Two of the most successful producers of children’s programs are putting the Ten Commandments on display—in a new animated series aiming to teach the commandments in age-appropriate ways.
“HoopDogz,” from David Campbell and Jim Jinkins of the Cartoon Pizza company, will be released exclusively on DVD and VHS, with the first episode of the series available Oct. 15.
Campbell and Jinkins, who produced such popular shows as The Disney Channel’s “Doug” and “Stanley,” decided it was time to make the Ten Commandments part of their vision for morals-based programming.
A friend of theirs mentioned the idea of a commandments-based series about seven years ago, Campbell and Jinkins told EthicsDaily.com by phone from their offices in New York City. They thought about a series, but walked away from the idea for a while.
“Over the years,” Jinkins said, “it really began to dawn on us” how to successfully produce such a series. They discovered that all the commandments and the principles behind them could be adapted, and appropriately so, for children. Even the commandment about adultery could speak to kids.
“For kids,” Jinkins said, “it’s about keeping your promise and being faithful.”
With a strategy in place, the minds behind Cartoon Pizza got to work and came up with “HoopDogz.”
“HoopDogz” features a band of canines living in an inner-city neighborhood called Wobble Hill. The main character is nine-year-old V.J. Bumpus, who is joined by his friends Wiener and Trina, who all play ball behind the HoopDogz diner—and end up learning valuable life lessons.
Comic relief comes from hosts of a Wobble Hill TV show starring Chad Dimple and Rebecca Ruth St. Esther Eve. Theirs is a Trinity Broadcasting Network sort of show, though Campbell and Jinkins said they didn’t pattern the duo after TBN hosts Paul and Jan Crouch.
Rather, they modeled the pair after people they had known their entire lives: image-conscious Southerners with larger-than-life personalities. Chad’s name originated in the 2000 presidential election and the hoopla over “dimpled chads” in Florida’s ballots.
Jinkins hails from Virginia and Campbell from Arkansas. They met years ago at a Manhattan Church of Christ with a reputation for drawing, so to speak, artistic types. Furthermore, Jinkins attended David Lipscomb University in Nashville, and Campbell’s wife, Donna, is from Nashville.
The first episode available is entitled “God Good, Idols Bad,” and it focuses on the second commandment. It features an original song by MercyMe, the group behind the popular “I Can Only Imagine.”
Campbell co-wrote the song, which features a chorus enumerating all 10 commandments in kid-speak. A video for the song will be one of the bonus features on the DVD, which includes more than an hour of bonus material like featurettes on how to draw cartoons and tell stories.
The next episode will cover the eighth commandment and be entitled “Stealin’ Ain’t Cool.” Episodes for commandments one (having no other Gods) and four (keeping the Sabbath) will follow.
Jinkins and Campbell said they weren’t concerned with developing the series in the chronological order of the commandments; rather, they worked on each episode and story as it came to them.
Campbell and Jinkins formed Cartoon Pizza in 2001. Their first series under that banner was “Stanley,” which became a highly rated pre-school program on Disney. Previously, the duo had founded Jumbo Pictures in 1991, which produced “Doug” first for Nickelodeon and then for Disney when Jumbo was sold to the Mouse in 1996.
Having been around the Hollywood block, Campbell and Jinkins said it was “time to shift gears” and up the ante on morals-based programs for kids. They’ve already got plans to distribute “Monster Monster Trucks” next year, which bases each episode on a biblical principle.
“We want to tell entertaining, meaningful stories to kids that are going to make their lives happier and more hopeful,” Campbell said.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
The Cartoon Pizza Web site is here.