Thursday, March 22, 2007

Trivia - Home Turf

There's a lot of speculation about why Pablo, Uniqua and Tyrone are seen in every Backyardigans episode and used so much in the marketing, but Austin and Tasha tend to be left out, much to the dismay of their fans. In working on this picture, showing where each Backyardigan lives, I noticed something interesting that might explain that (at least from the perspective inside the Backyardigans world - I'll leave out speculation about marketing decisions for now.)

Looking closely at the Backyardigans' houses, you can see that there are fences around Tasha's backyard and Austin's backyard. Pablo, Uniqua and Tyrone, however, live next to each other, with no fences separating the backyards. This area then becomes a sort of mega-backyard, an effect heightened by the unusual depth of the yard. In fact we can see the back fence is almost at the back door of the barely seen house behind the play area.

Austin, as we saw in the "Castaways" episode, goes into the main play area from his backyard through a gate in the fence. Tasha doesn't appear to have a direct route from her backyard to the main play area. Instead, she's more than once been shown to enter the play area from the front yard ("Key to the Nile", "Viking Voyage").

Could this be one of the reasons why we have seen so many episodes with Pablo, Uniqua and Tyrone, and fewer with Tasha and Austin? After all, if you can just walk into your backyard and start playing with the kid next door, you're going to be playing together a lot, if only because he's there every time you go outside. If you have to go around a high fence to get to the house of the kid next door, though, you're going to have days when you just play in your own backyard and never see them.

Interestingly, all the kids seem to feel equally comfortable playing in the common backyard, even though the play area technically belongs to Pablo, Uniqua and Tyrone. In "Cave Party", for instance, we see Austin and Tasha enter the play area with a clear lack of intent to play with the other three kids. Their decision to invite the other three to a party is an afterthought. In "High Tea", Tasha is sitting quite contentedly on Uniqua's picnic table, ignoring the other three, showing every sign of feeling as at-home as if she was in her own backyard.

It seems as if the common backyard shared by Uniqua, Pablo and Tyrone functions more as a sort of park for the five children than as a conventional private backyard. Tyrone, Pablo and Uniqua are seen there more than Austin and Tasha only because it is the only backyard easily available to them. Tasha's backyard and Austin's backyard are, because of the fences, typical backyards, where the children probably only play when invited by Tasha and Austin. It is worth noting, too, that while we see evidence of the kids playing in Austin's backyard occasionally, to which there is access through the gate ("Cave Party"), we never have seen any indication that they have been playing in Tasha's backyard, to which there is no such easy access.

So, is there any great conspiracy involved in leaving Tasha and Austin out of so many episodes? Not at all. It is simply that those two Backyardigans have two backyards available to them, while the other three only have the one common play area.

(And does this topic really deserve this much attention? Of course not! But it's fun, isn't it?)

22 comments:

  1. FYI- Tasha lives in the yellow house across the street.
    (I asked someone who works on the production)

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    1. I agree, also, because when they have snack at Tasha's house, they all leave directly behind Pablo's house, rather than to the left of Pablo's house, where the orange house is located.

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  2. Granted, we only have indirect evidence that the orange house is Tasha's, but that evidence is pretty strong, the strongest element in it being that the house colors match the characters, and the house I've identified as Tasha's matches her colors. Having her across the street in the yellow house breaks that pattern and doesn't make sense.

    I would suggest that your source was mistaken, or pulling your leg.

    I'd love to hear opinions on this! What do the rest of you think - is that Tasha's house or not?

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  3. I don't think there's much doubt that's Tasha's house.

    I think Tasha doesn't appear in all of the episodes 'cos she's a bossy-boots. In "Soccer Monster," e.g., there wasn't a requirement for another leader-type character.

    Austin I s'pose is just the odd man out in some of them. He's supposed to be a new kid in the 'hood and shy. His character's less defined than the others too--maybe that has something to do with it.

    I haven't exactly researched it, but it seems to me that the after-adventure snack is hardly ever at Austin's house.

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  4. In the first 20 episodes they never had the snack at Austin's house, and only one time at Tasha's house. I haven't had the time yet to sit down and start tallying everything up so far for this season, so I don't know if he's had more of a chance to share, yet!

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  5. would a 4 year old really be allowed to cross the street by themselves?

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  6. I just discovered your blog and LOVE that someone else is mesmerized by this show. I can't not dance around when it is on and can't get those songs out of my head for weeks! I need to see lyrics for this season! Evan Lurie rules! ~Wendy

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  7. Wow! I was thinking I am the only grown up who loves this show! Here in Oz we have not yet got season 2 so as you can only view the snow fort so many times.... but I always sit with my boy when this show is on - whereas I am REALLY busy doing the housework when the wiggles or the doodlebops is on - I mean if you like good music this is the ONLY kids show that doesn't act like everyone under 10 is incapable of enjoying anything but pop!

    I definitely think Tasha lives in the orange house - no way is there any other answer!

    As for the Tasha/Austin debate - I think they are not in it so often because they have more extreme personalities, that cannot neccasarily be moulded to suit the fantasy - I mean if Tasha were a supervillain they would have been much more dastardly, and can you imagine her blithely agreeing to show someone else her rad moves on the surfboard for their approval?? No way, and if Austin were more featured his shyness would be less believable - and kids pick up on that. I hope it is just that the show is designed to appeal to as wide a group as possible, so there is not always space for the extreme, but the cynic in me suspects that the networks who buy such programs, and want to sell advertising and merchandise, would not tolerate too much of a completely pacifist, non-alpha male who retires into the background and values kindness and selfless generosity above competition and winning and a very alpha female who is not above anything to get her way, besides quite obviously not conforming to the you can never be too thin credo.

    I find The Backyardigans to be quite a subversive little show all in all, and am glad it continues to be made, as it has been my experience that such shows generally get killed off by the networks before they can get into their stride.

    As you can tell I do think the topic deserves attention (serious mum moment) - but I watch the show because it is such fun!!!

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  8. So glad to have found this! I think Tasha lives in the orange house as well. But I'm bummed there isn't a better explanation as to why the two are left out of so many episodes. I guess it's the personality thing, but honestly, I just want them to be in EVERY show!

    It makes me feel like Austin and Tasha aren't liked as much by the others but their mothers urge them to play with them. And maybe their moms serve bad snacks or something?

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  9. Okay this is a topic of discussion sometimes between my sister and I. Seriously when you have children life revolves around this stuff!!!

    Anyway, my take on the Tasha/Austin thing is this: My daughter is 5 and sometimes her friends can't play because they are in daycare during the day. Or their Mom's have to run errands, I mean who's friend is available ALL the time?!?!?! Anyway, I think Austin and Tasha go to daycare a couple times a week while their Mom, and Dad's work. Therefore they are not able to play with the other's everyday. As for the fence, maybe they have a pet they need to keep in????

    Anyway I love that I was linked to here and will come back often to see what others think!!!

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  10. Well, after reading the other peoples comments, I think that its very interesting that Tasha lives across the street. I'm not sure if the person giving that information is a reliable source, but I'll trust them. I've always wondered why Tasha and Austin aren't in most of the episodes. It does make sense with the whole backyard thing, though. One of my friends has a girl living next door to her, and they used to play all of the timme when they were younger. She also had another friend across the street, but since they didn't live right next to each other, they rarely played together. I never would have thought of that explanation of why Tasha and Austin aren't in most of the episodes, so thank you Jennifer!(I'm a teenager, who loves The Backyardigans. Don't think that I'm lying either)

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  11. Haven't any of you ever seen the E! True Hollywood Story on the Backyardigans? It's really not that complicated.

    Tasha is supposed to be a regular, but because of her repeated contract demands, they keep writing her out of most episodes. She's a real prima-donna...demanding her own trailer stocked with Evian and Havarti Cheese. Additionally, the rest of the cast can't stand her. It is rumored that one day during filming, she got angry over a line and sat down on the set, refusing to get up until the writers caved in to her demands. Pablo himself has been quoted as saying, "The next time I share a grilled-cheese with that stuck-up wench, I'm going to strangle her with my Tiki necklace."

    As for Austin, it's just sad, really. The poor kid can't stay off the weed long enough to memorize a single line. The original script of "Tiki Beach" didn't call for him to wear sunglasses, but his eyes were so bloodshot they had to improvise. Word is that Uniqua and Pablo have been trying to get him into rehab, but he claims he can quit anytime he wants to. His real low point came when Pablo caught him on an adjacent lot trying to smoke some of the Wonder Pets' celery.

    You think this stuff only happens with the cast of "Friends". Unfortunately no television show is safe anymore.

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  12. My theory is it's a race thing. Austin and Tasha are an Auzzie and a Brit, respectively, whereas Uniqua, Tyrone and Pablo are of African American and Hispanic descent.

    Austin and Tasha's parents don't want them playing with the other kids because their parents are racist...but like all children, Austin and Tasha don't see anything different about their friends and so they sneak into the backyard to play with them.

    As for the fences, due to their race, Austin and Tasha's families have greater socio-economic status and have spent the money to build the fence, and clothe their kids in fancy dreses and pearls, or matching jumpsuits and shorts. The other three, on the other hand, can only afford one pair of overalls, a hand me down sweater, and in the case of poor ol' Pablo, no clothes at all, just a tie.

    But after reading David K.'s explanation, i'm willing to go with it.

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  13. Lol, thank you for the laughs everyone, love the theory's. I've often wondered myself. I believe it's because of the personalities. I mean come on, who wants to play with the mean bossy girl all the time? And thanks for the map, I was going to try to figure that out myself, now I dont have to!

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  14. I just found this blog! This is pretty funny...my 2yr old LOVES this show...and by strange findings...my step-sister is actually dating the son of the woman(Beth Bogush) who creates all the dancing for all of the shows!!! So we now have a Backyardigans connection!!! It is such a great show, great music and dancing...I find myself singing the songs all day..haha!

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  15. Even though my favorite character is Uniqua, I wish for her (and Pablo and Tyrone) not to make an appearance in one episode, just to say almost every episode is about Uniqua The Pink.

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  16. i always thougt the reason why tasha and austin's houses were cut off by a fence was because if the five houses were all in the backyard it would be a weired shape when the camera is zoomed out on the backyard

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  17. I am also glad that there are other people thinking about these things. I suspect that there is friction between the creator and executive producer Janet Burgess, and Tasha's and Austin's agents. My guess is that there is politics even in animated shows.

    Does anyone have connections to the production staff to get actual answers to these questions ?

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  18. FYI- Tashas family is really rich so they are always on vacation

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  19. American here, still wondering about this issue years later. My practical assumption is that when they started, the kids who voiced Austin and Tasha were much younger than the other three (IMDb bears that out) so they couldn't work as many hours as the main three. Then the pattern was established, so they kept it up for all seasons.

    In the world of the show, I think it's quite simply that they don't all play together every day. And yes, I agree that Uniqua, Pablo and Tyrone have more access to each other through the shared yard space.

    Love this show, my favorite of all kid shows. I wish Austin were in more, he's my favorite.

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  20. why would tasha live across the street???? I m so confused I think the joke was all the houses where t he the color they were someone help

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