We interrupt your coverage of the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con to bring you the news that there is, under development, an animated TV show based on the smiley face. Yes, the one and only smiley face you see above. This is entirely true as reported in Kidscreen this week.
As it turns out, the smiley face isn't in the public domain and the entity that owns it, well they're looking to increase how much money they make from it. It would appear that the public has had their fill of posters, T-shirts, stickers, hats, etc. and are in (dire?) need of something else, something with a bit more...movement. Hence the need to branch out into the current hot ticket that is animated programming.
It's almost too easy to poke fun at this, after all, a symbol like the smiley face has become not only ubiquitous the world over, but conveys perhaps the simplest message of all: happiness. How can you take something that is essentially so one-dimensional and extrapolate it out into something as complex as a cartoon character?
Let's not poke fun though, because it's been done before, time and again. Did someone say video game character with only a single task, Pac-man? How about Angry Birds? It isn't entirely impossible to pull off a show based on such characters, but it does involve a greater degree of skill to stop things from turning stale very quickly. Angry Birds partially sidestepped that issue by having the eponymous birds say nothing at all a la Wile E Coyote, and essentially act in mime.
Of course the Smiley Face itself has been used over the years to represent much more than the initial happiness image. It's been adapted into a wide variety of situations and emotions. This puts it closer to being on a par with Hello Kitty. The Japanese character is famous for her emotionless face an yet this apparent neglect is what makes her popular: consumers can apply whatever emotion they like on her!
There are next to no details on the format the show will take at this stage, but Kidscreen notes that: “The series is expected to mix comedy, adventure and inspirational lessons that help kids understand a range of emotions.” Read into that what you will, but it could be anywhere between the two extremes of My Litte Pony's animated editions; i.e. quite good, or quite obviously exploitative. What could really upset the boat is the also-recent news that Saban is also creating an animated series based on, wait for it, emoji!