The Backyardigans is an American–Canadian children's television series, created by Janice Burgess. It ran on Nick Jr. from October 11, 2004 to July 12, 2013. Reruns have been airing on AFN Family since 2005.
The series was written, produced, and recorded by Nickelodeon in the United States, while its animation was provided by Nelvana in Canada. Four seasons of 20 episodes aired, totaling 80 episodes across the show's run.
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," the creators 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 during the Nick Jr. block for the majority of its four seasons. In July 2013, the last four episodes of season four premiered on the Nick Jr. channel as part of a special event. The final episode to air was "Pablor and the Acorns" on July 12, 2013.
The series follows a ritualistic pattern and centers around five neighboring playmates depicted as bipedal, anthropomorphic animals: Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Austin, and Tasha. Designed to encourage the use of imagination and play, the characters communicate with the viewers through breaking the fourth wall, albeit the series rests particular focus on the role-playing games in which the friends participate varying with each episode. These games are visualized through dream sequences lasting for a majority of the episode.
- Uniqua is the protagonist of the show. She does not belong to a known species; her name, Uniqua, refers to the fact that she is a unique creature. Uniqua enjoys telling jokes and spending time with others. She is shown to be somewhat of a tomboy and loves books. She is the only character who appears in every episode.
- Pablo is the series' deuteragonist, a frenetic blue penguin. He 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 the tritagonist of the series, 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: List of The Backyardigans episodes
The series was given a 4-star rating by Common Sense Media.