I distinctly remember the era when my kid brother watched approximately every episode of Blue’s Clues. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the theme song and see the unique shade of blue of the curious pup, Blue. If you don't have quite the same photographic memory of Blue’s Clues, you're about to get a big reminder, because the show is coming back on Nickelodeon. But what made Blue’s Clues such a huge hit with kids in the first place? Here's some insight into their winning formula.
I got a chance to check in with one of the original co-creators of Blue’s Clues, Traci Paige Johnson, to find out just why kids were so obsessed with the show, and what they have in store for the next series. Johnson explains that part of the allure of the show was due to the extensive research the team did in creating it. "Blue’s Clues was the first series to be researched with preschoolers throughout the production process to ensure the stories, games and interactivity were resonating with them. We’d be constantly tweaking to get everything 'just right'!
The original Blue's Clues ran from 1996 to 2006, but the show has continuously aired on Nickelodeon since they stopped filming. Cyma Zarghami, President of Viacom's Nickelodeon Group told Variety, “It’s actually never gone away." She continued, "The format of the show works pretty well, and I don’t think they are going to mess with it that much.” According to Johnson, this in fact will be the case for the show's reboot.
The main reason why Blue's Clues was so appealing to toddlers 20 years ago was the interactivity — the way the host waited for the audience to respond before confirming what he knew they'd likely be shouting at the television. Johnson explains, "Blue’s Clues was before it’s time and now technology has finally caught up with us! We plan to make the new series more interactive than ever before with new enhancements and features that truly reflect the way that preschoolers today are playing and learning… but more on that later!"
So what familiar characters can we expect to see in the Blue's Clues re-boot? "All the classic elements that made Blue’s Clues so heartfelt will be there," reveals Johnson. Obviously, Blue was a key element, so she'll definitely still be there, albeit in a more three-dimensional format than she was 20 years ago.
Steve (the original show's host) is actually one part of the equation that isn't returning. Instead, the show is on the hunt for a new host. (Hey if you know someone who knows someone, there is actually an open casting call on April 14 in Burbank, California). Johnson says, "We love that our new host is out there somewhere waiting to play in our Blue’s Clues world." This new host definitely has big shoes to fill — Steve's dynamic with the viewers made a big impact in the show's appeal, explains Johnson: "Steve talking to the camera, pausing and actually listening to what the audience was saying; the textured cut-out animation style that kids wanted to reach out and touch; and the simple repeatable songs that would get stuck in your head." If you think about it, he was quite literally drawing kids into his world, as well as inserting himself in theirs.
Let's not forget about Mailbox and Notebook, two crucial characters from the original series. They will definitely be returning (phew!) albeit getting a refresh: "Mailbox will still deliver letters, but we're also incorporating modern technology. Our Notebook will be 'handier & dandier'. It will still have the traditional paper and crayon, but with a modern twist," explains Johnson. We'll have to wait for the reboot to learn just what those modern and potentially technological twists might be.
For those crossing your fingers that the reboot is not a far departure from the original, Johnson will be involved in the production of the upcoming series. She and the rest of the brains behind the updated show plan to take the same steps in planning out the new episodes, which involves consulting with experts to ensure Blue's Clues appeals to today's youngsters as much as it did two decades ago. "We listened to kids and the show was made especially with them in mind," explains Johnson. Obviously, that tactic worked out for everyone.
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