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Series / The Pajanimals

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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. 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 formerly also aired on weekends on NBC stations as part of their NBC Kids block. Its second season began airing in October 2012 and ended in March 2013.

It is currently airing on Nick Jr. in the UK, but with British English child actors' voices dubbing over the American English voices.

The Pajanimals contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: There's a hedgehog 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."
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Come on. Dogs in real life aren't green, ducks aren't blue, horses aren't orange and pink, and cows don't have purple spots.
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: Between Apollo and Sweetpea Sue in "I Can Do It Better"
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  • 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.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Mr. Happy Birthday and Ella the Octopus vanish after season one (With Granny Pearl taking Ella's place).
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Squacky. He keeps a collection of dustballs and decides to give Apollo a rock for a birthday present because he thinks that "Apollo rocks!"
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  • Cool Old Lady: Granny Pearl.
  • Cuddle Bug: Jerry the bear of the Friendly Forest. "Bear hug!" And Ellie Octopus as well, with her "octopus huggles."
  • Duck!: In "Mountains of Messiness," the beaver Hank welcomes the Pajanimals to the Land of Build It by saying "Welcome to the Land of... Duck!" which excites Squacky because, of course, he is a duck. However, he means for them to duck, as there's a big log that's being used to construct a lodge swinging their way, courtesy of the beaver Frank. Fortunately, they duck in time.
  • 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 or when sad/frustrated and Apollo is heard barking at the end of one of the shorts. There is also Otis the 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.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Cowbella would sometimes invoke this in the original shorts, even saying "good night" to mom in Italian.
  • 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.
  • Happy Place: Sometimes, when one of the Pajanimals needs cheering up, they'll all sing a song called "Happy Thoughts."
    Apollo: Mom and Dads' hugs.
    Apollo and Squacky: Happy thoughts.
    Cowbella and Sweetpea Sue: Happy thoughts.
  • In Case You Forgot The Founder And Namesake Of The Company Who Produces The Series: Whew. That's a mouthful. But seriously, guess.
  • It's All About Me: Cowbella sometimes suffers from this, which can also result in Green-Eyed Monster, such as in "Apollo's Special Day" when she's jealous of Apollo's birthday and wants a party for her.
  • Keet: Squacky.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: The Pajanimals don't appear to have teeth except when they brush them.
  • 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
    Squacky: It's an oc-a-pus, that's what it is!
    Apollo and Cowbella: An oc-a-pus?
    Apollo: Oh! It's an oct-o-pus, Squacky!
    Squacky: Yeah, that's what I said. An oc-a-pus.
  • The Musical: Pajanimals Live: Pajama Playdate was to be this, with a 50 city tour in 2013, but it was canceled for unexplained reasons.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: There's a magician named Edwin who is always doing a different job in each episode he's seen in.
  • 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.
  • Same Language Dub: A British English dub of the series is aired on Nick Jr. in the UK and Ireland. Curiously, this is also the version you get if you watch the series via the Henson Family TV app in the United States. However, somebody forgot to replace the closed-caption feed, so when the characters use British terms (or other subtle changes in dialogue that can likely be attributed to the voice actors not matching exactly to the original script), the closed-captioning still reads as if it were the U.S. version, i.e. Squacky saying "diaper" instead of "nappy."
  • 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.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Squacky does this sometimes.
    Squacky: (dreaming of a movie he's excited about seeing) More popcorn.
  • 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: A frequent plot.
  • 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
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The Pajanimals can get to whatever magical lands they want or wherever, such as clouds that are close enough for them to talk to the moon, in just as long as it takes to "bundle up, huggle up, snuggle up and go!"
  • Two Shorts: Used in a somewhat odd way. Even when the show is presented in a half-hour block, the ending theme with "La La Lullaby" is still presented at the end of the first short, then the opening credits are used leading into the second short.
  • 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."
  • What Are Records?: This is Apollo's reaction in "A Present for Mom" when Mr. Happy Birthday offers him a jazz record as a present for the Pajanimals mom's birthday.

Example of: