Hachaverim Shel Barney (Hebrew: החברים של ברני, lit: Barney's Friends) is the Israeli co-production of Barney & Friends. The show premiered in November 1997 on Israel's Channel 2. The following year, reruns were broadcast on Arutz haYeledim (ערוץ הילדים, The Children's Channel) and later reran on Channel 33 and Hop!; this version ended in 2000. It has since been released on VHS and DVD.
Itzik Kol, television producer and general manager of Roll Communications, was inspired by Barney. His daughter Gabriella, like several children in the early 90's, became entranced with the purple dinosaur, which inspired him to pursue the rights to produce an Israeli adaptation of the show. He approached Sheryl Leach and Richard Leach in March 1996 to propose this, but was initially denied, told that he was only allowed to air the show dubbed. Kol countered this, as he felt it wouldn't work to "put Hebrew words into American songs and American kids' mouths". Realizing that the Leach family were devout Christians, he asked "Why not have Barney speak in the language of the Bible?" This ultimately sealed the deal and, under strict guidelines, the show could be produced. One of these guidelines was that the episodes could only be adapted from their US counterparts, with very few script changes. The show cost Roll Communications $41,000 per episode to produce (Only $500 per episode went to Lyrick), making it the most expensive Israeli children's show at the time. Israeli songwriter and translator Ehud Manor was brought on board to translate the songs, while his daughter Libby translated the show's scripts.
The show premiered in November 1997 and was immediately a smash hit. 25% of all television viewers were watching Barney on Sunday afternoons and the show's ratings outpaced those of the long-running children's series "Parpar Nechmad" (פרפר נחמד, Nice Butterfly). A second season was produced in 1998.
Why This Adaptation Rocks
- This adaptation was awesome, as it introduced Israel to Barney, which entertained many of the country’s children. And for being a legal adaptation and being expensive to produce, it was handled well for the most part.
- The costume actors and voice actors for Barney and Baby Bop (named Buba Bon in this adaptation) were great and helped make the characters still their likable selves like in the original English adaptation.
- The translations of the scripts and songs from many episodes of the first 2 seasons (as well as some from Season 3) were handled greatly and made the episodes just as good as their English counterparts, if not better.
- Season 2 of this adaptation took a risk and translated the scripts and songs from 10 episodes of Season 3 (when the English adaptation started to go horribly downhill), but it actually turned out great in the end and made these episodes more enjoyable than their English counterparts.
- Our Pets (חיות המחמד שלנו) is Israel’s better version of Our Furry Feathered Fishy Friends.
- Animals (חיות [?]) is Israel’s better version of At Home With Animals.
- Safari Visitors (מבקרים בספארי) is Israel’s better version of Camera Safari.
- Surprise Party (מסיבת הפתעה) is Israel’s better version of Shopping For A Surprise!
- There's Room for Everyone (יש מקום לכולם) is Israel’s better version of Room for Everyone.
- International Carnival (קרנבל בינלאומי) is Israel’s better version of Any Way You Slice It.
- A Warm Home (בית חם) is Israel’s better version of A Welcome Home.
- Musical Cleaner (מנקה מוזיקלי) is Israel’s better version of Classical Cleanup.
- Let's Go for a Ride in the Car (יוצאים לסיבוב במכונית) is Israel’s better version of Are We There Yet?
- Pleasant Voyage (הפלגה נעימה) is Israel’s better version of Ship, Ahoy!, is the final episode of this adaptation, and was a good way to end it.
- The child actors in this adaptation were good.
- The music maintains to be the same from the English adaptation, and that also helped out the translated songs.
- The songs are still enjoyable, and are greatly translated from English to Hebrew.
- The songs from the Season 3 episodes of the English adaptation are more enjoyable here and are also greatly translated.
- This adaptation still has many of the English adaptation’s charms, like the good lessons learned, tackling serious topics like disability, has some funny moments, etc.
- It improved a problem the English adaptation had in the first season, that the Barney Doll had "creepy" eyes. But it’s completely absent here, and the eyes are normal.
- Like the English adaptation, this adaptation does have a fair share of problems, like Barney’s constant singing and laughing being repetitive, the "I Love You" song being annoying at times, filler in some episodes, etc.
- BJ does not make an appearance in this adaptation, which is disappointing.
- On the bright side, this adaptation didn’t translate any English adaptation episodes where BJ is present, so this adaptation didn’t make any errors.
- Josh Sagie, who plays the Barney costume, is slightly shorter than standard Barney performers.
- Despite the fact script tinkering was rarely done, some episodes had segments or even whole storylines changed to fit Israeli traditions (Hola, Mexico! was now about an Arabian hafla (a feast) rather than a Mexican fiesta, and London Bridge was sung as "Yarkon Bridge" in It's Fun to Share and Music is Fun).
- In 1999, mh:awfulmovies:Barney's Great Adventure was dubbed into Hebrew as ההרפתקה הגדולה של ברני (Ha'harpatka Hagdola Shel Barney). Barney was voiced by Yehoyachin Friedlander (Avi Taramin's understudy), Baby Bop was still voiced by Tzipi Mor and she also did BJ's voice. BJ's name is also kept intact unlike in the Barney books, where his name was changed to "Bobby Ben". Due to the involvement of a different team, songs like If All the Raindrops and I Love You got new translations. In addition, You Can Do Anything, Rainbows Follow the Rain and the reprise of Barney - The Song were all replaced by Imagine in the credits.
- In Eating Right with Barney, Four Seasons, Shapes and Colors, Traveling with Barney, Hafla and Everyone Is Special, all of the songs got a semitone lower, with the exception of the Barney Theme Song.
- Some Hebrew episodes had different versions of I Love You. Sounds of the Forest uses the Season 1 version and How Do You Count to Ten? uses the Season 3 version.
- Based on this original co-production, three Hebrew albums were released. These include:
- Hashirim Shel Barney
- Yom Huledet Sameach
- Yadayim Lemala Al Harosh
- Besides of being the Hebrew voice of Baby Bop, Tzipi Mor also appeared as Mother Goose.