Two beloved kids TV shows are returning this weekend. Here’s what to know

Four animated dogs on the front steps of a house
Since its premiere in Australia in 2018, “Bluey” has become a global phenomenon. A new special comes out Sunday.
(Ludo Studio)

Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who’s ready to add a new episode of their kids’ favorite show to the arsenal.

For parents (and babysitters) who’ve seen the same scenarios over and over and over again, TV editor Maira Garcia writes in our Tune In section, this weekend is an auspicious one, with the return of Dora the Explorer — in a new Nickelodeon series, “Dora,” premiering Friday — and a 28-minute “Bluey” special, arriving Sunday. Just don’t blame us when you’ve already seen the fresh material five or six times by Monday.

Also in Screen Gab No. 127, senior writer Meredith Blake explains the real-life sage behind “Mr. Bates vs. the Post Office,” tips on the Coachella livestream, and a visit from “Fire Country” star Stephanie Arcila.



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A view inside the Cartoon Network Studios artist stairwell.
(Cartoon Network Studios)

A stairwell at Cartoon Network Studios captured 20 years of history. Now you can see it, too: The Burbank building had a stairwell for artists to draw in. It’s been preserved digitally for everyone to see.

For ‘Abbott Elementary’s’ Chris Perfetti, ‘tragic circumstances’ are comedy gold: As Jacob, the liberal white do-gooder at a West Philadelphia elementary school, Perfetti has become a fan favorite and meme king. But the humor comes from mining real fears and desires.

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ finale and its ‘Seinfeld’ moment: ‘A joke 26 years in the making’: Showrunner Jeff Schaffer and cast member Susie Essman discuss the series finale, “No Lessons Learned,” and other takeaways from the show’s last season.


An oral history of ‘Strangers With Candy,’ the comedy that changed TV’s rulebook: Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello discuss the origins of their filthy, irreverent cult comedy, which premiered in 1999.

Turn on

Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

People pose with an art sculpture at Coachella.
People pose with an art sculpture at Coachella last year.
(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (YouTube)

Believe the hype of Couch-ella. The Coachella YouTube stream broadcasts six of the festival’s seven largest stages April 12-14 and again April 19-21. (Note that the punk- and rock-leaning Sonora Tent gets swapped for the house-heavy Yuma Tent on the second weekend.) The food/drinks are cheaper, you don’t need earplugs and there’s no wait for the bathroom. Make it feel more authentic by adding blinky lights after the sun goes down. Honestly, you can probably catch more sets from home, especially since the stream is adding a multiview option for up to four stages. Don’t know who to watch? We curated a list of must-see sets. However, if you want to know what’s happening that you can’t watch on the stream, follow The Times’ coverage from Indio. —Vanessa Franko

An animated girl wearing a backpack standing with a cartoon monkey.
L to R Diana Zermeno as the voice of Dora and Asher Colton Spence as the voice of Boots in Dora, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Paramount+ © 2024 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon, Dora and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.

“Dora” (Paramount+) and “Bluey” (Disney+)

It’s a big weekend for viewers with preschool-aged children. “Bluey,” the beloved Australian animated series about a Blue Heeler puppy, her Dad, Mum and little sister, Bingo, will get its first-ever special, titled “The Sign.” The 28-minute episode will begin streaming Sunday on Disney+; it is also slated to air on Disney Junior and Disney Channel. If your child is anything like mine, you’ll probably be up early to watch (they never sleep in on weekends, do they?). As for what to expect, the official teaser trailer offers some hints: There appears to be a wedding in the works, and we see Bingo, Bluey and their friends, Muffin and Socks, wearing flower crowns. Several actors will also make their voice debut on the series, including Joel Edgerton.


As you wait for Sunday, if you’re looking for a fresh series for the kids, Dora the Explorer is back in “Dora,” a new CG-animated series now streaming on Paramount+. “Dora” features the characters you remember, and the Spanish lessons and games that made it so fun and memorable for kids. The new season drops with 26 11-minute episodes, but if you’re not a Paramount+ subscriber, a few preview episodes are available on YouTube. It might be enough to distract your kids as you scour Reddit for the latest “Bluey” clue. — Maira Garcia

Catch up

Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about

A trio of people give testimony on a public panel as an audience looks on.
Katherine Kelly, from left, Lia Williams and Ian Hart in “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office.”

If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then it’s also true — at least sometimes — that a scripted TV show can effect more change than dozens of scrupulous journalistic investigations. Such is the case with “Mr. Bates vs. the Post Office,” a four-part series about one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in modern British history.

Written by Gwyneth Hughes, the series, which premiered on PBS’s “Masterpiece” on Sunday and is streaming on PBS Passport, dramatizes the scandal in which hundreds of subpostmasters — people who operated Post Office locations — were wrongly accused of wrongdoing when a bug-ridden computer accounting system called Horizon made it seem as if money were disappearing from their branches.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 were convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting; many others faced financial ruin when they were forced to make up the shortfalls, or lost their livelihoods when their contracts were terminated. Numerous subpostmasters served time in jail, including one pregnant woman. The scandal also caused widespread emotional distress, with at least four people dying by suicide. And for years, journalists, politicians and advocates called for accountability from the Post Office, a High Court judge ordered it in 2019 to pay 58 million pounds to a group of more than 500 subpostmasters. But the scandal was not front-page news, nor did most of the public comprehend the scope of the issue.


Then came “Mr. Bates vs. the Post Office,” in which Toby Jones stars as Alan Bates, a former subpostmaster who has spent more than two decades fighting for justice for his wronged colleagues. The series opens in 2003 when Bates, refusing to accept liability for the shortfalls at his branch in scenic Llandudno, North Wales, has his contract terminated. He believes, rightly, that there’s something wrong with the Horizon system, but is told that he’s the only person experiencing these issues.

This, of course, turns out to be a lie: over the years, he forms an alliance with other subpostmasters seeking justice, including Lee Castleton (Will Mellor) and Jo Hamilton (Monica Dolan). They range in age, hail from different corners of the country and speak in a delightful array of accents, but all have been horribly wronged. After a long and exceedingly complicated journey through the dark heart of the British legal system, the alliance eventually wins a financial settlement — but it is, at best, a partial victory, one that fails to adequately compensate the hundreds of everyday Britons ensnared in a bureaucratic nightmare.

The series takes what could be a dry story about accounting errors and weaves it into a riveting, deeply human narrative. Most of us know little about the intricacies of British law, but nearly all of us can understand the exquisite torture of calling a useless customer service hotline or dealing with glitchy software. Which may be why “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office” became an instant hit when it premiered on ITV in January, garnering more than 10 million viewers — enough to make it the channel’s biggest new drama since “Downton Abbey” in 2010. Its popularity helped propel the Post Office scandal to the front pages in a country weary of political dysfunction and forced the government to take bipartisan action. Days after the finale aired in January, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for new legislation to swiftly exonerate and compensate people wrongfully convicted in the scandal. More than 1 million people signed a petition calling for Paula Vennells, former Post Office chief executive, to be stripped of her CBE honor; in February, King Charles II formally revoked the honor.

And for the subpostmasters, who now have the support of the public behind them, the fight continues. This week, the real Alan Bates gave testimony at a government inquiry into the Horizon debacle, where he called the Post Office “an atrocious organization” run by “thugs in suits.” “The whole of the postal service nowadays — it’s a dead duck. It’s beyond saving,” he said. It’s difficult to imagine a show having such an impact in the United States, where few events outside a solar eclipse can unite people across the cultural divide. But we can, at least, understand the outrage. —Meredith Blake

READ MORE: In ‘Mr. Bates vs The Post Office,’ Toby Jones is the quiet, stubborn leader of a resistance

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

A close-up of a woman firefighter.
Stephanie Arcila in “Fire Country.”
(Sergei Bachlakov/CBS)

One of last season’s breakout hits, “Fire Country” (CBS, Paramount+) — about a group of Cal Fire firefighters living and working in the fictional Humboldt County town of Edgewater — has shown no signs of a sophomore slump — and Stephanie Arcila is increasingly at the center of it. As fire captain’s daughter Gabriela Perez, the actor finds her character caught between fiancé Diego (Rafael de la Fuente) and ex Bode (Max Thieriot), who recently threw tacks on Gabriela’s road to the altar with an unexpected profession of love. Arcila stopped by Screen Gab recently to discuss why viewers love love triangles, wearing firefighter gear for work and what she’s watching. —Matt Brennan

READ MORE: ‘Fire Country,’ the new TV show about Cal Fire, is a hit. Just not with Cal Fire

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

Recently I watched a show called “Blue Eye Samurai” [Netflix]. Wow! What a visually stunning anime with beautiful storytelling.

What is your go-to “comfort watch,” movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

It would have to be a documentary or a cooking show. I love murder documentaries because of the psychology of it. Then on the other end of the spectrum, I love “The Great British Bake-Off” [Netflix]!

Especially after recent events, Gabriela finds herself in what TV fans will recognize as a classic love triangle with Diego and Bode. Why do you think the trope is so powerful, and what’s your favorite example as a fan?

People love the trope! I grew up in a household where telenovelas were watched, which is trope-central, so I get it. “[Yo soy] Betty, la fea,” which was originally a Colombian telenovela, used to be on in my home all the time. It was later re-imagined for Hollywood in English with “Ugly Betty” [Netflix, Hulu], which had the best [use of the] trope — and Betty wins!

There aren’t many projects that require an actor to wear something like a firefighting suit. How did it feel putting it on for the first time? What’s it like to act in it, especially on long shooting days?

The first time I put the suit on I didn’t realize how heavy it would be. I definitely started weight training to build up my strength to be able to hold all of our gear. I love it, though; I’m working and working out at the same time. I have so much respect for firefighters!