On Friday afternoon at France’s Annecy Animation Festival, Nickelodeon gave the most detailed preview yet for the network’s second “Spongebob” spinoff, “The Patrick Star Show,” and looked back at 20 years of the global hit franchise. Announced earlier this week, “The Patrick Star Show” will debut Friday, July 9 at 7 PM ET/PT, followed by the premiere of Nickelodeon’s first animated original series in five years, “Middlemost Post.”
As was the case with its predecessor, nailing down exactly what kind of program the “Patrick Star Show” is can be tough. According to the show’s logline, it “follows a younger Patrick Star living at home with his family, where he hosts his own variety show for the neighborhood from his television-turned-bedroom.”
“It’s a family sitcom mixed with a variety show, at times a talk show and at others the characters are just on the road having adventures away from the house,” Waller explained to Variety ahead of the Annecy presentation. “We travel through time; we even go into fake commercials from within the show’s universe.”
“We really tried to just do anything we wanted,” Ceccarelli added. “We wanted to take the restrictions off our creativity and go to all the weird places our brains took us.”
One change the two outlined is an abandonment, at times, of the traditional three-act structure the original series mostly adhered to. Although Patrick won’t narrate the program, it will be through a Patrick Star lens that the audience experiences the show, so viewers can expect episodes as creative and confused as the starfish himself.
“Nickelodeon is diving deeper into Bikini Bottom to give fans a look at our lovable young adult Patrick Star and his entire family with a sitcom only he could imagine up,” Nickelodeon’s president of animation told Ramsey Naito told Variety. “This second original spinoff allows us to expand our reach, tell new stories and connect with our audience around the world who continue to love these characters.”
While Ceccarelli and Waller are adamant that long-time fans of “Spongebob” will be thrilled with the new series, they did admit that a few hardcore cannon fans might be triggered by some of what they see. With a prequel series as off-the-wall as “The Patrick Star Show” many rules had to bent to the point of breaking.
“We mess with canon a lot,” Ceccarelli explained. “I don’t know if anybody knows this, but we don’t really respect canon just for the sake of itself.”
“Yeah, we see it like a jar sitting up on a shelf in the corner with a label that says canon on it, and we recognize that, but we also treat every episode like a standalone that can go anywhere in the universe,” Waller clarified.
During the Annecy presentation, Ceccarelli further explained that while Patrick may be the host of his from-home Variety show, his 8-year-old sister, described by Waller as the brightest Star in the family, is the one pulling the strings.
“She’s the producer of this fake TV show he’s putting on. In fact, the show is actually her [Squidina] idea and she is just using Patrick like one of the toys from her toybox,” he said.
It’s through Patrick and Squidina’s fake show that the stories of “The Patrick Star” show are told, allowing for the narrative freedom Ceccarelli and Waller were looking for.
“That’s’ something we are all really into in the writers’ room. Anything that will free us up to be as creative as can be and take the rigid structure of story and sideline that to make room for more digressions. It frees us up to be more surreal and randomly bizarre with the kinds of things we put out there,” said Ceccarelli.
In the series, longtime Patrick Star voice actor Bill Fagerbakke (“Coach,” “How I Met Your Mother”) will continue to provide the voice of young adult Patrick, joined by Tom Wilson (“SpongeBob SquarePants”) as Cecil Star, Patrick’s family-first, fun loving father; Cree Summer (“Rugrats”) as Patrick’s loving mother Bunny Star and Grandma Tentacles; Jill Talley (“SpongeBob SquarePants”) as Patrick’s Squidina Star; and Dana Snyder (“The Penguins of Madagascar”) as ancient GrandPat Star.
Other members of the voice cast include “Spongebob” vets Tom Kenny as SpongeBob SquarePants, Rodger Bumpass as Squidward Tentacles, Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy Cheeks, and Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs.
“The Patrick Star” show is co-executive produced by “Spongebob” producer Marc Ceccarerlli, Vincent Waller and Jennie Monica. The show was developed by Nickelodeon senior VP of animation development Claudia Spinelli, and Kelly Gardner, VP of current series, animation.
Once the “Patrick Star Show” section of the day’s presentation finished, a host of “Spongebob Squarepants” universe contributors rotated through for the Bikini Bottom Biographies: A Deep Dive into the History and Evolution of SpongeBob, which is now available to stream for all Annecy students and MIFA accredited badgeholders.
Included in the panel were VP of animation production Jennie Monica, supervising director Dave Cunningham, color key supervisor Teale Wang, CG supervisor John Cahoon, art director Ernie Gilbert, lead look development artists Brian Ratchford, storyboard artist April Davis, animation writer Luke Brookshier and story editor and writer Kaz Prapuolenis. Nickelodeon VP of current series animation Kelley Gardner and recruitment, outreach and talent development manager Melanie Young moderated.