Dora the Explorer is an American animated television series created by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh, and Eric Weiner. Dora the Explorer became a regular series in 2000. The show is carried on the Nickelodeon cable television network, including the associated Nick Jr. channel. It aired on CBS until September 2006. A Spanish-dubbed version first aired as part of a Nick en español block on NBC Universal-owned Telemundo through September 2006; since April 2008, this version of the program has been carried on Univision as part of the Planeta U block. The show is still replaying episodes on Treehouse TV.
The series is about a seven year old girl named Dora, who goes on adventures with her friend, Boots. In her adventures, Dora invites young viewers at home to complete a goal. Checking Map to find the way, and using Backpack to get what she needs, Dora and the viewer must solve problems and overcome obstacles along the way to their goal. The viewers would also learn some Spanish too. At the end of each adventure, everybody cheers and celebrate by dancing to Dora's signature "We Did It!" dance.
Dora: A 7 year old adventurous girl who loves to explore and is always eager for her next adventure. She loves animals and plants that live in the forest and always carries her Backpack and Map while going on new adventures.
Boots: Boots is a 5 year old monkey and is Dora's companion. He loves to go on adventures with Dora. He is happy, confident, and always likes to hold Dora's hand. He loves to laugh and he loves bananas. But most of all, he loves his red boots.
Backpack: Backpack is Dora's special helper. She's always loaded up with lots of stuff that Dora might need to triumph in her adventure.
Map: Map is a funny, bouncy, rolled up map who lives inside Backpack's side pocket. Whenever Dora and Boots need to get somewhere, Map always shows them the way to go.
Swiper: A sneaky fox that always tries to swipe items from Dora that she needs to complete her adventure.
Tico: A good friend to Dora and Boots. He speaks Spanish and loves to help them.
Benny: A good friend to Dora and Boots and likes to ride his hot air balloon.
Isa: A good friend to Dora and Boots. She loves her flowers and waters them to help them grow.
Fiesta Trio: Three small creatures who always play a tune when Dora and Boots pass a place or complete their adventure.
Dora the Explorer's history started as early as 1997. At a meeting in December of 1997, Nickelodeon executives asked the network's in-house development team to come up with ideas for new shows. The execs had been working with outside creators to conceptualize shows, but were not satisfied with the results. Valerie Walsh, a Nickelodeon employee who was in film school at the time, was at the meeting. Walsh brought her ideas to the group's next meeting and found that she and another Nickelodeon employee, Chris Gifford, had a similar concept: a story-driven interactive show starring a little girl heroine. Nickelodeon executives, intrigued with the concept, asked Walsh and Gifford to flesh out their ideas into a TV show. About four months later, "Dora the Explorer" was born. Walsh and Gifford considered other characters for their concepts before they decided on Dora. One version told the story of Dora the rabbit and her friends who lived in the woods. The creators preferred a little girl all along as the lead character, but initially were restricted by monetary considerations.
"We weren't allowed to consider doing an animated show because, at the time, Nick couldn't afford animation," Walsh said. "It would have been a live action show with people wearing animal suits. We called it 'The Knock Arounds.'"
While they were uncertain about the future of "The Knock Arounds," Walsh and Gifford really liked certain elements of the concept:
Characters take a journey, characters set and achieve a goal in every episode, interactive games get kids moving, stories have a lot of heart, strong female lead character doesn't easily give up.
Soon enough, animation became an option for the show. Nina, the past Dora, was supposed to be a character that lived in the computer, had a sidekick named Boots named for the computer term “reboot” who was a monkey, and together they solved math and language problems. Around this time, the shows' title was Nina's Pop-up Puzzle.
There was also supposed to be other characters including Tico, the Skunk, who eventually became a Squirrel, Swiper, the Fox, the only character that was never changed from the first sketch, Benito, the Bull, and Isa, the Iguana. Together, these group of friends worked toward a goal, and at the end of the episode, or level, the marching band would sing their little “Hurray” song, and everyone would say “You did it” just like popular kids computer games from the 90s.
Early on in the series development, research determined that Nina should have an additional goal, to teach viewers Spanish, and soon Nina, the green eyed, redheaded Irish girl became the dark haired, dark eyed Dora from Costa Rica. When the crew decided that Dora would come from Costa Rica, and as soon as the show got picked up for production, six people traveled to Costa Rica for a fantastic research trip and for the first time they were able to see the flavor and colourful world of the rainforest. It inspired them to make changes to some of the characters. Changes were happening throughout the production and many episodes later, suddenly Dora got a home, and a family.
After six months, the crew was ready to make a pilot. Helena Giersz and her husband, Krzysztof Giersz, looked into character development for the characters and the creators were overwhelmed with their results. By December of 1998, the pilot was completed. Nickelodeon tested the show with preschoolers, and the rates were highly favorable. The crew waited about six months for the good news about the show being picked up and within four months, Dora the Explorer was scheduled to air.
On August 14, 2000, Dora the Explorer premiered at 11AM (eastern time) after an episode of Franklin. At the time of the series premiere, it became the highest rated show in Nick Jr. history. The premiere scored a 11.22/43 rating/share (1.3 million viewers) among kids of the ages of 2-5. To top its own success, the second airing at 11:30 scored a 12.85/48 rating/share (1.5 million viewers) among kids 2-5 years old.
The series even surpassed the September 8, 1996 premiere of Blue's Clues.The primetime airing of Dora at 8PM (eastern time) also scored the highest rating among kids 2-11 (5.66/22), kids 2-5 (5.35/23) and 6-11 (5.86/21) for that time slot.
This show is the longest running series to air on Nick Jr.