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The Pajanimals is a preschool children's series made by Jim Henson Television Productions and featuring Muppet characters. Made for and aired in The Goodnight Show block on PBS Kids Sprout in the United States, the series was originated as a set of approximately two minute shorts featuring songs focused on issues related to bedtime, such as being afraid of the dark, having a scary dream, or waking up at night. Based on the success of the original shorts, a full-length series was created and began airing in 2011. The new series features the same characters and basic style, but adds guest characters and an expanded focus. While beditme issues are still tackled, the series also addresses concerns of a more general nature to youngsters, such as fear of speaking in front of a class and concern about taking an extended trip away from home. The show was made in part with the help of Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldburger, creators of a commercial product called The Sleepeasy Solution, and the two serve as content consultants for the show and appear in parental guidance spots created for the program. The original shorts, along with the parental guidance spots, are available on DVD, but have not been shown on television since the full-length series began airing.
The Pajanimals contains examples of the following tropes:
- Cloudcuckoolander: Squacky, at times. He keeps a collection of dustballs and decides to give Apollo a rock for a birthday present because he thinks that "Apollo rocks!"
- Furry Confusion: Apollo is an anthropomorphic dog, but in the episode "Puppy Love," The Pajanimals take care of a puppy named Fluffy. Additionally, Squacky has been known to quack when overly excited and Apollo is heard barking at the end of one of the shorts.
- The Leader - Sweetpea Sue, who encourages the other characters to "stick to the plan" and not mess around when it comes to getting ready for bed.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: There's a character called Mr. Happy Birthday who can never get the collective name of the Pajanimals correct, referring to them variously by such names as "The Pajunipers" and "The Pajolopies."
- Sleepyhead: Bedtime Bunny from the Land of Hush, not inappropriately. She always nods off in the middle of her conversations with the Pajanimals and has to be shaken awake.
- Strictly Formula: The original shorts were each presented as the Pajanimals singing a song about something related to bedtime. Each episode of the full version series follows this pattern- the characters are shown in their playroom just before bedtime. Their parents tell them its time to get ready for bed and they do so. After this, they are shown in bed, but one or more of them has a problem that is keeping them from getting to sleep. They all hop into one of the characters' beds together and "Bundle up, snuggle up, buckle up and go!" and the bed takes them to some sort of Magical Land, such as the Land of Hush, or The Land of Games. There, they talk with the episode's selected guest character, who gives them advice to help them solve their problem. They return home and the mother sings the "La La Lullaby" song, then the episode ends with the guest character briefly reappearing and Breaking the Fourth Wall to recap the episode's Aesop.
- Team Spirit: In the full version series, there's a walrus character named Coach Whistler who is big on this.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: The series began as a series of songs of approximately two minutes in length. The full-length series keeps to these origins by featuring at least one song in every episode.
- Theme Tune Roll Call: Though, curiously, the character traits described change from the original shorts to the full version series. In the original, "Squacky's picked a book to share with all of you," but in the full version series "Cowbella shares a story with all of you."
- Title Theme Drop: An instrumental version of the show's main title theme is played as the Pajanimals settle down to bed in each episode of the full-length series.
- Title Theme Tune
- The Voice: The mother and father are only ever heard talking off-screen. It's also implied in a couple of episodes that it's the mother who sings the "La La Lullaby" song at the end of the full-version series.
- Weird Moon: One of the guest characters that the Pajanimals can visit is the Moon, and he always seems to be full. He has his own song-- "I'm Your Light in the Night Sky."
- ↑ From left-to-right, Cowbella, Apollo, Squacky and Sweetpea Sue