Series: Johnny and the Sprites
"I was Johnny, till I walked through that door. But I'm not just Johnny anymore. I'm Johnny... and the Sprites! Did you see one? ..."Johnny and the Sprites (2007-2008) features the adventures of an ordinary guy (John Tartaglia of Avenue Q fame) who moved to a house in the woods to work on his music on his own. Much to his surprise, he discovered that these woods were inhabited by Sprites, friendly fairy-like creatures who possess magic, but are largely unfamiliar with the ways of the human world. Normally shy creatures, two of them, a boy named Basil and a girl named Ginger, take a shining to Johnny and they become fast friends, with Johnny teaching them many new things and sharing his music in the process.The series began as a set of five animated shorts aired every so often Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney block. These segments proved so popular that the program was greenlit for a full series. The new series brought a greatly expanded set portraying the Sprites' home of Grotto's Grove, as well as new characters. Three new Sprites were added, Water Sprite Lily, Earth Sprite Root and a wise old Sprite named Sage, puppeteered and voiced by Tartaglia. Additionally, a character named Gwen, portrayed by Natalie Venetia Belcon, was brought on as a friend for Johnny who paid semi-regular visits. The second season of the full series saw a further expansion to the set, as well as a seminal change to the program when Gwen was allowed to finally meet the Sprites for the first time and both she and Johnny gained the ability to visit Grotto's Grove. The presumed final episode of the series was aired on April 19, 2008 and the program disappeared from U.S. airwaves, though both a music album and DVD were released. Repeats of the program began airing on the 24/7 Disney Junior network in 2012. Tartaglia has since moved on to other projects, such as the musicals of Beauty and the Beast and Shrek.
—The show's premise is explained in song.
This series contains examples of:
- All Just a Dream: In "Turbo Car Johnny," Johnny has a dream in which he spends so much time playing video games that by the time he stops, he's an old man with a ridiculously large beard.
- Amusing Injuries: In the "Everything Must Go" song in "The Sprites Save Grotto's Grove," Johnny takes a number of these as Yolanda Ivanna pushes him around, singing about how everything must go so that she can build her luxury hotel.
- Are We There Yet?: In "Waiting for the Stars," one of the original shorts, Johnny sings A trip can seem a whole lot longer / If the moment you begin it / You're asking "are we there yet?" every other minute. Ginger then comments "I hate that!"
- Argument of Contradictions: The "You Never Know What You Can Do Until You Try Out Something New" song in "The Sprites' Snow Day" features several of these as Basil tells the other Sprites that their ideas won't work and they insist that they will.Lily: Pretty soon, she'll be flying home in her hot chocolate air balloon.Basil: That won't work.Lily: Yes, it will.Basil: No, it won't.Lily: Yes, it will.Basil: I'm afraid that won't work out at all.Lily: And why not?Basil: Because she's too big and that balloon's too small.Lily: Oh, good point.
- Avenue Q: In addition to John Tartaglia, a number of the original cast from the play turned up as guest stars on the program. Ann Harada turned up as a real estate developer who wanted to raze Grotto's Grove to make way for a luxury hotel. Jennifer Barnhart was also a regular puppeteer on the program. As mentioned above Natalie Venetia Belcon played Johnny's friend Gwen.
- Award Bait Song: The songs were all written by composers from Broadway shows, many of them Tony award-winning, but "Brightly Shining" stands out as this. It was going to be part of the stage show Magical Holiday, but that was canceled and rescheduled as a more general non-holiday-themed stage show. Oh, and like the show's theme song, it was written by Stephen Schwartz. (Pippin, Wicked)
- Be Yourself: This was one of the key Aesops on the show, and often explored in songs such as "There's Nobody Quite Like You" and "The Right Size."
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Usually only at the very end of a story, when Johnny will talk to the viewer to reiterate the story's Aesop
- Christmas Episode: "A Very Spritely Holiday," though Johnny mentions Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and says that he likes celebrating all holidays. He decorates a Christmas tree, however, and Gwen is mentioned as Santa's helper.
- Cranky Neighbor: Miss Moldystew, portrayed by Tartaglia in drag and seen only in the original short segments. Following the song, she would pop up above her fence to complain that Johnny and the Sprites needed to keep it down, issuing such complaints as "My hot dogs are practically jumping out of their buns!"
- Expository Theme Tune and Title Theme Tune: "I was just Johnny till I walked out that door, but I'm not just Johnny anymore! I'm Johnny... and the Sprites!"
- Five-Man Band: In the full version series, we have:
- It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: In "A Very Spritely Holiday," Basil declares that the present he and the other Sprites are making for Johnny will be the best present ever.
- Kids Prefer Boxes: "A Very Spritely Holiday" has a variation on this. When the Sprites, who aren't familiar with the Christmas gift-giving tradition, see Johnny and Gwen exchanging fancily decorated gift boxes, they decide they want to participate too. They make a very fancy box for Johnny... with nothing inside. They didn't know there was supposed to be anything inside, they thought the entire point was giving the fancy box. Of course, Johnny is happy to get their gift, since, as any show like this will tell you, the point is the act of giving and the love and appreciation that was shown.Sprites: Brightly shining, shining brightly, leaves and flowers everywhere / Sprites must give a gift that's spritely / One that shows how much we care.
- The Moving Experience: "Aloha, Johnny" in which some overheard information leads the sprites to believe that Johnny is moving to Hawaii, when he's actually only going on vacation there to visit his older sister for a week.
- New Media Are Evil: "Turbo Car Johnny," in which the Sprites can't understand why Johnny is so obsessed with a video game and Johnny eventually decides to go out for some fresh air.
- Not In My Back Yard: In "The Sprites Save Grotto's Grove," a super-annoying real-estate developer shows up with exciting plans to build a hotel. It sounds great at first, until Johnny and the Sprites realize that it would require the complete destruction of Grotto's Grove, not to mention most of Johnny's backyard.
- Re Tool: The second season of the full series featured something of a retool, with the following upgrades: Gwen met the Sprites and became one of their friends (it had always felt a bit odd that they had to hide from her when she was Johnny's friend anyway), the Sprites could pop from place to place in a manner similar to the apparition of Harry Potter, and Sage became more active & smart, and stopped referring to the other Sprites by incorrect names.
- Santa Claus: In "A Very Spritely Holiday," Gwen tells Johnny that she's one of Santa's helpers.
- Surprise Party: The surprise party is referenced by Johnny in the song "What a Surprise!" when he sings "There are surprise endings, surprise guests, surprise parties too! Surprises when they're really great can make your dreams come true. Make your dreams come true!"
- Tickle Torture: This could happen if you were caught by the feared "tickle troll." "A tickle troll, a tickle troll! He'll try to make you laugh, that's his only goal! A tickle troll, a tickle troll! Just one tickle, and you lose control!"
- Title Theme Tune: "So if you should rove to Grotto's Grove, come join in the song, you can sing it too, with you-know-who! Johnny... and the Sprites! Sing along now! Johnny... and the Sprites! That's our song now! Johnny... and the Sprites!"
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: In "Feeling Grove-y" from the "The Sprites Sleep Over," the Sprites sing about how the couldn't possibly get to sleep unless they're back in Grotto's Grove, culminating with "Oh, how I wish I was there now... (going up a key) right now!", leading Johnny (who already wishes the Sprites would just go to sleep) to lament, "Oh no, not a key change!"
- The Unintelligible: Root