If you’ve had a young child living in your home in the past several years, you’re probably familiar with a very friendly bear who lives in a very big blue house. Now, a decade after his first appearance, there are rumblings that the seven-foot bear may be returning, bigger than ever.
The Bear in the Big Blue House series debuted on October 20, 1997 on The Disney Channel. The show was created for very young children, to help teach them simple concepts like shapes, gravity, helping, seasons, and even toilet training. The ever-curious and kind Bear lives in his blue house with an assortment of friendly woodland creatures.
The housemates included an excitable lemur named Treelo, headstrong mouse Tutter, peppy otter twins Pip and Pop and an imaginative little bear cub Ojo. At the start of each show, Bear welcomes the viewers to his home. At the end, Bear stands on his balcony and reviews what everyone has learned that day with his friend Luna, the wise moon.
The series was created, owned and produced by The Jim Henson Company, several years after the Muppet company founder Jim Henson’s death. The show became very popular among young children for its friendly tone, colorful characters and fun songs.
Over 115 episodes of Bear in the Big Blue House were created and released sporadically over the past ten years. For example, the fourth season started in 2003 but eight episodes didn’t air until Spring 2006. A short-lived series entitled Breakfast with Bear began in 2005.
The Walt Disney Company purchased the Bear characters in 2004 as part of the deal to purchase the Muppets and other characters from the Henson Company. Like the Muppets, Bear has attained such widespread affection that he has starred in a stage show and appeared a few times on the Hollywood Squares game show and other programs. Some have suggested that Disney actually paid more for the Bear properties than they paid for the Muppets. Strangely though, Disney hasn’t produced new Bear programming since they purchased the Big Blue House characters.
Now, ten years after Bear’s debut, it looks like there are big plans for Bear and his friends. There are early plans for additional DVD releases, a re-launch of the shows on television, a new album of Bear music, other merchandise and even a new travelling stage show.
The big news though is that the folks at the mouse house are seriously considering a feature film for the seven-foot tall, friendly bear. No concrete details are available as yet but Bear’s friendly and affable nature seems perfect for the big screen. Official announcements are expected later this year so stay tuned!