JoJo has a pet lion and close companion named Goliath, styled with a flashy, pompadour-like mane. Each episode starts with Goliath hiding and JoJo finding him. Kids love it each time. JoJo's parents -- Mr. Tickle and Peaches -- are also circus performers. Mr. Tickle leaves for work each morning by blasting out of a cannon. It would be nice to see a bit more character development in Peaches, though she's clearly a doting mother to JoJo. JoJo is friends with other aspiring circus performers, including animals, reptiles, amphibians, and vegetables, such as Skeebo Seltzer, Trina Tightrope, Croaky Frogini, Dinky Elephant, Tater Spudinski, and Bal Boa.
Each half-hour episode contains two short stories on subjects such as JoJo going on a sleepover and wanting to dance with teddy bears, or an energetic baby clown performer coming to town. At the end of each story, JoJo literally has the spotlight and answers the inevitable question -- "JoJo, what did you learn today?" From a 3-year-old's perspective, JoJo's Circus packs a lot into each short story. No doubt it's a series that kids grow out of, perhaps even before they finish preschool. But for those who are interested, it provides a half-hour of downtime while sharing some giggles and lessons about friendship.
JoJo's Circus is a stop-motion animated musical comedy series for preschool children. The series was created by Jim Jinkins, David Campbell, Lisa Jinkins, and Eric Weiner and produced by Cuppa Coffee Studios and Cartoon Pizza. The series is written by Douglas Wood, the creative executive for Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs and features songs with music by Jeffrey Zahn and Jim Latham and lyrics done by Judy Rothman. The theme song was performed by BECKY.
It first aired on the Disney Channel as part of the Playhouse Disney lineup from September 28, 2003 to February 14, 2007. JoJo's Circus marks the first stop-motion series done by Jinkins himself. It will be on Disney+ in the near future.
The series is set in Circus Town, a self-sufficient city whose cultural center is the "Big Top" tent. The story focuses on JoJo Tickle, a 6 year old girl clown, and Goliath, JoJo's pet lion. She and Goliath learned at the Little Big Top Circus School, where all young soon-to-be circus performers learn under their teacher Mrs. Kersplatski. Along with her friends, JoJo explores and learns while dealing with challenging situations.
JoJo's Circus relies on repetition in its structure. Each segment always begins with JoJo searching for Goliath, who is always hiding. JoJo then is presented with the situation that will occupy the theme of the show. A song, usually about the resolution of the situation, is then performed by JoJo.
At the conclusion of each episode, a secondary character asks, "What did you learn today, JoJo?", and before she can reply, JoJo is whisked away for the finale, the "spotlight moment." JoJo is then placed on a makeshift stage with various cameramen, lighting grips, and producers running about, while the "Spotlight Moment" song plays, asking what she's learned, is sung and Jojo taps her foot along (in some episodes she also taps her hand on her leg). Subsequently, JoJo explains what she has learned in the course of the episode.
The show's voice directors are Kent Meridith (United States) and Debra Toffan (Canada).
- JoJo Tickle (voiced by Madeleine Martin): JoJo, who is a 6-year-old active girl clown whose parents are famous circus clowns. She's kind-hearted, has a great sense of humor, boundless curiosity, and excitement about life.
- Goliath the Lion (voiced by Robert Norman Smith and Alan Ford), Goliath is JoJo's pet lion who attends school just like JoJo. He's also part of the Tickle family. Because of his playfulness, he hides from JoJo in the beginning of each episode. He is JoJo's best friend.
- Skeebo David Seltzer/Funnyshoes (voiced by Austin Di Iulio in season 1, and by Keeler Sandhaus in seasons 2-3): Skeebo, known as the class cowboy clown since he wears a floppy cowboy hat, a star badge on his vest and purple rectangle glasses and is JoJo's best friend, and attends school with her and the other circus kids. Skeebo's eager to make people laugh by making new jokes, slight gags, and tricks which sometimes fail to work. Since "Skeebo's Pet," He's had a pet dog named Harpo.
- Croaky Ann Frogini (voiced by Diana Peressini): Croaky, the great leaper of the group, met JoJo on the first day of school, when she realized she had different abilities and agreed to help each other learn different tricks.
- Trina Rose Tightrope (voiced by Tajja Isen): Trina is a ballet dancing, tightrope walker. She comes across as abrupt and snobbish on some reason, but apologizes for her mistakes when she becomes aware of them. She has a pet cat named Caterina.
- Mr. Tickle (voiced by David Sparrow in season 1, and by Noah Weisberg in seasons 2-3): Mr. Tickle — JoJo's father, Peaches' husband, Lotta Yucks' grandson-in-law, Granny and Grampy's son-in-law and Uncle Flippy's brother-in-law. — is a jolly clown who often blasts off to work in a cannon.
- Miyoshi "Peaches" Tickle (voiced by Marnie McPhail in seasons 1–2, and by Shannon Perreault in season 3): Peaches is JoJo's mother, Mr. Tickle's wife, Lotta Yucks' granddaughter, Granny and Grampy's daughter and Uncle Flippy's sister. She is a tall, skinny clown who is full of sunshine and often makes goodies for her family and Circus Town residents. She's klutzy ilk, but a good juggler and sometimes catches fifteen objects in the air when she accidentally trips.
- Mrs. Karen Kersplatski (voiced by Jayne Eastwood) She's JoJo's teacher and the big top ringmaster. A warm and encouraging teacher with glasses, Mrs. Kersplatski gives the circus kids a strong sense of mastery and confidence, with her combination of hard work and play. In the second season, she married Mr. Muscles and became Maya's stepmother. She is very clumsy and after she trips, her catchphrase is "I'm OK!"
- Dinky Pachyderm (voiced by Julie Lemieux): Dinky is a sweet and frisky baby elephant. While Dinky may be clumsy and somewhat oafish, when he dances, he turns into "Mr. Graceful." His favorite game is "Hide and Seek".
- Tater Oliver Spudinski (voiced by Cole Caplan): Tater is one of the two kids in the Spudinski group. His sleepy potato kind seems to be the antithesis to the "get up and go" feel of the show, but sometimes he can't help but join in the fun. In the second season, he has a younger sister named Small Fry.
- Bal Boa (voiced by Julie Lemieux): Bal Boa is a sneaky contortionist snake with a talent for making number and letter shapes. Bal Boa also has a knack for troublemaking. He thinks it's fun to coax JoJo and others into doing what they are not supposed to do, and the kids are sometimes susceptible to Bal Boa's charms. Bal Boa is also an expert on harvesting squirting flowers by doing a trance dance.
- Fellini and Federico Frogini (Fellini voiced by Neil Crone; Federico voiced by John Stocker): Also called the Flying Froginis, the two Italian-accented brothers are expert jumpers and trapeze artists. Fellini and Federico are uncle and father, respectively, to Croaky. (Note in the first episode of the series "Take A Bow" the closed captioning stated that they had a Russian accent).
- Mr. Aldeberto Muscles (voiced by Mark Consuelos in season 1, and by Erik Estrada in seasons 2–3): He's the circus strong man and a physical education instructor. He knows a lot of exercises that he teaches to those in Circus Town. He has a daughter named Maya and recently married Mrs. Kersplatski, but it's not known whether he was divorced or widowed. He also speaks in both English and Spanish.
- Maya Muscles (voiced by Phoebe McAuley): The daughter of Mr. Muscles and stepdaughter of Mrs. Kersplatski. She's fairly new to both Circus Town and JoJo's class. She has red hair, wears a tiara with a pair of antennae on them and can be shy at times but loves to get up and go. She is known by her nickname "Little Mouse" by her dad and her favorite "Happy Place" is a Daisy Patch.
- Dr. Seltzer/Funnyshoes (voiced by Kathy Greenwood): Skeebo's mother, she is Circus Town's only doctor and Fire Chief Seltzer's wife. Though she's not in many episodes, her most notable appearances are in the episodes, "A Case of the Sillies", and "Tickled Pink."
- Fire Chief Seltzer/Chief Funnyshoes aka Seltzy (voiced by Patrick McKenna): He's Skeebo's father and the chief of the local fire department in Circus Town. He's also the director of the Circus Town Clown Band.
- Mr. and Mrs. Spudinski (Mr. Spudinski voiced by Bruce Bayley Johnson; Mrs. Spudinski voiced by Julie Lemieux): Tater's parents, who have the same sleepy nature as he does. It's revealed in "The Thanksgiving Hip-Hooray Parade" episode that Tater calls his father "Daddy Spud", and in "Circus Town Makeover" Mrs. Spudinski's name is revealed as Ida and Mr Spudinski's name is revealed as Russ.
- Small Fry Spudinski (voiced by Julie Lemieux): Small Fry is Tater's baby sister and one of the two kids in the Spudinski clan. She first appeared in the episode, "Hi There, Small Fry!", and she also appeared again in another episode, "Circus Town Makeover".
- Mrs. Pachyderm (voiced by Judy Marshak): Dinky's mother – she's also been referred to as Mrs. Elephant.
- Babalulu (voiced by Kathy Brier): She's Circus Town's pretzel vendor and ice cream shop owner. JoJo and her friends sometimes visits her at the ice cream parlor for a treat. JoJo and her friends taught Babalulu how to make pretzel twists in the episode "A New Twist."
- Lotta Yucks: JoJo's great-grandmother, Peaches' grandmother, Mr. Tickle's grandmother-in-law, Granny's mother and Grampy's mother-in-law. who was a famous circus performer doing tightrope and comical pratfall acts.
- Jumberto the Jackrabbit (voiced by Jonathan Potts): Jumberto is a rabbit magician whose tricks rarely work.
- Jig, Jag and Jug: The three nephews of Jumberto who always cause mischief.
- Terrific the Tiger Tamer (voiced by Ed Saheley): Terrific is a famous tiger tamer in Circus Town. He has a tiger named Tippoo.
- Uncle Flippy (voiced by Tony Daniels): A farmer and JoJo's maternal uncle, Uncle Flippy owns a farm on the outskirts of Circus Town. On the episode entitled "Uncle Flippy's Funny Farm," JoJo and her classmates help Uncle Flippy round up all the animals who escaped from the barn. Strangely, he has a pet tiger and two horses named Moe ( who acts in a proper manner) and Costello (who always loves to act silly). He is Peaches' brother, Mr. Tickle's brother-in-law, Granny and Grampy's son.
- Super Duper Girl: JoJo's favorite TV superhero clown who motto is " Morning, Noon or Night I Always Fight for What's Right" while fighting "Big Meanies" who "Pick on" others.
- Baloney Balloony (voiced by Darren Frost): Known for making balloon animals, Baloney Balloony can make any animal shaped balloons with his hands. He has a grandson named Bailey.
- Cotton Andy (voiced by Paul Soles): Cotton Andy is a cotton candy vendor who own a cotton candy machine named "Whoopsabelle" and also officiated as Justice of the Peace for the marriage of Mrs Kersplatski and Mr Muscles in the wedding episode "A Circus Town Wedding."
- Bingo Bongo: A world's greatest traveling clown who travels via hot air balloon
- Charlie the Clown Baby: Charlie is one of JoJo's cousins who the Tickles sometimes babysit. He is the son of Peaches' sister.
- Granny and Grampy Tickle: (Grampy Tickle voiced by Keith Knight – Young Grampy Tully voiced by Joshua Isen; Granny Tickle voiced by Kate Gallant): JoJo's maternal grandparents, Peaches' parents, Mr. Tickle's parents-in-law, Lotta Yucks' son-in-law and daughter. Tully and Sadie Tickle were experts on clowning way before JoJo was born. Their famous act is the "Silly Shoe Shuffle," which Granny Tickle passed the act to both JoJo and Goliath.
- Terra Cotta (voiced by Kristen Bone): Terra Corta is the little clown girl who wears an oversize flower pot for a hat, and she bought JoJo's silly skates in the "Too Many Toys" episode.
- Mrs. Cotta: Terra Cotta's mom who wears a planter for a hat.
- Mr Postman: An octopus/polyp who is the Mail Carrier for Circus Town
- Mrs. Boa: Bal Boa's mother.
- Hogan the Hamster: One of the class pets who lives at the Little Big Top Clown School
- Cha Cha the Clown Crab: One of the class pets from the Little Big Top Clown School who JoJo takes care for the night.
- The Fire Clowns: The firefighting crew at the Circus Town firehouse under the command of Fire Chief Seltzer (Number 2 is a female clown who wears a purple hat wears a pink vest brown belt with gray boots; and Number 3 is a small clown with large eyeglasses yellow and purple hat with blue and pink vest with orange buttons, wearing brown belt with tools with gray boots) who carry JoJo off at the end of each episode and help build the makeshift stage for JoJo's "spotlight moment". They're also the resident orchestra for Circus Town's Big Top.
- King Regis and Queen Regina: JoJo's Royal Uncle (and brother of Mr. Tickle) and Aunt from Really Royal Land who are the Parents of Princess Josephina.
- Princess Josephina (voiced by Tajja Isen): She's JoJo's similar-looking royal cousin who lives in Really Royal Land. She has a pet lion named Hercules who looks just like Goliath. She appeared in the episode "Princess for a Day," where she and JoJo decide that it would be fun to trade places.
- Jibby Jabby-Jamboree aka Jibbs: The butler who serves the Royal Family of Really Royal Land.
- Miss Blathers: Princess Josephina's personal tutor on etiquette.
- Bailey Balloon (voiced by Matthew Josten): Baloney Ballooney's grandson. Bailey Ballooney normally attends Small Top Hills School and only visited JoJo's class on Valentine's Day. JoJo comes up with a special way to make him a valentine in the episode "My Clowny Valentine."
- Mr. Jing-A-Ling: The telephone at Fire Chief Seltzer's firehouse where Fire Chief Selzer receives their emergency calls.
- Waldo the Seal: A baby seal who suffered from memory loss who JoJo helps to remember a musical piece before a major performance.
- Ivan: A famous circus bear from Circusylvania who only speaks Circusylvanian.
- Franco the Fantastic: A lion who is known as "The King of the Jungle" and "The Greatest Circus Lion of All Times".
- Alex: Skeebo's cousin who is deaf and speaks in sign language.
- Mr and Mrs Tightrope: Trina's parents Who are slightly uppity and snooty but very loving and kind.
- T.J.Freckles/ T.J. Hiccups: Skeebo's Ventriloquist puppet in which Skeebo uses in his act.
- Dr Longtall: The veterinarian who takes care of Goliath and the other sick animals at Circus Town.
- Miss Spritzy: The hairstylist who works at the Circus Town Hair Salon
- Chico The Mouse: The ringmaster of the Mouse Circus
- Grasshopper The Maginficent: The tightrope walker of the Mouse Circus
- Sasharoo: The wild animal trainer in the Mouse Circus who trains with a chipmunk.
- Professor Tick Tock: The watcher of the cuckoos of the Cuckoo Forest and provider of the cuckoo clocks for Circus Town.
- The Cricketeers (Hector, Gracie and Cody): A musical group formed of a family of crickets who comes to perform at Circus Town. Hector is the leader and his wife is Gracie and his son is Cody. Goliath has a crush with Gracie.
- Nosey Josie: The reporter for the Circus Town News Network who has a nose for news.
- Jumping Jack: The host of Circus Town Makeover and exercise/fitness guru
- The citizens of Sky Top: The villagers who live in the village of Sky Top who at once thought that Normus the Giant was a mean giant who once destroyed their village but discovered that Normus was very friendly.
- Normus: A Friendly Giant who live on top of the beanstalk who due to a misunderstanding by the townsfolk of the beanstalk village of Sky Top thought he was a mean giant who almost destroyed the town and had a slight fear of clowns. (voiced by Al Roker)
- Cozy: Normus's pet chipmunk
Development and concept
The show stresses simple, everyday lessons such as playing with others, detecting the sequence, personal hygiene, responsibility, and safety. Also paramount is the show's focus on exercise: JoJo often asks for audience participation (such as clapping, jumping, and stretching) for the viewers. The series is animated in Claymation, which is a serious departure to Jinkin's previous animated works.
Characters JoJo and her pet lion, Goliath, re-appeared in a yoga-style exercise learning series/interstitial called Feeling Good with JoJo.
Each episode contains a short tune dealing with the topics of the episode. (Many of these songs can be found on three CDs: Songs from JoJo's Circus, Songs from Under the Big Top!, and Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn with Music.) The genres of the songs range from doo-wop to funk to rock to classic punk. Phrases like "stretch your arms" and "jump up high" are common lyrics. Most of the songs are educational — telling kids how to bow, stretch, greet people, wash their hair, and clean up after themselves — while a few are more entertaining, such as Cotton Candy Sure Is Sweet or The Gum Drop Song. The theme song of the show is performed by the band Becky.
Season 1 (2003–04)
Season 2 (2004–06)
Season 3 (2006–07)
- ^Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 451. ISBN .
Western Animation / JoJo's Circus
JoJo Tickle and Goliath
Hey, everyone, it's time for JoJo's Circus JoJo! JoJo's Circus! / Get on your feet, we're gonna have some some fun!
JoJo's Circus was a stop-motion animated series that aired in its original run on Playhouse Disney from 2003-2007. The series was created and otherwise worked on by many of the same people who created shows like Doug and PB&J Otter, including Jim Jinkins and Eric Weiner.
The series revolved around a young clown girl named JoJo Tickle who attended clown school with her pet lion Goliath. In each episode, she learned various aesops that might be of interest to children while also learning how to be a good clown. The show had a heavy focus on promoting exercise and physical activity. This focus was further emphasized in the briefly-lived spin-off short-form series Feelin' Good with JoJo.
The show was popular enough to spawn two music albums and some of the other songs were released on a Playhouse Disney music album. There were only two DVD releases, but repeats of the program aired daily at launch on Disney Junior, the 24/7 network that replaced Playhouse Disney.
The main character's name is officially spelled in CamelCase. Which, yes, requires extra formatting to display properly on this wiki, but it's important to be correct.
Not to be confused with this JoJo.
JoJo's Circus provides examples of these tropes:
- An Aesop: In each episode, and at the end, JoJo is pulled in the "Spotlight Moment" and asked to say what she learned.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Goliath is a lion and even has some degree of sentience, despite being JoJo's pet. Despite this, he sometimes makes barking or yipping noises and does other dog-like things.
- Anthropomorphic Food: The Spudinskis, who are sentient potatoes
- Argument of Contradictions: In "Hop Hooey," Trina and Croaky have a rapid-fire series of these over a trivial problem in a game before doing the "infinity times a kazillion and one" thing and then squaring off against each other and not talking to each other. JoJo, however, solves things by teaching them a trick she learned from her parents to calm herself down when she's angry.
- Banana Peel: JoJo's parents attend a club in which one of the things they do for fun is slipping on banana peels. They are clowns, after all.
- Baths Are Fun: In one installment, there was a song called "Bathtime" (also released on one of the show's soundtrack albums) in which the star character and her pet lion Goliath sing about how much fun bathtime is.
- Cartoon Juggling: Skeebo is shown juggling in the show's opening sequence.
- Cheerful Child: JoJo herself. It's not that she never sad or angry, but it rarely lasts long and she tends to default towards cheerful.
- Christmas Episode and Halloween Episode: Both of these were done - "A Circus Town Christmas" and "The Legend of Clownfoot".
- Circus Brat: JoJo is the daughter of two famous clowns, and is a clown herself.
- Duck!: One episode has JoJo shout this, which Goliath confused for the bird, prompting JoJo to explain the verb version of the word. Then a pie-fighting game used on the website played the trope straight by having the player hit a button of a duck to duck.
- Edutainment Show: With a focus on promoting exercise and physical activity, but also including aesops, pro-social values and general learning.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: One of the show's stories had the characters chasing a rainbow and dancing a rainbow dance.
- "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Quite commonplace with this show.
- Expressive Ears: Dinky the elephant has these.
- Fake Interactivity: One of the show's main thrusts is trying to get kids up and moving, and this is done by having JoJo and sometimes Goliath as the designated Fourth Wall Observers directly encourage the viewers to move along with the exercises or dances the characters were doing. This was continued in the short series follow-up Feelin' Good with JoJo.
- Fantastic Flora: The itchy ootchy scratch plants are basically a fast-acting fantastic flora version of poison ivy. When JoJo and Skeebo fall into a patch of these, they start itching all over.
- First Day of School Episode: "Easy as Pie". It's also the series' first episode all together.
- Forbidden Fruit: In "Easy as Pie", Mrs. Kersplatski shows Jojo an elite robot she made and warns her not to honk its nose; once she steps away, Jojo is so interested in the robot she cannot help herself and thus, honks its nose, causing it to come to life and reveal itself as a pie throwing machine which nearly messes up the school.
- Friendly Tickle Torture
- JoJo's family's surname is "Tickle," this is played with in one episode when she's trying to get Goliath to go to bed and she sings "Little Goliath's going to sleep / Let's tickle his ears and the tops of feet..." In fact, this is actually part of both JoJo and Goliath's normal bedtime routine, except that it's Mr. Tickle who normally sings it to them while doing the tickling.
- In another episode, JoJo's teacher, Mrs. Kersplatski, decides to roll call everyone by saying their last names first. Of course, this leads to JoJo's best friend Skeebo tickling her, since her name "Tickle, JoJo" sounded like an instruction.
- "Getting Ready for Bed" Plot: JoJo and Goliath have a bedtime routine with JoJo's father, which includes him singing them a special song, "Tickle Goodnight." In "Nighty Night," when Mr. Tickle has to be away for the Big Top Clown convention, JoJo takes care of things by herself, including singing Goliath a specialized version of the song. The story ends with Mrs. Tickle asking her what she learned and she says that she can do her bedtime routine all by herself "and I bet you can, too.Nighty night!"
- Hiccup Hijinks: This was done with Skeebo in "Hiccup Helpers."
- Inelegant Blubbering: In "A New Twist", Babalulu the pretzel vendor is reduced to a sobbing mess after giving straight pretzels to JoJo and her friends, and the reason why she's crying is because she doesn't know how to twist pretzels correctly. Fortunately, the kids are able to cheer her up by teaching her to come up with some twists by using Boa as an inspiration.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: With various types of anthro characters - see Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism below.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: In "A Circus Town Christmas," the Christmas Episode, the Circus Town Perfect Present Store appears in Circus Town. As the teacher Mrs. Kersplatski explains, "The wind blows it in, then blows it away again!"
- Nice Hat: Balboa and JoJo.
- Non-Ironic Clown: JoJo,her family, and some of the other characters.
- Plot Allergy: JoJo has a plot allergy to merryberries, a type of berry found only within the show's setting of Circus Town. In "Tickled Pink," JoJo eats some merryberries, which causes her nose to swell and honk and her skin to turn pink and tingly. Fortunately, she visits her friendly family doctor, Skeebo's mother Dr. Seltzer, who gives her an easy cure - to pat her tummy and rub her nose, then rub her tummy and give her nose a pat. The moral of the story is "So if you feel low / If you feel sad / If allergies make you feel real bad / For upset tummies or aching heads / Listen to your doctor and do what she says / If you wanna get better / Listen to your doctor and do what she says." Also "If you are allergic to a food, never eat it because it can make you really, really sick, and don't be afraid to tell someone if you have an allergy."
- Running Gag: At the end of each installment, JoJo is asked what she learned and starts to reply, only be literally dragged off to be placed on stage as the "Spotlight Moment Song" plays to relate what she learned there on-stage. You'd think she'd get used to it.
- Sleepyhead: Tater can nod off at a moment's notice and his bedtime routine involves a count to three. He never makes it past three.
- Slice of Life: Generally slice of life, though with some attempt to work in a theme or morals
- Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Most of the animal characters seem to fall somewhere between Funny Animal and Civilized Animal. Goliath the lion is more-or-less a Talking Animal and is even referred to by JoJo as her "pet lion," but he goes to clown school with her and seems to be generally sentient, even able to talk to a limited degree.
- Standard Snippet: The "Snake Dance" song sung by JoJo and Bal Boa uses the melody of "The Streets of Cairo," also known as the Arabian riff.
- Title Theme Tune: "JoJo, JoJo's Circus..."
- A Weighty Aesop: A big part of the show, but in one case the Spudinskis become literal couch potatoes (as in, rooted to their couches), and have to be encouraged to exercise.
Review by Aaron Wallace
Every morning, the Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney programming block brings delight in the form of educational entertainment to preschoolers around the country. One of its most popular shows, JoJo's Circus, has never been released on DVD...until now. Its protagonist and namesake is JoJo Tickle, a curious little girl who just happens to be a clown. As such, her home, a world depicted with colorful stop-animation that seems to intentionally resemble the look and texture of Play-Doh, is called Circus Town. It therefore seems appropriate that one of the first two installments of the series on DVD centers around episodes dealing prominently with JoJo's circus-related adventures. JoJo's Circus: Take a Bow! does just that.
Along with her pet lion, Goliath, JoJo makes her way around school and other places in Circus Town wandering aloud about such things as thinking skills, physical activities, and moral lessons. The plotlines are loosely constructed to allow room for exploration of concepts, as well as interactivity. In fact, JoJo often asks the audience questions and pauses to give them time to respond. This pace likely enables the show to create one of the more responsive environments in preschool entertainment.
Each episode is set to a lively soundtrack and features a catchy song-and-dance number. To sum up the lessons learned, JoJo herself reflects on the knowledge she's gained at the end of each episode.
The DVD consists of four episodes, each circus-themed and running around 11 minutes in duration (routinely aired in back-to-back fifteen minute time slots on the Disney Channel). "Easy As Pie" and "Take a Bow" were originally broadcast together and they are a nice inclusion as they made up the "pilot" airing, so to speak. "JoJo on the Tightrope" is not presented with the episode it originally aired beside, which is fine as this disc doesn't strive to be part of a complete collection. "Happy Hoppy Day" is a previously unseen episode that is exclusive to this DVD.
In between each episode, JoJo (and sometimes Goliath) speaks directly to the audience in order to establish a theme that bridges the previous episode with the upcoming one. All four episodes, these interstitials, and the opening sequence and end credits amount to a total feature running time of about 49 minutes.
"Easy As Pie"
It's JoJo's first day at clown school and what young child can't relate to that? Things go well overall, but there's a forbidden button on a machine that JoJo just can't take her eyes off of!
"Take A Bow"
Croaky Frogini is joining the school as a new student and JoJo is a little apprehensive over meeting her. Will she be able to impress the Frogini family with circus talents? To find out, JoJo needs your help to brush up her skills on taking a bow.
"JoJo On The Tightrope"
Though she's never tried her luck at the tightrope before, JoJo is determined to impress her teacher, Mrs. Kersplatski. A few hair and wardrobe changes later, JoJo is convinced that she's up to the task!
"Happy Hoppy Day"
The musically charming Frogini family announces that it's a very special day at school: Happy Hoppy Day! Songs, dancing, fun, and games abound!
VIDEO and AUDIO
Video and audio quality are great and both appear to be without fault. The style of JoJo's Circus's animation lends itself to a few oohs and ahhs and that translates well to the DVD. The audio track isn't exactly overwhelming, but there's nothing wrong with it and for a morning preschool television series, it's extremely adequate.
The show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and features a basic Dolby Surround Sound track.
While it's certainly not "chock-full," the DVD does sport a surprising amount of enjoyable bonus features for a release of its type. The most prominent is an episode of Higglytown Heroes, which airs on Playhouse Disney in fifteen minute time slots much like JoJo's Circus. This particular episode is entitled "Havin' A Ball," and while it's not specifically related to JoJo's Circus or the circus in general, it is a likeable short. The plot can't be made to sound too rousing: the children (which are uniquely CGI-animated Russian Matrioshka dolls) play with a brand new ball! Still, I found this episode to be the most enjoyable of the entire disc and the series seems like a charming one.
Next up is yet another installment of the Disney DVD Disneypedia series, "Going To The Circus" (a different title than the one listed on the case). This presentation of Disneypedia is a bit different, though, in that it comes in the form of a game. By watching mini-featurettes on various animals and performers that make up a traditional circus (interwoven with clips from the show), you help JoJo and her friends set up the circus. The game draws out the featurette but makes for an interesting way to present informative footage and is sure to please children. Of course the duration depends on the speed with which you play the game, but it can easily last nearly ten minutes.
The final bonus feature comes in the form of DVD-ROM and is advertised on the DVD. By inserting the disc into your computer, you'll gain access to five printable coloring pages from JoJo's Circus.
The disc launches with sneak peeks at Pooh's Heffalump Movie, Little Einstein, and the second wave of the Disney Princess DVD line. The Sneak Peeks menu adds looks at Bear in the Big Blue House, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, future Pooh-related installments of Disney Learning Adventures, and JoJo's Circus (the series itself) on Playhouse Disney.
MENUS and PACKAGING
The menus are all very snazzy and the main menu makes use of lively animation, rotating clips from the show, and the theme song. The less active but still aesthetically pleasing sub-menus are set to music as well.
The DVD is equipped with Disney's FastPlay, which celebrates the olden days of VHS by preserving its restrictive spirit on DVD. If left unattended, your DVD will automatically launch the FastPlay system from the get-go and play most of what you'd probably want to see without ever requiring input from the user. To bypass FastPlay, simply hit the menu button.
An enclosed coupon booklet offers $2 savings on JoJo's Circus and "Here Come The ABCs" CDs as well as DVD releases of Disney Learning Adventures, the Disney Princess line, and Bear in the Big Blue House. The flyer also promotes Pooh's Heffalump Movie and Little Einstein. A scene selections insert is also included.
JoJo's Circus probably isn't the best series of its ilk, but it certainly isn't among the worst. Overall it seems to be well-intentioned and successful. The animation is appealing, the lessons are valid, and the delivery is applaudable. It's unlikely that an older audience will find it to their liking but children will likely love it and parents probably won't mind watching this one with them as much as they would others.
The DVD doesn't really leave one with any complaints. For a preschool television series, the content and presentation seems surprisingly satisfactory. Though the series isn't quite as educational as some, the Disneypedia bonus feature is a nice balance. Therefore, the disc earns a recommendation for those shopping for its intended audience.
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