Everything about Children’s Programming, eh?

TVO’s Opie’s Home catches up with the energetic lad during summer break

My orange-skinned preschooler buddy has got himself a spinoff! Yes, Opie, who has been taking the fear out of kindergarten for kids and parents with Hey Opie! on TVO for the past couple of years, leaves school for a new series setting him at home.

Opie’s Home, debuting Tuesday at 10:50 a.m. on TVO, sends the friendly four-year-old—performed by Jordan Lockhart—home for the summer to spend time with his mom (Aisha Alfa), dad (Jim Annan), Gram (Claire Riley) and next door neighbour, Mr. Kabashio (Graham Greene).

TVO Kids, marblemedia and The Jim Henson Company have got educational and truly entertaining kids’ programming down pat and Opie’s Home is no exception. The first seven-minute instalment introduces trust and responsibility in an interesting way as Opie is allowed to handle his dad’s cell phone so he can take a “big boy” selfie. There are a few near-misses along the way—running on stairs with electronics in your hand isn’t the safest—but Opie is successful in landing “the funnest fun” selfie ever with some help from Snackasaurus. Episode 2 gets a little more serious, as kale smoothies don’t sound like fun at all to Opie and Gavin.

Opie’s Home airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:50 a.m. on TVO and anytime on TVOKids. The series will premiere later this fall across Canada on Knowledge Kids and CityTV Saskatchewan.

Images courtesy of TVO.

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TVO’s Canada Crew celebrates the country’s 150th in style

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to be everywhere. Running behind a group of students prepping for their prom in Vancouver, kayaking up to supporters outside their cottage … I almost expect to see him in line with me at Starbucks. So, it’s nice to see Sophie Grégoire Trudeau getting some airtime as well, as one of several guests on TVO’s newest kid’s series Canada Crew.

Created by Ben Mazzotta and executive-produced by Maria Kennedy, Canada Crew—debuting Monday—is part of the public broadcaster’s Summer of Canada lineup that includes Opie’s Home and Kid Diners; both of those series bow on Tuesday. Mazzotta and Kennedy were meeting with Marney Malabar, TVO’s director of kids TV, to go over ideas for Now You Know when she asked for content tied to Canada’s 150th birthday. The independent producers batted around ideas in the car ride home.

“We were saying, ‘What if we did this? What if we did that?'” Mazzotta recalls. “We came up with an idea that morphed into what we see now.”

“We went with our strengths,” Kennedy says. “We know puppets through Now You Know and having high-profile guests on a show. We wrote a concept based on that.” Canada Crew‘s puppet hosts are Bebe the Beaver, Mo the Moose and Gavin the Canada Goose; the trio travels to every province and territory introducing kids the things that make Canada what it is: people and places, food, pastimes, animals and nature, and the national anthem. Big-name guests in the 26 seven-minute instalments include, aside from Trudeau, celebrity chef Susur Lee, hockey great Darryl Sittler, Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden, WE Day founder Craig Kielburger and Major Indira Thackorie of the Royal Canadian Air Forces Snowbirds team.

“Bebe is excited by everything,” Mazzotta says. “She’s precocious, she’s really funny, energetic and not afraid of anything. Mo is a little more cautious, studious and uses an iPad to research facts. And Gavin is a little more of a bumbling character, falling and tripping and forgets he can fly.” Together, they aim to educate viewers not only about the history of this country and what makes us unique from the rest of the world but to entertain too.

Mission accomplished.

Canada Crew airs at 8:20 a.m. ET and 2:30 p.m. ET on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on TVO Kids and is available on TVOKids.com.

Images courtesy of TVO.

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New preschool comedy Opie’s Home debuts June 20 on TVO

From a media release:

When you’re 4 and a half and three quarters, there are no friends like the ones next door.  There is no playground like your backyard, and no one quite like your family.  There’s no place like home.

Opie’s Home, premiering on TVO on June 20, 2017, is a new preschool comedy series about life, family and the wonderful place we call home.  The series invites viewers to follow the adventures of 4yo Opie as the viewers and Opie both head home from school for the summer.

From resisting bedtime, to making a special meal for Mommy and Daddy or getting into his first argument with his best friend, Opie’s Home celebrates the important relationships, milestones and day-to-day interactions that mark what it means to be a preschooler, full of all the funny moments and life lessons that preschoolers and parents can relate to. The series brings the lessons from the classroom home into Opie’s world.

Opie’s Home is a spin-off of the award-winning series, Hi Opie!, which follows Opie as he ventures to kindergarten for the first time.

Cast includes award-winning puppeteer Jordan Lockhart as Opie, Aisha Alfa as Mom, Jim Annan as Dad, and Oscar-nominated actor Graham Greene as Opie’s much loved next door neighbour Mr. Kabashio.

A TVOKids Original, Opie’s Home was created and produced by Toronto-based marblemedia in association with TVO Kids and The Jim Henson Company.  The series will premiere later this fall across Canada on Knowledge Kids and City TV Saskatchewan.

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TVO continues the dinosaur trend with the wonderful Dino Dana

First, there was Dino Dan. Then Trek’s Adventures. Now, TVO has got a new dinosaur-themed kid’s series in Dino Dana. Debuting with two episodes on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET before moving to its regular timeslot on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dino Dana is from Sinking Ship, the same folks who have partnered with TVO for Annedroids, Dino Dan and Odd Squad.

Where Trek’s Adventures picked up with Dan’s younger brother, who can also see, learn and educate about the ancient beasts, nine-year-old Dana heads off on 16 new adventures. Wednesday’s premiere storyline, directed by creator J. J. Johnson, is “Dino Field Guides,” and sets up the rest of the series. A chance encounter at the library causes Dana (Michela Luci) to begin her adventure; she runs into Trek Henderson (Trek Buccino) who presents her with his and Dan’s field guide. Turns out there are still experiments that need finishing and Trek invites Dana to have at them as the newest palaeontologist in training. Of course, once the fabled guide is in her possession, Dana can see and interact with dinosaurs all around her—beginning with her favourite, the Troodon—and the journey kick-starts in earnest.

Michela Luci is great as Dana, an enthusiastic girl with a voracious appetite for anything dino-related. And Dana’s knapsack is to die for: a carry-all that can transform to look like any dinosaur Dana desires. Saara Chaudry is the perfect foil, playing Dana’s eye-rolling, mp3 consuming older sister Saara who is often drawn into her sibling’s undertakings. Nicola Correla-Damude plays mom while Amish Patel is dad on Dino Dana.

The stunning CGI we’ve come to expect from Dino Dan is in full effect here, offering plenty of education in an entertaining package.

Dino Dana debuts Wednesday, May 24, at 5 p.m. ET before moving to its regular timeslot on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. ET on TVO.

Image courtesy of TVO.

 

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Season 5 of The Next Step set for May 26 on Family

From a media release:

Get ready for a season filled with friendly rivalries and fierce competition with the return of Family Channel’s hit series The Next Step. Debuting Friday, May 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT, season five represents a new chapter for the studio as the dancers are divided into two separate teams, led by fan-favourites Victoria Baldesarra (Michelle) and Alexandra Beaton (Emily). Fans who can’t wait for the new season to begin, can check out the new short series The Next Step: The Off Season, on The Family Channel App, to find out what A-Troupe has been up to since their Regionals loss. Following the premiere, new episodes of The Next Step will air regularly Fridays at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT with encore presentations at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Season five of The Next Step brings about a lot of changes for the studio. Since losing at Regionals, A-Troupe is once again the underdog, but that won’t deter them from getting back to the top. As many dancers leave to pursue their goals and dreams, former dance captain Emily (Beaton) steps in to take control of the studio. But her strict regime isn’t welcomed by everyone and the studio quickly divides into two: Emily’s classically trained dancers, and the self-trained/hip-hop crew led by veteran Michelle (Baldesarra). In the end, only one team can make it to Regionals and it’s a full out battle between East vs. West.

New dancers joining the cast for season five include: Dylan Ratzlaff as Jacquie; Jessica Lord as Lola; Milaina Robinson as Zara; Julian Lombardi as Ozzy; Hanna Miller as Heather; Noah Zulfikar as Kingston; Dawson Handy as Josh; and Julian Elia as Elliot. In addition to Beaton and Baldesarra, returning familiar faces include: Myles Erlick as Noah; Briar Nolet as Richelle; Alexandra Chaves as Piper; Isaiah Peck as Henry; Shelby Bain as Amy; Brennan Clost as Daniel; Lamar Johnson as West; and Akiel Julien as LaTroy. Fan-favourites Brittany Raymond (Riley), Trevor Tordjman (James), Taveeta Szymanowicz (Thalia) and Isaac Lupien (Eldon) will make guest appearances throughout the season.

The Next Step is produced by Radical Sheep Productions, a division of Boat Rocker Studios in association with Family Channel and is executive produced by Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier (Lost & Found Music Studios, Wingin’ It); Michelle Melanson Cuperus (The Bagel and Becky Show, Fangbone!); Rachael Schaefer (The Next Step, Wingin’ It) and Karen McClellan (The Other Kingdom, Being Erica). The Next Step was created by Frank van Keeken. The Next Step is also produced with the participation of the Shaw Rocket Fund, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and CBBC. BBC Worldwide handles the international rights to the series.

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