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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Johnny and the Sprites

Before the Gabba Coma, there was Nonny.

"Johnny and the Sprites" was a Playhouse Disney television series that ran for two seasons. It was Kaitlyn's first foray into the world of Disney, her initiation to becoming a Disney Girl.

You see, there used to be joy in our house each morning, as Kaitlyn would stir around 6 a.m., which was our cue to get ready for the day. The only thing that would soothe our daughter while we showered and changed was the humming of John Tartaglia, Basil, Lily, Ginger and Root.

The first time we saw this show, I was surprised to find my wife laughing hysterically at the lyric "I just need an hour/with this cauliflower" being sung by the character Seymour (Episode title: Seymour the Sleuth, original air date: Feb. 2007. You're welcome, honey). That morning began a love affair for Kaitlyn with Johnny (or "Nonny," as he is known in our house) and his band of magical friends.

We watched the show every day, mostly because it was the only thing Kaitlyn wanted to do. Some of her first words were the characters on the show. When we were able to get our hands on a copy of the show's DVD, we had it on replay. When we found a soundtrack, we couldn't stop playing it out of fear of a tantrum. To this day Kaitlyn claps and cheers "yea Nonny" after each song.

We started DVR-ing episodes to have, just in case she wanted to watch Nonny sometime in the evening, or if she wasn't feeling well. We emptied the DVR of all but one episode sometime in the fall. A week later, Disney pulled the show from its Playhouse Disney rotation. Nonny was given the ax. We weren't given an explanation. No press release. Just some parents like me asking, "Why?"

The Sprite puppets probably are sitting in a warehouse somewhere on a backlot under the remains of a Fraggle. Tartaglia is now off on Broadway playing a wooden boy.

But life goes on in our house. The DVR-ed episode (Johnny's Not Invited/Basil and the Beanstalk) can now be recited word-for-word by my wife and I. We know the words to the CD like it was August and Everything After. Kaitlyn, while moving on to Mickey, Dora and others, still comes back to Nonny every so often. But it's not enough.

For those of you out there who understand this, are fans of Johnny and the Sprites, or just want to make my little girl happy, I have started an online petition asking the Big Mouse to bring Nonny back. At the every least, give me a way to watch old episodes with my daughter. Even if I have to pay for a damn DVD of the two seasons I was able to enjoy.

For your viewing pleasure:

James Moffat is a former journalist and the author of Growing Up Kaitlyn. He and his wife, Michelle, have been married for nearly four wonderful years (plus another two) and are the parents of 21-month-old Kaitlyn Riley. You can reach him at, or tweet him @jamesmoffat.

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