TV channels fight for ‘brilliant’ new cartoon ‘Grizzy & the Lemmings’

CANNES: Some of the world’s top television channels were battling Monday to acquire a “brilliant” new cartoon series “Grizzy & the Lemmings“, which has already been proclaimed a classic that will “renew the whole slapstick genre.” The show about a lazy brown bear and a band of lemmings who battle for the goodies inside a forest ranger’s lodge in the Canadian Rockies got a rapturous reception at its premiere at the MIPJUNIOR market in the French Riviera resort of Cannes. The US Cartoon Network giant Turner has already snapped it up for its Boomerang channel. Most of the series’ rapid-fire gags turn on the titanic struggles between the grizzly and a horde of kamikaze lemmings for the ranger’s pot of Nutella, games console and smartphone. The slapstick jokes and spectacular pratfalls from the clifftop lodge into the ravine below has led to it being compared to a very smart mix of “The Road Runner“, “Raving Rabbids” and “Mr. Bean.” “What can you say, it is just fantastic. They really nailed it,” Janine Weigold, who bought the show for Germany’s Super RTL channel, told AFP. “It’s brilliant. Once you start you can’t stop watching them… We are glad that German kids are going to be able to enjoy it on free TV.” And its non-verbal humour – with the bear and lemmings bombing each other in one episode with goods dropped from delivery drones ordered on the smartphone – had industry insiders predicting it would be “mega everywhere.” “It is a new classic that will gather families together again in front of the television,” said Tiphaine de Raguenel of France Televisions, which backed the French-based Hari studio to make the first 78 action-packed, seven-minute episodes. “It renews the whole slapstick genre,” she added, speaking at MIPJUNIOR, an annual gathering for the world entertainment industry. The two men behind the cartoon, Josselin Charier and Antoine Rodelet, said they had been scratching their heads for years to come up with a duo to match “Tom and Jerry“, “Road Runner” and the Looney Tunes greats. They finally hit upon Grizzy and the lemmings after watching a 1958 Walt Disney documentary “White Wilderness“, in which lemmings were shot jumping off a cliff. “We watched them jumping one after the other and thought, ‘Wow, what totally stupid animals. How cool!’ “We learned afterwards it was actually the producers who were pushing them off. Yeah, damn producers,” he joked. Rodelet said the show was character driven with the jokes spinning off the weaknesses of the bear and the lemmings, who “have only one collective brain between them.” “We tried to create really dense episodes for today’s short attention spans with the rhythm mounting to a climax. In ‘The Road Runner’ it was often just a string of gags,” he told AFP. He said he and Charier – who began working together in their garage a decade ago – had spent three years on the show, with 100 people between Paris and at Hari’s studio in the French animation capital of Angouleme pitching in. Hari’s head of sales Adeline Tormo said there was a real clamour for the show. “People want to see more and more episodes. Channels are fighting to have it.” –AFP

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