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‘Blue’s Clues’ giving top non-dog a sendoff

Apr 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

If you run with the preschool set, you already know that a big change is coming to “Blue’s Clues.” After nearly 100 episodes, Steve is going off to college and his younger brother Joe is coming in to replace him on Nickelodeon’s popular daytime show.
Will it be a successful transition, as with another celebrated “Blue” departure, when David Caruso left “NYPD Blue”? Will Joe fit right in with Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, Tickety the Clock and Blue, the world’s smartest doggie, just as Detective Bobby Simone did with Detective Andy Sipowicz?
Nickelodeon thinks so, and to make sure the transition is a smooth one, there will a 90-minute “hand-over” special, beginning at 7 p.m. April 29, and a “concentrated multiplatform” promotional campaign.
“Nick Jr. magazine has a whole spread on `Meet Joe,”’ said Herb Scannell, president of Nickelodeon, TV Land and TNN. “Online you’re able to get information on Joe. It’s not just a tune-in spot. … You have a multilevel campaign.”
“NYPD Blue” is the template for what Mr. Scannell hopes will happen to the Nick kids show. “The lesson from `NYPD Blue’ and `Law & Order’ is that there is a creative energy that comes out of the change. … The writers are re-energized. They have new characters; they have new opportunities. Hopefully, your audience goes with you.”
And what about the young viewers themselves? “Kids are very accepting of new. Adults are more jaded about new. By and large they’re, `I like what I like,’ and clearly this fall, that seemed to be the pattern on television,” Mr. Scannell said.
So, did older brother Steve pull a Caruso? “Steve wanted to do other things, “ Mr. Scannell said. “He didn’t want to do just `Blue’s Clues’. … David Caruso wanted to go make movies; Steve wants to go make plays. And Steve’s in his late 20s; he’s got a lot of living to do. God bless him.”
Steve is played by Steve Burns. Joe is played by Donovan Patton.
The 90-minute transition special is composed of three separate half-hours that will be replayed in daytime. In Episode 1, Joe comes for a visit; in Episode 2, he learns how to play Blue’s Clues; and in Episode 3, Steve learns he’s been accepted to college and goes off in a bus.