Littlest Pet Shop (2012 TV series)
|Littlest Pet Shop|
|Voices of||See § Plot and cast|
|Theme music composer||
|Country of origin||
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||104 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||November 10, 2012– June 4, 2016|
|Related shows||Littlest Pet Shop (1995)|
Littlest Pet Shop is a Canadian–American children's animated television series developed by Julie McNally-Cahill and Tim Cahill for Hasbro Studios. Based on the Littlest Pet Shop and Blythe toys owned by Hasbro, the show follows a Blythe Baxter, a teenage girl who, after moving into an apartment in a metropolitan area, gains the ability to communicate with animals. Located below her apartment is the eponymous pet store where Blythe works and talks to a group of pets who regularly reside at a day care in the shop. Worried that a corrupt rival business will drive their shop out of business, the pets depend on Blythe to drive business into the store with her pet fashion designs.
The show debuted on November 10, 2012, and ran for four seasons and 104 episodes. Littlest Pet Shop is produced by Hasbro Studios and DHX Media. Animated using Flash, completion of a single episode takes roughly one year, with several in production at once. The show has received mixed reception; it has been criticised for its embedded marketing, while reviewers have given praise to the writing. Several crew members have additionally received accolades for their work on the show. The series finale aired on June 4, 2016.
The series is a part of the company's franchise reboot, where Hasbro released a new line of Littlest Pet Shop toys designed to more closely resemble the characters on the show. A mobile game and comic book adaptation were also commissioned.
Plot and cast
The series follows Blythe Baxter (Ashleigh Ball), a teenage girl living with her air pilot father, Roger (Michael Kopsa). Forced to move out from her suburban hometown following her father's promotion, she moves into an apartment located in a crowded city. Their complex is located above the eponymous Littlest Pet Shop—a pet store that also serves as a day camp for numerous pets—where Blythe works as a fashion designer. Her adventure begins when she discovers that she alone can miraculously understand and talk to the pets that regularly stay at the shop, in addition to most other animals on the planet. As she and the pets spend time together, they find the pet shop jeopardized by larger pet store managed by Fisher Biskit (Samuel Vincent) and his snooty twin daughters, Whittany and Brittany Biskit (Shannon Chan-Kent). To avoid being dispersed, the pets convince Blythe to remain an employee.
The pets who reside in the day camp of the store are Pepper (Tabitha St. Germain), a wisecracking skunk passionate about comedy; Minka (Kira Tozer), a bouncy spider monkey with a flair for painting and visual arts; Penny Ling (Jocelyne Loewen, Laura Hastlings in song), a sensitive giant panda interested in rhythmic gymnastics; Russell (Vincent), a hedgehog who is often the self-appointed leader of his animal bunkmates; Sunil (Peter New), a mongoose and magician hopeful; Vinnie (Kyle Rideout), a clumsy gecko obsessed with dancing; and Zoe (Nicole Oliver, Kylee Epp in song), a diva-like dog with a talent for singing. Other human characters include Mrs. Twombly (Kathleen Barr), owner of the shop and Blythe's boss, and Youngmee Song (Chan-Kent), Sue Patterson (Tozer), and Jasper Jones (Barr), Blythe's schoolmates.
Hasbro owns the rights of both Blythe and Littlest Pet Shop, toy lines respectively introduced in 1972 and 1992. Manufactured through their Kenner Products division, Hasbro acquired the Cincinnati-based company, then owned by Tonka, in 1991. Hasbro sold these toys under the name of this division until they closed down Kenner's original Cincinnati headquarters in 2000. Claster Television had produced an earlier animated show based on Littlest Pet Shop in 1995 for Hasbro, but the 2012 Littlest Pet Shop series marked the first adaptation of the Blythe doll to a character on television. A prior incarnation of such a character is the protagonist of Littlest Pet Shop Presents, an unrelated animated miniseries produced by Cosmic Toast Studios. This series was released by Hasbro exclusively on the Internet.
Julie McNally-Cahill and Tim Cahill developed Littlest Pet Shop, having joined Hasbro Studios in September 2011.[a] The two serve as both executive producers and story editors on the show; also working as executive producers are Chris Bartleman and Kirsten Newman. The show was announced in March 2011, based on Hasbro's 2010 introduction of the Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop toy line. Margaret Loesch, then the CEO of the Hub Network—a network partly owned by Hasbro and Discovery Communications—commissioned the series.
Given Hasbro's framework for Littlest Pet Shop, the developers Cahills pitched their adaptation of the property. Hasbro originally felt discouraged over having the show set at the pet store, finding the exchange of animals they thought would come from that disconcerting. The Cahills saw the studio's definition of such stores as antiquated, convincing them that most modern locations provide grooming and day care services as opposed to merely selling pets. Production followed quickly, much to their surprise.
The studio defined only Blythe and the pets as characters, so the Cahills sought to expand the human character's fictional universe, designing Blythe's friends, Mrs. Twombly, and the Biskit twins. Julie explained that she and her husband's preference for quirky comedy inspired that of the show. While the show is aimed at a demographic of young girls,[b] Julie said that she and the writers attempt to cater to boys of the same age and parent viewers simultaneously. Original music for the show is accomplished by film and television composers Daniel Ingram and Steffan Andrews. Ingram wrote that the urban setting of Littlest Pet Shop prompted the use of a modern style of music. The score incorporates pop and other cultural influences for the same reason. Ingram found Hasbro's pushing of the limitations for music in daytime television a source of pride.
Each 22-minute episode takes approximately a year to complete; three to four episodes are produced simultaneously. Storyboard artists depict scenes using SketchBook Pro. Adapting these boards to limited animation, studio DHX Media handles the designs, poses and key frames of movement for each character appearing in a given scene for an episode, as well as background art. DHX hands these assets to a separate studio, where the remaining animation is finished using Adobe Flash. The speed of production is throttled slightly by Blythe having two unique outfits per episode, according to director Joel Dickie. Supervising director Dallas Parker similarly explained that the variety of assets created for each episode challenged the process of Flash animation in reusing movements.
The Hub Network aired the first two episodes of Littlest Pet Shop in succession on November 10, 2012. The network scheduled these episodes to succeed the third season premiere of Friendship Is Magic, based on the My Little Pony toy line, also owned by Hasbro. The network ordered 26 episodes for its first season, concluding it on April 27, 2013. A second season, also of 26 episodes, premiered on November 2, 2013, and concluded on April 12, 2014. A third season of the same amount of episodes aired from May 31, 2014, to March 7, 2015. During this season, the network shifted management and was renamed to Discovery Family. A fourth and final season was aired beginning November 7, 2015.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||26||November 10, 2012||April 27, 2013||The Hub|
|2||26||November 2, 2013||April 12, 2014||Hub Network|
|3||26||13||May 31, 2014||August 23, 2014|
|13||December 13, 2014||March 7, 2015||Discovery Family|
|4||26||November 7, 2015||June 4, 2016|
|Littlest Pet Shop|
As part of a contractual agreement with Hasbro, Gameloft developed a mobile game based on the show. Released in the same year the show premiered, on November 22, the game is of the city-building genre. The game, Littlest Pet Shop, is freemium software—microtransactions allows users to speed up the progression of the game. The game provides over 150 animal companions for users to collect; minigames allow players to take care of these pets. Its initial release was for the iOS platform. An Android port was released shortly afterwards.
Writing in TouchArcade, Jared Nelson wrote that the game is unexceptional for players who are not fans of the toy line. While in the United Kingdom the game was subject of controversy concerning its incorporation of in-app purchases, the Advertising Standards Authority deemed it acceptable. The organization found that the instructions detailing purchases did not coerce players to make such purchases.
IDW Publishing was commissioned to adapt Littlest Pet Shop to a comic book. An adaptation made up of five issues, released from May 7 to September 17, 2014, was written by Georgia Ball and Matt Anderson and illustrated by Nico Peña and Antonio Campo. Anderson had worked on the shorter, contained stories, while Ball had scripted the remainder of each issue.
Different from the other Hasbro properties Ball had worked on, she explained that Hasbro wanted the comic to entertain readers rather than be morally didactic. She likened this to the principle of "no hugging, no learning" coined on the set of Seinfeld. Apart from that, the studio gave Ball license to give Blythe hobbies not depicted on the show. Ball focused on writing stories that would appeal to readers transitioning from primary to secondary education. She described the structure for the comic as a daily drama, while Anderson thought of it as slice of life.
Shout! Factory has secured North American distribution rights for programs broadcast by the Hub Network and Discovery Family, releasing several DVD sets for Littlest Pet Shop. Primal Screen, a distributor located in the United Kingdom, obtained the rights for its first two seasons for most of Western Europe and the Middle East. Beyond Home Entertainment handles distribution in Australia.
|DVD title||Season(s)||Episode count||Release date||ASIN|
|Little Pets, Big Adventures||1||5||January 15, 2013||B009INAMA8|
|Sweetest Pets||June 4, 2013||B00BNAE6LK|
|Pet-acular Escapades||October 1, 2013||B00DOZNIHU|
|Lights, Camera, Fashion!||December 17, 2013||B00EVDZT94|
|Strike a Pose!||1–2||June 3, 2014||B00HRUQBLI|
|Passport to Fashion||2||September 23, 2014||B00KTFJ6HE|
|Pet Shop Pals||1–2||March 17, 2015||B00QJN33DS|
|Paws for Applause||1–3||June 16, 2015||B00UART8AG|
|Halloween Fest||September 1, 2015||B00YT9IVZE|
|DVD title||Season(s)||Episode count||Release date||ASIN|
|Little Pets, Big Adventures||1||5||August 3, 2015||B00X110K1O|
|Lights, Camera, Mongoose!||6||October 19, 2015||B013HYQETQ|
|DVD title||Season(s)||Episode count||Release date|
|Blythe's Big Adventure||1||5||November 6, 2013|
|Pet-acular Escapades||February 2, 2014|
|Lights, Camera, Fashion!||April 28, 2014|
Littlest Pet Shop became one of the Hub Network's top programs in 2013. Both the show and Friendship Is Magic were outperforming shows aimed at similar demographics internationally, according to Stephen Davis, president of Hasbro Studios. Hasbro rebooted their toy line in accordance with the show; newer collections features customizable sets for fans to "create, decorate and personalize their own scenes" inspired by episodes.
Writing for the parent-focused organization Common Sense Media, Emily Ashby found the show unimpressive. She praised Blythe as a model of "integrity, self-confidence, loyalty, and creativity" but found fault with product placement and the "run-of-the-mill" pet characters. Mercedes Milligan of Animation Magazine, however, described the varied personalities of the pet characters as the most endearing trait of the show. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Hillary Busis found the Biskit twins amusing as characters. Busis praised the twenty-first episode of the first season in particular, which contains a parody of both Toddlers & Tiaras and the Christopher Guest–directed film Best in Show. An homage to Star Trek was singled out by Hanh Nguyen in TV Guide.
Tori Michel of About Entertainment gave praise to a DVD set containing five episodes of the first season. She wrote that despite the intended demographic, older children in elementary and middle school would find the writing humorous, while girls would find the pet characters entertaining the most. The Dove Foundation member Donna Rolfe gave the same set a full five stars.
The show was nominated at the 40th Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards for the song "If You're a Guy" in 2013, but it lost this to 3rd & Bird. Oliver's portrayal of Zoe won her an award from ACTRA and the Union of British Columbia Performers. New, who voices Sunil, was nominated for this but lost to Oliver. Ingram and Andrews were nominated for Leo Awards for their work as composers of the episode "Lights, Camera, Mongoose!" in 2014. The duo later won this nomination in common.
- Prior to joining the company, the pair had created the Cartoon Network series My Gym Partner's a Monkey.
- Under the TV Parental Guidelines, the show is rated TV-Y, indicating a program appropriate for all children. In specific, Common Sense Media assessed the show as appropriate for ages four and up.
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