Wayside is an American/Canadian co-produced animated television series created by Louis Sachar developed and written by John Derevlany for Canadian television channel Teletoon and American television channel Nickelodeon, making it the only Teletoon Original to also be considered a Nicktoon. The series centers on Todd, a transfer student who attends Wayside, an offbeat educational institution based on Sachar's upbringing. The series' premise is based on Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School book series, although several elements in the series differ greatly.
The series was conceived in 2005 by Derevlany, who later developed and wrote an hour-long TV film for Teletoon. Pleased with the results, the company greenlit Wayside for 25 episodes in 2007. The series was later commissioned to air in the United States on Nickelodeon during the summer of 2007 before being pulled from the network's lineup and returning late in the year. Though Nelvana.com's listing for the show listed plans for up to 39 episodes, production ceased in 2008 for both countries, and any official word on continuation has yet to be announced.
Wayside has also been nominated for a "Best TV Series for Children" at the 2008 Cartoons on the Bay award ceremony. Despite favorable critical reception, praising the animation and surreal humor, the series has also received negative criticism, including unfavorable comparisons for its differences from the Sideways Stories book series. During it's time on the air, serveral pieces of tie-in media were been released, including a DVD release of the pilot feature under the title Wayside: The Movie, released on September 25, 2007, and a 2-Disc DVD of the first season, released on August 17, 2008.
The Wayside series takes place at the fictional Wayside School, an unusual Escher-esque 30-story grammar school. The school had been accidentally built "sideways," with one classroom in each of the 30 stories instead of 30 classrooms on each floor. Like in the books, there are actually 29 floors in the school, one inhabited by the imaginary Miss Zarves on the imaginary 19th floor. The series revolves around a new student at the school, named Todd, and his adventures adapting to life as a student at the top floor of Wayside School.
At Wayside, every floor appears to have lockers, stairs, classrooms, doors, and light fixtures. The first floor contains the principal's office; the second floor contains a bathroom and several rows of lockers, while fifth, sixth, and seventh consist of the classroom for pottery, the school campgrounds, and the school library, respectively. The twelfth school contains the faculty lounge and pool, while the following three floors contain the gym, the social studies classroom and gondola canal, and the cafeteria and kitchen.
On the (technically nonexistent) nineteenth floor, there are no doors, but a chute blocked by wooden boards. In the episode, "Dana Checks Out," in the hall and stairwell of what is considered the nineteenth floor, there are lockers in the background. On the two tallest floors, Ms. Mush teaches honor's class in an auditorium on the twenty-ninetieth floor, while Mrs. Jewels teaches her students on the thirtieth. Every floor also appears to be a different color. To add to the school's Escher-esque style, all of the features of the floors—doors, lockers, stairs, etc.—are placed in very unusual ways, as seen in the Escher artwork, Relativity. All of the floors' features are either right-side up, upside-down, sideways, or suspended high above the floor, as seen with several lockers.
Differences from the books
There are a number of notable differences between Wayside and Sideways Stories from Wayside School:
- In the book the first time a student gets in trouble gets their name written on the blackboard under the word DISCIPLINE, the second time they get it checked, the third time they get it circled and are sent home at noon on the kindergarten bus. In Sammy's case however, he got in trouble four times, in which case Mrs. Jewls put a triangle around the circle. In the show nobody gets in trouble except Todd who just gets sent home early without the first two warnings.
- In the show Todd dosen't get in trouble for talking. In the book he gets in trouble the most for talking.
- In Wayside the building from the outsides rooms are colorful and the building dosen't have the same shape as in the book.
- In the book John only had to stand on his head when something was written on the blackboard, but in the show he is upside down almost, if not 100% of the time.
- In the book, Todd is not a transfer student, although there were two transfer students (Sue and Benjamin) in the book chronology. Neither Sue nor Benjamin have been seen (or at least named) in Wayside yet.
- Dana's personality in Wayside, although keeping the over-emotional trait demonstrated in the second book, now also contains a smart side, which was never seen in the books.
- Maurecia's personality diverges from that of the series - in the books, she is normal girl with a love for ice cream and isn't said to wear roller-skates and she is almost always featured with her best friend Joy, while Joy has not been seen in Wayside yet. She also hated Todd rather than loving him.
- Myron is shown as a completely selfish character that wants to be class president but loses though he is a kind character in the books that ended up being president for a day. His only responsibility was to turn the lights on and off. However he thought that a class president should do much more for his classmates, and when Dana's dog was hit by a car, he carried the dog to the vet, and waited with Dana. The next morning, he visited her house, and was bitten by the dog he saved (it had been unconscious and didn't remember Myron saving its life). By the time the bite had been taken care of and the kids driven to school, Mrs. Jewls was upset about the class being left in the dark all morning. She tells Myron to teach Stephen how to work the light switch; he will be class president from now on. It takes Stephen a week to get the hang of it.
- In the series all the kids except Todd have siblings, though in the books Todd had a baby brother and not all kids were mentioned to have siblings.
- Mrs. Jewls is a new teacher introduced to replace an older teacher, Mrs. Gorf, at the 30th floor early on in the book chronology. In Wayside, Mrs. Jewls is established as the teacher from the start of the series, and Mrs. Gorf was brought in as a substitute teacher. However, in the books, Mrs. Jewls had transferred from another school, while in Wayside Mrs. Jewls appeared to have been teaching at Wayside for many years.
- Although the events surrounding Mrs. Gorf are very similar in both Wayside and the books with regards to turning students into apples, the events that lead to Mrs. Gorf herself turning into an apple are different: In Wayside, Maurecia was the only student to escape being turned into an apple (causing a large change in personality and appearance in order to help her fellow students) and Myron was turned into a potato (and a cow was shown turning into a pumpkin), while in the books all of the students were turned into apples. The students were also not scattered about Wayside as a result of someone trying to escape with their fellow students-turned-apples in the books, as was the case with Maurecia in Wayside. Finally, Mrs. Gorf was turned into an apple by different means: in the books, it was caused by a mirror held by Jenny inside the classroom, while in Wayside it was caused by a glass door opened by Maurecia in the hallway outside the classroom.
- In the book series, Rondi did not have a monstrous cake addiction.
- Louis is said to have a mustache of many colors in the books, but he has a blue goatee in Wayside.
- In Wayside, the school is cow-infested from the start of the series (and cows play an integral part of the school administration), while cows had only infested the school from the end of Wayside School is Falling Down to the start of Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger in the book chronology.
- In Wayside, Mrs. Jewls' classroom is located in the middle of a trash compactor, which has its wires crossed with the school PA system. However, this is not the case in the books.
- In the books, Sharie (with the final 'e') wears a red and blue overcoat. In Wayside, the overcoat of Shari (without the final 'e') is blue without the red. Her desk is located next to the window in the books, while in Wayside her corner desk is next to a wall (instead, Todd, the three Erics, and, in the opening sequence, Leslie, are seen in the seats next to the window).
- In the books, Stephen has green hair and has a poor choice of outfits. In Wayside, Stephen's hair is normally-colored, although he is always dressed in his Halloween costume (though it is green). Another difference is the name of Stephen's pet orange. In the books, it was called 'Fido', while in Wayside, the orange is named 'Red'. Myron's baby brother, however, is named "Fido".
- In the books, Todd, lacking a pet, brings his baby brother, while Myron brings a chipmunk for pet day. In Wayside, Myron brings a baby brother, while Todd does not bring a pet at all (although it is mentioned that Todd had a pet goldfish who had died some time before the events of the series). Furthermore, in Wayside Todd is the only student in Mrs. Jewls' class to not have a sibling.
- In the books, Maurecia has a pet cat named Strawberry. In Wayside, Maurecia's pet is her porcupine Fluffy.
- In the books, Eric Fry is the largest student in Mrs. Jewls' class. In Wayside, a number of students is noticeably larger than all of the Erics. It is also to be noted that in both Wayside and the books there are three traits that are common between two of the Erics but not the third, although the traits themselves are different: in the books, two of the Erics are fat, poor at sports, and are mean, while in Wayside the three traits are tall, skinny, and white-colored skin. There has been no attempt in the series so far to differentiate the three Erics in Wayside.
- Despite the fact that Mrs. Jewls teaches 30 students (as stated in the pilot), only a few have been shown at a time (and it has been shown that not all are in class at the same time, as the classroom appears to only accommodate 16 students). However, certain traits of the remaining students have been featured on the series regulars: for example, Todd pulling on Maurecia's hair was a plotline for one episode, mirroring Paul and Leslie from the books, while Ron's story with Mushroom Surprise in the books was largely given to Todd in Wayside.
- Leslie's seat in the classroom is different between the books and in Wayside: in the books, she sits in front of Paul (who is not featured in Wayside yet). In the Wayside pilot and opening sequence, she sits in front of Todd. In the series proper, she sits in the back row, to the left of Todd.
- In the books, the 29th-story class is taught by Miss Worm, and is relatively normal compared to Mrs. Jewls' class. In Wayside, the 29th floor is home to the "Honours class", taught by Miss Mush in a large but empty lecture hall, whose only student is Sammy the dead rat. The rooms on several other floors have been mentioned in Wayside, but not in the books: the second floor is home to the school's washrooms, while the 17th floor has a notoriously low ceiling. It is implied in another episode that the nurse's office is on the 24th floor, while it's been shown that the 5th floor is the art classroom and the 6th floor there is a balcony that serves as a campground.
- In the books, there are two elevator shafts at Wayside School: one that could only go up and one that could only go down (each worked perfectly once and then could no longer be used). In the pilot of Wayside, Louis points out that there are no elevators, although later in the series it is revealed that there are elevators at Wayside that could travel in all directions, functional only when the stairs were out of order. In the episode The Elevator, there was only one elevator.
- In Wayside School is Falling Down, Louis said that his old teacher was Mrs. Drazil, in Wayside his old teacher was Mr. Osteo.
- Sammy was originally a student in Mrs. Jewls class that wore a raincoat and smelled terribly, the students repelled him except Kathy who was attracted to him. Mrs. Jewls found out he was actually a dead rat that snuck in her classroom, which she claims that dead rats always do that to her. Though in the series he was already a dead rat and Ms. Mush's only friend though dead.
- In the books, Ron was the one who ate Miss Mush's mushroom surprise. In the show, it was Todd.
- In Wayside cows were there at the start of the series. In the books they were a threat to the school.
- Mrs. Gorf only appeared once in the series. In the books she appeared in original, ghost, and potato salad form.
- In the book, Leslie's pigtails are brown, but in Wayside her pigtails are purple.
- Principal Kidswatter is much more serious in the books than he is in the series.
- In Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, Mrs. Jewls has a baby, who is absent in the series. However, this element could possibly be introduced later in the show.