Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Debuting over the Nickelodeon cable channel on October 11, 2004, the weekly, half-hour Nelvana production Backyardigans enthusiastically revived a format that, on commercial TV at least, had lain virtually dormant for decades: The children's musical program. The stars were a quintet of rambunctious, computer-animated preschool animals: Austin the kangaroo, Pablo the penguin, Tyrone the moose, Tasha the hippo, and Uniqua the. . .well, no one was quite sure what Uniqua was, but she was certainly unique! In the tradition of Muppet Babies, the fearless fivesome imagined themselves into all sorts of fantastic adventures in a vast array of mythical worlds. The series' appeal--which extended far beyond the youngsters to whom it was aimed--was manifested in the splashy, CGI production numbers (running the gamut from classic Broadway to hip-hop) and complicated choreography (accomplished by filming live-action dancers in motion-capture), as the main characters gamboled around an ever-changing backdrop of sky, water, and mountains. Created by Janice Burgess and intended to stimulate the imaginations of the kids at home (which it accomplished splendidly), The Backyardigans ultimately achieved over-the-air TV play when it was added to the Saturday morning lineup of Nickelodeon's sister network CBS.