Win a Winner!
Writers & Photographers
Berlitz Summer Camp
by Vivien Santana Hughes
When I last chatted with Christian Jacobs in 2010, he and cousin Scott Schultz had just wrapped the third season of a little kids’ show they created. Heard of Yo Gabba Gabba!? That preschool-cool hit launched on Nick Jr. in 2007 and is still dancey-dancing to strong ratings. But there was another show idea that actually came first – one based on Jacob’s surf rock/ska band, The Aquabats.
“It has been a 15-year journey to make this show,” says Jacobs of The Aquabats! Super Show!, which debuted March 3. “In many ways Yo Gabba Gabba! is a spin-off of The Aquabats.” The walls of Jacob’s OC office are still crammed with vintage toys, but now first-edition dolls of YGG’s Muno and Brobee – which evolved from the band’s stage shows – share the shelves with classic ‘70s and ‘80s TV show memorabilia. But having a hit under his superhero belt didn’t make producing his latest endeavor any easier.
Why? Well, it is different to be sure. “It’s the only live-action, animated, musical, action-adventure comedy on the air!” exclaims Ted Biaselli, VP of programming for The Hub, the children’s TV network that finally gave the green light. “Parents are going to get the jokes and references and kids are going to get it on a completely different level. There’s a lot of physical humor, there’s a lot of gross humor, but there’s smartness to it. We always say, ‘It’s the stupidest show on the air – until you realize that it’s not.’”
What inspired the show concept?
We started The Aquabats [band] in ’94. Really quickly we thought we should make this into a TV show because it’s so ridiculous. If you see our live shows, we have monsters come on stage and fight and it’s crazy. This is the TV show that we’ve always wanted to make. Our influences are all over the pop culture map. It’s the great kitschy shows out of the U.S. meeting the Japanese kitschy kids’ shows – that puts it in a nutshell, which is a giant nutshell! Definitely the Japanese anime and the sentai team of guys fighting rubber monsters. And Get Smart, Batman, The Monkees, Wild, Wild West and Sid and Marty Krofft stuff. We’re big TV watchers and big connoisseurs of music. These go hand in hand.
The show stars a band, but what part does music play?
Every episode will have a few musical segments. One of the challenges of making a show about a band is we’re all working on screen – and doing voiceover for the animation segments and filming Yo Gabba Gabba! – when we need to be writing music for the show. It’s been a juggle. And a super-fun problem to have!
What age does the show target?
It’s a little bit intense for younger kids. It’s for kids who have graduated from Yo Gabba Gabba! and are watching Cartoon Network and Star Wars, which my kids do. I still have fan of YGG, he’s 2. And he’s really into The Aquabats, too, but he gets scared, so we don’t let him watch as much. There’s an episode where a monster slices my shirt open. He kept asking, “Daddy OK?”
New episodes air Saturdays at 8 a.m. PT, with encore showings throughout the week. Check www.hubworld.com for channel, schedule and games.
Chat Room columnist Vivien Santana Hughes is a former L.A. Parent editor and the mother of three – one university grad, one in college and (surprise!) a 7-year-old daughter. She grew up watching H.R. Pufnstuf and The Monkees.
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