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Johnny and the Sprites (2007-2008) features the adventures of an ordinary guy (John Tartaglia of Avenue Q fame) who moved to a house in the woods to work on his music on his own. Much to his surprise, he discovered that these woods were inhabited by Sprites, friendly fairy-like creatures who possess magic, but are largely unfamiliar with the ways of the human world. Normally shy creatures, two of them, a boy named Basil and a girl named Ginger, take a shining to Johnny and they become fast friends, with Johnny teaching them many new things and sharing his music in the process.
The series began as a set of five animated shorts aired every so often Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney block. These segments proved so popular that the program was greenlit for a full series. The new series brought a greatly expanded set portraying the Sprites' home of Grotto's Grove, as well as new characters. Three new Sprites were added, Water Sprite Lily, Earth Sprite Root and a wise old Sprite named Sage, puppeteered and voiced by Tartaglia. Additionally, a character named Gwen, portrayed by Natalie Venetia Belcon, was brought on as a friend for Johnny who paid semi-regular visits. The second season of the full series saw a further expansion to the set, as well as a seminal change to the program when Gwen was allowed to finally meet the Sprites for the first time and both she and Johnny gained the ability to visit Grotto's Grove. The presumed final episode of the series was aired on April 19, 2008 and the program disappeared from U.S. airwaves, though both a music album and DVD were released. Repeats of the program began airing on the 24/7 Disney Junior network in 2012. Tartaglia has since moved on to other projects, such as the musicals of Beauty and The Beast and Shrek.
This series contains examples of:
- All Just a Dream: In "Turbo Car Johnny," Johnny has a dream in which he spends so much time playing video games that by the time he stops, he's an old man with a ridiculously large beard.
- Amusing Injuries: In the "Everything Must Go" song in "The Sprites Save Grotto's Grove," Johnny takes a number of these as Yolanda Ivanna pushes him around, singing about how everything must go so that she can build her luxury hotel.
- Avenue Q: In addition to John Tartaglia, a number of the original cast from the play turned up as guest stars on the program. Ann Harada turned up as a real estate developer who wanted to raze Grotto's Grove to make way for a luxury hotel. Jennifer Barnhart was also a regular puppeteer on the program.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Usually only at the very end of a story, when Johnny will talk to the viewer to reiterate the story's Aesop
- Cranky Neighbor: Miss Moldystew, portrayed by Tartaglia in drag and seen only in the original short segments. Following the song, she would pop up above her fence to complain that Johnny and the Sprites needed to keep it down, issuing such complaints as "My hot dogs are practically jumping out of their buns!"
- Expository Theme Tune and Title Theme Tune: "I was just Johnny till I walked out that door, but I'm not just Johnny anymore! I'm Johnny... and the Sprites!"
- The Moving Experience: "Aloha, Johnny" in which some overheard information leads the sprites to believe that Johnny is moving to Hawaii, when he's actually only going on vacation there to visit his older sister for a week.
- New Media Are Evil: "Turbo Car Johnny," in which the Sprites can't understand why Johnny is so obsessed with a video game and Johnny eventually decides to go out for some fresh air.
- Not in My Back Yard: In "The Sprites Save Grotto's Grove," a super-annoying real-estate developer shows up with exciting plans to build a hotel. It sounds great at first, until Johnny and the Sprites realize that it would require the complete destruction of Grotto's Grove, not to mention most of Johnny's backyard.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Gwen, who in the first season of the full-vesion series, is seen in a varitety of different jobs because she believes in her aunt's saying that "You never know what you can do until you try out something new."