'Caillou' Returning After PBS Cancellation

Caillou is making a comeback, at least in his native Canada. WildBrain Television announced on Sept. 1 that it would premiere new specials starring the 4-year-old as part of a new slate of programming for children that will begin airing in October. The Caillou specials will start airing in summer 2022, with each special running 45 minutes. It is not clear how the specials will be distributed in the U.S.

The new Caillou specials will be CG animated, unlike the original traditionally-animated show. There are five new specials planned, and they will air on WildBrain's Family Jr. channel. The stand-alone specials will focus on Christmas, Halloween, Family Day, and Summer Vacation. One episode will also cover National Ant-Bullying Day, which is Feb. 23 in Canada.

Caillou is based on the book series by Helene Despeteaux. The original animated series was produced between 1997 and 2010 and aired on PBS in the U.S. In January, PBS announced it would finally stop airing the show. In August, WarnerMedia announced it would start airing Caillou as part of a Cartoonito preschool block for children on Cartoon Network, beginning on Sept. 13. The show will also be available on HBO Max.

When PBS announced it would no longer air Caillou, the decision was widely celebrated by parents who criticized the show for a lack of educational value. Instead, some critics thought the show taught children bad habits, like being sassy to parents and throwing a tantrum if they don't get what they want. Even in Caillou's native country, the show attracted critics.

"Unlike most children's programming, Caillou makes almost no attempt to educate its young audience. There are no veiled math problems, spelling lessons or morality tales; it's just calm, non-threatening, bright-coloured people navigating everyday tasks," the National Post's Tristin Hopper wrote in 2017, when Caillou backlash was at its height. "It's escapist TV: A toddler version of Sex and the City or Mad Men. After all, what child wouldn't want to indulge in a universe where their every whim is catered to by a community of scared, jobless adults?"

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Caillou is so despised that one person created a Change.org petition demanding YouTube and other channels remove the show. "Caillou is a menace that has been allowed to run unchecked for quite some time," the petitioner wrote. "The creators of the show said they made him the way he was, in order to allow kids a way to see that their feelings are validated. The problem is that Caillou is, in fact, evil... so his temper tantrums are completely invalid and normally result from his own actions and terror." Over 280 people agreed and signed the petition.