The story of VeggieTales, the beloved Christian cartoon show, can be summed up in a famed line from one of its creators’ comedy paragons, “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail”:
“I’m not dead yet!”
The iconic Christian children’s program, which has attracted millions of fans with its mix of Bible lessons, trademark silly songs and, yes, Monty Python-esque humor, is undergoing its latest revival this fall on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
The Christian broadcaster will air 18 new episodes of VeggieTales, beginning with a Christmas special that will debut in late fall.
VeggieTales co-creators Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki wrote most of the new episodes and will also reprise their roles as the show’s hosts, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.
The show’s revival came as a surprise to Vischer, who thought his characters’ salad days were over.
In 2016, Dreamworks Animation, which then owned VeggieTales, stopped making new episodes for sale on DVD. A Netflix version of the show, “VeggieTales in the House,” had been a disappointment to fans, said Vischer.
He thought his days of playing Bob the Tomato were over.
Then Vischer got a call from TBN, which was in talks to license the show from NBCUniversal, which now owns VeggieTales. TBN asked if he would be interested in doing the voice of Bob.
Vischer said no. He wasn’t interested in being part of VeggieTales unless he had a role in shaping the show.
“Then they asked, ‘Would you at least look at the pilot?’” said Vischer.
He did, and was encouraged by how much the pilot felt like a classic episode of the show. As he became further involved, he asked if he could rewrite the script. Before long, he and Nawrocki, who plays Larry the Cucumber, signed on as writers and voice actors.
The new revival he said, centers on the relationship between its hosts.
“Here’s what you need to know about Bob and Larry,” explained Vischer, who with Nawrocki invented the duo — and eventually a small media empire — on a computer in his family’s guest room in the early 1990s. “Bob wants to help kids. Larry wants to help Bob. That’s VeggieTales. Now, the conflict comes from the fact that most of the things Bob tries to do to help kids don’t work. And Larry helping Bob quite often isn’t actually helpful.”
Nawrocki said he’s also surprised to be working on VeggieTales again.
He’d stayed with Big Idea, the company that makes VeggieTales, when it moved to the Nashville suburbs after a bankruptcy sale in 2003. When it halted production of new episodes three years ago, Nawrocki no longer had a role. After more than two decades, he had said goodbye to Larry the Cucumber.
“I had spent the last 25 years becoming really good at being an animated cucumber. So that was a big challenge for me,” he said. “It was, OK, God, what do you have next for me?”
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Source: Religion News Service