Last June, Hasbro canceled its’ Hub/Discovery Family Littlest Pet Shop animated series after 4 seasons, due to low toy sales. At the time, Hasbro stated that they may be rebooting the franchise some time in the future.
Apparently, the future is now.
In the intervening time since LPS 2012’s cancellation, Hasbro has since acquired Boulder Media, an Irish animation studio formerly owned by Cartoon Network. The new Littlest Pet Shop series is slated to arrive in the form of YouTube shorts which will start airing in fall 2017, with the full-blown series making its’ debut in 2018.
According to sources, the plot will revolve around “a world made by pets for pets where a portal opens up and the pets can go do things”.
Hmm, that sounds kind of familiar…
Character-wise, the series will focus on a sextet of main characters, referred to in the press as The Pet Six.
Yeah, let’s stop that before it starts.
- Roxie McTerrier (Brown Dog)
- Jade Catkin (Black Cat)
- Quincy Goatee (Yellow Goat)
- Trip Hamston (Hamsta) (Red Hamster)
- Bev Gilturtle (Blue Turtle with Purple shell)
- Edie von Keet (Yellow-Green Parakeet)
Names with no pets attached (listed as recurring characters)
- Mister Yut
- Savannah Cheetaby
- Wlsteria Perslla
OK, early impressions. So much to unpack here. Congrats, Hasbro. One of the main things that dogged the 2012 Littlest Pet Shop series was how it was unable to escape the shadow of its’ big sister series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so what do you do with the new series? Make it even more like MLP: Friendship is Magic!
Of course, it may turn out to be something different and unique, but on paper this “world made for pets by pets” thing basically sounds like Equestria with other species.
Also, I can’t be the only one who finds it weird that this is a Littlest Pet Shop series and there’s no actual shop? I mean, it’s in the title, fer cryin’ out loud. Plus, I’m assuming that since these pets go into this portal to have their adventures, their owners are perpetually off-camera. That’s unfortunate, I think; they seem to be doing the very thing I hoped they wouldn’t do: exclude the human element from the show. I think that should’ve been kept, since the presence of humans was one thing that helped distinguish LPS from its’ big sister MLP.
Which brings me to my final observation: I get that this is a reboot and Hasbro wanted to start fresh with a clean slate, and it’s likely I just haven’t completely exorcised the ghosts of series past, but I’m sorry that the producers didn’t bring back any of the previous show’s characters. No Sunil, Zoe, Vinnie, Pepper, Russel, Minka, Sugar Sprinkles or Buttercream is going to take some getting used to, as they were all decent characters.
Now since this new show is being produced by a different studio, it’s possible that they couldn’t use any of the 2012 characters, but my big concern is that this new show idea smacks too much of MLP: FiM. I think Hasbro was a little too quick to turn its’ collective back on the 2012 show. The Blythe Baxter LPS wasn’t perfect, it had problems, but I didn’t think it was beyond repair. That concept just needed to be tweaked a little, not completely overhauled.
Here’s what I/we would’ve done (Jason already covered some of this in his LPS Final Season Retrospective, so I’ll to keep it brief):
- I would’ve done away with the 22-minute episode format. This show didn’t need to do single 20-minute stories just because MLP did it that way, plus many of the LPS plots seemed padded out anyway. I would have gone with 2 or 3 shorts per show.
- Kept the show in “our world”, albeit an exaggerated cartoon version thereof. The ‘real world’ setting was another that helped distinguish LPS from MLP.
- Kept the shop, kept Blythe and some of the human characters, only I would’ve broken the communication barrier and have the show go full-on Looney Tunes or Bloom County and have the animals be able to directly communicate with the humans and vice-versa. Yeah, that would render the whole “Blythe is special because she can talk to animals” premise null and void, but to be honest I was never a huge fan of that shtick in the first place.
- Give Blythe (or a new main human character who distinctly resembled her) 2 parents from the get-go, both of whom would still be alive and happily married. I personally hate the Dead/Missing Mother trope with the fury of 1000 suns.
- GET RID OF THOSE #@$%^&*! BISKIT TWINS. I’m not gonna mince words here, they were hands-down one of the things I hated most about the 2012 show. While I’m usually a fan of twin characters and rich characters, I found those 2 unbearable and their characters made no flipping sense. They had no reason whatsoever to antagonize Blythe other than they were the designated bad guys of the show and so they had to bad guy stuff, and since they not only outnumbered Blythe but were also far better off materially than her, they always just came off like bullies picking on her, and I hated how the writers always had Blythe simper and try to make nice with and sometimes even try to kowtow and suck up to those little creepos only for them to routinely piss on her head. I would’ve done one of 2 things with the Biskits: either change them to latter-day Bulk & Skull-esque characters, good-natured goofs as opposed to flat-out baddies, or merge the Biskits and the Baxters into one family unit, say have a benevolent rich family who owns the shop and the daughter of this family is a Blythe type character, or a pair of twin Blythe types, either 2 sisters or 1 sister and 1 brother (why not? I’m sure some boys buy LPS toys too–you do, some of you guys. Admit it).
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this new show will be good. I have my reservations, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong. This series could rock, though I’m not thoroughly convinced yet.