Monday, February 10, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Yo Gabba Gabba!

If you've been reading our Nickelodeon show reviews, then you've been noticing that Kevin and I haven't tackled a lot of the kids' shows and preschool programs from Nick Jr. in this tribute. It's not that we didn't want to put the time in watching them as much as we with the Nickelodeon live action shows, cartoons, and movies, we did. It's just that there wasn't anything to say about them. While we did give credit to shows such as Pinwheel for being the first show featured for Nickelodeon and Mr. Wizard's World for being a smartly written show that would later on be a timeless classic, most of them were based on books such as Little Bear, Franklin, and Maisy. Others were very basic and told their lessons straight forward with simple characters such as Eureeka's Castle, Allegra's Window, and Gullah Gullah Island. 

It wasn't until Blue's Clues came out in 1996 that Nick Jr. finally had a groundbreaking success that even surpassed Sesame Street and later became their first official cash cow. Then as time went on, the show went on without Steve Burns after he left to pursue a career on music and then had a spinoff called Blue's Room that was complete crap and officially killed the franchise. After Blue's Clues ended after over a decade's run, Nick Jr. was at a standstill again. Every single Nick Jr. program was basic either relying on book adaptations such as Little Bill, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Olivia, and Peter Rabbit or we're very basic with simple characters such as Peppa Pig and Oswald. Deja vu. Only Dora the Explorer was still popular enough to rake in merchandise and is still to this day featuring new episodes after almost 14 years on the air.

So with that, Nick Jr. needed a new show to bring them back to the top fast. But it was getting harder and harder to come up with the next big preschool show since new, fresh ideas for them seemed to have ran dry. Puppetry was still pretty dead at this point with only Sesame Street still on the air. The last show that featured them on Nick Jr. was Jack's Big Music Show in 2005. So with that, Nick Jr. debuted a new preschool show from outside Nickelodeon Productions. It was none other than Yo Gabba Gabba! which debuted on August 20, 2007.

Yo Gabba Gabba! logo.svg

The show begins with the host named D.J Lance Rock (played by Lance Robertson) bringing out his friends named Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex and performing many games and songs focusing on a theme such as summer, food, love, friends, and fun. Most of the songs that were featured in Yo Gabba Gabba! were done by indie singers that were simple, catchy, and fun. Throughout the show, there would be many special guests appearing to dance with Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex such as Elijah Wood, Weird Al Yankovic, Solange Knowles, and Biz Markie. Also in the mix, there's a segment in which Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh would draw animals for the kids. It sort of reminds me of Picture Pages by Bill Cosby that was featured in Pinwheel back in 1977.

The show was created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz. Jacobs was an actor who appeared in various cult films such as Pretty in Pink and Gleaming the Cube as well as being the founder of The Aquabats back in 1997. They were two dads who wanted to create a fun kids' show for their kids during the time in which they felt that preschool programs lost their creativity. Taking inspirations from 8-bit video games, indie singers, and kids' shows such as Sesame Street, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Pee-wee's Playhouse, they did a little pilot for Yo Gabba Gabba around 1999 thanks to the donations of friends and family. It didn't become noticed until it was leaked online and had a little cult following. One day, Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre director Jared Huss saw the pilot and immediately loved it. He then showed it to Nick Jr. vice president Brown Johnson and she approved of it enough to make it into a TV series.

When the show first came out, it was an instant hit. Not only were kids and their parents loved it, but even teens and college students saw it. It had been nominated and won various Emmys for Best Costume Design, won the BAFTA Children's Award, was featured in the top 10 best shows of 2007, was nominated for Outstanding Children's Program from The Television Critics Association Awards from 2008-2012 and won from 2009 and 2010, and won two Kidscreen Awards for Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series and Best Music in 2013. Currently, Yo Gabba Gabba! has a live stage show, The Aquabats has a spin off series on The Hub, and the show has made it in mainstream pop culture. 

Overall, this is one of the best kids' shows I've seen in a very long time. It reminded me of the old kids' shows from the past such as Pee-wee's Playhouse and Sesame Street and does it in a way that's modern and new. This is what I would imagine if The Adventures of Pete & Pete ever did a kids' show. It's crazy, zany, teaches lessons that isn't too preachy, has amazing animation, catchy music, and just plain fun. I listed this as one of my top 5 favorite Nickelodeon preschool shows and I still stand by it. I highly recommend that you check it out. Yo Gabba Gabba! gives me hope that there's still creativity for kids' shows out there.

That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


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