Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Is the Hundred Acre Woods due for an extreme makeover when the Disney Channel's new CG series, "My Friends Tigger & Pooh," debuts in 2007?

Is the Hundred Acre Woods due for an extreme makeover when the Disney Channel's new CG series, "My Friends Tigger & Pooh," debuts in 2007?

Rate This
  • Comments 46

Disneyana fans didn't really squawk earlier this year when Mickey Mouse got the CG treatment. 


Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

If anything, the Disney faithful was quick to embrace "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse." Which successfully rebranded this 78-year-old corporate symbol as a preschooler's new best friend.

But when it comes to "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" ...


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises

... certain Disney Channel execs that I've spoken with are already pretty nervous. Why For? Because this new Playhouse Disney series takes some rather large liberties with the whimsical world that author A.A. Milne set up back in 1925.

"What sort of liberties?," you ask. Well, let's start with Pooh's new best friend, Darby. Who's a curious & active 6-year-old girl.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises

That's right. You can forget about any gentle games of Pooh Sticks with Christopher Robin in this CG redo. In this new television series, Darby likes to run & jump with her new friend Tigger ...


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises

... as well as solve mysteries around the 100 Acre Woods with the help of the "Super Sleuths" (I.E. Winnie the Pooh & Tigger in super hero costumes).


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises

Now a cynic might suggest that the Walt Disney Company is only producing this new Winnie the Pooh series because it's looking for ways to spur the growth of this highly profitable franchise. And by pairing this silly old bear with a 6-year-old girl this time around ... Well, that's just another way that Disney Consumer Products can expand Winnie's turf. Make Pooh seem more appealing to little girls .

And make no mistake, folks. There's already plenty of "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" product moving through Disney's development pipeline.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Though this new Playhouse Disney series won't even begin airing 'til the Spring of 2007, DCP is already hard at work on all sorts of "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" product lines. Which should hit store shelves sometime in late 2007 / early 2008.


Photos by Jeff Lange

Clearly some company officials have high hopes for this new Walt Disney Television Animation show. Which is why they agreed to pump tens of million of dollars into the production of this CG series.

But other Disney Channel vets that I've spoken with aren't quite as certain about this series' success. They worry that -- by replacing Christopher Robin with Darby and by changing Pooh & Tigger from gentle, timeless characters to active creatures of today -- that Disney may be moving too far away from the already established & highly successful Winnie the Pooh formula. That Pooh purists may rebel once they get to see this new Playhouse Disney program next spring.

But as one unnamed Disney Company official told me last week:

"Look, we've already got the old Winnie the Pooh fans. The people who originally fell in love with this character through our movies or the A.A. Milne books. What we're after now are new Winnie the Pooh fans. The kids. And when it comes to marketing cartoon characters to kids these days, the competition can be fierce.

Let's face it. Compared to Spongebob Squarepants, Pooh seems very plain. Which is why we're using every weapon in our arsenal -- the computer animation, adding a cute little girl and her dog to the cast -- to make this 80-year-old character seem more entertaining & relevant to today's audiences.

Don't worry, Jim. We're not going to pull a Poochie. We're still going to be faithful to the Winnie the Pooh characters. We're just trying to freshen things up a bit."

I'll say this much. Based on what I got to see of this new Playhouse Disney program at the 2006 Licensing Show, the folks at WDTA have done a pretty nice job of translating these traditionally 2D characters into 3D CG. But will Pooh purists really embrace a show where Christopher Robin has been replaced by a six-year-old girl?


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises

You tell me, folks. Is this just too extreme a makeover of the Hundred Acre Woods?

Your thoughts?

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse rocks because They Might Be Giants did some of the music.  How did Disney Sound ever get them?  Devo is pretty lame, but They Might Be Giants are so super awesome :)

    I've always felt that Pooh is a pretty flexible character.  He's fairly modern and kids can relate to him as a stuffed animal in pretty much any situation.  Who born after the 1960's didn't have a stuffed Pooh at some point in their childhood and wish that he could have spent time with them?  I certainly was in the club of kids who thought Pooh was pretty cool.

    The little girl is cute, btw.  It will certainly be weird not having good old Christopher Robin around, but this is one of the less hair-brained schemes to come out regarding character re-do's in a long time.  I won't pass judgment until I see it firsthand, but first glimpses say it will keep up the "Pooh is cute and fun" parade :)
  • more Pooh merchandise?      *oh bother*
  • I've used my Disney Decoder Ring to uncover the real meaning.  In the following quote, replace the words FANS and AUDIENCE with the word CONSUMERS.


    "Look, we've already got the old Winnie the Pooh fans. The people who originally fell in love with this character through our movies or the A.A. Milne books. What we're after now are new Winnie the Pooh fans. The kids. And when it comes to marketing cartoon characters to kids these days, the competition can be fierce.

    Let's face it. Compared to Spongebob Squarepants, Pooh seems very plain. Which is why we're using every weapon in our arsenal -- the computer animation, adding a cute little girl and her dog to the cast -- to make this 80-year-old character seem more entertaining & relevant to today's audiences."
  • Everything's settled with the royalty lawsuits, I take it...

    Disney princesses, Disney fairies, Disney bunnies, Disney dragons, My Firends Tigger and Pooh... remember the old days when Disney tried to come up with new characters instead of finding ways to strip-mine their classics for more profits? <sigh>
  • ^^^^  What I mean is, it seems very obvious that the attempt to tell a meaningful story played a very small part, if any at all, in these decisions to re-do the world of pooh.
  • <heavy sarcasm> Along those same lines, maybe the Walt Disney Co can develop a computer generated hip-hop Walt that spits out the opening spiel for Disneyland in time to a beat track laid down by the Beastie Boys.  "You know wa-hum saying, that the D-land be your land.  Love.  Out.  Y'all."  Because, like the man said, there are already old Walt Disney fans out there.  What this company needs is some new Walt Disney fans.  And Urban Inner-City Walt is totally the way to go.  </heavy sarcasm>
  • I have some concerns about the new concept.  Children have always enjoyed Pooh because he is timeless and gentle -- and just an all around silly ol' bear.  Why mess with that? Is "freshen things up a bit" the new code phrase for "let's make it edgy"?  (We all know how well that worked.)  Also, based on what is shown/described, I don't see any other characters besides Tigger & Pooh.  What of Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, etc?  Perhaps they're not marketable enough to warrent any products.

    And why the comparison to Spongebob?  Spongebob is clearly not aimed at preschool aged children.  

    I'm also afraid that replacing Christopher Robin with a little girl could inadvertantly skew Pooh as another "girl's" product line.  If there's one thing Disney Merchandising folks know how to do, its how to market to little girls.  Conversely they're quite poor at marketing to boys (unless of course its a Pixar character).  
    Christopher Robin has always made it acceptible for boys to enjoy Pooh & friends -- just like Steve/Joe did for Blue's Clues.  Darby's presence, along with Disneys marketing tendancies, is a bit disconcerting.  After all, how many little boys do you see running around with Dora toys?  
  • I'm not hung up on the Disney Marketing thing when it comes to this Pooh incarnation--
    There's always been a Pooh series for preschool on Disney Channel (leaving aside the Saturday morning version, which has to stay "canon")--For preschool cable educational-interactive, the we-can-do-anything-with-CGI is at least a little more watchable than that muppet "Book of Pooh" we got earlier...And I'm not even bringing up the "Disney suit" version from the early Channel days.
    And it's not THE Pooh, anyway, if all we have is two characters--Just a spinoff.

    And if you're bothered by "Darby" and bike helmets, just think of it like the end of "Peter Pan":
    Christopher Robin's grown up and not around anymore (besides, he was supposed to have been written out after "Pooh's Grand Adventure"), so who are the 100 Acre folks going to play with now?
  • I wonder if what DerekJ said, that Christopher Robin is all grown up now, is what the creators of this show had in mind.  I wonder.  This would be a time to read the press release, to see what they say.  I've read an article on this show before (could have been at JHM?), and I'll miss Christopher Robin.  The fact that there's a cute dog redeems itself a bit in my mind.  The girl's cute and all, but when about when kids watch the old Pooh shorts or the TV shows (I absolutely *loved* the "Disney suit" version, by the way, called "Welcome to Pooh Corner" I believe), they'll wonder where this new girl is, and who that boy is.  I don't like the idea of changing the characters' personalities.  They are who they are.  Remember when the Looney Tunes got makeovers into superheroes?  It just didn't work.  I like "Mickey Mouse Playhouse" (I have no kids, but I've seen it a couple times), but making Pooh and Tigger into extreme-sport loving athletes (I may have made that up...) is just going to far.  Bring me the chubby little cubby who's kind and gentle any day.  As far as the marketing goes, I think the boys will still be getting Poohs and Tiggers, just not the girl.  I think it could only do minimum harm.  I also wonder if Rabbit and Eeyore and Piglet and Owl and Kanga and Roo, etc., will be in the show.  Maybe they'll make cameo appearances?
  • If Disney really got to the point where they need to meet their standards with Spongebob, then the future is bleak indeed.
    My kid loves the Clubhouse, too bad it's repeating the same 5 or so episodes down here endlessly.
    As for this new Pooh pooh, hey, if it bombs, then maybe we'll see new stuff being sold all around WITHOUT Pooh in it.
  • I have a feeling that the kids it's aimed at will love it. Those of us who like things left alone might not. The 3D looks really good, but I will always love the charm of the originals. But the newer Pooh stuff, while nice and entertaining is not the same either.  I would rather see more new stuff as long as the stories are still charming than nothing. The only concern I have over any of these UPDATES is that if they succeed then Disney suits will decide to close the books on the origanls stuff and only do the new version. It could happen.  Look what happened to tradition hand drawn animation. And if the new FROG PRINCESS (?) hand drawn feature doesn't rake it in the executives will once again say bye bye to it.
  • The important thing here is that this isn't a show thats going to be aimed at the Purist,its an exciting new way to introduce a new generation to the world of Pooh.Is it me or does the CGI animation look a lot better on this show then it does on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
  • I think it's a smart move by Disney to put a little girl into the series because it seems to me more girls are drawn to Pooh Bear than boys these days.

    I personally however don't like Pooh Bear and friends very much anymore.  I think there has been too much merchandise and the company has been focusing on them way too much over the past few years.  If we get another Theatrical or direct to video Pooh Movie (which is almost guaranteed) I'll puke.  Most of this probably stems from the fact that I loved the Country Bear Jamboree, and Mr. Toad's Wild Wide and Pooh Bear moved into these two attractions at two different parks over the last few years.  Sorry, but for me there has been just way too much Pooh Bear.
  • What I want to know is...did Cars do as well as the industry projected it would?
  • More over simplified CG models, and probably crappy animation, like MMCH.

    Eeech.  Kids'll love it, but I'll cringe.
Page 1 of 4 (46 items) 1234