Barney & Friends
|Barney & Friends|
|Created by||Sheryl Leach|
|Starring||David Joyner (1991–2001)
Carey Stinson (1994, 2002–2009)
Josh Martin (1997) Barney suit)
Bob West (1988–2001)
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009; Barney voice)
Jenny Dempsey (1992)
Jeff Ayers (1993–2008)
Lauren Mayeux (2009; Baby Bop suit)
Julie Johnson (Baby Bop voice)
Jeff Brooks (1993–2002)
Kyle Nelson (2002–2009; B.J. suit)
Patty Wirtz (B.J. voice)
Adam Brown (Riff suit)
Michaela Dietz (Riff voice)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||268 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Lyons Group (1992–2001)
HIT Entertainment (2001–2009)
Connecticut Public Television (1992–2005)
WNET New York (2006–2009)
|Original network||PBS (PBS Kids)|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i) (1992–2008)
HDTV (1080i) (2009)
|Original release||April 6, 1992– September 18, 2009|
|Preceded by||Barney and the Backyard Gang|
Barney & Friends is an American children's television series aimed at children from ages 1 to 8, created by Sheryl Leach and produced by HIT Entertainment. It premiered on PBS Kids on April 6, 1992. The series features the title character Barney, a purple anthropomorphic tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, optimistic attitude. Production of new episodes ceased in 2009, although reruns of the series were still shown on several PBS stations in following years. From 2005 until 2015 reruns aired on Sprout. A revival of the series is set for a 2017 launch.
Origin and development
Barney was created in 1987 by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Texas. She came up with the idea for the program while considering TV shows that she felt would be educational and appeal to her son. Leach then brought together a team who created a series of home videos, Barney and the Backyard Gang, which also starred actress Sandy Duncan in the first three videos. Later, Barney was joined by the characters Baby Bop, B.J., and Riff.
One day in 1991, the daughter of Connecticut Public Television executive Larry Rifkin rented one of the videos and was mesmerized by it. Rifkin thought the concept could potentially be developed for PBS. Rifkin thought Barney had appeal because he wasn't nearly as neurotic as Big Bird. He pitched it to CPTV president Jerry Franklin, whose preschool son also fell in love with it. Franklin and Rifkin pitched the idea to all of their colleagues with preschoolers, and they all agreed that kids would love a potential Barney show. Franklin and Rifkin convinced Leach to let CPTV revamp the concept for television. The show debuted as Barney & Friends in 1992. The series was produced by CPTV and Lyrick Studios (bought by HIT Entertainment).
Although the show was a runaway hit, PBS initially opted not to provide funding beyond the initial 30-episode run. When CPTV executives learned this, they wrote letters to their fellow PBS member stations urging them to get PBS to reconsider. The Lyons Group, meanwhile, sent out notices through the Barney Fan Club, telling parents to write letters and make phone calls to their local PBS stations to show their support for Barney & Friends. By the time of the yearly member stations' meeting, station executives across the country were up in arms over the prospect of one of their most popular shows being cancelled. Faced with an atmosphere that Rifkin later described as "like an insurrection," PBS ultimately relented.
For several years, the show was taped at the Color Dynamics Studios facility at Greenville Avenue & Bethany Drive in Allen, Texas, after which it moved to The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, and then Carrollton, a suburb of Dallas. The TV series and videos are currently distributed by HIT Entertainment and Lionsgate, while the TV series was produced by WNET from 2006 to 2009. Sheryl Leach left the show in 1998 after HIT Entertainment bought Lyrick Studios.
The series opens with the theme song (over clips from various episodes) and the title card before it dissolves into the school. The children are seen doing an activity, occasionally relating to the episode's topic. The children imagine something and Barney comes to life from a plush doll, transforming into the "real" Barney, how he appears to the children while they're imagining.
Here, the main plot of the episode takes place. Barney and the children learn about the main topic of the episode, with Baby Bop, B.J., or Riff appearing during the episode and numerous songs themed relating to the subject featured in the series. The roles of Baby Bop, B.J., and Riff have grown larger in later seasons and later episodes venture outside of the school to other places within the neighborhood and to other countries around the world in Season 13.
Barney concludes with "I Love You" before he dissolves back into his original stuffed form and winks to the audience. After the children discuss a bit about what they had learned, the sequence cuts to Barney Says where Barney, who is off-screen, narrates what he and his friends had done that day, along with still snapshots from the episode. Then Barney, himself, signs off before the credits roll. In Seasons 3-8, and 12, he later appeared on-screen by saying, "And remember, I love you," and waves goodbye.
Although several people, including Yale University researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer, have concluded that episodes contain a great deal of age-appropriate educational material, calling the program a "model of what preschool television should be", the program has been criticized for a lack of educational value, as well as being repetitive in nature.
The show and its content is often cited as a contributing factor to the perceived sense of "entitlement" seen in the Millennial generation who grew up watching the show as children. One specific criticism is:
"His shows do not assist children in learning to deal with negative feelings and emotions. As one commentator puts it, the real danger from Barney is 'denial: the refusal to recognize the existence of unpleasant realities. For along with his steady diet of giggles and unconditional love, Barney offers our children a one-dimensional world where everyone must be happy and everything must be resolved right away.'"
Characters and cast
- The main character is a purple and green Tyrannosaurus rex in stuffed animal likeness, who comes to life through a child's imagination. His theme song is "Barney Is a Dinosaur," which is sung to the tune of "Yankee Doodle". Barney often quotes things as being "Super dee-duper". Episodes frequently end with the song "I Love You", sung to the tune of "This Old Man", which happens to be one of Barney's favorite songs. Despite being a carnivorous type dinosaur, Barney likes many different foods such as fruits and vegetables, but his main favorite is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. He also loves marching bands and parades.
- Baby Bop
- A three-year-old green Triceratops. Baby Bop has been on the show since July 29, 1991. She made her debut in the video "Barney in Concert". She wears a pink bow and pink ballet slippers, and carries a yellow security blanket. She sings the song "My Yellow Blankey" to show how much her security blanket means to her. She likes to eat macaroni and cheese and pizza. She is B.J.'s little sister.
- A seven-year-old yellow Protoceratops, B.J. has been on the show since September 27, 1993. He is Baby Bop's older brother. He sings the song "B.J.'s Song" about himself. He wears a red baseball cap and red sneakers. He lost his hat in the episode "Hats Off to B.J.!", and sometimes says things to hide his fears (for example, in the episode "Barney's Halloween Party", he was shocked by the paper spiders and after learning they were fake, he said "I knew that, sort of"). Pickles are his favorite food and he has tried them in various ways, such as on pizza.
- An orange six-year-old Hadrosaur, who is Baby Bop and B.J.'s cousin. Riff has been on the show since September 6, 2006. He wears green sneakers. His theme music is "I Hear Music Everywhere." Riff loves music and it is in almost everything he does. In the episode "Barney: Let's Go to the Firehouse", it was revealed that Riff also likes to invent things; he created a four-sound smoke detector (the first three were different alarm sounds and the final one his own voice). He is shown to have an interest in marching bands and parades.
The adults on the show often appear as teachers, storytellers, or other characters.
|Role||Real Name||Description and Appearances|
|Mother Goose||Sandy Walper, Michelle McCarel,
|The rhyme master herself appears in the episodes "Let's Help Mother Goose", "Honk! Honk! A Goose on the Loose", "A Little Mother Goose", "Barney's Big Surprise", and "Mother Goose/Fairy Tales".|
|Stella the Storyteller||Phyllis Cicero||Stella travels all around the world, collecting new stories to tell Barney and friends, among other people. She appeared in several episodes from Season 3 to Season 6. Stella reappeared in the video The Best of Barney, where she gave Barney a photo album of his friends over the years she made herself.|
|Professor Tinkerputt||Barry Pearl||He appeared in Barney's Imagination Island and in the Barney's Big Surprise stage show tour. Professor Tinkerputt did not want to share his invented toys, until Barney and the kids showed him that good things happen when you share. For this reason, Tinkerputt left Imagination Island with Barney and the others and started a new toy factory.|
|Tomie dePaola||Tomie dePaola||The famous children's author is also a good friend of Barney and usually meets his friends in the episodes he appeared in, which are "Picture This", "It's Raining, It's Pouring", and "Oh Brother, She's my Sister".|
|Mom||Sandy Duncan||Michael and Amy's mom in the first three Barney and the Backyard Gang videos.|
|Mr. Boyd||Robert Sweatman||His full name is Grady Boyd and he has a niece named Colleen. He first worked as a janitor in Seasons 3 to 6 and as a park keeper in Seasons 7 and 8. He later reappeared in The Best of Barney.|
|Colleen||Claire Burdett||Colleen is Mr. Boyd's niece, who comes to town for a visit and is introduced to Barney and the Children. She is a congenital amputee born without her right hand, as is her actress. She appeared in two episodes, "A New Friend!" and "A Perfectly Purple Day".|
|David||Robert Hurtekant||David is a boy in a wheelchair who appeared at the beginning of two episodes: "Falling for Autumn!" and "Shawn and the Beanstalk".|
A lot of puppets appeared in many seasons. The most notable puppets were:
- Scooter McNutty, a brown squirrel
- Miss Etta Kette, a purple bird
- Booker T. Bookworm, an orange worm who has interests in books
Throughout the series' run, over 100 children have appeared in the series, with most of them from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Only a small portion of these actors have made notable appearances in media since their roles, including:
- Selena Gomez: played Gianna from Season 7 to Season 8
- Demi Lovato: played Angela from Season 7 to Season 8
- Tory Green: played Sarah in Barney's Colorful World
- Madison Pettis: played Bridget in Season 10
- Debby Ryan: played Debby in Season 10
- Danielle Vega: played Kim from Season 3 to Season 6
Movies and specials
- Barney's Imagination Island (1994)
- Barney Live in New York City (1994)
- Barney's Great Adventure (1998) (Theatrical movie, starring Trevor Morgan and Kyla Pratt)
- Barney's Big Surprise (1998)
- Barney: Let's Go to the Zoo (2001)
- Barney's Musical Castle (2001)
- Barney's Colorful World (2004)
Other than the United States, the series has aired in Canada, Mexico and Latin America, France, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan (On English-based DVDs under the name "Let's Play with Barney in English! (バーニーと英語であそぼう！ Bānī to Eigo de asobō!?)" and on television as simply "Barney & Friends (バーニー&フレンズ Bānī ando Furenzu!?)" ), the Philippines, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Two known co-productions of Barney & Friends have been produced outside of the US. The Israeli co-production (Hebrew: החברים של ברני Hachaverim shel Barney (The Friends of Barney) produced from 1997 to 1999 in Tel Aviv, Israel, was the first of these. Rather than dubbing the original American episodes from Seasons 1–3, the episodes are adapted with a unique set and exclusive child actors. The other co-production was one shot in South Korea from 2001–2003, airing on KBS (under the name "바니와 친구들" (Baniwa Chingudeul (Barney and Friends))). This one, however, adapted the first six seasons (including the first three that the Israel co-production did). It was done in a similar manner as the Israel production.
A majority of the albums of Barney & Friends feature Bob West's voice as the voice of Barney; however, the recent album The Land of Make-Believe has Dean Wendt's voice. Barney's song "I Love You" was one of those used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to coerce the detainees.
- Anti-Barney humor
- Barney's Hide and Seek, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive video game
- A Day in the Park with Barney, a show and playground at Universal Studios Florida
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- Lyons Partnership v. Ted Giannoulas, 179 F.3d 384, 386 (5th Cir. 1999), citing Chala Willig Levy, "The Bad News About Barney", Parents, Feb. 1994, at 191–92 (136–39).
- The Worst TV Shows Ever at CBS News (Entertainment) February 11, 2009
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