Disney Junior's Goldie & Bear is set in the magical world of Fairy Tale Forest and reunites Goldie and Bear, after the renowned porridge incident featured in ‘Goldilocks and The Three Bears.' Beginning where the classic tales leave off, ‘Goldie & Bear' celebrates the distinct personalities of Goldie, Bear and their quirky fairy tale pals, and encourages children to develop their own enchanting friendships.
We recently caught a sneak peek of the first two episodes of ‘Goldie & Bear,' ‘The Birthday Chair Episode' and ‘Big Bear', and spoke with Executive Producer Chris Gilligan to learn more about Disney Junior's new animated series for kids age 2-7, and his desire to bring these beloved classic fairy tales together.
Disney Junior will debut the first six episodes of fairy tale-inspired “Goldie & Bear” on the popular WATCH Disney Junior platforms, beginning Saturday, September 12, with one new episode premiering on the WATCH Disney Junior app and WATCH Disney Junior.com each Monday from September 21 through October 12. The series premieres in November on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.
Disney Junior's Goldie & Bear – Chris Gilligan Brings Beloved Classic Fairy Tales Together in New Animated Series
Q: What inspired you to combine classic fairy tale characters who didn’t necessarily get along in the classic tales, but are unlikely best friends in this new show? Was it difficult incorporating so many classic characters in one series?
Chris Gilligan: It could have ended with the familiar tale where Goldie runs off and the bears are left with their wrecked house, but we wanted to say ‘What if she paused?’ She was basically breaking and entering, so what if she goes back, and she apologizes? What would happen if we had Goldie and Bear become best friends.
Right there it became immediate that with the rich world of fairy tales, we could mix and match and have a bit of fun exploring the subject of friendship.
Q: The show, aimed at preschoolers, focuses on friendship and community, demonstrates creative problem-solving, and exhibits critical thinking skills such as logic and strategy. Why do you think it is important to continually emphasize these skills with children through animated shows?
Chris Gilligan: We try to hit the themes and explore what it is to be a kid and some of the things they go through. By putting it in this arena and adding an entertainment value of magic, we're putting it in a place where kids could be entertained while feeling akin to some of the things characters are going through. We thought it would be that combination that would give a full experience by telling the stories in this world.
What kid hasn’t wanted to feel older? Or feel big enough to do things? With ‘Big Bear', we thought that was a related way to start a story, but what is unique to this world and these characters is that we can add that element of magic that bear actually gets to be a ‘big’ bear, and gets to play with that as a toy. It’s wish fulfillment, but also be careful what you wish for.
And Goldie helps him gets what he wants, to be big, and then helps him realize that will come in time, and maybe right now he’s right where he needs to be.
Q: In ‘Big Bear,’ we see bear get into a bit of trouble with some of Jack’s magic beans. Why do you think it is important for children to see characters have these errs in judgement?
Chris Gilligan: I think it is something to throw a light on and talk about things that real kids actually go through, and put it in a place that as they go through it, it’s ok to go through it. There is a way for it to be if not resolved, at least explored.
Q: Disney always features great original songs in their television series, songs like ‘Just right’ in the ‘Big Bear’ episode. Can you tell us more about Disney’s vision for incorporating songs into Disney Junior Series?
Chris Gilligan: Yes, that’s Rob Cantor. He’s so great! The tradition of the song is because it’s a way in that characters speak to people. If it’s catchy, it’s memorable, but that’s nothing if it’s not built on a foundation that is real and comes from a genuine place.
For example the song ‘Just Right,’ that is how he feels in the moment. He feels like yes, this is correct. I’m a big bear now and I can do all these things. ‘I shake the ground, walkin’ around. I see halfway across the town.’
There’s really clever lyrics and there’s this experience as a kid watching it, and even me as an adult experiencing this and thinking back to when I was a kid, this just encapsulates that. Disney is very good about finding a joyful moment, or an emotionally sincere moment.
I’ll jump to a song that is still in everybody’s head, Frozen’s ‘Let it Go.’ There is something very real about that and that’s why it spoke to a gazillion people. In a complimentary way with Goldie & Bear, ‘Just Right’ plays in that moment and later, when he returns to the size he actually is, they reprise the song. It’s got a flip to it and it works there too.
There’s a cleverness there that stands on a Disney tradition. It’s a way to move the story forward in an authentic way true to the story point, and it’s entertaining too.
Q: In the ‘Birthday Chair’ episode, we see classic fairy tale characters including Humpty Dumpty, Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and Jack and the Bean Stalk. Are there any additional fairy tale characters we’ll see in upcoming episodes?
Chris Gilligan: Some were in the background of the party in the episode ‘Birthday Chair.’ Jack and Jill will be making a debut, two really enduring characters. Really fun and full of energy. They are smaller kids to Goldie & Bear, so they are where Goldie & Bear have already been. In a way they try their patience, and in a way they remind them of where they came from.
The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk will be visiting us. The woman in the shoe and her kids. Mother Goose will be coming by. The witch in the gingerbread house from Hansel & Gretel will be visiting us as well, but in a way that is a bit of a surprise. Quite a few characters from the world of fairy tale will be coming our way.
Q: I saw that you have two children. Are they young enough to enjoy this show?
Chris Gilligan: You know, it’s the young at heart part of it. They are 11 and 13, and they are actually enjoy the show.
Thirteen is an interesting time when you would think this is the last thing they would ever want to watch, but there’s a touch of nostalgia from my 13-year-old who looks at it and says ‘Dad, I’d watch this show. If I was a kid, I’d watch this show.’ It’s humor. There’s plenty of physical humor in it that totally tickles him. His name actually happens to be Wolff, spelled with two ‘ffs', so there’s a place in his heart for the big bad wolf.
My daughter who’s eleven is right on the cusp of this kind of content could easily feel young, yet she sees what’s joyful and entertaining about it and she has a blast. Maybe they’re just being very supportive, but I find that they sincerely enjoy it.
Q: What conversations are you hoping this show with spark between children and their parents?
Chris Gilligan: What I’m hoping for is whether families have enjoyed the tales and enjoy the way we play within them, or for those families that have not been reading these tales, that they will go back pull that book off the bookshelf and explore the original tales.
In either case, I hope it sparks conversations about the characters and what they are going though, what they are learning, and inspire families to learn more about their adventures.
About Goldie & Bear
Beginning where the classic tales leave off, “Goldie & Bear” celebrates the distinct personalities of Goldie, Bear and their quirky pals, and encourages children to develop their own enchanting friendships. The series is populated with a diverse cast of storybook characters who model friendship, community, respect for individuality, resilience in the face of adversity and compassion for others, and is meant to spark conversations among kids and parents about the narratives and morals highlighted by Goldie and Bear's unlikely friendship and their comedic interactions in Fairy Tale Forest.
“Goldie & Bear” stars Natalie Lander (“The Middle”) as Goldie and Georgie Kidder (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”) as Bear. Recurring guest stars include Lesley Nicol (“Downton Abbey”) as Fairy Godmother; Isabella Day (“Cristela”) as little witch Rosita; Debby Ryan (“Jessie”) as Thumbelina and Miles Brown and Marsai Martin (“black-ish”) as Jack & Jill. “Goldie & Bear” was developed for television and is co-executive produced by Jorge Aguirre (“Giants Beware!” graphic novel series); Chris Gilligan (“Frankenweenie”) is executive producer and director; Joe Ansolabehere (“Recess”) is story editor and Rob Cantor (from the band Tally Hall) is songwriter.
About Disney Junior
Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. It invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7.
Disney Junior's series blend Disney's unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills. In the U.S., Disney Junior is a daily programming block on Disney Channel and a 24-hour channel reaching over 73 million U.S. homes. In total, there are 34 Disney Junior channels in 25 languages around the world.
Portions of this material was provided by Disney Junior.