LazyTown
LazyTown logo.svg
Latibær
Created byMagnús Scheving
Based onÁfram Latibær!
by Magnús Scheving
Written byMark Valenti
Starring
Opening theme"Welcome to LazyTown"
by Jón Jósep Snæbjörnsson
Ending theme"Bing Bang"
(Instrumental) by Julianna Mauriello and Chloe Lang
ComposerMáni Svavarsson
Country of originIceland[1]
Original languages
  • Icelandic
  • English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes78 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time24 minutes
Production companies
DistributorLazyTown Entertainment (Season 1-2)
Turner Broadcasting System Europe (Season 3-4)
Release
Original networkRÚV, Stöð 2 (Iceland)
Nickelodeon (season 1-2, international)
Cartoonito (season 3-4, International)
Picture formatHDTV 1080p
Original releaseOriginal series:
16 August 2004 (2004-08-16) –
15 October 2007 (2007-10-15)
Revival series:
13 March 2013 (2013-03-13)
13 October 2014 (2014-10-13)
Chronology
Related showsLazyTown Extra

LazyTown (Icelandic: Latibær) is an Icelandic[2] children's health-based television series that was created by Magnús Scheving, an aerobics champion who also plays the character Sportacus, and it is based upon his Icelandic stage plays Áfram Latibær! (itself based on an Icelandic children's book from 1991)[3] and Glanni Glæpur í Latabæ.

The series was commissioned by Nickelodeon in 2003, following the production of two stage plays and a test pilot. Originally performed in English, the show has been dubbed into more than thirty languages (including Icelandic) and aired in over 180 countries. The show combines live action, puppetry and computer-generated imagery, making it one of the most expensive children's shows ever made.[4]

The first two seasons (fifty-two episodes) were produced from 2004 to 2007. LazyTown originally aired on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. block in the United States, CBeebies in the United Kingdom and RÚV in Iceland. Turner Broadcasting System Europe acquired LazyTown Entertainment in 2011[5] and commissioned the third and fourth seasons.[6][7] for a total of 26 new episodes, which premiered in 2013 on Turner's Cartoonito and later on Viacom's Channel 5

Multiple spin-offs were created, including stage productions and a short-format television program for younger children titled LazyTown Extra.

Plot

The series follows an 8-year-old[8] pink-haired girl named Stephanie, the newest resident of the LazyTown community. She has moved to LazyTown to live with her uncle, Mayor Milford Meanswell, and is surprised to learn that all of her neighbors lead inactive lifestyles. With the help of an above-average hero named Sportacus, she helps teach the other residents how to partake in more athletic pastimes. Her attempts are often nearly thwarted by Robbie Rotten, who prefers to lead a sluggish life and is agitated by the sudden boom of physical activity. On a regular basis, Robbie devises ill-judged schemes to make LazyTown lazy once again. However, his plans are never foolproof and always end with him losing.

Each of the children that Stephanie befriends embodies negative characteristics. Ziggy, who is kind-hearted and wants to be a superhero when he grows up, has an unbalanced diet devoid of fruits and vegetables. Pixel is a reclusive inventor who spends too much time on his computer. Stingy has a self-centered attitude and is possessive of nearly everything in town. Trixie is a troublemaker with little respect for rules and other people. As the series progresses, the characters become less lazy in favor of a healthier way of living which promotes such lifestyle to the audience watching to help with childhood obesity.

The program features a predominantly Eurodance soundtrack.[9] Each episode features at least one original song and concludes with a different performance of "Bing Bang (Time to Dance)", which is sung by Stephanie. Many tracks are reworked versions of songs from the basis for Icelandic plays.

Main characters

Humans

Puppets

Recurring

Episodes

Main article: List of LazyTown episodes

Series Episodes Originally aired[12]
First aired Last aired
1 34 August 16, 2004 (2004-08-16) May 18, 2006 (2006-05-18)
2 18 September 25, 2006 (2006-09-25) October 15, 2007 (2007-10-15)
3 13 March 13, 2013 (2013-03-13) December 12, 2013 (2013-12-12)
4 13 January 10, 2014 (2014-01-10) October 13, 2014 (2014-10-13)

Fifty-two episodes were produced for the first two seasons of LazyTown between 2004 and 2008.

History and production

LazyTown began as a storybook published in 1995 titled Áfram Latibær! ("Go Go LazyTown!").[3] In 1996, a stage adaptation of the book was shown in Iceland.[a] It featured Stephanie as an out-of-shape dancer and Sportacus as an energetic elf. The puppet characters seen in the television series also appeared in human form, but Robbie Rotten did not yet exist. A second stage show titled Glanni Glæpur í Latabæ ("Robbie Rotten in LazyTown") debuted in 1999. It introduced Stefán Karl Stefánsson as Robbie and featured more finalized versions of the other characters. Nickelodeon Australia reported that by the time the second play finished touring, LazyTown had become a household name in Iceland.[15] A variety of tie-in products and media were created in the country before Scheving decided to develop LazyTown into a television program; these included bottled water, toy figures, and a radio station.[16]

In most episodes, the only characters played by live actors are Stephanie, Sportacus, and Robbie Rotten. The rest of the characters are depicted as puppets, made by the Neal Scanlan Studio and Wit Puppets. The show was filmed and produced at 380 Studios, a purpose-built studio near Reykjavík equipped with high-end HDTV production facilities and one of the largest green screens in the world. The production floor area is 1,800 square meters.[17][18] The budget for each episode was approximately ISK 70,000,000 (US$1 million), about five times the average cost for a children's television program at the time, making it "the most expensive children's show in the world" according to Scheving.[19][20]

Its virtual sets were generated with an Unreal Engine 3-based framework, created by Raymond P. Le Gué and known as XRGen4. According to Le Gué, "We start with the live actors and puppets on a physical set with a green screen behind them as a backdrop. The green screen is replaced in real time with the sets created in XRGen4 using UE3. As we move the camera and actors around the physical set, the backdrop scene also moves in real time in complete synchronization with the movements of the real camera. All of this is recorded, and the director can watch the resulting composition in real time."[21] Seasons 3 and 4 of LazyTown were filmed as usual in the LazyTown Studios in Iceland, but the special effects were created this time around by Turner Studios in Atlanta.[22]

Television and on-demand history

In the United States, the show debuted on Nick Jr. on 16 August 2004 and ended in 15 October 2007.[23] The second season debuted in the United States on Nick Jr. in 2006.[24][25] It also aired in the United States on CBS, as part of the Nick Jr. on CBS Saturday morning block, from 18 September 2004 to 9 September 2006. The series aired daily on the Nick Jr. channel from 28 September 2009 until 18 July 2010.[26] On 18 April 2011, Sprout acquired the US TV rights to LazyTown, and started airing the series on 5 September 2011.[27] It aired daily on the channel until 26 September 2016.

The series has been broadcast on a variety of networks internationally, many of which belong to Viacom Media Networks. Nickelodeon Southeast Asia has carried the program in eleven territories.[28] In Austria and Germany, it is shown on Nickelodeon Austria[15] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it aired on Nick Jr. UK, Noggin, Boomerang and CBeebies.[29][30] The series arrived in the UK on the 3rd of October 2005, making a simultaneous debut on both Nickelodeon and CBeebies. CBeebies aired the first two series and stopped repeats in March 2012. Nick Jr UK stopped airing repeats in 2011.[31][32] After the series was revived for seasons three and four, Turner's Cartoonito premiered episodes from 2012 to 2015. Viacom's Channel 5 also aired the newer episodes as part of its Milkshake! block until 2016.[33][34] Channel 5's Demand 5 service carried episodes of the Icelandic version in 2015.[35]

In 2008, a Spanish-dubbed version of LazyTown debuted on V-me, a television network created for the Hispanic market in the US.[36] NBC began airing it every Saturday on 7 July 2012, as part of the new Saturday morning NBC Kids pre-school block, until 25 September 2016. The Spanish-dubbed version also airs on Telemundo (a sister station to NBC) as part of the weekend pre-school morning block MiTelemundo.

In Brazil, the two first seasons of the show was broadcast with Brazilian Portuguese dubbing on SBT (on the children's television block Bom Dia & Cia), and subsequently on Discovery Kids. The two last seasons was broadcast on Boomerang until 2018.

An Icelandic-dubbed version called Latibær was broadcast in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland on Ultra TV, and several other networks. A Croatian-dubbed version called Lijeni Grad was broadcast in Croatia on HRT 2. In the European Portuguese-dubbed version, the show aired on Nick Jr. and Canal Panda in Portugal. The series has been dubbed into thirty-two languages. In the UK dub, actors Magnús Scheving (Sportacus), Julianna Rose Mauriello (Stephanie, seasons 1–2), Chloe Lang (Stephanie, seasons 3–4) and Stefán Karl Stefánsson (Robbie Rotten) dubbed themselves over. In the Icelandic dub, actors Magnús Scheving (Sportacus), Guðmundur Þór Kárason (Ziggy) and Stefán Karl Stefánsson (Robbie Rotten) dubbed themselves over.

Reception

Ratings

The week of LazyTown's debut on Nickelodeon in the United States was the channel's highest-rated premiere week in three years.[37] A broadcast of the hour-long primetime episode "LazyTown's New Superhero" in August 2005 drew three million total viewers, ranking number-one in its time period among all broadcast and cable television with the 2–5, 2–11, and 6–11 demographics.[38] The episode garnered double-digit increases over the last Nick Jr. primetime special to air before it, which was an episode of the network's then-highest-rated series Dora the Explorer.[38]

Critical reception

The Hollywood Reporter's Marilyn Moss praised the show's intentions to encourage exercise, calling it "great fun for the very young set, not to mention educational, maybe even life-changing."[39] Justin New of The Washington Times called LazyTown "a great show" and stated that he admired the Sportacus character.[40] Common Sense Media's Joly Herman gave the show a more mixed review, stating that the characters' healthy choices are "sometimes lost in the show's chaotic nature."[41] Pete Vonder Haar of the Houston Press called LazyTown "pretty much the creepiest show on TV since Twin Peaks," citing the "off-putting" mix of live-action and puppetry.[42]

The program has been noted for its appeal towards multiple age groups. In 2005, The Boston Globe stated that the program "has sparked a cult of healthy living among a certain preschool set [and] has a grown-up following, too."[43] Lynne Heffley of the Los Angeles Times stated that LazyTown "has zany appeal, even to viewers who are no longer 'junior.'"[44]

Accolades

Year Presenter Award/Category Nominee Status Ref.
2004 Nordic Council Nordic Public Health Prize Magnús Scheving Won [45]
2005 Edduverðlaunin Best Art Direction – Puppet Design Magnús Scheving
Guðmundur Þór Kárason
Neal Scanlan
Won [46]
Best Art Direction – Costume Design Maria Ólafsdóttir
Guðrún Lárusdóttir
Nominated
Best Cinematography and Editing – Timer Tómas Örn Tómasson Nominated
Best Fiction Television Magnús Scheving
Jonathan Judge
Mark Valenti
Nominated
Best Screenwriting Magnús Scheving
Jonathan Judge
Mark Valenti
Nominated
2006 33rd Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series Julianna Rose Mauriello Nominated [47]
British Academy Children's Awards Best International Children's Programme Magnús Scheving
Raymond P. Le Gué
Jonathan Judge
Won [48]
2007 34th Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition Máni Svavarsson Nominated [49]
British Academy Children's Awards Best International Children's Programme Magnús Scheving
Raymond P. Le Gué
Jonathan Judge
Nominated [50]
2008 Edduverðlaunin Best Fiction Television Magnús Scheving Nominated [51]
Best Art Direction – Makeup Ásta Hafþórsdóttir Nominated
Best Art Direction – Costume Design Mary Ólafsdóttir Nominated
Best Sound Editing Nicolas Liebing
Björn Victorsson
Nominated
Best Set Design Snorri Freyr Hilmarsson Nominated

In popular culture

In 2007, the song "You Are a Pirate" from the first-season episode "Rottenbeard" became an internet meme. In 2011, the song was covered by the pirate metal band Alestorm in their album Back Through Time.

The song "We Are Number One" was named "Dank Meme of the Year" in 2016 on the Reddit subreddit /r/dankmemes, a popular subreddit for memes.[52] The Robbie Rotten memes began in October that year when Stefán Karl Stefánsson, the actor who played Robbie Rotten, announced that he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer.

A GoFundMe page was established by LazyTown head writer Mark Valenti to help the actor as he endured his illness. "We Are Number One" and many other LazyTown videos were used to promote the fundraising effort, which eventually surpassed its $100,000 goal. The campaign was popularized by the YouTube channel SiIvaGunner uploading a "We Are Number One" video.[53][54] To thank his supporters, Stefánsson celebrated by uploading a video of that song performed with his former cast members and LazyTown's composer.[55] On 13 August 2017, Stefánsson was declared cancer free after a successful surgery;[56] however, he died on 21 August 2018 after his cancer recurred.[57]

LazyTown Extra

Main article: LazyTown Extra

On 15 September 2008, a spin-off television series called LazyTown Extra debuted in the United Kingdom on CBeebies.[58] A "magazine format style show" for 3 to 6-year-olds, it features characters from LazyTown in an assortment of short sketches.[59] 26 episodes of Lazy Town Extra were produced, each between 11 and 15 minutes in duration.[60][61]

Merchandise

In February 2005, Nickelodeon unveiled a collection of LazyTown products at the American International Toy Fair. Fisher-Price partnered with Viacom's consumer product division to produce the merchandise, all of which was designed to encourage physical activity.[37]

Promotional events

The 2007–08 LazyTown Live show at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
The 2007–08 LazyTown Live show at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

From June to August 2005, LazyTown's Stephanie hosted the "Nick Jr. Power Play Summer" event, which involved a series of television spots that replaced the channel's standard on-air continuity. Similarly to the live performances and the program itself, this campaign was an experiment designed by the network to increase awareness of exercise and nutrition in its preschool audience.[62]

Nickelodeon produced a stage show titled LazyTown Live! in 2005. It debuted at Nickelodeon Suites Resort on 6 August.[63] A modified version toured the United Kingdom and Ireland between October 2007 and August 2008. It introduced a new cast to the United Kingdom, including Julian Essex-Spurrier as Sportacus.[19][64][65]

A Spanish-speaking version of the live show premiered in Mexico in 2008, followed by Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama. As of 2009, it was scheduled to tour the United States in 2010.[66][67] A Brazilian version of the live show premiered in São Paulo in October 2008.[68] New productions of LazyTown Live had their premieres in November 2009 in Portugal and in March 2010 in Spain by producers Lemon Entertainment. A stage play premiering in 2011 introduced the character and concept for Roboticus, which became the first episode of Season 3 of the show in an abridged form.[69]

From 28 January 2009 to 29 November 2009, a live stage production entitled LazyTown Live! The Pirate Adventure toured the United Kingdom and Ireland. It featured characters and songs from LazyTown, performed by a new cast.[70][71] In 2016, a UK production entitled LazyTown Live On Stage ran from 7 July 2016 to 4 September 2016. This production was posted on YouTube and featured the song "We Are Number One".[72][73][74]

A live show LazyTown in Schools premiered in Australia in 2012, touring schools to promote healthy eating and fitness for children.[75]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Premiered in April 1996 with the Theater Company of Vestmannaeyjar.[13] Another stage production by Baltasar Kormákur premiered in November 1996 in Reykjavík.[14]

References

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