I was just a touch too “mature” to play with the original Little Pet Shop toys. They debuted in 1992 and were delivered with a saccharine jingle that still hurts my teeth when it gets stuck in my head. Thankfully, executive producers Julie McNally Cahill and Tim Cahill have spun a modern yet timeless twist on the early 90′s product and created a show that is contemporary without feeling dated. I was lucky enough to preview the first episode in this brand new series.
Hub TV summarizes: “‘Littlest Pet Shop’ follows Blythe Baxter and her father as they move into a Big City apartment above the Littlest Pet Shop . . . Her real adventure begins when she discovers that she alone can miraculously understand and talk to all of the pets.” Blythe makes new friends and new enemies, the hilarious Biskit twins, and saves the day through creativity and teamwork. These might not seem like innovative ideas on paper, but Julie Cahill wisely states that the key to any franchise, be it reboot or original, is to aim for “evergreen. We don’t do topical issues so any generation can enjoy the stories.” Also key? Make the parents laugh, too. An entire family could sit together and watch Littlest Pet Shop, and there will be laughter throughout from all different age groups. Blythe’s father seems aimed to parents, and he does indeed have the potential to become an iconic cartoon adult in the same class as Stu Pickles or Nigel Thornberry (I also have to admit that I hope the cabbie joke is a constant).
The Emmy Award winning Cahills have experience in bringing new life into a classic franchise – they have worked on newer Tom and Jerry and Looney Toons titles in addition to their own creations. Character design for Littlest Pet Shop encompasses a western kawaii aesthetic, and backgrounds take on this fabulous non-era feel; think “Edward Scissorhands” meets those weird late-classic Tom and Jerry episodes with the jazz noise scores. No “weird record store owner” jazz for Littlest Pet Shop, but Daniel Ingram’s scoring is contemporary without being derivative and employs more than a little curiosity. Tim Cahill states that music will continue to be an important part of the show, and the team is constantly aiming for quirk; he cites Jeff Richmond’s work on “30 Rock” as a strong influence. Episodes and stories are written keeping in mind that music is a key element of the show and Ingram’s melodies will remain a character of their own.
Blythe is a safely unique protagonist. She wears kooky starred leggings and carries a design book with her wherever she goes. She is the type of hero that can inspire creativity without inspiring blue hair (maybe a concern in most households? I dunno), but one wonders if this show has potential gender crossover success. But the show is delightful – her nemeses are a pleasant spoof of the modern mean girl, and the cahoots of the animal costars clever and genuinely funny. I’ll be tuning in this weekend, and your family should as well.
“Littlest Pet Shop” premieres Saturday, November 10 on Hub TV at 11 am ET.