The Backyardigans is a children's series created by Janice Burgess. The series was written, produced, and recorded by Nickelodeon in the United States, while its animation was provided by Nelvana in Canada. It ran on Nick Jr. from October 11, 2004 to July 12, 2013.
The show is about five animal neighbors who imagine themselves going on fantastic adventures. Nickelodeon called the show "a home-grown Nick Jr. property," as "the whole creative team... [had] been part of the Nick Jr. family for years." Creator Janice Burgess had previously worked as Nick Jr.'s head of production since the mid-1990s.
Four seasons of The Backyardigans were produced. In 2009, the show was planned to continue beyond the fourth season. However, in 2010, the series' creator Janice Burgess decided to move onto a different series: Nickelodeon's revival of Winx Club. Burgess worked as a creative director and writer for Winx Club before eventually retiring from Nickelodeon in 2014.
Two pilots for the show were made before it was picked up for its first season. The first pilot, titled "Me and My Friends", was produced in 1998. It starred costumed actors rather than CGI characters and was filmed at Nickelodeon Studios in Florida. At the time, there were only four characters: Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, and Tasha. After Nickelodeon declined to order a season of "Me and My Friends," creator Janice Burgess decided to rework the concept into a more-developed idea titled Backyardigans. In 2001, an animated pilot starring the same four characters in CGI was successfully pitched to Nickelodeon. It was made at Nick Digital in New York. For the full series, animation services were relocated to Nelvana in Canada.
The series was first previewed on the Canadian network Treehouse TV, which aired the episode "Pirate Treasure" on September 11, 2004. The series made its official debut a month later, when the show first aired on Nickelodeon in the United States. It continued to play regularly for the majority of its four seasons. The show's final premieres aired in July 2013, when four episodes of season four debuted on the Nick Jr. Channel as part of a special event. The last episode to air was "Pablor and the Acorns", on July 12, 2013.
The series follows five neighbors: Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Austin, and Tasha. Designed to encourage the use of imagination and play, the characters team up to imagine new locations every day. Each episode features songs from a different musical genre and original dance choreography.
- Uniqua is the only character who appears in every episode. She does not belong to a known species; her name, Uniqua, refers to the fact that she is a unique creature. Uniqua likes telling jokes and spending time with others. She is shown to be somewhat of a tomboy and loves books.
- Pablo is a frenetic blue penguin. He is absent in only one episode, "Chichen-Itza Pizza" from season three. Pablo often jumps to conclusions and has been known to overreact whenever things seem to be going wrong. His outfit consists of a blue bow-tie and a beanie propeller hat.
- Tyrone is a laid-back but easygoing moose. He is the tallest of the characters due to his big antlers. Tyrone and his best friend Pablo make a "great team" because of their differences: Pablo often does things without thinking, while Tyrone uses his head whenever a problem arises.
- Tasha is a somewhat bossy but well-mannered yellow hippopotamus who often tags along when Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone are about to head off on an imaginary adventure. She is shown to be slightly disagreeable at points, but she never continues a verbal fight for too long.
- Austin is a timid purple kangaroo who has trouble whenever it comes to taking the lead. In the first season, he is the newest resident of the backyard, and this causes him to be shy and sensitive around the others. He becomes more upbeat and confident as the show progresses.
- → Main article: The Backyardigans episode list
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||20||October 11, 2004||March 10, 2006|
|2||20||October 6, 2006||January 14, 2008|
|3||20||February 1, 2008||July, 5, 2009|
|4||20||October 1, 2009||July 12, 2013|
Home video releases
- → Main article: The Backyardigans videography
The Backyardigans was critically acclaimed, and the series was nominated for eight Daytime Emmy Awards during its run. Series creator Janice Burgess won the 2008 Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program.
Critics often noted that the series held broad appeal to older viewers, due to its high-quality music and focus on character-driven, non-educational stories. Susan Stewart of The New York Times said "it's hard to say whether The Backyardigans is a fantasy for children or for their parents," commending the show's animation and storytelling. Common Sense Media's Emily Ashby wrote, "It's not always easy to find a show you like as much as your youngsters do, but The Backyardigans definitely has the potential to fit that bill." Journalist Virginia Heffernan wrote, "with each episode devoted not just to a separate quest but also to a different musical genre...the show blows you away with its artistic exactitude."
- The BackyardigansSeason 4: Amazon Prime
- Nick Jr. steps out with new Backyardigans series
- Tech-media-tainment: Animated kids' show 'The Backyardigans' began as a full-body puppet show
- Treehouse TV schedule: September 6-12, 2004
- "35th Annual Creative Arts & Entertainment Emmy Awards Presented at Star-Studded Gala at Lincoln Center in New York City", Daytime Emmy Awards, June 13, 2008.
- Stewart, Susan (January 14, 2008). Cartoon Creatures Leave Home and Find ... Home. The New York Times.
- Ashby, Emily. The Backyardigans Review. Common Sense Media.
- Heffernan, Virginia (August 16, 2009). Dancing with the Paws. The New York Times.
|Nick Jr. originals|
|1980s premieres||Pinwheel (reruns) • Eureeka's Castle|
|1990s premieres||Allegra's Window • Gullah Gullah Island • Blue's Clues • Binyah Binyah! • Little Bill|
|2000s premieres||Oobi (shorts) • Dora the Explorer • Oswald • Whoopi's Littleburg (specials) • Blue's Room • LazyTown • The Backyardigans • Go, Diego, Go! • Jack's Big Music Show • Wonder Pets! • The Upside Down Show • Ni Hao, Kai-Lan • The Fresh Beat Band|
|2010s premieres||Team Umizoomi • Bubble Guppies • Wallykazam! • Dora and Friends: Into the City! • Blaze and the Monster Machines • Fresh Beat Band of Spies • Shimmer and Shine • Nella the Princess Knight • Sunny Day • Zoofari • Butterbean's Café • Blue's Clues & You!|
|2020s premieres||Santiago of the Seas • Kinderwood • Baby Shark's Big Show! • Noggin Knows • The Tiny Chef Show|
|See also||List of Nick Jr. original programming|