper! his propensity for getting overexcited is actually a major point of the episode. Pablo appears in every episode with the exception of Chichen-Itza Pizza.

Tyrone[edit]

A good-natured, but somewhat fearful, red-haired orange moose and wears a red and blue striped long-sleeved shirt and Pablo's best friend. He is the oldest. He is almost his complete opposite in terms of personality despite his laid-back and cool-headed character and being known for his ironic comments (one of them being "That certainly was/is convenient/inconvenient"). At the end of every episode, he remarks, "That was an excellent (type) adventure, don't you think?" although Pablo, Austin, and Tasha take over for his absence. As to being Pablo's best friend, they appear on opposing sides occasionally, such as International Super Spy, The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve, and Blazing Paddles.

Despite not appearing to wear trousers (except on rare occasions, such as "Race Around the World"), Tyrone somehow manages to put his hands in his pockets.

Speaking voice: Reginald Davis, Jr. (Season 1), Jordan Coleman (Seasons 2-3) and Chris Grant, Jr. (Season 4)
Singing voice: Corwin C. Tuggles (Season 1), Leon G. Thomas III (Seasons 2-3), Dimani Roberts (Season 3) and Tyrel Jackson Williams (Seasons 3-4) Dancer: Greg Sinacori (Seasons 1-4) Other Dancers: Andrew Cao (Season 3)

Tasha[edit]

A beautiful yellow hippopotamus who is the second oldest, and wears an orange flowered dress and red shoes. Out of all the main characters, she is the only one who wears shoes all the time (except in her mermaid form). She is a sweet girl on the outside, but is more rational, likes to get her own way and isn't easy to fool. She is the most serious, although she is just as silly from time to time. From the second season onwards, she has a more muscular appearance than the other characters. She tends to be grumpy if she is not the boss. Her catchphrase is "oh for goodness sakes!"

Speaking Voice: Naelee Rae (Seasons 1-2) and Gianna Bruzzesse (Seasons 3-4)
Singing Voice: Kristin Klabunde (Seasons 1-2) and Gabriella Malek (Seasons 3-4)
Dancer: Darlene Dirstine (Seasons 1-3) and Amanda Ulibarri (Season 4)

Austin[edit]

A shy, but fun-loving purple kangaroo. He is the middle child. Though generally shy in the first season, due to recently moving in the neighborhood, Austin starts to come out of his shell as he is revealed to be smart, friendly, and imaginative. He rarely appears in the spotlight, but takes the role of the lead character in some episodes. He is the third oldest of the group. Says Bogush: "Austin's usually the one pulling up the rear. He's kind of a get-along guy."[3]

While usually friendly, Austin can act out on his grumpy side in a while, such as the episodes High Tea 'I'm Angry as Can Be" and The Magic Skateboard. Austin's roles usually start as heroic in the first season, but becomes a little more villainous in The Masked Retriever and Flower Power.

In The Secret of Snow, it seems that every Backyardigan but him appeared only in a Red Snow story hardcover book and not in the real animated world (the book was narrated by him during the episode). Austin also appears in the book, but unlike the others appears in the real Backyardigan world. It is unknown where the others actually were throughout the episode, but it is likely that they were at their own homes. This is the only time that only one of the real Backyardigans appeared in an episode.

Speaking voice: Jonah Bobo (Seasons 1-4)
Singing voice: Thomas Sharkey (Seasons 1-3) and Nicholas Barasch (Season 4)
Dancer: Kristen Frost (Seasons 1-4)

Dragons[edit]

Dragons appear in Tale of the Mighty Knights, Dragon Express, and Tale of the Not-so-nice Dragon. Four Dragons are mentoried:Dragon voiced by Adam Pascal and Oliver Wyman to quack like a duck, Not-So-Nice Dragon (Judas) is child and act like a childhood, Malverick and Windy(Wendy on the DVD Join the Adventures Club and The Backyardigans Theme Song)

Other characters[edit]

Mission to Mars features an Alien mom, voiced by Alicia Keys; an alien baby named Boinga, voiced by Shakira Lipscomb; and R. O. V. E. R., a dog-like surface vehicle, as guest stars. In the UK version of the show, the baby alien is voiced by Maria Darling, but this has the unfortunate effect of having the baby sound exactly like Tasha (also voiced by Darling); given that Tasha is seen providing the "boinga, boinga, boinga" sound during the pre-imaginary portion of the episode, however, this may be intentional. Alicia Keys' vocal is not affected by the normal "Anglicization" that is common in the UK version of the show. Aliens that resemble Boinga are also featured in several other episodes, either alone or in groups: one appears at the end of News Flash, a group of them appear in Los Galacticos and two of these aliens, named Blaarg and Hugs, are major characters in The Big Dipper Diner.

A giant clam also appears as a minor antagonist in both The Legend Of The Volcano Sisters and The Great Dolphin Race. The clam pants and acts like a dog. The Great Dolphin Race also featured 'Sea Squirt', a dolphin Uniqua finds in a sunken ship, and 'Blue Streak', a racing dolphin owned by racer Tyrone.

Secret Mission and It's Great To Be A Ghost! include voices near the end of the episode that do not come from any of the main characters. They're rumored to have come from Evan Lurie, one of the show's composers. There are also announcer voices at the beginning of the newscast in Newsflash, and throughout Tale of the Mighty Knights.

Caveman's Best Friend featured a dinosaur pup named Boy, who was Austin's pet during the episode. A similar-looking dinosaur appeared during To the Center of the Earth.

Robot Rampage featured a robot named Roscoe and an entire army of roller-skating robots.

Elephant On the Run featured an Asian Elephant that Pablo and Tyrone must deliver to a nature preserve.

The Amazing Splashinis featured a sea monster that sneaks into a theme-park swimming pool.

Setting[edit]

The characters live in houses adjoining a large backyard common to the three central houses (Pablo's, Tyrone's and Uniqua's) that is transformed by imagination into various adventure settings. While the Backyardigans' adventures take place all around the world, the Backyardigans reside in Southern Ontario. Each house roughly corresponds to the color scheme of the character: Pablo lives in a blue house, Uniqua in a pink one, and Tyrone in an orange one. Tasha's house, which is to the left of the three central houses, is yellow and Austin's, to the right, is partially obscured by a fence but what is visible is purple. The fence, which surrounds the combined properties of the three main characters (Pablo, Tyrone and Uniqua), has a gate in it which leads to Austin's house. The curve of the street allows the play area to be roughly equal in distance from each house's back door.

Not everything that appears in the imaginary world has a real-world counterpart. Often trees, boulders, brickwork, or similar objects appear where nothing originally existed. By the same token, even large trees in the real garden disappear completely when the imagination part of the story commences.

When playing in their imaginations, the characters often pull items out of thin air, from behind their backs or from something clearly not large enough to hold them; a technique known in animation as hammerspace. The episode "Eureka!" had a running gag in which Pablo would search for certain items on his saddlebag, pulling out enormous objects in the process (e.g. a tuba, a surfboard and a fully inflated rubber raft.)

Other examples include occasions in "Riding the Range", where Tyrone could produce a seemingly inexhaustible supply of apples, "The Snow Fort", where Tasha and Uniqua each have a rucksack that contains a rescue kit, including shovels, hooks, and suction cups, "Race Around the World", where Austin has a racing pack in which he keeps numerous items, such as a hook, rope, Band-Aids, a water bottle, and a pair of scissors, and "High Tea", in which Tasha manages to store tea-leaves, a teapot and four cups and saucers in a small purse.

UK version[edit]

In the UK, The Backyardigans are shown daily on Nick Jr., Nick Jr. 2 and Nick Jr. on TMF (formerly "Noggin on TMF"). The characters have been redubbed and in seasons 1 & 2 are voiced by three British actresses; Maria Darling (Tasha and Tyrone), Janet James (Pablo), and Lizzie Waterworth (Uniqua and Austin).[5] In the third season, Emma Tate (who also voices Destiny Angel in Captain Scarlet) took over the roles of Tasha and Tyrone from Maria Darling.

In the British version, certain words and phrases that are not in common usage in British English are changed, such as "soccer" to "football" and "diapers" to "nappies". This naturally leads to some minor lip-synch issues, but most children would not notice these. Also in the British version, several of the snacks are different, since items like s'mores are not generally known in the UK, while others like granola bars are known by different names.

The ordering of episodes is not as consistent in the UK as is in the United States. For example, in the UK Secret of Snow was originally shown out of sequence, after The Legend of The Volcano Sisters. The final episode out of sequence, Special Delivery was eventually shown in the UK for the first time on August 13, 2007. There was a considerable break between the Horsing Around episode, which was shown in April and this episode. "International Super Spy" was finally shown during Nick Jr's "Backyardigans Biggest Adventure Ever!" Weekend, 24 and 25 November 2007, and was the final episode from Season two to be broadcast.

The third season began broadcasting on Nick Jr. and Nick Jr. 2 during March 2008, although some episodes were again shown out of order. All episodes of the third season have now been shown in the UK.

Canadian live theatrical version[edit]

In Canada, The Backyardigans has been turned into a live theatrical show which has toured across Canada three times.[6]

The first incarnation, The Backyardigans: Quest for the Extra Ordinary Aliens hit the stage in 2007, returned in early 2009, and Summer/Fall 2011.

The most recent production is The Backyardigans: Sea Deep in Adventure, which is an aquatic themed presentation. The Director/Choreographer is Patti Caplette, who also co-wrote the show with one of the TV shows' writers Rodney Stringfellow. The shows also feature the original music from the TV show, which was written by Evan Lurie

All three tours were presented by Paquin Entertainment Group,[7] and produced by Koba Entertainment,[8] both based in Winnipeg.

DVD releases[edit]

As of January 2010, seasons One through Three have been released on DVD for the North American region as well as two DVDs featuring episodes from Season Four. There are fourteen collections of four episodes each and three collections of three episodes Super Secret Super Spy (2007), Tale of the Mighty Knights (2008), and Robot Repairman (2009). The third DVD featuring episodes from Season Four titled "Escape From the Tower" was released in the US on March 30, 2010; it contains three Backyardigans episodes and one episode of The Fresh Beat Band.

Season One
It's Great to Be a Ghost (2005)
The Snow Fort (2005)
Polka Palace Party (2006)
Cave Party (2006)
Surf's Up (2006)
Season Two
Mission to Mars (2006)
The Legend of the Volcano Sisters (2007)
Movers and Shakers (2007)
Into the Deep (2007)
Super Secret Super Spy (2007)
Season Three
Tale of the Mighty Knights (2008)
High Flying Adventures (2008)
Mighty Match Up (2008)
Escape from Fairytale Village (2008)
Robin Hood the Clean (2009)
Season Four
Robot Repairman (2009)
Join the Adventurer's Club (2010)
Escape From the Tower (2010)
Operation Elephant Drop (2010)
Christmas with the Backyardigans (2010)
We Arr Pirates! (2011)

The second through fifth DVD collections, Super Secret Super Spy, and We Arrrr Pirates include a second audio track in French (Canadian). Nelvana, the company producing the animation for The Backyardigans, is based in Canada, which is officially bilingual. The tempos of several songs are changed to match the French lyrics for both France and Canada, and the characters refer to themselves as "Les Mélodilous" in the opening and closing songs. Also, Tyrone is known as Théo and Uniqua as Victoria.

CD Releases[edit]

There are currently 3 Backyardigans albums released in North America and possibly the UK. Each has approximately 20 tracks, while Born To Play also has 4 bonus tracks only available on the iTunes Store.

The Backyardigans[edit]

Released on July 12, 2005, this is the Backyardigans' debut album. It contains 19 tracks from Season 1, including the opening theme.

  1. The Backyardigans Theme Song
  2. You and Me to the Rescue
  3. Castaways
  4. Questing, Questing
  5. A Pirate Says Arr
  6. Yeti Stomp!
  7. Queens Are Never Wrong
  8. Those Bones
  9. Buffalo Girls and Boys
  10. Trudge, Trudge, Trudge
  11. Secret Agent
  12. Laser Limbo Tango (Limbo Rock)
  13. Row Your Boat
  14. Into the Thick of It!
  15. P.U.! (Stinky Swamp Song)
  16. Flying Rock Song (II)
  17. When I'm Booing
  18. Please and Thank You
  19. Rockabilly Lullaby

Groove to the Music[edit]

This second CD was released on July 11, 2006, and contains 18 tracks from seasons 1 and 2.

  1. Hold On Tight
  2. Gotta Get the Job Done
  3. Shake Your Body
  4. Rad Moves
  5. We're Going to Mars
  6. Drumming Song
  7. Eureka!
  8. The Rules
  9. Tree to Tree
  10. What's So Scary About That?
  11. The Ballad of the Brave Pink Knight
  12. I Love Being a Princess
  13. Aha!
  14. Skate Ahead
  15. We'll Get You What You Want
  16. Ski Patrol to the Rescue
  17. Super Heroes vs. Super Villains
  18. Oh, My Sherman

Born To Play[edit]

The third and final Backyardigans CD, it was released on January 22, 2008. It contains songs from seasons 1-3, including all the songs from Tale of the Mighty Knights. There is a total of 22 tracks. There's also a special iTunes version of this album, containing 4 bonus tracks in addition to the 22 tracks, totaling 26 tracks.

  1. Ready for Anything
  2. We Love a Luau
  3. Tuba Polka
  4. I Feel Good
  5. Go, Go, Go
  6. The Customer Is Always Right
  7. Surf's Up, Ho Daddy
  8. Almost Everything Is Boinga (feat. Alicia Keys)
  9. Nothing Too Tough
  10. W-I-O-Wa
  11. I'm a Mountie
  12. Racing Day
  13. I Never Fail to Deliver the Mail
  14. Lady In Pink (feat. Cyndi Lauper)
  15. Nobody's Bigger Than a Giant
  16. Hurry Home
  17. A Challenge
  18. Dragon Mountain
  19. Goblin
  20. Not an Egg (feat. Adam Pascal)
  21. Tweedily Dee
  22. We're Knights

Bonus iTunes Tracks:

23. Betcha I Can
24. Phantom Footsteps
25. Do It Myself
26. The Call of the Mermaid

iTunes Releases[edit]

Seasons 1-4 have been released on iTunes in the US, however, some episodes are missing. Only Seasons 1 to 3 is available in the Canadian version of the iTunes Store for now, but it has all 20 episodes from Season 1, while in the US store, only 17.

iTunes Season 1 (US)[edit]

  1. The Heart of the Jungle
  2. Pirate Treasure
  3. The Yeti
  4. The Snow Fort
  5. Riding The Range
  6. The Key to the Nile
  7. Knights are Brave and Strong
  8. Viking Voyage
  9. Castaways
  10. Race to the Tower of Power
  11. Quest for the Flying Rock
  12. Polka Palace Party
  13. Surf's Up!
  14. Eureka!
  15. Race Around the World
  16. Cave Party
  17. Monster Detectives

Episodes Not Included in Season 1 iTunes (US)

  • Secret Mission
  • It's Great To Be A Ghost
  • High Tea (The Tea Party)

Episodes[edit]

As of March 2010 there have been 77 episodes aired. Because David Palmer ended production on the show and petitions are being signed for a fifth season, it's unknown if they will make more.

International broadcast[edit]

Merchandise[edit]

Activision released the Backyardigans PC game, Mission to Mars in October 2006. In addition, there are interactive Backyardigans games available for the LeapPad and VTech's V.Smile consoles. Austin fans may be disappointed to learn that the V.Smile game is of the "Viking Voyage" adventure, in which he does not appear. There is also a LeapFrog ClickStart Game that is Backyardigans themed called "Number Pie Samurai" which allows children to join the Backyardigans for early computer skills: Using technology with music mousing, and teaches essential pre-school skills: Instrumental sounds, musical exploration, and numbers counting.

A book, titled Here Come the Backyardigans is available in the UK. The story involves Uniqua playing hide-and-seek with, and searching for — Pablo. During the journey, Uniqua finds Austin, Tasha and Tyrone in different places (such as the Snow Fort and the Pirate Ship) Strangely, some characters are found in "locations" that they have never been shown to visit (such as Austin being found in the Snow Fort — he was not in that episode).

Also released are the story books for the "Pirate Treasure", "Race to the Tower of Power" and "The Key to the Nile" episodes. Other, more educational books (dealing with things like numbers, counting etc.) were also released in 2007.

Numerous cuddly toys and interactive character toys (mostly Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone) are also available. Some involve the toy singing songs and using well-known phrases from some of the episodes. There are also Beanie toys of all the main characters available.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nick Jr. And Nelvana Announce A Second Season Of The Backyardigans" (Press release). Cannes, France: Corus Entertainment. April 3, 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-01-27. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  2. ^ "The Backyardigans, Nick Jr.'s hit animated preschool series, was picked up for an additional 20 episodes and the series' fourth season". The Futon Critic. 08-03-13. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b Clarke, Eileen (October 4, 2006). "Who gets those 'toon-toed Backyardigans to dance?". Bring It On (Entertainment Weekly). Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  4. ^ Burgess, Janice. Meet the Creator of The Backyardigans!. (Interview). NickJr.com. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  5. ^ "Lizzie Waterworth". Just Voices Agency. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  6. ^ "The Backyardigans On Tour: Sea Deep in Adventure". Live On Stage Fall 2009. The Backyardigans on tour. 
  7. ^ Paquin Entertainment Group. "Paquin". Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  8. ^ "The Backyardigans". Koba Entertainment. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 

External links[edit]