CityKids is a 1993 American television series that aired late Saturday mornings on ABC. It was created by Jeffrey Solomon and was co-produced by the New York, non-profit organization, the CityKids Foundation and Jim Henson Productions. Malik Yoba (who would star in New York Undercover the following year) and Raleigh J. Neal II not only composed the theme song and co-wrote other songs for this, but they also acted as the creative music supervisors. It lasted for a single season.
It follows the misadventures of an ethnically diverse group of teen urbanites and high schoolers in New York as they come of age. In addition to the human cast, there are also moments with muppets who are original to this show and represent the Greek Chorus for the teens. But the humans and the muppets never interact with each other.
Why It Rocks
- It's unique by featuring muppets and songs, standing out from other teen-oriented shows of the time, like Saved By The Bell.
- The theme song, co-composed by future New York Undercover star, Malik Yoba, and Raleigh J. Neal II, is a winner with its hip hop flavor.
- The other, original, musical numbers Yoba and Neal wrote for this are just as great and eclectic.
- The stories and scripts are written well enough.
- The main human cast of characters, which most notably included future Psych star Dule Hill (who played John here), is great, as is the muppet cast of characters like Dread, Bird, the Inside the Head muppets (Captain, Lieutenant, Libido), Frankie Frank and the Footers, the Koozebanians, and the Dirt Sisters (Toya and Trish). All of whom may be even more entertaining in providing the comic relief.
- The dancers and the choreography are thrilling to watch.
- It provides great messages and lessons.
- Plenty of comical moments to balance out the dramatic ones.
- Some rather clever and funny lines, and gags.
- The various topics covered, such as racism in the pilot episode, are what make this still relevant today and have aged well.
- It was nominated for a couple of 1993 Daytime Emmy Awards (one for Outstanding Directing in a Children's Special; one for Outstanding Children's Special). It also was nominated for a couple 1994 Daytime Emmys (one for Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Photography; one for Outstanding Film Sound Mixing). Jim Henson Productions won the UNDA Prize at the 1994 Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival for the episode, "The Mural".
- Although it was a bold attempt to do something different, it still failed to draw in large audiences, especially urban teens.
- It ended up being dropped by ABC as soon as it was, due to lack of ratings and viewership support.
- It never got a soundtrack release, which should have and deserves to spawn one, because the songs in this are stellar.
- The running gag where Trish shrieks when she's excited may be ear-piercing to some.
- The pilot episode originally premiered as an ABC Saturday Morning special on January 30, 1993.
- The versions of the Inside the Head muppets and the Dirt Sisters in newspaper promos, and the pilot episode, are prototypes. Their character designs in these differ from their physical appearances in the rest of the series.
- Dread and Bird are absent from the pilot episode.
- The title card in the intro of the pilot episode is different from other episodes, as the lettering is in various colors, font styles, and designs while superimposed in front of a silhouette of buildings as the New York backdrop. Also, unlike other episodes, the human characters are featured in the theme song, but not the muppets. The title card in the other episodes features black-and-white pics of the human characters with the title superimposed over them in yellow, bold letters and with a matching, rectangular outline.
- There was a black girl among the circle of friends in the main human cast, but she isn't seen with them again after the pilot.
- "Rooftop Thanksgiving" is the only holiday episode.
- Savage Steve Holland, who co-created Eek! the Cat and The Terrible Thunderlizards with Bill Kopp, directed the pilot episode.
- In "Pilot", Kermit the Frog is referenced. Susan's little sister approaches her from behind, covers her eyes, and says "Guess who". Then Susan asks, "Kermit the Frog?".
- The green, mostly one-eyed Koozebanians appear in only the pilot episode.
- In the last episode, "I Am Woman", just before David changes the channel, part of this show's theme song is heard playing on the T.V.
- The Inside the Head muppets have their moments in which they show up in the minds of three of the main human characters: David, Tito, and Snoopy.
- The setting of the Inside the Head segments was originally meant for a proposed, 1980s, Jim Henson series called Starboppers, but that never came to fruition.
- Several of the muppets from this show have been recycled and featured in Puppet Up!, among the other Miskreant Puppet shows.
- The redesigned Captain playing keyboards, prototypical Lieutenant on guitar (or bass), and prototypical Libido as the drummer were among the puppet members of the backup band featured as part of Cee-Lo Green's performance of "Forget You" on the 53rd Grammy Awards.
- Dread (or rather, at least, a recycled version of him) appeared as a background character in The Happytime Murders and Frankie Frank appeared in a deleted scene from the same movie.
- Bird later appeared in the Three Silly Bear shorts that aired on Nick Jr.
- One of the Dirt Sisters appeared as a spectator in a courtroom show parody sketch in an episode of Muppets Tonight.
- Dash Mihok played one of the three guys from the "Pilot" episode who tormented Susan in an early role.
- Donald Faison from Scrubs was a dancer in the musical number, "Saturday", from the episode, "Quality Time".
- In "Pilot", the prototypical Trish answers the phone as "Spinelli residence". Spinelli happens to be her last name.
- The hot dogs later appeared in the Hot Dog TV (HDTV) bumpers on Cartoon Network.
- The prototypical Libido as The Wizard plays keyboards as part of an alien muppet band called The Weirdos, who made a guest appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, performing the song, "Beautiful", with Coldplay's Chris Martin.