The Emperor's New School
The Emperor's New School is an American animated television series created by Mark Dindal, which originally aired for two seasons from January 27, 2006 to November 20, 2008. It is a spin-off to the 2000 movie The Emperor's New Groove. In it, Kuzco is required to attend the public high school, Kuzco Academy, before he can become the emperor of the Inca Empire. Yzma, Kuzco's former advisor, disguises herself as the school's principal in an attempt to cause him to fail his classes so she can become empress herself. She receives assistance from her henchman Kronk, Kuzco is aided by his classmate Malina and the villager Pacha and his family. The episodes use physical comedy and sections where Kuzco interrupts a scene to directly address the viewer.
|The Emperor's New School|
|Created by||Mark Dindal|
|Theme music composer||Michael Tavera|
|Opening theme||"The Emperor's New School Theme Song"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||52 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Bobs Gannaway|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Walt Disney Television Animation|
|Picture format||1080i (16:9) (HDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||January 27, 2006 –|
November 20, 2008
The Walt Disney Company developed The Emperor's New School after The Emperor's New Groove received high ratings during syndication. Most of the original cast – Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Bob Bergen, and Wendie Malick – returned for the series, though J. P. Manoux replaced David Spade in the lead role. Brian Cummings temporarily filled the role for John Goodman. Executive producer Bobs Gannaway had received Dindal's approval and wanted to preserve elements from the film in its television spin-off, particularly its art style. Episodes were produced using traditional 2D animation. According to Gannaway, the academic setting and storylines were chosen to explore Kuzco's social ineptitude. Michael Tavera wrote the theme music, and Laura Dickinson and Eartha Kitt also contributed to the soundtrack.
Between January 27 and 29, 2006, The Emperor's New School premiered as part of a three-day promotion on the Disney Channel, ABC Kids, Disney Channel on Demand, and Toon Disney. It was the first television series to have a debut across these four platforms; it was broadcast on Fridays and Saturdays at different times. Both seasons are available on the iTunes Store, although individual episodes are unavailable for purchase on any digital platform. Disney and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) distributed the series. The Emperor's New School received a mixed response; Malina's representation was one criticism. The show received several awards and nominations. Kitt won two Annie Awards, while Howy Parkins and Warburton each received a nomination. Kitt also won two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, and DiCicco received a nomination in the same category.
Premise and charactersEdit
The Emperor's New School follows Kuzco who must graduate from the public high school, Kuzco Academy, to claim his throne as emperor of the Inca Empire. On his birthday, he learns about this educational requirement of his trust fund and is evicted from the palace. At the academy, he takes courses on talking to squirrels, herding llamas, and "Kuzcology". However, episodes focus more on Kuzco learning life lessons, such as the importance of friendship and hard work. His former royal advisor Yzma disguises herself as the academy's principal, Amzy, to prevent him from graduating. She schemes against Kuzco in an attempt to become the empress. Her plans often involve turning him into an animal, leaving him unable to finish a school assignment. Her henchman Kronk assists her by posing as a student and Kuzco's friend.
As a student, Kuzco lives with the peasant Pacha and his wife Chicha and their children Tipo, Chaca, and Cuti. Despite their strained relationship and contrasting lifestyles, Pacha acts as a father figure for Kuzco, helping him with his school projects. In one instance, Pacha trains Kuzco for a physical education class. Kuzco is also assisted by Malina, a cheerleader and the "president of every club". She is characterized by her intelligence and popularity, and is one of the few characters who scolds him about his attitude. Kuzco has a crush on her, frequently referring to her as a "hottie hot hottie". Other supporting characters include the Royal Records Keeper and Mr. Moleguaco.
The Emperor's New School is a spin-off of the 2000 movie The Emperor's New Groove and its 2005 direct-to-video sequel Kronk's New Groove. Although it is a sequel, Kuzco retains his narcissistic personality, causing some critics to associate him with the phrase "it's all about me". The show references the original film, including Kronk's spinach puffs and Yzma being flattened by a large object whenever he pulls the lever to the secret lab.
The series uses physical comedy with a "self-aware" approach. Examples of recurring schticks include Kuzco stopping a scene to either make a sarcastic comment or doodle his ideas on ruled paper. Executive producer Bobs Gannaway described the show as having "postmodern touches" due to these interactions with the audience. Inspired by the Austin Powers films, the series uses awkward pauses in conversations as part of its comedy. Jeanne Spreier, writing for The Dallas Morning News, said the show based its humor in one-line jokes aimed at an older audience. Speier noted the storylines dealt with "the more common problems of adolescence" and the school setting was grounded in "decidedly contemporary American attributes".
Originally titled Emperor's New Skool, the Walt Disney Company developed The Emperor's New School as "another heritage property" for its television scheduling. According to Disney Channels' Worldwide president Gary Marsh, the show was commissioned after The Emperor's New Groove attracted high ratings on the Disney Channel and Toon Disney. It was first announced in 2004 for a 2006 release. Mark Dindal, who directed the original film, approved of Bobs Gannaway as executive producer based on their friendship and work together on the 1997 animated film Cats Don't Dance. The Walt Disney Company first approached Gannaway about the series "a few years" after The Emperor's New Groove was released. He had previously worked with the company on various spin-offs, including the television programs Timon & Pumbaa and Lilo & Stitch: The Series. These helped establish his reputation as the "go-to guy" for expanding on pre-existing films. Howy Parkins and David Knott are the show's directors, and Dindal is credited as its creator.
The series is set in a school to emphasize Kuzco's lack of social etiquette. Gannaway said that episodes include "socially redeeming stories", with the character working through problems with teachers and students. Comparing The Emperor's New School to other animated shows, he attributed the main difference to it having a comedic character as the lead rather than a sidekick. While Gannaway acknowledged viewers might initially dislike Kuzco because of his attitude, he hoped the series would portray him as a "sympathetic jerk" who "really doesn't know any better".
J. P. Manoux replaces David Spade as the voice for Kuzco for The Emperor's New School. Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton reprise their roles as Yzma and Kronk, respectively. Kitt jokingly said about her attachment to the character: "[Children] know my name ... I love it! ... There [can be] no other Yzma!" Brian Cummings voices Pacha, although some media outlets mistakenly reported that Fred Tatasciore does so. Cummings was hired for the part since he did "advance voice work" for Pacha as part of The Emperor's New Groove's development. The original voice actor, John Goodman, would eventually return to portray Pacha in the television show. Bob Bergen and Wendie Malick also reprise their roles as Bucky the squirrel and Chicha, respectively. The rest of the main cast includes Jessica DiCicco as Malina, Shane Baumel as Tipo, Rip Taylor as the Royal Records Keeper, and Curtis Armstrong as Mr. Moleguaco. Guest stars include Miley Cyrus as Yatta, a waitress, and Joey Lawrence as Dirk Brock.
The Emperor's New School uses traditional 2D animation. Flash animation had been dismissed as incompatible during the show's development. In an attempt to preserve The Emperor's New Groove's art style, Gannaway kept its focus on the characters. He explained that the original film had made the characters appear "flatter" against "solid washed-up backgrounds", which "helped [them] pop"; his intention was that the show continue this technique. Each episode took roughly nine months to complete, and between 16 to 17 were developed at a time. Michael Tavera wrote the theme music, a "rocking march number" and "pastiche college fight song" featuring Kuzco bragging about himself. Laura Dickinson also contributed to the show's music, performing the songs: "Let's Brock", "Kuzco Dance", "Our Academy", and "Kronk For Hire". Kitt had also recorded a song and a "special intro" for the episode "Yzmopolis". Discussing her part, Kitt said "the added dimension of a singing voice gives [her] character an added and vital layer".
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||21||January 27, 2006||November 11, 2006|
|2||31||June 23, 2007||November 20, 2008|
Broadcast history and releaseEdit
The first episode of The Emperor's New School, "Rabbit Face", was broadcast as part of a three-day schedule between January 27, 2006, and January 29, 2006. It was shown on the Disney Channel, ABC Kids, Disney Channel on Demand, and Toon Disney. AllMovie's Hal Erickson considered this an example of a "typical Disney super-saturation" broadcast practice. It was the first series to debut across these four television platforms. On the Disney channel, the series was shown on Friday and Saturday afternoons at 5:00 pm EST. It was broadcast on ABC Kids on Saturday mornings at 9:30 am EST, and on Toon Disney on Friday afternoons at 3:00 pm EST. The Emperor's New School premiered roughly a month after the release of Kronk's New Groove.
Each episode runs for 30 minutes and carries a "suitable for all ages" TV-G parental rating. In January 2007, the series was part of Toon Disney's "Great Toon Weekend" programming block. The series finale aired on November 20, 2008. The show was released on the iTunes Store, and is unavailable on any other online platform. It was distributed through Disney and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).
The Emperor's New School received some positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes' Fred Topel said it was an example of The Walt Disney Company's success in translating its films to television. Animation World Network's Sarah Baisley enjoyed the show's look, which she described as "simple but attractive background designs that work well for TV delivery". Karen MacPherson, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, praised the show for its "irreverent good humor", citing the "Kuzco's Doodles" segment as a highlight. Although he disliked the show, author David Perlmutter spotlighted Kitt and Warburton for their performances; the cast was also praised by Matthew Trzcinski and Katerina Daley, both writing for Screen Rant, even though they felt the series was inferior to the film.
Critics also had negative reactions to the show. MacPherson was confused by the premise, since the pilot episode initially suggested an education would help Kuzco become emperor and later said it was necessary for him to remain in the position. She was also uncertain about the school setting, and questioned how it could sustain a show without growing monotonous. Perlmutter believed the series destroyed the original film's charm, and criticized Disney for adapting all of their movies into television programs. Common Sense Media's Pam Gelman criticized the "lackluster animation and annoying characters", and questioned why anyone would help someone as selfish as Kuzco. Kevin McDonough, writing for the United Feature Syndicate, dismissed The Emperor's New School as "the kind of kid's cartoon that gives kid's cartoons a bad name". Malina was also the subject of criticism. Bustle's Kadeen Griffiths described her role as Kuzco's love interest as sexist, but noted she was given some depth. MacPherson was critical of how the show only represented women through two characters (Yzma and Malina). She wrote that Malina's figure-hugging clothing put an emphasis on her attractiveness over her intelligence.
The Emperor's New School received several awards and nominations. At the 34th Annie Awards, Eartha Kitt won the award for Voice Acting in a Television Production for performance in the episode "Kuzclone". Patrick Warburton received a nomination for the same category and episode. In the 35th Annie Awards, the episode "Emperor's New Musical" received two nominations. Kitt won the award for Voice Acting in a Television Production, while Howy Parkins was nominated for the award in Directing in a Television Production. Kitt also won two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for her role at the 34th and the 35th Daytime Emmy Awards. Jessica DiCicco was also nominated in this category for the 35th Daytime Emmy Awards.
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