Dora the Explorer has come to life — sort of. And parental discretion is advised.
Nine months after scoring one of its biggest hits ever with a parody Dora movie trailer, CollegeHumor has turned the send-up into a three-part miniseries, Dora the Explorer and the Destiny Medallion.
"We did the movie trailer, and we loved the video, but the response was better than we had hoped," Sam Reich, CollegeHumor's president of original content, tells TVGuide.com. "With so many people asking for it to be a real thing — we don't really have that permission to release a Hollywood film —we said, 'What's the biggest version of this that we can do?' And the answer was web series ... and luckily all the stars aligned. ... This is one of the most ambitious things we've ever done."
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Part 1 was released Tuesday (Parts 2 and 3 will debut on subsequent Tuesdays) and stars Modern Family's Ariel Winter as the titular thief — excuse us, "explorer." Winter played Dora in the original trailer, and the whole thing was conceived after her agents reached out to CollegeHumor to do a video. "[They] said they'd love to do a piece with her that shows off a side of her that she doesn't typically get to show off," Reich says. "We researched her and found out that she was a big Dora fan and thought that she would be well cast."
The pseudo-trailer became a huge smash after its June release — 13 million views on YouTube alone — but the miniseries is not exactly a direct offshoot of the clip. The titles are different (the trailer's faux movie is called Dora the Explorer: The Search for the Infinity Orb) and the trailer was decidedly G-rated. "We wanted to up the comedic contrast of the series in general, which meant making Dora a little bit more like James Bond, more adult," Reich says. "I would say it's PG-13. There's nothing we do in this that is more offensive than anything you saw in The Avengers, but we do not intend for 4-year-olds to watch this by any means."
They do intend for older Dora fans, like Winter, who's now 15, to watch it, and for parents, especially, to get a kick out of it and its Indiana Jones-esque feel (just check out the poster). As nearly every parent can attest, watching preschool fare is tedious at best and repetitive at worst. "My brother watches Dora every day of his life because he's obligated [to watch with his daughter]," Reich says. "So this is like someone wrote an episode for him to actually enjoy."
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The miniseries was penned by Reich and his team, who devoured 20 or episodes of the real series before writing. Reich also "did a fair amount of research" with his brother and 4-year-old niece. As such, the miniseries is embedded with a slew of inside jokes that he hopes will have former Dora fans and parents saying, "Me gusta." "I would urge people to try to count the references that we make," he says. "There are subtle ones too that we put in there for parents who are really diligent."
Though the trailer is a massive Internet sensation, it was not the first time that CollegeHumor has lampooned Dora. In 2010, the site released the animated parody Conquistadora the Explorer. Neither those nor the miniseries were done with Nickelodeon's permission — not that the children's network minded. "We're keeping our fingers crossed. We heard from them the first time around that they loved it, so we sort of used that as all the permission we need to do this one!" Reich says. "But it's very much unauthorized. ... I think we may have mentioned to them somewhere along the line, totally casual [that we were doing the miniseries]."
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So what are the chances of another Dora miniseries?
"We'll see how this one does!" Reich says. "If everyone's excited about it and wants more, then we'll try to make it happen. This one more or less sews up pretty nicely. But if you stitch these three episodes together, they're 11- or 12-minute adventures, so you can easily imagine us doing another one of these."
Watch the original trailer and Part 1 of Dora the Explorer and the Destiny Medallion below.