For all you ocean lovers, PBS Kids latest series Splash and Bubbles, created by actor-puppeteer John Tartaglia (Broadway’s Avenue Q) and coproduced by the Jim Henson Company, just might become your family’s favorite new PBS Kids show!
Developed with an advisory panel of top marine biologists, digital innovators and educators, SPLASH AND BUBBLES is grounded in a marine biology curriculum that focuses on themes of diversity, individuality, interconnectedness and the celebration of learning and discovery. The series also introduces the concepts of ecological balance and the importance of taking care of the ocean.
“SPLASH AND BUBBLES emphasizes the important social-emotional skills needed to help kids discover the interconnectivity among all living creatures, while creating an understanding of the variety of life that exists under the sea, fostering an appreciation for the biodiversity in our ocean,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Children’s Media and Education, PBS. “PBS KIDS is committed to using the power of media to build science skills to help inspire children to explore the fascinating world of marine biology and the wonder that makes up the majority of our planet’s surface.”
Using groundbreaking digital puppetry technology, the animated series will help children learn marine biology and ocean science concepts while building social-emotional skills. SPLASH AND BUBBLES will premiere Wednesday, November 23, 2016, on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). Digital content related to the series, including games, apps and parent and educator resources, will be available beginning in fall 2016.
I had a chance to interview some of the actors and producers of the show that included John Tartaglia, Halle Stanford, Leslie Cararra-Rudolph and watch the crew work their magic on Splash and Bubbles at The Jim Henson Company’s Digital Puppetry Studio. Another post coming soon with an inside tour of the studio!
I asked John about the show he created, how the idea came about and why he feels it is so important for kids to learn about marine biology. He spoke about a snorkeling trip he took years ago with a friend and while snorkeling he came across all these tropical fish. He said he was so overwhelmed with all the beautiful and vibrant colors, and the community of sea life. This got him thinking about what if they were all friends and communicated with each other, and that maybe some fish might even be best friends! It’s always interesting to hear where creatives get their ideas from.
He said that people really responded to his idea and that was how the Off Broadway stage show Imaginocean Musical got created which went on to win several awards. The parents really responded to the show as well and he realized that underwater life hadn’t really been explored yet. When the idea came up to do a children’s series he thought of contacting Halle Stanford who is the Executive Vice President of Children’s Programming at Henson Studios They had worked together on another show and he said really liked her enthusiasm and energy and thought she perfect person to pitch the idea to.
Long story short, they met with Lisa Henson and she immediately said it was a perfect fit for Henson Studios and liked the idea of doing it as digital puppetry. It was a huge challenge because they had never done digital puppetry underwater with different shaped sea creatures and with creatures who don’t have legs! This created a whole new challenge said Halle Stanford. And about four years ago pitched the idea to PBS Kids and here we are today with the first episode of Splash and Bubbles!
John and I spoke about the landmark technology in digital puppetry used in Splash and Bubbles. I’ll have another post up soon talking about the technology (and time) that goes into each episode. It’s pretty mind-blowing how much work goes into just one show. When I asked him who his favorite Muppet is he said Miss Piggy because she is so funny and says things out loud that he wishes that sometimes he could say. We laughed at that because really who doesn’t love Miss Piggy and her straightforwardness!
I really like how the series teaches about our oceans and they shape they are in today and why it is important for all of us to be their caretakers. As the creators said at the PBS Kids Annual Meeting last May, there are children in mid America who might not have been to an ocean yet. It is important to bring the beauty and information to them in their own home and show them all the wonderful things found in our oceans. As John said in order for them to care about our oceans we need to first teach them and create that emotional connectives and awareness.
I do hope you find the new PBS Kids series Splash and Bubbles as delightful as I did! Be sure to check your local listings for weekly showtimes. And be sure to check out PBS Kids website for more games and activities featuring your favorite PBS Kids shows.