The 13-episode half-hour series is based on the ’60s four-minute shorts from animation legend Jay Ward that first aired in his “Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.” In the show, bespectacled canine Mr. Peabody and kid compadre Sherman travel through time and meet famous historical personages.
“The New Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show” sets the duo as hosts of a latenight comedy show broadcast from their swank Manhattan penthouse in front of a live studio audience. Guests from bygone eras will include Mozart, Napoleon and Edgar Allan Poe, as Mr. Peabody and Sherman embark on new adventures using their famous WABAC machine.
The series keys off the DreamWorks Animation’s film adaptation of the time-traveling duo — which was a box-office bummer. The studio took a $57 million impairment charge for the first quarter of 2014 because of poor box office results for “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” The movie grossed $111.5 million at U.S. theaters on an estimated production budget of $145 million, per Box Office Mojo. It’s currently available for streaming on Netflix.
Mr. Peabody is voiced by Chris Parnell (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”), while child actor Max Charles (“American Sniper”) reprises his role as Sherman from the 2014 film.
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The new series comes to Netflix under its multiyear pact with DWA, which is producing more than 300 hours of TV shows for the streamer. Adding kid-focused programming like “The New Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show” is key for Netflix, as both tykes and their parents appreciate that the service carries no ads.
“The New Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show” is aimed at DWA’s target demo of kids 8-12, but executive producer Dave Smith said the hope is that it appeals to all audiences, including grown-ups with fond memories of the original cartoon.
“The love I have for Jay Ward and his creations, and his comedic tone, have been an inspiration for me ever since I was a kid,” said Smith. He previously worked at Turner’s Cartoon Network, where he directed “The Powerpuff Girls: Dance Pantsed” TV movie as well as storyboard-driven shows including “Steven’s Universe,” “Amazing World of Gumball” and “Dexter’s Laboratory.”
The show uses 2D animation, instead of the 3D CGI used in the film, for a “hand-drawn look” echoing Ward’s original shorts, Smith said. DWA worked with DHX Media’s animation studio in Vancouver to produce the series, which required about three and a half months per episode.
“The New Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show” is inspired by the original shorts and also weaves in elements from the film — they launch the TV variety show because at the end of the movie they’re outed as time travelers, so they decide to capitalize on that. “We loved the straight-up lampooning of historical figures,” Smith said. “We mixed it up a lot, while retaining the comedy of the Jay Ward show.”