The Backyardigans is a Canadian 3-D CGI-animated children's TV series, created by Janice Burgess. It is a joint production of Nick Jr. and the Canadian animation studio Nelvana. Debuting on November 22, 2004, it originally had 20 episodes. It aired on CBS from October 2004 until September 2006. Music for the show is written by Evan Lurie, of The Lounge Lizards, and Douglas Wieselman. The characters were designed by children's book author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino.
On April 30, 2006, Nelvana and Nickelodeon jointly announced that twenty new episodes were ordered for the upcoming fall schedule. In the UK, the second season debuted on 30 October, 2006. The third season was released in Canada in March 2008, and the series made its Australian debut in the same year.
The dancing on the show is first performed by live-action dancers, and their movements are later transported to animation. Choreographer Beth Bogush describes the process: "What we do is we film live footage in the studio and then they send that off and they do a Leica, and then they send it to the animators. And the animators just watch, and they're pretty precise. What we film for that day is pretty close to what you see in the character."
Occasionally, there are episodes in which Pablo does not have a panic attack, or where another character has one. In "Pirate Treasure," Pablo has two panic attacks - once before crossing a palm tree bridge and the other when the treasure is buried again, and lost. The number of panic attacks decreased considerably after the first season.
One panic attack Pablo has in "Surf's Up" isn't a full panic attack. Instead, he gets overexcited after he finally finds Tiki Beach.
Pablo may be intentionally referenced in an episode of another Nickelodeon show The Wonder Pets, in which Ming-Ming runs into a cuckoo-cuckoo clock, from which a blue bird pops out and she asks it "Do you have a cousin named Pablo?".
Singing voice: Sean Curley
Dancer: Tasha Cooper
Dancer: Greg Sinacori
Uniqua is a unique creature that is unlike any other in the world, and Uniqua is also the name of her species. Creator Janice Burgess describes Uniqua as the child she wishes she was like as a child. She has been called simply "Uniqua, the pink" in Knights Are Brave and Strong.
Speaking voice: LaShawn Tináh Jefferies
Singing voice: Jamia Simone Nash
Dancer: Hattie May Williams
Dancer: Darlene Dirstine
Although rarely appearing in the spotlight, he does take the role of the "main" (or most focused on) character in only two episodes: Race Around the World and Castaways in season one. In season two, his main role also limited to two episodes: Samurai Pie and Scared of You. Finally, and most recently, season three features him as the main character in the following episodes: Le Master of Disguise, Caveman's Best Friend and Pirate Camp.
In season one, Austin was present in eleven of the twenty episodes, while Tasha appeared in twelve. Uniqua, Pablo and Tyrone were featured in all episodes. The five characters were together in five episodes, and both Tasha and Austin were absent in two episodes. There is no official explanation to Austin and Tasha's occasional absence. In season two, episodes featuring all five characters are much more frequent, but Tasha and Austin are still occasionally absent. In season three's "Chichen Itza Pizza," however, Tasha is present while Pablo is absent, a first time for the series. Also for the first time for the series, Tyrone is absent in season three's "Pirate Camp" making Uniqua so far the only character to appear in every single episode.
Speaking voice: Jonah Bobo
Singing voice: Thomas Sharkey
Dancer: Kristine Frost
Wormans also appear in the third season episode What's Bugging You?, though these Wormans are somewhat different, in that their typical 'speech' is meeping instead of gibberish and they are capable of speaking (high-pitched) English.
Tale of the Mighty Knights has an egg which makes its own unique sound. It is called Eggbert by Uniqua & Tyrone, Eggwin by the Grabbin' Goblin (aka Austin), and Eggie by the Flighty Fairy (Tasha). The egg later hatches into a baby dragon. The dragon's singing voice is done by Adam Pascal.
It's Great to Be a Ghost and Secret Mission include voices near the end of the episode that do not come from any of the main characters. They're rumored to have come from Evan Lurie, one of the show's composers. There are also announcer voices at the beginning of the newscast in Newsflash, and throughout Tale of the Mighty Knights.
"The Legend of the Volcano Sisters" has a clam that sounds like a puppy and even pants and barks. It is know as "The Angriest Clam," but Pablo also calls it "Clammy" when trying to get its attention.
Although not a species reference, a visual comment is made by Tasha in "The Swamp Creature" when she calls Austin "my purple friend". Also, "real" animals such as horses appear in certain episodes, and dolphins appear in "The Great Dolphin Race."
In Season One, Nine episodes end at Pablo's. none of the characters had snacks at Austin's, four end at Tasha's, five end at Tyrone's, and eleven episodes end at Uniqua's. In Season Two's Whodunit, Austin suggests the snack for the first time,as well as "who goes there?" is another occasion.
Not everything that appears in the imaginary world has a real-world partner. Often trees, boulders, brickwork etc. appears where nothing originally existed. By the same token even large trees in the real garden disappear completely into nothingness when the imagination part of the story takes over.
In the first series houses which stand across the street, could barely be seen through quite dense shrubbery between the main characters' houses; those of Pablo, Tyrone and Uniqua. However, in the second series, the shrubbery is much reduced, and the houses and street outside can be more clearly seen.
Other examples include occasions in "Riding the Range", where Tyrone could produce a seemingly inexhaustible supply of apples, "The Snow Fort", where Tasha and Uniqua each have a rucksack that contains a rescue kit, including shovels, hooks, and suction cups, "Race Around the World", where Austin has a racing pack in which he keeps numerous items, such as a hook, rope, plasters, and a water bottle, "High Tea", in which Tasha manages to store tea-leaves, a teapot and four cups and saucers in a small clutch handbag (Irrespective of this feat, she is able to produce a fifth identical cup and saucer from behind her after Austin arrives at the end) and "The Quest for the Flying Rock" where Tyrone produces a rope from his belt, in order to assist in the climbing of a sand dune which was not seen in any shot before or after this point.
Several props appear in the same, or similar form, in multiple episodes. Small, hand-held items, like shovels can be seen in numerous episodes as well as a number of items in Clementine's saddle-bag in "Eureka!" including Tyrone's tuba from "Polka Palace Party", Pablos' blue surfboard from "Surf's Up!" and the painting from "It's Great To be a Ghost". "Secret Mission" has two recurring props, the tiki beach statue from "Surf's Up! (actually, three of them) and the diamond from "Pirate Treasure". In "Cops and Robots" the key to the robot factory is a scaled-down and recolored (blue) version of the Key To The World seen in "Race to the Tower of Power". Several props from earlier shows show up as background clutter, including a surfboard, skis, throne, and accordion, in both the Grabbing Goblins cave in ""Tale of the Mighty Knights", and Sultan Tyrones treasure store in "Movers of Arabia".
It appears that some of the items seen before the scenery changes are just as imaginary as after. Examples of this include a scene at the start of "Eureka!", which has Tyrone and Pablo digging a hole several feet deep in the sandbox which is shown to be just a few inches high, and "Race to the Tower of Power" which illustrates all the characters' powers before the scene-change... including Austin, as Captain Hammer, turning a yellow shovel from the sandbox into an umbrella. The slide is presumably both real and imaginary, since Uniqua is shown to use the slide as a normal slide at the start of "Castaways", but in "Race to the Tower of Power" it is shown covered in goo, and less than a foot high, after being attacked by Dr Shrinky (Tyrone) and Yucky Man (Pablo). Disputing this idea is the fact that a number of items remain consistently "real" during the show, including jumpropes - such as Uniqua's in "Ridin' the Range" and Tyrone's in "High Tea". Perhaps it is simply that each part of the garden can be whatever it needs to be in the imaginations of the characters.
(While production value for the show is extremely high-especially in the little details, there is a continuity error in "Surf's Up!": When Austin is shown driving his dune buggy, his surfboard is in the back during wide shots, but vanishes during his close-ups and medium shots.)
In the British version, certain words and phrases that are not in common usage in British English are translated, such as "soccer" to "football" and "diapers" to "nappies". This naturally leads to some minor lip-synch issues, but most children would not notice these. Also in the British version, several of the snacks are different, since items like s'mores are not generally known in the UK, while others like granola bars are known by different names.
The ordering of episodes is not as consistent in the UK as is in the United States. For example, in the UK Secret of Snow was originally shown out of sequence, after The Legend of The Volcano Sisters. The final episode out of sequence, Special Delivery was eventually shown in the UK for the first time on 13 August 2007. There was a considerable break between the Horsing Around episode, which was shown in April and this episode. "International Super Spy" was finally shown during Nick Jr's "Backyardigans Biggest Adventure Ever!" Weekend, 24th and 25th November 2007, and was the final episode from Season two to be broadcast.
The third season began broadcasting on Nick Jr. and Nick Jr. 2 during March 2008, although some episodes were again shown out of order. Based on the Episode list below, all episodes up to and including "Escape from Fairytale Village" have been broadcast (At 9 September 2008)
In addition, individual episodes also appear in the Nick Jr Favorites DVDs: - "The Quest for the Flying Rock" on Nick Jr Favorites DVD volume 2. - "Race to the Tower of Power" on Nick Jr Favorites DVD volume 3. - "Pirate Treasure" on Nick Jr Favorites DVD volume 4.
In the UK, only the Cave Party, Polka Palace Party, "Snow Fort" and Surf's Up DVDs have been released, as of April 2008. These use the UK voices and language variations, although an early CD release of some of the songs from the show used the American voices. The UK DVDs also feature audio for French (France), Spanish (Spain), Italian, Swedish, and German.
The second through fifth DVD collections and Super Secret Super Spy include a second audio track in French (Canadian). Nelvana, the company producing the animation for The Backyardigans, is based in Canada, which is officially bilingual. The tempos of several songs are changed to match the French lyrics for both France and Canada, and the characters refer to themselves as "Les Mélodilous" in the opening and closing songs. Also, Tyrone is known as Théo and Uniqua as Victoria.
A book, titled Here Come the Backyardigans is available in the UK. The story involves Uniqua playing hide-and-seek with, and searching for - Pablo. During the journey, Uniqua finds Austin, Tasha and Tyrone in different places (such as the Snow Fort and the Pirate Ship) Strangely, some characters are found in "locations" that they have never been shown to visit (such as Austin being found in the Snow Fort - he was not in that episode).
Also released are the story books for the "Pirate Treasure", "Race to the Tower of Power" and "The Secret of the Nile" episodes. Other, more educational books (dealing with things like numbers, counting etc.) were also released in 2007.
Numerous cuddly toys and interactive character toys (mostly Pablo, Uniqua and Tyrone) are also available. Some involve the toy singing songs and using well-known phrases from some of the episodes. There are also Beanie toys of all the main characters available.
While the end music fades, all the characters then run into the house of the character that offered the snacks. The view then expands to a "bird's-eye-view". One character (or more) opens the door, jumps into the doorway and uses the catchphrase of the respective episode, then goes back inside.