Tag Archives: Odd Squad

New animated preschool series, Esme & Roy, makes its monstrous debut on Treehouse

From a media release:

From Sesame Workshop and Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, the new animated series Esme & Roy, the first new animated series from the makers of Sesame Street in more than a decade, premieres Saturday, August 18 at 7:10 a.m. on Treehouse. The series follows a young girl, Esme, and her best monster friend, Roy, on their adventures as the best monster babysitters in Monsterdale. Aimed at children ages four to six, it offers a creative new approach to teaching “learning through play” and mindfulness strategies.

With loveable characters who spark strong emotional connections among preschoolers and parents alike, Esme & Roy invites children into a colourful world where even the littlest monsters can overcome big challenges together. Across 26 episodes, Esme and Roy will use the power of play to help younger monsters through familiar situations like trying new foods and feeling scared during loud thunderstorms. Little viewers will look up to their new favourite monster-sitters as positive role models, learning how to manage strong emotions with simple mindfulness practices alongside Esme and Roy’s charges. Infectious humour, imaginative design, and expressive Canadian voice talent including Millie Davis (Wonder, Odd Squad) and Patrick McKenna (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania: The Series), bring the world of Esme & Roy to vibrant life.

Esme & Roy underscores how vitally important play is to early childhood development. Whether they’re pretending to be veterinarians to model how to hold a pet gently, or sticking to a shopping list by turning a trip to the grocery store into a “Supermarket Match” game show, the monster-sitters help their little friends learn a range of lessons while they have fun. When children play together, they are physically, cognitively, and socially engaged. Motivated by their own curiosity and interest, they learn to collaborate, self-regulate, communicate, and empathize with others during play sessions. As modeled in Esme & Roy, “learning through play” allows children to develop these critical life skills in a safe environment.

Children are most ready for this kind of engaged, productive playtime when they can manage challenging feelings like worry and frustration. Esme & Roy offers easy-to-adopt strategies that can help even very young children regulate their emotions. Tactics include: taking slow belly breaths, which provide a pause for children to be reflective instead of reactive; self-talk that uses positive statements to remind kids of their strength and capability; giving oneself a soothing hug; and using a “glitter jar” to calm the body and mind, shaking a sparkly snow globe-like jar and taking deep breaths while watching the glitter swirl and slowly fall.

Created by TV veterans Dustin Ferrer and Amy Steinberg (Peg + Cat, Team Umizoomi, Wonder Pets! and Shimmer and Shine), Esme & Roy is co-produced with Sesame Workshop in partnership with Corus Entertainment’s animation studio Nelvana, with illustrations inspired by renowned artist Dankerleroux.


Baroness Von Sketch Show, Alias Grace and Andrew Phung take home trophies during Night 2 of Canadian Screen Awards

The writers on Baroness Von Sketch Show, Letterkenny, Orphan Black, Odd Squad, and Kim’s Convenience co-star Andrew Phung and Schitt’s Creek‘s Emily Hampshire were among the winners in the Creative Fiction Storytelling categories during Night 2 of the Canadian Screen Awards.

Hosted by Kim’s Convenience‘s Andrew Phung, the non-televised celebration honoured 42 categories in the guest performance, writing, directing, photography, editing, production design, visual effects, sound, limited, variety and sketch comedy.

“On the count of three, I want you to shout out what you had for breakfast!” Phung yelled at the crowd before calling out Schitt’s Creek‘s Daniel Levy for not answering. “Now I want you to shout out your favourite Canadian production, but it cannot be your own project!” He then called his mother on his cell phone for advice on how to host the show.

“Oh my god,” she said. “You should just do your best.”

Special awards were given to the late Denis McGrath (Margaret Collier Award) and Jay Switzer (Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award), and Bell Let’s Talk (Humanitarian Award).

Here are the winners in several of the key categories:

Best Supporting Actor, Drama
R.H. Thomson, Anne

Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Allie MacDonald, Cardinal

Best Guest Performance, Drama Series
Steven McCarthy, Mary Kills People

Best Pre-School Program or Series
Paw Patrol, TVO Kids

Best Animated Program or Series
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, YTV

Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series
Odd Squad, TVO Kids

Best Performance, Children’s or Youth
Ella Ballentine, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew

Best Performance, Animation
Martin Short, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween

Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy
Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor, Jennifer Whalen, Jennifer Goodhue, Monica Heisey, Mae Martin, Zoe Whittall — Baroness Von Sketch Show, CBC

Best Writing, Comedy
Jacob Tierney, Jared Keeso — Letterkenny, CraveTV

Best Writing, Drama Program or Limited Series
Sarah Polley — Alias Grace, CBC

Best Writing, Drama Series
Graeme Manson, Renee St. Cyr — Orphan Black, Space

Best Writing, Children’s or Youth
Adam Peltzman, Tim McKeon — Odd Squad, TVO Kids

Best Writing, Animated
Sean Jara — Mysticons, YTV

Best Supporting or Guest Actor, Comedy
Andrew Phung, Kim’s Convenience

Best Supporting or Guest Actress, Comedy
Emily Hampshire, Schitt’s Creek

Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series
Baroness Von Sketch Show, CBC

Here is the complete list of winners from Wednesday night.


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TVO’s Odd Squad’s winning formula: education + inclusivity = award-winning TV

To walk onto the set of Odd Squad is to be immediately immersed in the world occupied by the heroes of TVO’s kid’s show. A slide from the second floor here, a trophy room there, a hallway filled with a riot of coloured doors is steps away from a ball pit. It’s all designed, says co-creator Tim McKeon, to aid in the ease of filming, something he was inspired by when he was an intern on The West Wing during Season 2. Those legendary walk-and-talks brought viewers into President Bartlet’s world, so why not do it with Odd Squad?

TVO’s math-centred series is on a hot streak of late: Season 2 just wrapped production in Toronto’s west end and the program won five Daytime Emmys last week and McKeon captured a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award for the second season script “Drop Gadget Repeat.” Not bad for what McKeon refers to as “a workplace comedy for kids” that incorporates the education angle to include math.

Ms. O’s desk hearkens back to President Bartlet’s

“You never see their home life,” McKeon says from Odd Squad‘s production offices. He’s just taken a group of families on a set tour in support of Make-A-Wish Canada. “That’s very deliberate and you never see them in school.” PBS approached McKeon (Adventure Time) and Adam Peltzman (The Backyardigans) about creating a math series for kids. Their first challenge? Not to make it lame. They sought to create a program about a secret world where kids were powerful and figured out strange, X-Files-esque math problems as detectives. Making the kids professional by dressing them in suits was the next step. The key for the pair was to have the agents—played by Millie Davis, Sean Michael Kyer, Dalila Bela, Filip Geljo, Anna Cathcart and Isaac Kragten—solve the problems for the adults rather than the other way around.

“Our secondary goal, along with PBS and TVO, was to put girls in charge and show diversity,” McKeon says. “This [second] season, we have four leads and three of them are girls.” What makes a program like Odd Squad unique—and children’s television overall—is how non-dramatic having female leads and a diverse cast is. Where primetime television is being criticized for a lack of those things, Odd Squad has been doing it for two seasons. It’s a natural part of the storyline and accepted by viewers without fanfare. Also natural? The math. There are no blackboards being pulled out with long division on them.

(l-r) Isaac Kragten as Agent Otis and Anna Cathcart as Agent Olympia

“I think the role of educational TV is to teach kids, but more specifically, to help them over bumps,” McKeon says. “We’re going to try our hardest to get across a concept so that kids can then go into the classroom and say, ‘I kind of already know this.'”

“It’s not only that Odd Squad is funny and has clever scripting, characters and wardrobe, they’ve made math the solution to all of the cases the agents have to solve,” says Marney Malabar, director of kids TV at TVO. “They didn’t make math a bad thing. They made it, organically, normal. It’s never a token learning moment. It’s of course, everybody should use math, rather than let’s just show you that math is important. Math is used to further the story because if they didn’t use it. they’d never be able to solve their problems.

Aside from working math into each episode, McKeon and Peltzman, knew one key to successfully writing for children is to never talk down to them or do “kid” jokes; strive to be funny for adults and the kids will get it too. The Odd Squad writer’s room has been an established core that includes co-executive producer Mark De Angelis and writer Robby Hoffman and a massive list of freelancers.

“Oddness is a pretty open idea,” Peltzman says of the writing process. “And once you’ve set this concept where there is oddness in the world—whether it’s dragons, dinosaurs or made-up creatures and weather phenomena—you’ve created a box where you can go to all of these different places.”

Odd Squad airs weekdays at 4:55 p.m. ET on TVO and online at TVO.org.


Odd Squad and Beat Bugs win Creative Arts Daytime Emmys

Canadian television productions Odd Squad and Beat Bugs took home several trophies Friday night at the 44th annual Creative Arts Daytime Emmys, held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Isaac Kragten of TVO’s Odd Squad won for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s, Preschool Children’s or Family Viewing Program. Series co-creators Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman and executive producer Mark De Angelis won Outstanding Writing Special Class for Odd Squad: The Movie. McKeon’s win comes days after his Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards win for his Season 2 episode “Drop Gadget Repeat.”

Odd Squad‘s Christine Toye won a Creative Arts Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design/Styling, Liz Roelands for Outstanding Hairstyling and Jenna Servatius for Outstanding Makeup. Odd Squad is a co-production between Sinking Ship Entertainment and The Fred Rogers Company for TVO and PBS.

Beat Bugs, produced by Vancouver’s Thunderbird Films, was awarded Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program.


TVOKids receives critical acclaim with nominations from the Youth Media Alliance and Daytime Emmys

From a media release:

TVO’s leadership in digital learning was further recognized last week with 12 nominations for the 2017 Youth Media Alliance (YMA) Awards of Excellence, and a record-setting 23 nominations for the Daytime Emmy® Awards – the most TVO has ever earned for its children’s content by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Among the nominations was an important recognition by the YMA for TVO mPower in the category of Best Original Interactive Content. mPower is a new, creative online game that helps build foundational K-6 math skills for students in the classroom. All of TVO’s nominations serve as a strong acknowledgement of TVOKids’ exciting and innovative kids content that reflects the Ontario school curriculum.

The Daytime Emmy® Awards will be held on April 30. The 2017 Youth Media Alliance Awards of Excellence gala will take place on May 31.

The complete list of nominations is below. All nominated programs can be viewed on demand at tvokids.com and on the TVOKids YouTube channel. mPower is available to educators at tvo.org/mPower.

Youth Media Alliance Awards of Excellence nominations

  • Hi Opie! (Opie’s Ladybug Friend) Best Program, Live Action, Ages 3–5
  • PAW Patrol (Tracker Joins the Pups!) Best Program, Animation, Ages 3–5
  • Annedroids (The Mother of Invention) – Best Program, Live Action, Ages 6–9
  • Odd Squad: The Movie – Best Program, Live Action, Ages 6–9
  • The Mystery Files (The Mystery of the Underground Railroad) – Best Program, Live Action, Ages 6–9
  • Wild Kratts, Season 4 (Pangolin Rescue) Best Program, Animation, Ages 6–9
  • Giver (Amherstberg Sports Park) Best Program, Live Action, Ages 9 +
  • mathXplosion Best Original Digital Content
  • mPower – Best Original Interactive Content
  • Science Max Interactive – Best Original Interactive Content
  • Look Kool Online Best Cross-platform Interactive Content
  • Opie’s Playground Best Cross-platform Interactive Content

Daytime Emmy® nominations

  • Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures
    • Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series
    • Outstanding Directing in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program
  • Odd Squad
    • Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing Series
    • Outstanding Interactive – Enhancement to a Daytime Program or Series
    • Outstanding Performer in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program (Isaac Kargten as Otis; Jack McBrayer as Weird Tom)
    • Outstanding Writing in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program
    • Outstanding Writing Special Class
    • Outstanding Directing in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program
    • Outstanding Main Title and Graphic Design
    • Outstanding Single Camera Editing
    • Outstanding Sound Mixing – Live Action
    • Outstanding Sound Editing – Live Action
    • Outstanding Costume Design/Styling
    • Outstanding Hairstyling
    • Outstanding Makeup
  • Odd Squad: The Movie
    • Outstanding Directing Special Class
  • Annedroids
    • Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing Series
    • Outstanding Performer in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program (Adrianna Di Liello as Shania; Addison Holley as Anne)
    • Outstanding Writing in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program
    • Outstanding Sound Mixing – Live Action
    • Outstanding Sound Editing – Live Action