Caillou is an animated series based on the books by author Christine L'Heureux and illustrator Hélène Desputeaux. The series originally premiered as a set of 65 five-minute shorts in which the premise is that the Caillou stories are actually a story from books a grandma was reading to her grandchildren. In 2000, the series was picked up by PBS, and was revamped into half-hour episodes with three or four shorts strung together with puppet segments, a song and a "real kids" segment. Along the line, the grandma-reading-to-kids Framing Device was dropped. However, when the fourth season rolled around, PBS made the decision to can the puppet segments. After new episodes of the program came to an end in 2010, a fifth season was slated to follow in 2011; the new episodes instead began airing in March 2013. These newer episodes are presented in widescreen High Definition where available. (Segments from earlier installments are presented a letterbox format with a border of colorful stars.)
The show displays examples of the following tropes:
Accidental Misnaming: In "You're Not Miss Martin!," the substitute teacher at Caillou's playschool, Ms. Shelley, repeatedly calls him "Kyle." Caillou is at first irritated by this and a number of things about her, but Mommy helps him to relate to her by reminding him how he felt on his first day of playschool. The next time she calls him "Kyle," he decides to be patient and politely remind her that his name is "Caillou." The final time she calls him "Kyle," it's just to joke with him.
Adored by the Network: PBS Kids Sprout has taken to airing Caillou's Holiday Movie multiple times throughout non-holiday weekends, even though it is very much a Christmas-themed movie. This is done along with mini-marathon airings of regular Caillou episodes.
Also adored by Yumurcak TV in Turkey. Four air slots (with the first one being a double-bill one hour back to back) seven days a week. Also, commercials for Caillou merchandise can run up to 5 minutes long.
As if the half a dozen episodes a day weren't enough, Sprout "celebrated" their airing of the newest season with a four hour marathon, which basically made the entire day nothing but Caillou after its regular hour's worth at noon and the evening showings.
Art Shift: The show switches between Gilbert, Rexy and Teddy in the animated segments and puppets in the other segments.
Art Evolution: Caillou and Rosie in the original books look very little like their animated series counterparts.
The show had an art de-evolution once it changed to Flash.
Award Bait Song: Everyday from the credits of Caillou's Holiday Movie. It was performed by a Canadian-French artist known as Marilou. While it has every single quality of an Award Bait Song, it didn't even get nominated. The film's soundtrack album features an extended version.
Baths Are Fun and Hates Baths: There was one episode with Caillou not liking baths, but then Mommy put some bubbles and bath toys in and made it fun. This was later memorialized in a song for one of the show's music albums.
The Bully: Leo started out as one, but was quickly forced through a Heel-Face Turn by Clementine literally within minutes.
The Big Guy: Andre, literally, due to his large size and the fact that he's three years older than Caillou.
Edited for Syndication: You can either get the show with the shorts strung together with extras and puppets in one long 30-minute episode, or as five-minute (later 10-minute) shorts. In Canadian markets where both are available, the 30-minute episodes are marketed as Caillou and Friends while the five/ten-minute episodes are marketed as just Caillou.
Free Prize at the Bottom: In "No Tradebacks!" in the fifth season, Caillou gets a small toy shovel as a prize in a cereal box, but is upset because it's not the stickers that he wanted— ones like those that Rosie got when it was her turn to get the free prize. He trades it with a friend Jay for a set of the stickers and they agree to "no tradebacks," but then Caillou is upset that he traded it away when he sees that Jay attached it to his dump-truck, this being a feature of the shovel. He cajoles Jay so much that Jay finally agrees to a tradeback anyway, but when Caillou sees how upset Jay gets, he finally honours the original agreement.
Hiccup Hijinks: In "Caillou's Hiccups" from the fifth season, Caillou gets the hiccups. At first, Caillou's parents tell him to be patient and they'll go away on their own, as patience is the theme of the episode in which this story is featured. But when Caillou keeps hiccuping, his parents start up with the various "cures," only for them to go away on their own, just as his parents first suggested. Then Daddy gets them.
Keep Away: Mommy does this for demonstration purposes when teaching Caillou to play ringette.
Kids Prefer Boxes: One episode has Cailou's parents buy him a computer he can play on; he ends up liking the box it came in better.
Match Cut: Happens in one episode, when Callou's family needs their luggage onto a train.
Meaningful Name: Caillou actually means "pebble" in French. Or rather, the word is a Québécois slang term for bald-head.
There's also Andre, who is really big compared to the others.
Merchandise-Driven: Like many Animated Adaptations, it was originally created to sell the books but quickly spun out of control. Yeah, among tons of merchandise, there is even Caillou branded shampoo out there. For those who don't get it, Caillou isbald. But then again, he's been shown on the program getting a shampooing in the bath, despite his baldness. You can even see it here.
Mr. Imagination: Caillou developed into one in the fourth season, though these segments were discontinued in the fifth season. Despite this, these episodes retain the opening sequence that was created for the fourth season, even though it heavily features clips from these segments.
No Antagonist: Well, Leo was an antagonist in the episode that introduced him... for two whole minutes. He's all friendly with Caillou after and for the rest of the series.
The Other Darrin: The Caillou CD-ROMs reused clips from the show but redubbed with new audio. For the puppet segment redubs, however, they were unable to secure Pier Kohl to record new lines for Teddy. A soundalike was used instead, and it's rather noticeable if you get straight to the game right after watching the TV series.
Rail Enthusiast: Calliou comes by it honestly; his father and grandfather love trains.
Santa Claus: In Caillou's Holiday Movie, the "Where Santa Has a Different Name" song provides details on Christmas traditions around the world, including Denmark, Slovakia and Greece.
Screen Tap: In Caillou's Holiday Movie, Caillou throws a snowball at Rosie and it hits the "camera."
Screwed by the Network: Caillou is one of NTV7 Malaysia's victims, and it was only the first 65 shorts. After about 20 episodes were aired, the 40 episodes in the middle were dropped and then once the final five episodes had aired, it was quickly replaced by Rocky and Bullwinkle. NTV7 had not bothered with the subsequent seasons.
Surprise Party: In "Blueberry Point" from the fifth season, one is given to Grandpa for his birthday. They put the finishing touches on the surprise party while Caillou is out with Grandpa on a trip to Blueberry Point.
That Reminds Me of a Song: There was a song segment once in every episode when PBS Kids picked the show up, though these were ditched in the fifth season.