The Backyardigans is a CGI-animated musical TV series created by Janice Burgess. It was written and recorded at Nickelodeon Animation Studio. The animation services for the show were outsourced to Nelvana and Guru Studio.
In Canada, the show previewed on September 11, 2004, followed by its official debut in the United States on October 11, 2004. The first three seasons (and some of the fourth) were aired on Nickelodeon, while a few episodes of the fourth season premiered exclusively on the Nick Jr. channel. In Canada, Treehouse TV aired the entire series.
The series was based on Me and My Friends, a live-action pilot produced in 1998 at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando. This pilot featured costumed characters on an indoor stage. The show was eventually reworked into an animated pilot at Nick Digital in New York.
The series follows five neighbors colorful animal pals: Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Tasha, and Austin. Designed to encourage the use of imagination and play places in their backyard, the characters team up to imagine new locations every day. Each episode features songs from a different musical genre and original dance choreography.
Why They are Your Friends
- Smooth and clean CGI animation, even for 2004 standards, which is a good decision for a children's show.
- The Backyardigans, Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Tasha and Austin, are all very different, realistic and likable characters that work well together as a group.
- Cute and original character designs.
- Promotes creativity and imagination.
- The inventive plot of five friends pretending to be whatever they want in their backyard.
- Catchy songs, such as "Ski Patrol to the Rescue", the theme song, "The Backyardigans", "Castaways", and "Into the Thick of It". and uses unique genres of music for each of them, such as classical, jazz, rock, pop, hip-hop, and even reggae and country, which are all accurately represented by the dancing.
- Typical for a show that focuses on imagination, the show holds a lot of very creative and inventive episodes, such as the first (aired) episode "Knights are Brave and Strong", where the Backyardigans pretend they're in a medieval world.
- Beautiful background designs in the episodes, such as Texas and the jungle.
- Great voice acting, especially from LaShawn Jefferies and Jake Goldberg.
- A troupe of real dancers learned each dance choreography and was filmed for the animators to watch, creating very realistic dances.
- Some character development. Austin was initially a shy kid, (since he recently moves in the neighborhood) but he gets braver and more confident over time, taking on the roles of the villains in the stories.
- There are some cool guest appearances like Alicia Keys, Cyndi Lauper, and Conan O'Brien.
- Properly utilizes pop culture references. For example, the title of "Blazing Paddles" is a reference to Blazing Saddles.
- Funny jokes and running gags, such as Pablo constantly freaking out and panicking and the characters have to calm him down.
- The show's intro generates big developments every season and also every new intro shows a new theme of the episode that will take place in the season.
- Appropriate choice of species for the show's characters:
- Uniqua is a pink spotted bug-like character.
- Pablo is a small blue and yellow penguin, who stands out for his propeller hat and bow tie.
- Tyrone is an orange moose.
- Tasha is a charming little yellow hippo, with red shoes and a flowery dress.
- Austin is a purple kangaroo.
- Tale of the Mighty Knights and International Super Spy are great made-for-TV movies.
- Sherman the Worman is adorable.
- It's one of the few preschool shows that also appeal to anyone outside the target demographic very well in the good way.
- Unlike Dora the Explorer and other Nick Jr. shows, the way the fourth wall is broken in this show is pretty cool and it is not annoying for older children or adults, making this one of the few preschool education shows that is entertaining for all ages and the reason is because they break the fourth wall is in the same way as series like Woody Woodpecker, Arthur, Malcolm in the Middle, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.
- In Brazil, the series spawned some funny memes like "Dar não é Fácil" or "Os vikings usam capacetes de vikings" (in Portuguese).
- Although all the episodes followed the same formula again, this was a good thing, as this is one of the only shows that managed to escape a single bad episode (with the only exception being "The Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon").
- The final episode in broadcast order, "Pablor and the Acorns", was a great way to end the show in broadcast order.
- As it was made in the early 2000s, the CGI animation can either look stiff or too slow. This is more evident in Season 1. Since in the following seasons, the CGI animation is improved.
- Sometimes, the Backyardigans' singing voices are much too loud.
- Tasha's attitude can get very annoying.
- Many people got confused about Uniqua's species. (see Trivia Point #2)
- In addition, they also thought she wasn't wearing any clothes due to her overalls blending in with her skin.
- The excessive/prolonged/repetitive singing can be annoying.
- The running gag that a character's stomach growls at the end of an adventure can get old pretty fast.
- The Albanian dub was a complete disaster, as it was unlicensed/unofficial.
- The Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon is the only bad episode (and sourly ended the show’s production order), and it left the show on a cliffhanger.
- Uniqua is the only character who appears in every episode.
- Uniqua is not a real animal and is instead a unique humanoid creature, hence her name. (However, some people claim she is an ant)
- Austin is not present in either of the two Backyardigans pilots.
- Pablo is absent for only one episode, "Chichen-Itza Pizza".
- There were two original pilots made. There was a live action pilot originally titled " Me and My Friends" made in 1998 and there was one made in 2002 that contained the current title and the computer animation using Alias Wavefront Maya 3D software. While Austin was never in one of them, there were originally going to be lemurs that would appear as side characters in the live action pilot. Nothing of these pilots have surfaced except a couple of pictures and and couple of seconds worth of footage.
- The name of the show without "igans" is "backyard", and that's where they play at.
- Some of the soundtracks were trending recently on TikTok, and even one of them hit #1 on Spotify, which proves that the show hit a popularity spike.
- Tasha is the only character whose first appearance was not in the first episode, as she first appears in the third episode "The Yeti".
The show has an IMDb rating of 7.0/10 and a TV.com rating of 7.9/10 according to audience ratings.
The Backyardigans: Pirate Treasure
The Backyardigans: Sinbad Sails Alone
The Backyardigans: The Front Page News