Angela Santomero’s 2D-animated pilot Creative Galaxy was one of the first kids concepts from Amazon Studios’ initial round of pilots in 2013 to be greenlit for full series production. After launching successfully last summer on Prime Instant Video, the educational preschool program has been re-upped for a second season.
But until the new production ramps up, the writer, producer and co-creator of such landmark shows as Nickelodeon’s Blue Clues and PBS’ Super Why! is putting the finishing touches on Wishenpoof, her second pilot-to-series project for Amazon. All 13 episodes are set to premiere on Aug. 14 for Amazon Prime Members in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
The CG-animated preschool series follows an imaginative girl named Bianca who, in trying to harness her ability to use “wish magic,” ultimately uses her own wits and guidance from her silly-yet-sage sidekick Bob the Bear to help her friends out of jams. The series is set to feature guest vocal talent Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills, 90210) as Bianca’s father, and Priestley’s daughter Ava Priestley as Laurel. Hope Cassandra performs 13 ballads as the singing voice of Bianca.
With consultant expertise from gender-equality advocate, entrepreneur, mom and author Melissa Wardy (Redefining Girly) and Families and Work Institute co-founder and author Ellen Galinsky (Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs), Wishenpoof aims to teach the essentials of problem-solving, empathy and making good choices.
“We spent a lot of time writing, researching and working with Ellen to develop a strong, funny, wish-filled show that centers around executive functioning skills,” said Santomero. “We also took a lot of time to develop the look and feel of the show. The characters and environments were brought to life with a vision of soft doll textures in a mixed-media world—and our animation partner DHX in Halifax really delivered something unique.”
According to Santomero (pictured), time is always a challenge, but without the instant online feedback of Amazon customers, Wishenpoof may have turned out much differently.
“In hearing that viewers wanted Bianca’s parents to be more involved, and that kids wanted more story, we decided to go with 22-minute (episodes) to expand the storytelling and music opportunities,” she said.
Amazon had never produced a 22-minute preschool pilot before, said Tara Sorensen, Amazon Studios head of kids programming.
But the studio was open to changing the format because it didn’t want to shy away from more aggressive production projects.
“When you look at both [formats], there is an aspect of creative play that we’re able to showcase, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it an 11-minute story,” said Sorensen.
This article originally appeared in Kidscreen’s July/August 2015 issue.