Nick Jr. grabs more 'Gabba'
Preschool-aimed series gets 20-episode order
By Michael Schneider
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 fornoodles 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 forseason two.
"We feel so confident in 'Yo Gabba Gabba,'" said Nickelodeon Preschoolexec VP Brown Johnson. "The crazy-looking characters, the amazinganimation, the music... the show is full of joy and full of heart."
Creators Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz are already in pre-productionon season two.
The producers have also drawn up a list of potential guest stars toapproach, while many more have contacted them about appearing.
"Yo Gabba Gabba!" will then start shooting the segs in April and wrap bythe start of summer -- with an airdate soon thereafter.
"We always believed that the show would be amazing, but all theaccolades and the great press have been pretty unbelievable," Jacobssaid. "The motivation has been to do make a show that we thought wouldbe 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. Afterscenes were uploaded to the Internet, "Gabba" clips became an onlinephenom. 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 thetemptation 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, theme lancholy green monster; Foofa, a flower-loving pink character; andToodee, the overeager cat-dog.
Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh provides regular drawing lessons; '80srap 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 andCornelius perform music numbers.
For season two, Jacobs and Schultz plan to lengthen some of the musicnumbers, as well as spend more time showcasing each character'spersonality. Johnson said the channel is also doing focus group researchwith kids to get their take on what works on the show.
Meanwhile, merchandising will kick into high gear next year. Wildbrainhas already released some "Yo Gabba Gabba!" apparel and figurines viaits 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 hitstores by next Christmas.