Solving problems, making mistakes, working as a team — it’s all in a day’s work for The Chicken Squad, a new animated TV show from Disney Junior and DisneyNOW. Inspired by the popular book series from Doreen Cronin, the series follows three young chicken siblings — Coop, Sweetie and Little Boo — as they team up on problem-solving adventures. Together with their retired search and rescue dog mentor, Captain Tully, they help their animal friends while modelling what it means to be good community members.
A Trio of Precocious Poultry
Meet Coop, Sweetie and Little Boo; three unique chicks with a penchant for helping those in trouble (while getting into some of their own). On the surface, it would be easy to dismiss this show as “Paw Patrol with beaks,” and without access to swanky vehicles or government-sanctioned gear. Granted, the trio’s coop is outfitted with the latest problem-solving outfits and secret lair (as most are), but that’s where the similarities end.
Emmy Award-winner Tom Rogers both developed and executive produces the show. His love for these “egg-ceptional” youngsters is evident.
“There’s Coop, he’s the inventive one. He likes his engineering and his rulers, and he’s always inventing tools to help them on their adventures. Sweetie is athletic, but you’ll discover that she has a real knack for science. And then Little Boo is speedy, and he brings the attitude,” Rogers says with a laugh.
The Chicken Squad activates typical teamwork tropes without coming off as corny. In fact, these fowl youngsters flip some of the more recognizable plot devices on their head.
For example, Sweetie, the largest of the three and a girl, is both the group’s muscle and something of a STEM aficionado. What’s equally interesting is that the show follows the young trio in a series of “misadventures,” a critical piece that differentiates this program from other animated team shows. These characters are fallible, subject to making mistakes, bad choices, and ignoring advice.
In other words, they’re kids.
It’s only from making mistakes that our heroes truly learn to collaborate and problem-solve. Sweetie, Coop and Little Boo feel less aspirational and more relatable.
The Man Behind the Squad
Rogers’ history of adding new, diverse and complex characters to the mix can be traced back to his work on Elena of Avalor and Sofia the First. Rogers’ creation of multi-dimensional characters who operate outside societal norms is intentional, and he worked closely with Cronin to make sure he was respectful of the source material while giving the characters depth on the small screen.
“We worked very closely with Doreen from the very beginning,” Rogers tells Parentology. “But then we also had conversations with her about things that needed to shift to make it work as an animated TV show. A lot of that has to do really with character design. You want your characters to have very distinct personalities. And you want to make sure the designs represent those personalities.”
Social-Emotional Learning from Chickens
Whether the episode’s theme focuses on teamwork, time management or empathy, these are all applicable life lessons, made even more poignant in today’s contentious climate.
“We’ve all gone through this pandemic, we’re still mostly working and schooling from home,” says Rogers. “Kids need friends; it’s hard when you can’t get to go to school and hang out with your pals. And I hope that The Chicken Squad can be their friends, that they’ll want to come hang out with them every week.”
At its heart, The Chicken Squad conveys the joy and fun of helping neighbors and friends. “What really matters are the things that connect us, the things that bring us together and the ways that we can help people who need help,’” Rogers says. “This show is about kids learning to solve their own problems, and about the joy that they get from being a community helper.”
The Chicken Squad premieres on Disney Junior and DisneyNOW on May 14th, 7:30 PM EDT/PDT. Watch an exclusive clip from the upcoming first episode below.
The Chicken Squad TV Show — CAST: Ramone Hamilton (Coop), Gabriella Graves (Sweetie), Maxwell Simkins (Little Boo), Yvette Nicole Brown (Captain Tully).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bawk-Bagawk! Did you know that May 14th coincides with National Dance Like a Chicken Day? Why not download the digital soundtrack, “Disney Junior Music: The Chicken Squad,” featuring the theme song and music from the series (also set for release Friday, May 14, on Walt Disney Records) and shake a tail feather!