Frog and Toad Executive Producers discuss sharing their father's legacy through the Apple TV+ series

The Lobel siblings discuss working with the streamer to bring their father's book series to life on the small screen.
Apple TV Frog and Today key art - credit: Apple TV+
Apple TV Frog and Today key art - credit: Apple TV+ /

Frog and Toad takes place in a hybrid world where animals take on human traits, and puts forth a positive portrayal of friendship between the two titular amphibians. The episodes are adapted from stories from the 1970s picture book series of the same name by Arnold Lobel, and two of his children serve as executive producers alongside showrunner Rob Hoegee and Titmouse's Chris Prynoski, Shannon Prynoski, Ben Kalina, and Antonio Canobbio.

With Season 2 now on Apple TV+, we sat down with executive producers Adrianne Lobel and Adam Lobel to chat about working with a streamer, insight into the development phase of the series' animation, and the hope that viewers and readers alike will re-discover the Lobel patriarch's other work.

The Parent Watch: It's so great to see a show, when it's first announced, there's a ton of support from it for it coming off of season one. What were your first reactions to hearing that Frog and Toad was renewed for a second season?

Adrianne Lobel: We said, "Yay!" Well, they made a certain number of the episodes, and we've seen all the episodes, but not necessarily on television. We saw them when they sent us-

Adam Lobel: Rough cuts.

Adrianne: Rough cuts. So we're not really sure which episodes were in season one and which episodes are going to be in season two, but they're all very good and they're all worth seeing. I'm glad they're not going to waste.

Adam: With streaming services, you don't get traditional ratings. So you don't know whether or not the show is a hit or popular unless they bring it back for more. So it's gratifying that that's happening.

Adrianne: I mean, lots of little kids I know who are really looking forward to it, too. When you watch your favorite show and suddenly it never ends because they decide to discontinue it, it's very disappointing.

It's a show that affects multiple generations. How do you feel knowing that it's affecting both an older and a younger audience?

Adam: Well, I think that was true with the books anyway. I mean, the first book is 55 years old. So if you're under 55 years old, chances are You know the Frog and Toad books. They were read to you when you were a little kid. And then when you got to be in kindergarten and first grade, they were some of the first books that you read on your own. So that's always been there. And then as you got older and had kids, you read them to your kids. So it's had that continuous run. But this is just a new version of it, and a chance to see them move and see them in color, which the original books are in... Because of the technology of the time, they were color-separated, two-color printing process. And if our father had done them today, they'd be in full color. But they weren't doing that in the '60s and '70s.

Adrianne: I think there's something charming about brown and green. I mean, frogs and toads are brown and green, so it's a perfect limitation.

Adam: They've taken it and they've added color without losing that finesse and style of the original.

What I love about this show in terms of the animation style and also just the background and the imagery. When you first saw, at least with these newer episodes, did you see any changes or what were you expecting with this style of animation when the show first started out?

Adrianne: Well, they showed us an enormous amount of preparation. It was very impressive. It was like a feature film preparation. They had a map of the whole town. They knew where everything actually was placed. They had worked out from my father's little thumbnail sketches, which are architecturally nonsensical. They worked out all the Frog's house, interior, exterior, all of Toad's house, interior, exterior. I mean, it's not easy. I was very impressed with that. Then, they had to figure out how to make Frog and Toad move and talk and they showed us all of this.

Adam: Basically, an entire Bible-style guide was put together before a single bit of animation was even created. That's really when they wanted our input. Once that was written in stone, then it's just, go forth.

With Frog and Toad, it does such a great job of highlighting the goodness of life. And obviously, the relationship is the main focus of the show. I'd love to know from both of your perspective with the message of sharing life with your friends and family, how important is that for kids and parents to feel nowadays?

Adrianne: I think it's so important.

Adam: The world needs more of it.

Adrianne: Together is a good thing at this point. The common humanity of these characters, even though they're not human, the world is a terrible place. You have a few places where you could go to feel safe and cozy for everybody and there's humor in it, and there's love. That's why they've lasted for so long.

The season one episodes were so fun. You weren't sure which episodes were season one or season two, but did you have a favorite episode that you know that really got you excited?

Adrianne: There's a boat ride that you could never do in a book. It's all phosphorescent things in the forest. The lighting bugs are going on and off, and the stars are going. It's just so beautiful. That's not from the books. That's because it's an animation.

Adam: There are just so many things that can be added. That was something where there was some trepidation going in with taking our father's most well-known work and doing something with it. People had been after us for 30 years to try to do something with it. There was a leap of faith in putting it into the hands of these people, but they proved to us that they were incredibly respectful of the original work, and they wanted to take that and make something that respected that, but also was its own thing. It doesn't answer your question as far as which episode [laughs], but just in terms of the through line and getting from point A to point B, some of the things from the stories from the book work so well as animation.

Adrianne: We were discussing before the "Cookies" episode, where they're staring into the box of the cookies, and you get the cookies point of view, looking up at their faces, things like that are just surprising and fun.

Adam: Very cinematic.

Adrianne: I love seeing the mouths move and the eyes move. It's like your friends come to life. It's like your stuffed animal is coming to life.

It's a very cozy feeling show. I immediately feel that way because there's a lot of different children shows out there, but this one really feels like you can just snuggle in and just walk in and watch it. You grew up with these books as everyone did. Did you have a favorite? Was Frog your favorite or was Toad your favorite?

Adrianne: Well, in my case, I actually had toads as pets before my father wrote the books. I think it was partially my adoration of toad and my anger about the fact that toads were not given their due, and everyone called them frogs. Nobody seemed to know the difference between the two, including my father. I was in high school when the first Frog and Toad book came out, so I didn't actually grow up with them.

Adam: He cranked out books. There were a lot of books. There was no real sense at the time that this was going to be his magnum opus.

Adrianne and Adam: It was his job.

Adrianne: He never done a series before. This was the only set of books that became a series. The only characters who created a series. He had more to say about them, bne of my hopes is that people will discover Arnold Lobel's other books that are fabulous, like Owl at Home is one of my favorite, and Grasshopper on the Road, and Mouse Tales, and Uncle Elephant. Then there are ones that are even older than that. It'd be wonderful if people actually did some research and found the older titles.

Season 2 of Frog and Toad is now on Apple TV+.

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