“The Slugs & Bugs Show” premiered in September on home video and streaming services, and while it's similar to “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” it also teaches children to love Jesus.
The family show is hosted by Dove nominated singer/songwriter and family entertainer Randall Goodgame. The episodes feature stories, music, and Gospel-centered fun for a new generation of families. A few of Goodgame's co-stars include the puppets Doug the Slug, Sparky the Lightning Bug, Morty and Maggie Raccoon, and Goodgame's wife, Amy, among others.
Produced by "Veggie Tales" film producer J. Chris Wall and executive produced by Brock Starnes of Brentwood Studios, the colorful cast of “The Slugs & Bugs Show” also journeys through life’s difficulties with guidance grounded in biblical principles.
Below is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview with Goodgame and Wall who discuss how the show came about, how they were impacted by “Mister Rogers” and what biblical principles they hope all viewers will gain from watching the show.
Christian Post: Where did the idea for “The Slugs & Bugs Show” originate, and what was your passion behind seeing it come to fruition?
Wall: I’m a big fan of the music from "Slugs & Bugs" and could always imagine characters and stories in those songs. Bringing them to life in a family show just seemed like a natural next step! Making the show setting feel like Nashville with guests dropping by and joining in the workshop fun was a way to demonstrate the beauty and joy of great community. These were all very intentional choices, including the wide diversity of guests we would feature, ranging from artists to theologians and authors.
CP: What made you turn to television as the next right step for "Slugs & Bugs"?
Goodgame: We are now eight albums into "Slugs & Bugs," and next year it’ll be a decade since the very first "Slugs & Bugs" concert. From the beginning, the goal was to help encourage families in walking the way of Christ together, with love and joy and truth. Through the wonderful medium of TV, we now have 22 minutes to expound on the themes that we established in those three minute songs.
Now children can learn not just by hearing but by seeing. As families watch the characters work through difficulties and see the Truth revealed in Scripture lived out before their eyes, I hope they are even better equipped to love one another and to love Jesus as the source of all joy and goodness.
CP: Fred Rogers greatly impacted past generations; tell us how your show is similar and different from the iconic children's show?
Goodgame: It’s been pretty fun to witness the groundswell of love for Mr. Rogers over the last few years. I cried like a baby watching the documentary. One way that I hope we’re similar is that he had great respect for children. We all have a lot to learn from children and Fred Rogers knew that instinctively. Also, we both use puppets! One distinct difference is, though Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, he didn’t speak about his faith on his program (which was appropriate for public TV). Our program engages the Bible and we wrestle with what discipleship looks like, so conversations about God and faith happen all the time in the workshop.
Wall: Mister Rogers had a strong impact on me as a child. The slower rhythms that he used to tell stories and communicate with the audience felt like poetry to me. Randall Goodgame has such a gentle soul and I knew that he could also connect with kids and families in a way that was sincere and authentic. I also loved the variety show format with guests and recurring utility characters and wanted to see that come to life again.
CP: How does “The Slugs & Bugs Show” stand out from "Veggie Tales" and other children's programs today?
Wall: I really wanted “The Slugs & Bugs Show” to feel like a slice of life for families. In that Deuteronomy 6:7 way that we walk along the path and find these moments where, as parents, we share truths from scripture in very real situations. Something that patterns discipleship and walking a path with Jesus. And in that path are entertaining and character-driven stories that I think will engage the whole family.
CP: How was hosting a TV show different from being in a recording studio, or performing on stage? What did you learn through the process?
Goodgame: For the first few days of shooting, I was very uncomfortable. I’ve been singing and recording songs for decades, but I had never acted on camera before. Sometimes we'd only get three or four takes and then it’s on to the next scene. Each time I mess up, I know that means a ton of people have to do their jobs over again. Fellow actors, puppeteers, camera people, lighting people, makeup people, director, sound editor, it was more pressure than I am used to. Eventually, I learned how to memorize lines and get “into” a scene so that I could move about and talk naturally.
CP: What do you hope kids and parents take away from each episode of “The Slugs & Bugs Show”?
Goodgame: I want families to feel joyful, loved and respected by the characters and dialogue, like we’ve served them an excellent meal that happens to be really funny. But I also hope the show gives them an example for how we look to Jesus and to His Word as we walk through life and relationships.
CP: The show has been generating rave reviews since debuting a few weeks ago. Have you received any comments from viewers — young or old — that have been especially meaningful?
Goodgame: This month, I met a 17-year-old girl, the second of nine kids. She said all nine of the siblings from the youngest to her 19-year-old brother have been watching and loving the show, together with their parents and grandparents.
She mentioned how rare it was for all of them to share in the joy of a program together, and how they often quote funny lines or songs from the episodes. That was so exciting to hear since it is exactly what we prayed would happen.
CP: What have you learned is key to reaching the next generation?
Goodgame: The only key I know is the one Jesus holds to the human heart. We are broken people, born into a broken world, and we all need the great healer. The best thing we can do is love and follow Him, so His life will flow through us, enabling us to truly love our neighbor as ourselves.
I love working for children because Jesus says I need to be like them in order to come into His Kingdom. So for me, part of following Jesus means getting on my knees to see life from a child’s perspective, and amazingly, that perspective allows me to serve them and their family in the best way.
Wall: It is a battle for the hearts and minds of our kids. So I think we have to step into that arena ready to engage them with great characters in entertaining and imaginative stories. We have to earn that.
I think we can get lax and just presume that mom and dad will choose a program like ours “because it’s good for them.” I don’t think that lasts. Kids are amazing at getting things they want and if they don’t like something they are watching, they have so many other options. If we can earn their delight, then we have earned the ability to share biblical truths as well.
CP: Tell us what's next for “The Slugs & Bugs Show” and what you're hoping to accomplish with the program?
Wall: We have so many more songs to share and stories to explore. There were so many guests that we didn’t get to welcome to the workshop and we’ve got some imaginative episodes mapped out for additional seasons. For now, we’re thrilled that families are discovering the show and having a great experience. We can’t wait to bring them more.
For further information on the new family show, click here.