JoJo's Circus is an interactive stop-motion musical comedy series for preschool children. The series debuted in 2003 and airs in the United States on the Disney Channel as part of the Playhouse Disney morning programming schedule at 6am eastern time. The program airs daily on both the UK and Australian versions of Playhouse Disney using the original American content. Since 2005, JoJo's Circus has been shown on GMTV's children's weekend slot Toonattik. JoJo's Circus aired again on Disney Junior in March 23, 2012.
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 six-year-old female clown and Goliath, a four-year-old lion. She and Goliath study at the Circus School, where all young soon-to-be circus performers learn under their teacher Mrs. Kersplatski. Along with her friends, JoJo explores and learns everything around while getting in, and out of trouble.
JoJo's Circus relies on repetition in its structure. Each segment always begins with JoJo searching for her pet lion 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 sung by JoJo. At the conclusion of each episode, a secondary character asks JoJo what she's learned today, 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. Subsequently, JoJo explains what she has learned during the course of the episode.
JoJo, the main character of the show, is an inquisitive and active six-year-old clown whose parents are famous circus clowns. She's kind-hearted, has a great sense of humor, boundless curiosity, and excitement about life; and she loves to clown around.
- Goliath the Lion (Voiced by Robert Smith)
Goliath is JoJo's four-year-old lion and 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.
- Skeebo Seltzer (Voiced by Austin Di Iulio and Keeler Sandhaus)
Skeebo, known as the class clown, is JoJo's best friend, and attends school with her and the other circus kids. Skeebo's eager to make people laugh by testing new jokes, slight gags, and tricks...that sometimes don't work. Skeebo has a pet dog named Harpo.
- Croaky 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 Tightrope (Voiced by Tajja Isen)
Trina is a ballet dancing tightrope walker. She comes across as abrupt and snobbish on occasion, but apologizes for her mistakes when she becomes aware of them.
- Mr. Tickle (Voiced by David Sparrow (Season 1) and Noah Weisberg (Season 2))
Mr. Tickle — JoJo's dad and Peaches' husband — is a jolly clown who often blasts off to work in a cannon.
- Priya "Peaches" Tickle (Voiced by Marnie McPhail (Seasons 1-2) and Shannon Perreault (Season 3))
Peaches is JoJo's mom and Mr. Tickle's wife. She is a tall, skinny clown who is full of sunshine and is often makes goodies for her family and Circus Town residents. She's klutzy by nature, but a good juggler and sometimes catches 15 objects in the air when she accidentally trips.
- Mrs. Kersplatski (Voiced by Jayne Eastwood)
She's JoJo's teacher and the big top ringmaster. A warm and encouraging teacher, 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!"
Every 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 early 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.
Development and Concept
The show stresses simple, everyday lessons such as playing with others, 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. It features songs music by Jeffrey Zahn and Jim Latham and lyrics done by Judy Rothman. The series is animated in Claymation, which is a serious departure to Jinkins' 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.
The series has two DVD releases: "Take a Bow" and "Animal a Go-Go." The "Take a Bow" DVD contains the "Easy As Pie," "Take a Bow," "JoJo on the Tightrope," and "Happy Hoppy Day" episodes. "Animal a Go-Go" has "Flower Shower," "Uncle Flippy's Funny Farm," "Try These on for Boing," and "Brushing Up." Both DVDs have the opening theme, JoJo and Goliath in interstitials, printable coloring pages, and other bonus features. Two more JoJo's Circus episodes are available on Higglytown Heroes DVDs: "The Spudinskis' New Act" is on Higglytown's "Heroes on the Move" DVD, and "A Clown Ride" is on the Higglytown "To the Rescue" disc. The holiday themed "A Circus Town Christmas" is included on the "A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday" DVD.
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