Only one entry on Time magazine’s list of this year’s top 10 new TV series boasts beat-boxing lessons, a one-eyed monster with a jones for noodles and songs such as the one with the instructive message “Don’t Bite Your Friends.”
Nick Jr.’s “Yo Gabba Gabba!” shook up the world of preschool TV this fall, and as a result, the series (a mix of Sid & Marty Krofft, “The Muppets” and “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”) has just been handed a full 20-episode order for season two.
“We feel so confident in ‘Yo Gabba Gabba,'” said Nickelodeon Preschool exec VP Brown Johnson. “The crazy-looking characters, the amazing animation, the music… the show is full of joy and full of heart.”
Creators Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz are already in pre-production on season two .
The producers have also drawn up a list of potential guest stars to approach, while many more have contacted them about appearing.
“Yo Gabba Gabba!” will then start shooting the segs in April and wrap by the start of summer — with an airdate soon thereafter.
“We always believed that the show would be amazing, but all the accolades and the great press have been pretty unbelievable,” Jacobs said. “The motivation has been to do make a show that we thought would be fun for our kids.”
Jacobs and Schultz (members of ska-rock cult fave the Aquabats) originally shot the “Yo Gabba Gabba!” pilot with their own money. After scenes were uploaded to the Internet, “Gabba” clips became an online phenom. The duo then partnered with production outfit Wildbrain (“Higglytown Heroes”) and brought the show to Nick Jr.
“I give Brown a tremendous amount of credit,” said Wildbrain prexy-CEO Charles Rivkin, who also serves as an exec producer (along with Jacobs, Schultz and Jon Berrett) on “Yo Gabba Gabba!” “Quite often the temptation is to pick up a show that looks like something already there. But she was able to bet on something that’s not like anything else on TV.”
“Yo Gabba Gabba!” revolves around a hip DJ who brings toys to life: Plex, the robot father-figure; Muno, the clumsy Cyclops; Brobee, the melancholy green monster; Foofa, a flower-loving pink character; and Toodee, the overeager cat-dog.
Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh provides regular drawing lessons; ’80s rap icon Biz Markie provides the beat-box tips. Guests ranging from Laila Ali to Elijah Wood show off dance moves, while bands like the Shins and Cornelius perform music numbers.
For season two, Jacobs and Schultz plan to lengthen some of the music numbers, as well as spend more time showcasing each character’s personality. Johnson said the channel is also doing focus group research with kids to get their take on what works on the show.
Meanwhile, merchandising will kick into high gear next year. Wildbrain has already released some “Yo Gabba Gabba!” apparel and figurines via its limited-edition toy and apparel subsid Kidrobot, but those higher-priced items were targeted more toward collectors.
The new batch includes 40 licenses in a wide range of categories, including homevideo (via Paramount), music (with Columbia Records), publishing (Simon & Schuster) and a master toy license (Spinmaster). Rivkin said items as diverse as bedding and home furnishings should hit stores by next Christmas.