We're the Pajanimals! From left to right, Cowbella, Apollo, Squacky and Sweetpea Sue.The Pajanimals
is a preschool children's series made by The Jim Henson
Company and featuring Muppet-style
characters. Made for and aired in The Goodnight Show
block on PBS Kids Sprout
in the United States, the series was originated as a set of approximately two minute shorts featuring songs focused on issues related to bedtime, such as being afraid of the dark, having a scary dream, or waking up at night. Based on the success of the original shorts, a full-length series was created and began airing in 2011. The new series features the same characters and basic style, but adds guest characters and an expanded focus. While bedtime issues are still tackled, the series also addresses concerns of a more general nature to youngsters, such as fear of speaking in front of a class and concern about taking an extended trip away from home. The show was made in part with the help of Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldburger, creators of a commercial product called The Sleepeasy Solution
, and the two serve as content consultants for the show and appear in parental guidance spots created for the program. The original shorts, along with the parental guidance spots, are available on DVD, but have not been shown on television since the full-length series began airing.
The full series is also now airing on weekends on NBC stations as part of their NBC Kids block. Its second season began airing in October 2012.
The Pajanimals contains examples of the following tropes:
- Accidental Misnaming: There's a character called Mr. Happy Birthday who can never get the collective name of the Pajanimals correct, referring to them variously by such names as "The Pajunipers" and "The Pajolopies."
- Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: Between Apollo and Sweetpea Sue in "I Can Do It Better"
- Aside Glance: In "Stay in Bed, Put on Your Sleepy Head," when Squacky gets up for like the third or fourth time, Apollo gives a look that seems to clearly indicate "Can you believe this guy?"
- Baths Are Fun: The Pajanimals have a "Bathtime Boogie" song they perform while in the bath.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the full series, the characters that the Pajanimals visit do this at the end of each episode to summarize the episode's aesop (though they always comment "But you probably already knew that, didn't you?") and also sometimes do it even during the main show.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Squacky, at times. He keeps a collection of dustballs and decides to give Apollo a rock for a birthday present because he thinks that "Apollo rocks!"
- Cuddle Bug: Jerry the bear of the Friendly Forest. "Bear hug!" And Ellie Octopus as well, with her "octopus huggles."
- Furry Confusion: Apollo is an anthropomorphic dog, but in the episode "Puppy Love," The Pajanimals take care of a puppy named Fluffy.
- Furry Reminder: Squacky has been known to quack when overly excited and Apollo is heard barking at the end of one of the shorts. There is also an owl in the Friendly Forest who can't help but hoot loudly when he gets excited.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Apparently goggles allow the Pajanimals to survive underwater, because they're the only thing they wear when they go to visit Elle the octopus or Granny Pearl deep in the ocean.
- Halloween Episode: Two so far - "A Super Sweet Night" and "Spooky Costumes"
- Happy Dance: One of the show's songs is called this and features the characters doing one.
- In Case You Forgot The Founder And Namesake Of The Company Who Produces The Series
- The Leader - Sweetpea Sue, who encourages the other characters to "stick to the plan" and not mess around when it comes to getting ready for bed.
- Leitmotif: Each character gets a bit of one in "Lights in the Dark."
- Malaproper: Squacky, at times
- The Merch: In addition to the DVD releases, there are now plush toys and a story mat that features all of the characters and doubles as a blanket / sleeping bag.
- The Musical: Pajanimals Live: Pajama Playdate was to be this, with a 50 city tour in 2013, but it was canceled for unexplained reasons.
- Potty Failure: Cowbella's is the catalyst for the events of "Accidents Can Happen," though it happened before the episode begins. Then in "Oops," it happens to Squacky when goes to bed for the first time without his diaper.
- Sleepyhead: Bedtime Bunny from the Land of Hush, not inappropriately. She always nods off in the middle of her conversations with the Pajanimals and has to be shaken awake.
- Speech Impediment: Squacky sometimes speaks with a lisp.
- Strictly Formula: The original shorts were each presented as the Pajanimals singing a song about something related to bedtime. Each episode of the full version series follows this pattern- the characters are shown in their playroom just before bedtime. Their parents tell them its time to get ready for bed and they do so. After this, they are shown in bed, but one or more of them has a problem that is keeping them from getting to sleep. They all hop into one of the characters' beds together and "Bundle up, snuggle up, buckle up and go!" and the bed takes them to some sort of Magical Land, such as the Land of Hush, or The Land of Games. There, they talk with the episode's selected guest character, who gives them advice to help them solve their problem. They return home and the mother sings the "La La Lullaby" song, then the episode ends with the guest character briefly reappearing and Breaking the Fourth Wall to recap the episode's Aesop.
- Something Completely Different: "Pajanimal Dance Party" from the full series, in which the Pajanimals don't visit anyone else and instead have a dance party in their playroom. That night, at bedtime, they perform the full "La La Lullaby" themselves, rather than their mother performing a shortened version.
- Team Spirit: In the full version series, there's a walrus character named Coach Whistler who is big on this.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry
- That Reminds Me of a Song: The series began as a series of songs of approximately two minutes in length. The full-length series keeps to these origins by featuring at least one song in every episode.
- Theme Tune Roll Call: Though, curiously, the character traits described change from the original shorts to the full version series. In the original, "Squacky's picked a book to share with all of you," but in the full version series "Cowbella shares a story with all of you."
- Title Theme Drop: An instrumental version of the show's main title theme is played as the Pajanimals settle down to bed in each episode of the full-length series.
- Title Theme Tune
- The Voice: The mother and father are only ever heard talking off-screen. It's also implied in a couple of episodes that it's the mother who sings the "La La Lullaby" song at the end of the full-version series.
- Waking Non Sequitur: Both Squacky and Bedtime Bunny invoke this from time to time.
- Weird Moon: One of the guest characters that the Pajanimals can visit is the Moon, and he always seems to be full. He has his own song— "I'm Your Light in the Night Sky."
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: There's a magician named Edwin who is always doing a different job in each episode he's seen in.