The series was commissioned by the network to premiere during the network's 2011 and 2012 television schedule in addition to eight other original programs slated for the season. Created under the working title Blythe Loves the Littlest Pet Shop, the series is produced by Hasbro's in-house production company Hasbro Studios and based on the toy line sharing the working title's namesake introduced in 2010. The series is aimed at 6 to 11-year-old audiences.
Each episode is about 22 minutes in length. The series premiered on November 10, 2012 and completed its second season on March 11, 2014 on Pop in the United Kingdom (April 12, 2014 on the Hub Network in the United States). Critical reaction to the series has been mixed to positive and the series remains the network's top-performing series both domestically and internationally within its demographic. The series has been nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy Award and has produced toys based on the series, as well as a mobile game and comic book adaptation.
The series follows Blythe Baxter (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), a pre-teen girl with her father Roger Baxter (voiced by Michael Kopsa). Forced to move out from her suburban hometown due to her father's promotion, she moves into an apartment located in a crowded city. Her apartment is located above the eponymous Littlest Pet Shop, a pet store containing a day camp for various pets. Her adventure begins when she discovers that she alone can miraculously (after getting involved in a dumbwaiter accident) understand and talk to all of the pets as well as other animals other than themselves. She and the pets go on several adventures together, only to find their shop is being driven out of business due to a larger pet store managed by twins Brittany and Whittany Biskit (voiced by Shannon Chan-Kent), along with their father Fisher Biskit (voiced by Sam Vincent). Having no other options, the pets turn to Blythe to help them save it from closing down. And so the story begins.
Background and concept
The series was commissioned by [[Wikipedia:Margaret Loesch|Margaret Loesch], president and CEO of the Hub Network (formerly named The Hub) in Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 3, Episode 13, later commissioned by Henry Schleiff, who leads such sister networks as Destination America and Investigation Discovery, leads the re-launched network of the Discovery Family in Season 3, Episode 14 onwards, in addition to eight other original programs to premiere during the network's 2011 and 2012 television schedule. The Hub Network is an American television channel owned as a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications; the former broadcasts any audiovisual adaptations based on their franchises since the network's launch on October 10, 2010. Created under the working title Blythe Loves the Littlest Pet Shop, the series is produced by Hasbro's in-house production company Hasbro Studios. The series is based on the toy line sharing the working title's namesake, introduced in 2010.
Hasbro manages the intellectual properties of Blythe dolls and Littlest Pet Shop, introduced in 1972 and 1992 respectively. Originally held by Kenner Products, both were transferred to Hasbro several years after acquiring most of Kenner's assets and syndicating the previous Littlest Pet Shop animated series in 1995. Though the series marks Blythe's first television debut, an incarnation of Blythe starred as the main protagonist of Littlest Pet Shop animated shorts produced by Cosmic Toast Studios, released online by Hasbro and unrelated to the television series.
The series is executively produced by spouses Julie McNally-Cahill and Tim Cahill, who previously co-created My Gym Partner's a Monkey on Cartoon Network. DHX Media supervisors Chris Bartleman, Kristen Newlands, and Hasbro Studios president Stephen Davis also serve as the series' executive producers. Dallas Parker and Joel Dickie provided animation direction for the series' first season; starting with the second season, Parker is credited as "supervising director", with Dickie as the series' "co-director".
Though the series is rated TV-Y in the United States, typically designating a program designed for ages 2 to 6, Hasbro aims the series at 6 to 11-year-old audiences. Upon being interviewed at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, producer Julie McNally-Cahill described the series' demographic skewed slightly older than other series on the network's Saturday-morning block. Additionally, the series alludes to popular culture in the forms of homages and parodies. Co-creator Tim Cahill was inspired by the "quirky" humor of 30 Rock and Community, adapting their style of humor into an animated format.
The series comprises several voice actors from the Hub Network's sister animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Among the shared cast are Ashleigh Ball, who plays the role of protagonist Blythe Baxter. Also shared are the voices of Tabitha St. Germain voices a striped skunk named Pepper Clark, who resides in the pet store's day camp; Nicole Oliver portrays Zoe Trent, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; and Peter New plays a banded mongoose named Sunil Nevla. Shannon Chan-Kent voices the Biskit Twins, Brittany and Whittany Biskit (she provides the singing voice for Pinkie Pie in Friendship Is Magic). Of the remaining cast, Russell Ferguson, a European hedgehog, is portrayed by Sam Vincent; Vinnie Terrio, a gecko, is played by Kyle Rideout; Minka Mark, a spider monkey, is voiced by Kira Tozer; and Penny Ling, a giant panda, is portrayed by Jocelyne Loewen. Kathleen Barr, who voices several characters from the previous Littlest Pet Shop series, portrays the voice of Blythe's employer Mrs. Anna Twombly. Several actors of the main cast also portray supporting and minor characters: Chan-Kent portrays Youngmee Song; Tozer portrays Sue Patterson; and Barr plays Jasper Jones: all three are Blythe's schoolmates; Vincent, who voices Russell, also portrays the voice of Fisher Biskit and Josh Sharp.
The series' opening theme is composed by Daniel Ingram. Entitled "Littlest Pet Shop," an extended version of the song was released on September 15, 2013. Ingram, along with Steffan Andrews, produces various musical segments and background songs for the series. In an interview with Sherilyn Connelly of SF Weekly, Ingram stated his approach to the series' music is shaped by the urban setting of the series, which prompts the use of a modern style of music. He incorporates elements of pop and other "cultural influences [which] come into the musical style." Ingram stated to About.com that the flexibility given to him by the series' production companies allows him to "push the boundaries of what we could do with daytime television songs."
Littlest Pet Shop, along with Friendship is Magic, remains the network's top-performing series domestically. Both series outperform internationally compared to programs with similar demographics, according to president of Hasbro Studios, Stephen Davis. The series premiered on November 10, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. EST on the network (then known as The Hub), immediately after the third season premiere of Friendship is Magic. The first part of the premiere broadcast received a total 536,000 viewers, with the second part receiving 503,000 viewers; Hasbro later reported the premiere as the most viewed out of all original series on Hub Network.
Critical reaction to the series has been mixed to positive; Ed Liu of Toon Zone gave the series 8 out of 10. He criticized the first episode for introducing too many elements at once, but thought that subsequent episodes had a more relaxed pace. Liu praised the series for having clearly defined characters and crossover appeal beyond its age demographic, but thought that such appeal would be lessened by the "strong fashion theme". Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media described Blythe as "a model of integrity, self-confidence, loyalty, and creativity", but criticized the rest of the cast as "run-of-the-mill". Her review also denounced the series' "embedded advertising" of the toy lines, ultimately giving the series 2 out of 5 stars.
About.com's Tori Michel gave the season four stars out of five in reviewing the series' first DVD release, containing various episodes from the season. She stated that although the series is "clearly aimed at a little girl demographic", the age range would reach both younger children who "enjoy the talking animals" and "slightly older kids in elementary and middle school [who] will relate to the characters and get a kick out of some of the humorous dialog." Donna Rolfe of The Dove Foundation approved the same release "for all ages," giving the DVD five out of five.
|2013||Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||wikipedia:40th Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards#Outstanding Original Song - Children or Animation Outstanding Original Song – Children or Animation||For "If You're a Guy"||Nominated|
|Cable Fax Awards||Best Show or Series – Animated||Littlest Pet Shop||Nominated|
|UBCP/ACTRA Awards||Best Voice||For Peter New in "Dumb Dumbwaiter"||Nominated|
|For Nicole Oliver in "Gailbreak!"||Won|
|2014||Leo Awards||Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series||For Daniel Ingram and Steffan Andrews in "Lights, Camera, Mongoose!"||Won|
The series is based on the Littlest Pet Shop franchise, with miniature toys of the main pets being sold in bundle packs, often integrated with Blythe dolls (with the exception of Vinnie in U.S. markets). Stuffed toys have also been manufactured by Heunec Plüschtiere for German markets. On February 16, 2014, a revamped toy line was announced at the American International Toy Fair. The collection features customizable sets for fans to "create, decorate and personalize their own scenes" inspired by the series.
On November 22, 2012, Hasbro announced a mobile game based on the series. Developed by Gameloft, it is available for the Android and iOS.
IDW Publishing announced a comic book adaptation of the series to be released, beginning in May 2014. Consisting of five issues, the comic was created by South American illustrator Nico Peña and written by Georgia Ball, with illustrations by Peña and Antonio Campo. According to Ball, the comic was commissioned by Hasbro while working to revamp the toy line to include more links with the series in accordance with consumer surveys "indicating a high regard for the program."
Hasbro Studios are currently making Littlest Pet Shop shorts, all of which are directed by Joel Dickie and written by Julie McNally-Cahill and Tim Cahill.
|I didn't steal it, I borrowed it!-[src]|
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