Team behind hit show Peg + Cat co-produces new hair-hijinks series.
- Ingrid Simone, Toca Magazine Executive Editor
[Note: Toca Boca has discontinued the Toca TV platform as of March 31, 2017.]
Take two clownish hair stylists, one talented yet underappreciated dog, and an array of clients with seemingly simple requests that quickly spiral out of control. Add quirky music — and definitely don’t add any speech. What you get is Toca TV‘s new Hairy Stories, a short-form animated show inspired by the Toca Hair Salon app series and co-produced with the Emmy Award-winning team behind the hit PBS KIDS series Peg + Cat.
We asked some of the Hairy Stories team about the story behind the stories.
- Cassandra Berger, Animation Director, Toca TV
- Jennifer Oxley, Executive Producer, 9ate7 Productions
- Billy Aronson, Executive Producer, 9ate7 Productions
Toca Magazine: Hairy Stories is an original series from Toca TV, inspired by the Toca Hair Salon series. What will viewers see?
Cassandra: We kept the POV of the Toca Hair Salon apps, where the viewer is still the mirror, creating a familiar reference point for the kids who love the apps. Because we were making a show instead of a game, we had to shift from empowering kids literally to empowering kids narratively. We decided to do that by turning the hair stylists into clowns who could make crazy and ridiculous choices and a shop dog who can make the “right” choices.
Toca Magazine: Hairy Stories follows a styling duo, Leander and Rory, who aren’t all that great at their jobs, much to the amusement of the viewer. What was the inspiration behind the styling duo and their personalities?
Cassandra: As we started writing the episodes we realized that instead of the stylists being very different from each other, they are actually very similar, as if they share the same brain. One of the lines we first wrote when developing this show idea was “two Mr. Beans give a haircut.” Mr. Bean is a great non-verbal character who is constantly making strange and funny choices that result in even more ridiculous consequences.
Toca Magazine: Hairy Stories doesn’t use spoken language for dialogue. What’s the thinking behind that decision?
Cassandra: Nonverbal animation is a great format for international audiences. Because there is no real language, this show could almost take place anywhere and in any time. Shaun the Sheep is an example of nonverbal animation that we really admire. You need to read a few words of English to get the full story, but you can watch it muted and still understand what’s happening. The challenge of not being able to rely on dialogue is that the visuals have to be super clear, and also very funny! Thankfully we worked with very talented storyboard artists and animators to get the story across.
Toca Magazine: Hairy Stories was co-produced with 9ate7, the Emmy Award-winning production team behind Peg + Cat. How did this collaboration come about?
Jennifer: A: I’m a huge fan of the Toca Nature app. When I found out that my former Little Airplane co-worker Cassandra Berger was at Toca Boca, I reached out to see what 9ate7 and Toca TV could do together.
Cassandra: When we were in early development of the show I knew I wanted to work with Jen and 9ate7 on this project. Jen is a great director, and her studio taps into some of the best character animators in New York. This show relies so much on music and animation that we had to work with the best!
Toca Magazine: Hairy Stories series is new and unique, but are there any 9ate7 signatures that kids who love Peg + Cat will find familiar?
Jennifer: The quirky, cool music that drives the action. Folks at 9ate7 love music. We compose it early in the process, so animators can animate to specific musical phrasing for maximum dramatic and comedic effect.
Toca Magazine: What will Peg + Cat fans see that feels uniquely Toca Boca?
Billy: The sense of humor. 9ate7 has a quirky sense of humor too. But there’s something about Hairy Stories that’s just so bizarre. So offbeat. So Toca Boca.