SpongeBob Squarepants has its first spin-off series. Does this spell the end of the original?
The EPs for Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years speak to EW about the making of the Paramount+ series
For the first time in its 20-plus year history, SpongeBob SquarePants has a spin-off, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years. The series follows our Bikini Bottom pals at sleep-away camp when they were only 10 years old, brushing up against the wilderness and learning virtues like patience and resisting sugar-y temptations.
The first six episodes of the series are out now on Paramount+, with another seven episodes dropping at a later date.
"They're all kind of purer versions of themselves," co-executive producer Marc Ceccarelli tells EW. "Patrick's dumber than he is already, if that's even possible. SpongeBob is even more naive than he is in the original series."
Kamp Koral features many of the voices you've been familiar with since SpongeBob SquarePants began in 1999, including Tom Kenny as SpongeBob, Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick, Rodger Bumpass as Squidward, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy, and Mr. Lawrence as Plankton.
The character's job titles have changed, of course. SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy are camp goers. Squidward is a junior counselor and Krabs runs the entire camp. If you can believe it, Plankton runs the food shack.
Ceccarelli worked alongside co-EPs Vincent Waller and Jennie Monica (all of whom have experience as EP's on the original series) to get the CG Kamp Koral up and running.
When asked if the launch of Kamp Koral could mean a transition away from the long-running Nickelodeon series, which has spawned three movies and 12 seasons of adventures, Ceccarelli and Waller said no chance.
"Oh, no, no, we love drawing 2-D," Waller says. "We're hoping [both series] go on for as long as people want to watch it."
Much has stayed status quo at the Burbank animation studio despite the addition of a new series. The story writers and storyboard artists are mostly from the same team, Ceccarelli says. The only exception is a new group in charge of the CG, an additional process of modeling that can mean an episode will take about 9 months to finish, Waller says.
The idea for Kamp Koral came out of a flashback sequence in the upcoming SpongeBob SquarePants movie, Sponge on the Run. The sequence features Sandy on the brink of losing her best friend to the narcissistic King Poseidon. With a little storytelling magic, Sandy recalls what it was like to first meet the gang, and the innocence they all had about the world around them.
There are some key differences between the two series, despite their similarities. The spin-off brings on two new characters, Nobby ( voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) and Narlene (Kate Higgins), spunky yet spontaneous narwhal siblings who live in the woods surrounding the camp. The duo is introduced in the second episode when the gang fall prey to the Sugar Squeeze, a glittery substance the narwhals present to them that makes them bounce off the walls.
There's also a wardrobe update. SpongeBob gets to wear a new Boy Scout-esque neckerchief. Patrick, meanwhile, finally gets to wear a shirt.
Squidward is also more open to being friends with SpongeBob and Patrick at the camp, as seen in episode 2 when they decide to play Tag. "Life hasn't yet beaten him down. We also knew that you know, sticking him in a cabin with SpongeBob and Patrick, it was going to start," Waller jokes.
Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years is now streaming on Paramount+