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Disney Junior To Premiere ‘Lion King’ Spinoff Series in 2015

“It’s kind of like The Lion King meets The Avengers,” says Nancy Kanter, general manager of Disney Junior, when describing their upcoming preschool series The Lion Guard.

A sequel series to The Lion King and its two direct-to-video sequels, The Lion Guard follows the second child of Simba and Nala, Kion, who assembles an assortment of jungle animals to protect the Pride Lands.

The idea was conceived a couple years ago when Disney CEO Robert Iger suggested Disney Junior come up with something that could correlate with the 20th anniversary of The Lion King. Kanter points out that tying new content into the company’s “heritage” has proven successful with shows like Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Sofia the First, whose main character is taught by the fairies from Sleeping Beauty.

The story will premiere as a TV movie in fall of 2015 before going to series the following year on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. While Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu, and Mufasa are set to make appearances, the show will feature an all-new cast of characters that include “Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a happy-go-lucky hippo; Ono, an intellectual egret; and Bunga, a fearless honey badger,” who may or may not give a crap.

  • Vivi

    What I wonder though, is that it seems this would be the first one to break the Shakespeare relation to the Lion King? Unless we are in for a surprise, and it turns out to be Richard III. But then again, I doubt Disney junior cares to teach preschoolers the law of life (which actually made the original, and even the second one good movies).

    But, being realistic, I find it somewhat bothering (in an obsessive compulsive way) that it most likely won’t relate at all (avengers wat), Mostly because, I’m not sure if either they are making this regardless of it, or because the people in charge of the project are not aware of it. If it is the later then that would make me very sad.

    • Funkybat

      I doubt there will be any great effort to continue any of the subtextual meanings or literary allusions in the original film into this property. This isn’t likely to get the care for continuity of tone that the “Aladdin” TV series, released less than 3 years after the film it was based on, received.

      It’s been 20 years, and a lot of the people working on this show grew up as fans of the film. It’s not a “reboot” per se, but I would expect it will have more of that kind of feel, as opposed to the “Aladdin” show which felt like a direct continuation.

  • Tori Rhodes

    Judging by the number of fan art pieces I’m seeing on Google images for Kion, it looks like a decent percentage of the fanbase is still active.

  • Mr-Famicom

    I’m glade to see Toon City back with Disney, I was getting very very sick of seeing flat, stiff and lifeless animation from the like of Korea & Canada making Cartoon Network rejects.

    Now if only they bring back TMS/Telecom & The Answer Studio (formerly know as Walt Disney Animation Japan) so that we can get Disney shows that look like Disney and not Cartoon Network rejects. I wonder if any Ex-Disney Australia staff made their own studio like how Disney Japan became The Answer Studio so that they can use them instead of the vomit inducing Korea.

    If John Lasseter is reading this, please stop with the Cartoon Network rejects and start making shows with the animation that you guys made between The Wuzzles to Gargoyles again so that Disney TV animation can look like Disney again and not look like Cartoon Network rejects.

    • Funkybat

      I understand and share your yearning for the higher-quality TV animation of WDA-Japan and WDA-Australia, those Disney Afternoon-era shows really were the pinnacle of Disney’s TV presence, even with clunky episodes done by places like Kennedy Cartoons thown into the mix. Gargoyles was one of the last WDTVA shows I really cared about, after that, the writing and then the animation just kind of trailed off.

      I would not be so quick to entirely dismiss the current generation of Disney TV animation. While it does not have the lush look and feel of the older shows, some series such as Wander Over Yonder and especially Gravity Falls are pretty entertaining. Gravity Falls is the first series in ages I feel like could actually hold its own against the classic Gummi Bears/DuckTales/Tale Spin/Darkwing era. It has a great “universe” and lots of funny, relatable characters, and most of all, a sense of adventure, which has long been absent from the more comedy-centric shows (I think Kim Possible was the last that really had that for me.)

      As for a return to the old ways, I would love to see it, but I suspect whatever approach they have taken to animation post-Kim Possible has saved a lot of expenses, and unless it were some kind of marquee property, I doubt we will see them use those studios again. This being a Lion King property, however, could mean that it does have enough cache to get them to consider doing it the “old-fashioned way.”

  • CB

    But it’s the only Disney channel to show classic movies from the Golden Age and Renaissance Age of Disney.

    • Fried

      It’s true, when I’m flipping on the TV, I tend to see films like “Up!”, “Lilo & Stitch”, and even “The Incredibles” once and am always surprised when I look at the channel and it’s Disney Junior.

      Honestly, Disney Junior is more reminiscent of how Disney XD was a decade back than Disney XD is now. Or were they called ToonDisney back then?

      • Funkybat

        There are very few TV networks that consistently program stuff I enjoy watching. I’ve pretty much adapted to the Internet-driven “a la carte” way of watching content. Shows like ‘Wander Over Yonder” and “Gravity Falls” get set on the DVR (I would buy the DVDs of the series if Disney would hurry up and release them as seasons.) but I spend no additional minutes of my life searching Disney Channel for anything I enjoy, because it would prove fruitless.

        I miss the feeling of sitting down for a solid 2 hours of entertainment with The Disney Afternoon, but I have to say it’s nice to be able to skip the commercials, and to record and watch things when I want without worrying about running out of tape space on my VHS.

  • Crystal

    Why does this have to be a preschool-age show? Why can’t it be more in the vein of Dragons: Riders of Berk? I mean, I think you could get something really cool out of a Lion King show. And since it’s already a popular franchise, you probably could take more risks and not have to water it down.

    • Funkybat

      It seems like Disney has been really gung-ho with these preschool shows lately. They get way more promotion in various media than their older kid shows such as Wander Over Yonder and Gravity Falls get. I’d like to see more Disney TV shows aimed at older elementary/tween or even teen audiences. The Dreamworks animated TV series’ so far have been enjoyable on that level, and I miss the days of Disney aiming squarely for that audience (and grabbing even older folks along with it) with shows like Tale Spin and Darkwing Duck. I swear, it seems like after a glut of high-quality all-ages TV animation in the early-mid 90s, things really went into a tailspin for so long. Gravity Falls is the first “sign of life” I’ve seen from Disney TV since Kim Possible.

  • Guest

    Wow, I would DEFINITELY watch that show!

    • jonhanson

      I wrote the original comment as a sort of joke but the more I think about it the more I really want to see it. I mean if we’re going to be reviving old properties you might as well go all the way and just cut loose.

  • Kirby

    Haha I hope so. I hope so.

  • Funkybat

    The Timon and Pumbaa cartoon was a 7-min ep comedy series. I think this new show is meant to have a little more of the sense of grandeur that permeated the Lion King, along with lots of funny animal antics and Life Lessons Learned.

    I’m not sure if I’ll be on board content-wise, given that anything written for “junior” set tends to be too pedantic and simplistic for me, but I’m hoping the art is well-drawn 2D animation with minimal “digital tweening.” That look works great with certain character designs (see the new Mickey shorts done by Mercury Filmworks) but with the Lion King universe, it really needs to be at least as well-done as the best episodes of Aladdin TV series.

  • Funkybat

    Schookums & Meat was Disney “Ren & Stimpy rip-off” and it seems to have been virtually forgotten, even though it was pretty funny at times. (I especially liked the B-side show, Pith Possum!)

    The Timon & Pumbaa show was decently animated, but it was mostly a lot of the same, an “odd couple” pair of pals getting into awkward shenanigans. It felt awkward when Simba would make an occasional cameo appearance, because the T&P “universe” felt far more toony and lacking gravitas than the Lion King “universe.” It was like “Lion King Goof Troop.”

  • Metoş

    And yet another franchise is dead because of some idiotic animation software! Thanks, Mercury Filmworks!