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TV Series

Return of the Protoplasm

You know your animation is getting attention when no less than CNN has to mention it. And this is for a reboot! “Happy, happy, joy, joy, we are getting a new version of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Comedy Central announced on Wednesday that it is reimagining the 1990s cult animated series. ‘We are excited to reinvent this iconic franchise with a new creative team and our partners at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio,’ Chris McCarthy, president of Viacom CBS Entertainment & Youth Group, said in a statement.’Ren & Stimpy joins our rapidly expanding roster of adult animation including South Park, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Clone High as we continue to reimagine our treasure chest of beloved IP for new generations.’ No date has been announced for the new show’s debut.” Also no word if the current production crew will include original creator John Kricfalusi.

image c. 2020 Comedy Central

Samurai Rabbit in Space?

In the about-damn-time department, word is spreading fast that Stan Sakai’s iconic furry comic Usagi Yojimbo is being adapted into a new animated TV series for Netflix of all places… but, with a twist. Here’s how Comics Beat put it: “Variety reports that Netflix and Gaumont Animation are teaming to create a CGI animated series based on the character. The series will be executive produced by Sakai, titled Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, along with a handful of others including Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Entertainment and James Wan. According to Variety, the series won’t be a straight adaptation of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series, but will use the comics as lore for a series set in the far future. The story will follow Rabbit Samurai Yuichi, a descendant of Miyamoto Usagi, and ‘a ragtag team of misfit heroes’ who accompany him on his quest to live up to his ancestor’s legacy.” Stay tooned for more news about a release date.

image c. 2020 by Stan Sakai

Bringing Out The Beast In Sports

You knew we were gonna use that reference for this, right? Here’s what we found at Animation World Network: “Xilam Animation has reached distribution deals with Nickelodeon for the CGI animated series Athleticus… Targeting family audiences, Athleticus is produced by Xilam’s recently acquired CGI-studio Cube Creative and features wild animals taking part in competitive sports, ranging from table tennis to high bar, bobsleigh to curling. How successful the animals are at each of the sports entirely depends on their personality and anatomies resulting in very comical, and often poetic, results. The series is created and directed by the award-winning Nicolas Deveaux.” While the distribution deal does not include much of North America (typical!), many of the Athleticus shorts have made their way to YouTube, and there’s a sampler commercial there as well.

image c. 2020 Xilam Animation

Doot Doo D’Doot D’Doo

If you thought you couldn’t get away from that song before… check out what we just found on Animation World Network: “Nickelodeon is expanding the underwater world of Baby Shark with the greenlight of a new animated preschool series, Baby Shark’s Big Show! (working title), based on the world-famous pop culture phenomenon. Co-produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio and SmartStudy, the 2D-animated series (26 half-hour episodes) will follow Baby Shark and his best friend William as they journey on fun-filled comedic adventures in their community of Carnivore Cove, meet new friends and sing original catchy tunes along the way… Baby Shark’s Big Show! will debut with an all-new original holiday special this December, with premieres rolling out across Nickelodeon’s preschool platforms in spring 2021. Following the U.S. launch, the series will roll out on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. channels internationally… Baby Shark launched on YouTube in November 2015 and amassed 5.7 billion views, becoming the second most-watched video in the platform’s history.” Just in case you needed to be reminded of that.

image c. 2020 Nickelodeon

Real Pigeons Fight Crime

There is no way we could come up with a better lead-in than simply giving you the title of this new series! This is from Animation Scoop: “Nickelodeon has struck a multi-platform deal with James Corden and Ben Winston, and their production company Fulwell 73, to produce an animated movie and TV series based on the recently released children’s book title, Real Pigeons Fight Crime. The movie and TV series are being developed to air on all Nickelodeon platforms… Added Ramsey Naito, Executive VP, Nickelodeon Animation Production and Dev., ‘Real Pigeons Fight Crime is about a secret squad of crime-fighting pigeons, with high stakes and true hilarity making it a perfect fit for our audience. By fusing the humor and expertise of this the incredible team at Fulwell 73 Productions, we are ready to show kids what pigeons really do–fight crime, solve mysteries, take down bad guys, and keep neighborhoods safe!'” In case you were wondering. Oh! Check out the original book over at Penguin Random House.

image c. 2020 Fulwell 73

Roaring Out Of South Africa

According to the Wikipedia page, Jungle Beat is a CGI animated TV series out of South Africa, featuring the dialogue-free adventures and antics of various African animals. Later, the series was expanded into the adventures of Munki and Trunk. (No prizes for guessing what species they are…) Well now this year Munki and Trunk are on their way in their own feature film as Sunrise Productions presents Jungle Beat: The Movie. “One morning, the animals of the jungle wake up to discover that they can speak. They’re even more amazed when they learn the reason why: There’s an alien in the jungle! Little Fneep has come to conquer the planet and has brought some crazy tech with him, including a translation device that lets them talk for the first time. Unfortunately for the intergalactic Scaldronian empire, but fortunately for the jungle, Fneep is a terrible conqueror: He’s homesick, he’s crashed his ship, and he’s no match for the antics of Munki, Trunk, and the gang.” Keep your eyes open: The producers are planning a world-wide on-line release party at the end of this month.

image c. 2020 Sunrise Productions

No, the OTHER Amazon…!

Once again, a cool new cartoon on Netflix — that’s only shown in countries other than the USA. From Animation Magazine: “New Brazillian animated series Tainá and the Amazon’s Guardians, produced by Hype Animation, Sincrocine, and the Viacom group, is making its streaming debut on Netflix across all of Latin America. Aimed at preschool audiences, the show follows the adventures of a young Indigenous girl named Tainá and her animal friends: The monkey Catu, the king vulture Pepe, and the little hedgehog Suri. With little heroes who are always ready to take care of the forest and their friends, Tainá and the Amazon’s Guardians brings messages of respect, friendship and care for nature to the streaming platform.” The article includes a video of the opening.

image c. 2020 Hype Animation

Back to Fraggle Rock

While we’re all huddled in our caves — why not visit with some friendly creatures who dance in theirs? Apple TV+ and the Jim Henson Company have brought back the stars of the beloved series Fraggle Rock in a new collection of shorts called Fraggle Rock: Rock On! “The Fraggles might be apart in separate caves, but they can still find ways to have fun together! Join Gobo, Red, Boober, Mokey, Wembley, and Uncle Traveling Matt for stories and songs that show everyone how we’re all connected.” Fun fact: How do you produce a new show when everyone is still in lock-down? Simple — the entire show is filmed on iPhones from the production staff’s homes and garages. Modern technology! Here’s a review over at Slashfilm, which includes the trailer.

image c. 2020 The Jim Henson Company

Everybody’s Busy! Just A Little Dizzy!

Recently Jake S. Friedman (author, researcher, and professor of art and animation, according to his web site) brought us his new book The Disney Afternoon: The Making of Television Renaissance. “When the Disney Afternoon premiered in 1990, kids tossed their backpacks aside to watch their favorite Disney television characters. Unlike with feature films, these stars had a new adventure every weekday, and their audience journeyed with them on a daily basis. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Disney raised the bar with a lineup of innovative, high-quality television animation. The characters were endearing, the writing was clever, and the art was exceptional. Those who grew up with these characters have continued their love affairs for shows like Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, TaleSpin, and the irrepressibly beloved DuckTales, deep into adulthood. For the first time, learn the history of the Disney Afternoon shows, read interviews from the creative teams, and revel in rare, behind-the-scenes artwork, plus get the full making of story of the modern-day DuckTales series and its legacy connections to the past.” It’s available now in hardcover from Disney Editions. Order it from the author’s store — and check out his other titles.

image c. 2020 Disney Editions