If you don't have a small child or a small child's viewing habits, you may have missed Nick Jr.'s newest hit show, Yo Gabba Gabba! (weekdays at 11:30 am/ET, Nickelodeon). The show is not as popular as SpongeBob or Dora just yet, but its lively blend of indie-rock music and retro imagery has placed it right in the middle of a burgeoning hipster parenting movement. TVGuide.com scheduled a playdate with host DJ Lance Rock (aka Lance Robertson) to discuss the show's Valentine's Day special and find out what all the excitement is about.
TVGuide.com: How would you describe the Yo Gabba Gabba! take on Valentine's Day?
DJ Lance Rock: Well, it's trying to open up kids' perspectives on love. That's why it's called "Love" and not "Valentine's Day." So the kids and the creatures are just trying to figure out what love is — from loving their mommy and daddy to loving flowers or balloons. It's such an abstract concept for kids to understand, so we're just trying to show that things that make you happy can be things you grow to love.
TVGuide.com: I have to admit, I was pretty entertained. Is Yo Gabba Gabba! just meant for preschool kids?
Rock: It's not, but it is. What I mean is that Scott [Schultz] and Christian [Jacobs], the creators of the show, just got tired of watching stuff with their kids and being like, "Oh, I don't want to see this again." So they just said, "Let's make something we can watch, too."
TVGuide.com: So when you guys started out, it was a concerted effort to create a show that both preschoolers and their parents could enjoy?
Rock: Yeah, it's got that cross-generational thing going on. A lot of people who are having kids now grew up in the '80s and were exposed to things like video games and old-school hip-hop. So we include that stuff and try to bridge the gap. I know I grew up watching Sid and Marty Kroft, Schoolhouse Rock and the Electric Company — things that were very colorful and had a lot of stimuli. I think that's pretty much where some of this comes from.
TVGuide.com: How did you hook up with Christian and Scott?
Rock: I used to be in a band called the Raymakers and we did a four- or five-show tour with Majestic, which happened to be the band that Scott Schultz was in. So we just did shows together. Somehow whatever I did on stage stuck with him, because he called me up less than a year later and said, "I'm doing a kids' show. Do you want to be the host?" I'd never had any interest or aspirations for something like that, but I said, "Sure. I'll check it out."
TVGuide.com: Did you have any reservations about going from being a musician and DJ to being the host of a children's show?
Rock: I didn't. It wasn't something I ever really thought about. I was just like, "Why not? Let's give it a try." I found I enjoyed it, and it's fun being around the kids. Also, it's kind of an extension of what I was doing before, because music is so strong on the show. All the people involved come from musical backgrounds.
TVGuide.com: Lots of talent has been involved in the show, from Mark Mothersbaugh and Biz Markie to guest stars like Elijah Wood and The Shins. What attracts them to Yo Gabba Gabba!?
Rock: It's so different than a lot of stuff out there. When I was first approached to work on it, I went back and watched a lot of different kids' shows. Some of the stuff I saw was just so hectic and rapid. And, for me, our show is positive and gentle and happy. I think that's probably why it appeals to people.
TVGuide.com: Nick Jr. recently ordered a second season. When does it kick off and what should viewers expect?
Rock: Well, production begins in the early spring. We're in preproduction right now, writing music. When we first started off, there was more stuff written. Now that we've gotten picked up, we have to do a lot more writing to catch up. Basically, there's a theme for each show and we write around that. All I can say, though, is that we're all very excited to come back for a second season and there will be a lot of positive energy in the new episodes.
TVGuide.com: The show has been praised in places like Newsweek, Time and the New York Times. Have you been surprised by all the interest it's stirred up?
Rock: The Time magazine one really took me aback. I was like, "Wow." I'm glad people appreciate it, because it's genuine and it doesn't have any kind of agenda. We're just trying to make a kids' show that's fun. That's all we're doing, but I guess sometimes the most obvious ideas can seem revolutionary.
For more Nick Jr. favorites, visit our Online Video Guide.
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