New Sesame Workshop Programs to Debut on HBO Max

WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” announced the next phase of their content partnership with new series to premiere on HBO Max.

“Sesame Street Mecha Builders,” the first of many new Sesame Workshop originals for WarnerMedia’s Cartoonito preschool programming block, is set to debut on HBO Max and Cartoon Network in early May. More animated series and specials, including newly greenlighted family miniseries “Charlotte’s Web,” upcoming preschool shows “Bea’s Block” and a “Sesame Street”-themed reimagining of The Nutcracker, also are set to debut this year.
 
“Sesame Street Mecha Builders” reimagines Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby as robot heroes in training who use their STEM superpowers to solve wacky larger-than-life problems. Animated in a 3D style, the series is designed to help older preschoolers practice foundational critical thinking skills. The first five episodes will air on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network on May 9, hitting HBO Max the following day. Launching later in the year also on Cartoonito, “Bea’s Block” will introduce viewers to a world where vibrant and diverse wooden block characters — Bea and her friends — tumble, stack and roll their way through kindness-filled adventures. Both series will include fully integrated educational curricula and music.
 
“Our relationship with Sesame Workshop is critical in ensuring that we have an ongoing lineup of content that parents find unquestionably safe, educational and entertaining for their kids to enjoy,” Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. global kids, young adults and classics, said in a statement. “The new and classic properties we’re developing together have just the right multigenerational appeal to resonate with parents and children alike, with fresh music and characters offering some surprises along the way.” 

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“Building on Sesame Workshop’s legacy of innovation in the children’s entertainment space, we’re thrilled to continue partnering with WarnerMedia Kids & Family as they build an industry-leading library of both preschool and family-focused content,” Steve Youngwood, CEO of Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. “From brand new adventures to reimagined classics, everything we create at Sesame Workshop is bursting with the kinds of compelling characters and storylines that today’s kids love, built on a solid educational framework that parents can trust — perfect for creating new family traditions.”
 
The upcoming Sesame Street: The Nutcracker, premiering during the 2022 holiday season, is an animated special that follows Elmo and his new puppy, Tango, on a fantastical holiday adventure. The special will populate the holiday story with “Sesame Street” characters, blending new and classic music.

Production on “Charlotte’s Web,” an animated family miniseries based on the classic children’s book by E.B. White, will begin in the coming weeks. 
 
Available now on Cartoonito on HBO Max and Cartoon Network are the “Sesame Street” spinoff “The Not Too Late Show With Elmo” and the animated “Esme & Roy.” HBO Max is also the home of “Sesame Street”; new episodes of the iconic series’ 52nd season premiere on the platform every Thursday, with decades of classic episodes available on demand. 

Disney+ to Stream Comedy Series ‘The Muppets Mayhem’

Disney+ has greenlighted “The Muppets Mayhem,” a comedy series starring the Muppets.

The series follows the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Lilly Singh (“A Little Late with Lilly Singh,” “Dollface”) plays the (human) lead role of Nora, the junior A&R executive tasked with managing and wrangling the mayhem as the old-school Muppet band comes face to face with the current-day music scene.

The series was developed by Adam F. Goldberg, Bill Barretta and Jeff Yorkes based on characters created by Jim Henson. It is written by Adam F. Goldberg (“The Goldbergs”), Bill Barretta (“The Muppets,” “Muppets Haunted Mansion”) and Jeff Yorkes. The executive producers are Goldberg, Barretta, Michael Bostick and Kris Eber. Yorkes is a co-executive producer. The Muppets Studio’s David Lightbody and Leigh Slaughter are also executive producers.

The Disney Branded Television series is produced by ABC Signature and The Muppets Studio for Disney+.

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“The Muppets are renowned for quality, creativity and unrivaled, fun storytelling for the whole family,” Ayo Davis, president of Disney Branded Television, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have Adam, Bill and Jeff at the helm to bring all of these iconic and great new characters to life in fresh and dynamic ways.”

“Adam F. Goldberg is our resident Muppet enthusiast at Signature and getting to play in the sandbox with Bill, a longtime Muppet performer, as well as these beloved characters was a dream come true for him, Bill and Jeff,” Jonnie Davis, president of ABC Signature, said in a statement. “Their take is fresh, fun, musical and, of course, hilarious. We couldn’t be happier to be the studio that is helping them get the band back together.”

“We are so excited to bring the story of The Electric Mayhem Band to the front and center of this new series. They’ve been entertaining audiences since ‘The Muppet Show,’ which debuted 45 years ago, so it’s wonderful that these characters are finally getting to play lead rather than supporting roles,” said David Lightbody, executive producer and SVP of Disney Live Entertainment and The Muppets Studio.

Disney+ Presents ‘Muppets Haunted Mansion’ for Halloween

A new Halloween special called Muppets Haunted Mansion will debut exclusively on the Disney+ streaming service this fall.

The special will feature a star-studded Muppets cast, celebrity cameos, all-new music and spooky fun for families to enjoy together. The announcement of the special via YouTube was timed with Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products’ “Halfway to Halloween” event.

Muppets Haunted Mansion takes place on Halloween, when Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in the most grim grinning place on Earth — The Haunted Mansion.

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New ‘Muppets’ Series to Debut on Disney+ July 31

The new series “Muppets Now” will debut on Disney+ July 31.

The six-episode series, the first from the Muppets Studio for Disney+, will feature Scooter rushing to make his delivery deadlines and upload the brand-new Muppet series for streaming.

He’ll need to navigate whatever obstacles, distractions, and complications the rest of the Muppet gang throws at him.

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Farscape: The Complete Series — 20th Anniversary

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Sci-Fi;
$95.99 Blu-ray — 21 Discs;
Not rated.
Stars Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Lani Tupu, Wayne Pygram, Jonathan Hardy, Tammy MacIntosh, Raelee Hill, Melissa Jaffer, David Franklin, Rebecca Riggs.

This new 20th anniversary re-release of the complete “Farscape” offers a convenient way for fans who haven’t bought the show already to finally add it to their collections, or to gift it to sci-fi fans who haven’t seen it yet.

The series, which ran for 88 episodes from 1999 to 2003, starred Ben Browder as an American astronaut whose experiment in low-Earth orbit caused him to get flung by a wormhole to the far reaches of the universe, where he allies himself with strange aliens being pursued by the militaristic Peacekeepers. The series was co-produced by the Jim Henson Company, with many of the creatures being created by the famed Creature Shop.

The show was presented in the pre-HD standard 1.33:1 ratio for its first three seasons before switching to widescreen in its fourth, so the bulk of the episodes are presented with the black bars on the sides and upscaled to HD. The image quality is fine and the Blu-ray offers a nice showcase for the series’ imaginative palette of visual effects and alien designs. The space shots were accomplished with CGI and thus are marked by the unmistakable sheen that was typical of the technology available to television in the mid to late 1990s.

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The new Blu-ray set can be had for about $60 on Amazon. However, there are a few quirks to the release that might disincentive anyone who already has the earlier DVDs or Blu-rays from replacing them with this new set.

All the bonus material from the previous Blu-ray complete series sets has been carried over here — a healthy mix of commentaries, deleted scenes and making-of featurettes.

A noticeable and possibly detrimental difference is that the episodes are presented in their airdate order, in contrast to previous DVD and Blu-ray releases in which they were presented in their production order to match the intended timeline of the show. This really only affects the first half of the first season, but given how all the bonus content from the previous season releases was maintained, it’s a bit baffling why the decision was made to go with the airdate order and thus throw the early storylines out of continuity for new viewers. (The episode order apparently follows the same pattern as Netflix, which also ignored the previous DVD/Blu-ray order.)

The key distinguishing feature of this new release is the inclusion of the finale miniseries The Peacekeeper Wars, available for the first time on Blu-ray in the United States.

The miniseries was produced in 2004 to wrap up the show’s storylines in lieu of a fifth season, as the show, while popular, had been abruptly canceled by the Sci-Fi Channel in the middle of its fourth season for being too expensive to produce.

Due to licensing issues, Peacekeeper Wars has always been available separately from the series (with A&E releasing the series, and Lionsgate the miniseries) in the United States. The exception to this was a Best Buy-exclusive DVD set from about 10 years ago in which the retailer was able to pair the disparate releases.

While the bonus material from previous season sets has been preserved here, some extras from earlier Peacekeeper Wars DVD has not been. The Blu-ray version of the miniseries offers deleted scenes and a trailer. Lionsgate’s 2004 DVD had a 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboards, concept art and spacecraft galleries, so fans who want all the material available won’t want to discard that old DVD just yet.