Jim Henson Company Makes a Splash with Splash and Bubbles

Richard Goldsmith, the executive VP of global distribution at The Jim Henson Company, talks to TV Kids about the upcoming animated series Splash and Bubbles, which has been confirmed as this year’s MIPJunior World Premiere TV Screening.

A well-traveled fusilier fish named Splash explores undersea habitats with his Mandarin dragonet best friend, Bubbles, in Splash and Bubbles, a new animated show that The Jim Henson Company will be introducing to the global market at MIPCOM. Using a combination of humor and Motown-themed music, the series aims to expose 4- to 7-year-old viewers to marine life and the need to take care of the ocean, while also emphasizing the importance of diversity in the world. The Jim ***Image***Henson Company and Herschend Enterprises produce the 80×11-minute program, which is due to debut on PBS Kids in the U.S. on Wednesday, November 23.

“The project was originally developed by John Tartaglia, a well-known talent, as a touring show about the ocean,” says Richard Goldsmith, the executive VP of global distribution at The Jim Henson Company. “There were several years of development that went into the series. We did not want to rush into production until it was perfect.”

Splash and Bubbles is produced using the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, a proprietary technology from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop that allows puppeteers to perform digitally animated characters in real time, which makes the animation appear to be more lifelike and spontaneous.

“When we started showing clients and partners, including Reed MIDEM, they were amazed by the quality,” says Goldsmith. “Reed MIDEM was impressed by the production value, but what really engaged them is the story behind the production—the fact that we had a team of oceanographers advising us, a world-class team of puppeteers and writers, plus the fact that we want to get all kids excited about the ocean.”

Reed MIDEM has chosen Splash and Bubbles as this year’s MIPJunior World Premiere TV Screening. “It’s an honor and makes a statement about the series,” says Goldsmith.

***Image***The Jim Henson Company is overseeing all distribution and merchandising for Splash and Bubbles, while Herschend Enterprises is handling all location-based entertainment rights, including live shows in theme parks and aquariums.

Splash and Bubbles is one of multiple new series that The Jim Henson Company plans to present at MIPCOM. Another priority is Dot., a technology-themed animated series produced by the Industrial Brothers. According to Goldsmith, the book-based show for kids aged 4 to 7 focuses on “a really urgent matter that all parents are concerned about, which is how to balance a child’s tech life with the real world.” The company will also be showcasing the Netflix original Word Party. The animated series, which is also produced using the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, teaches vocabulary to preschoolers.

“Accomplishing the right balance between [education and entertainment] in a kids’ show is really difficult,” says Goldsmith. “It’s a huge challenge that generally only works with companies that have years of experience seamlessly integrating the story with the curriculum…. We have spent 60 years producing [this type of] content for young children. It needs to empower and enrich their lives and it’s what we’re known for.”