More ‘Helpsters’ details have been shared by puppeteer Tim Lagasse just a few days before the shows launch on Apple TV+. In a feature-length edition of the Puppet Tears Podcast the first puppeteer to receive the Jim Henson Memorial Prize in puppetry talked about changes in the industry and the new TV+ original.
Details for ‘Helpsters’ have been scarce since lead character Cody was introduced on stage by Big Bird at Apple’s media event in March. Secrecy through production was so key that those involved had some fun with it:
“The show before it was called ‘Helpsters’ was called ‘Untitled Puppet Show’. All of our emails would come in ‘Untitled Puppet Show’ which would come in abbreviated as ‘UPS’. I’d get an email thinking it was a package and then be like oh it’s work.
We’d call it the ‘Untitled Puppet Show’ and it just made us laugh so much that Stephanie D’Abruzzo (who plays Cody) turned to me and said that she wanted all the swag to say ‘Untitled Puppet Show’. I went down the street to lids and had a hat made.
Everyone got a little worried. It became a thing and everyone went down the street and made their own version of the ‘Untitled Puppet Show’ hat. It’s very hipster!”.
The first big news is that ‘Helpsters’ will comprise of twenty six half-hour episodes with six to ten episodes available on Nov 1st.
All episodes were shot over the course of seven months on what Tim Lagasse described as a relatively low budget production.
The show teaches pre-schoolers pre-coding skills which means to think like a computer programmer. Its aim is for children to learn logical problem solving with Cody, Mr.Primm, Scatter, Heart and Jackie by using the language they’ll use later when they start programming.
“There’s no computer devices, no keyboards on the show, theres no electronics. They don’t actually write code. It’s actually thinking more about problem solving which is actually a great life (skill)”.
In conversation with Adam Kreutinger & Cam Garrity, Tim also shared the kind of tone viewers can expect from the new show:
“This the weirdest show that I’d ever worked on. It’s weird in all the best ways. Tim Mckeon created the show for Sesame Workshop and for Apple TV. He is very funny and he loves weird stuff. There’s a lot of weird things that go on in this show and (Apple) are totally fine with it. I feel it’s got more of a ‘Muppet Show’ sense of humour than a ‘Sesame Street’ sense of humour. It’s almost a little more silly”.
On the celebrity involvement:
“We had a lot of guest stars. We did one show that was two stories in a half hour and each story has a celebrity that shows up with a problem. They play a character but they’re played by comedians and celebrities. My favourite thing to ask after they read the script was, do you know what the curriculum is? pre-coding! (which would spark surprise)”.
Lastly, Tim on the characters that make the show:
“Each of the characters in the show are built very specifically to be a part of this team, like a cog in the wheel for problem solving. They work together as a team problem solving really well. Cody is a ring leader, cheer-leader. She loves her job, she loves what she does, she loves helping people and she loves her team. She thinks that everyone on her team is so super-smart and we’re not. We’re a bunch of dummies who are very inspired”.
“Heart is a character (played by first on-screen female walk-around puppeteer Ingrid Hansen) who takes everything very literally. Like a computer would. You have to be very specific with your directions with Heart”. “Scatter is Scatter. He’s very similar to me. I have ADD and so it’s very easy to play a character with ADD. He’s very whimsical and thinks about things outside of the box. He has crazy ideas that sometimes are appropriate”. and “Mr.Primm is a rule follower, proper and lined up”.
“This team together do amazing things”.
You can check out the full Puppet Tears episode with Tim Lagasse below: