Age Levels targeted:
The American-Canadian series Backyardigans ran on TV from its 2004 autumn debut till mid-spring of 2010. It then continued to air as reruns on various US channels up till 2015. The show is based on a rejected 1998 pilot entitled “Me and My Friends.” The show’s computer graphics animated format was the result of a joint collaboration by the talented CGI artists of the Nicolodeon and Nelvana animation studios
Overview of the show:
Backyardigans stars five CGI animal characters that get into wildly varied adventures built entirely within a colourful and vibrant imaginative world they create for themselves in their shared backyard. The plot of each show involves them creating a new reality based on things happening in their backyard (hence the name) and these are always interesting and engaging. What is better still is that there is a significant portion of the show devoted to singing and dancing – this makes for a wider appeal to a larger audience of kids – the plot for older kids and the singing and dancing for the younger ones.
The Main Characters
Austin – The easy going everybody’s buddy Austin is a purple kangaroo who starts off the series bashfully having recently moved to the area. As the series progresses he grows more comfortable while remaining ever affable. While there are isolated episodes in which he plays a bad guy in the backyardigans adventures, on the whole he’s more a follower than a leader and tends to stay on good terms with everyone.
Pablo – this blue propeller-hatted penguin is Tyrone’s best friend and the eager beaver (or eager penguin at any rate) of the backyardigans group, always rushing around trying to assure his friends that everything’s going to be fine – regardless of whether they’d thought otherwise to begin with
Tasha – this yellow tomboy (or perhaps tomhippo) hippopotamus is very decisive and tends to try and take charge during the backyardigans exploits. She’s friendly and sweet to her friends but best not to get into an argument with her or chances are you’ll lose.
Tyrone – If anyone needs support from Pablo when he goes into one of his reassuring frenzies it’s most likely to be his apprehensive best pal Tyrone. On the other hand, this easy going, somewhat sarcastic moose is perhaps the most levelheaded of the backyardigans gang and for all his apprehension during the adventure is generally the one who’ll comment at adventures end on what a great adventure it had been.
Uniqua – this pink polka dotted “unique” (hence the name) girl creature of a made-up species is even more strong-willed than her friend Tasha and considers herself the leader and brains of the group. While generally nice, her strong willed obstinacy at times damages her friendships with other backyardigans characters during their adventures.
Lesser but repeating characters – while the backyardigan group themselves are by far and away the most important in the show, there are a number of supporting characters that appear at various times throughout the series. These include the Wormins, a type of imaginary wormlike being that speaks to them in a squeaky language – their best friend among the Wormins being Sherman. Being an imaginative series they draw from both fantasy and sci-fi for their adventures and thus interact with both aliens and dragons as well as Austin’s robot Roscoe.
Types of skills the show teaches:
The themes of the show are simple but positive; friendship, imagination, creativity and activity – while younger kids may not understand these concepts entirely, it’s never too soon to encourage these traits.
Overall the show is a good choice for children’s viewing. The stories are fun and enjoyable but what will keep your kids coming back will be the dances and the songs – watching chubby animals perform a variety of multicultural tunes while pirouetting is wonderfully silly and amusing.
My kids review:
This was one of my kids’ favorite shows for a lengthy period of time and there were quite a number of songs and catchphrases from the show that became repeated around the house. The songs were so catchy even my wife and I were singing them.
My daughter is now an award winning teen baker of fancy cakes and makes many other yummy baked goods but when she first started out one of the things she most enjoyed making was pies (especially lemon meringue). It became a regular thing that when she would say “I’m going to make a pie but I don’t know which kind to make” that someone would inevitably suggest she make “the great pie” from the Backyardigans “Samurai Pie” episode.