"Doc McStuffins," is an imaginative animated series about Doc McStuffins,...

"Doc McStuffins," is an imaginative animated series about Doc McStuffins, a six-year-old girl who runs and operates a clinic for broken toys and worn out stuffed animals out of the playhouse in her backyard, will debut with the launch of the new 24-hour Disney Junior channel in 2012. Credit: DISNEY JUNIOR

THE NEWS Friday, Disney launches Disney Jr., a network for young children that ultimately will replace SOAPnet. Shows include a newcomer ("Doc McStuffins") and "Jake and the Never Land Pirates." We recently talked with the general manager, Nancy Kanter, about this new venture, which springs forth from the program block of the same name, now airing on Disney Channel:

Do you expect little kids to watch at, say, 2 in the morning?

We think it's generally mom who is catching up, and saying, oh, yeah, let's see what that show's about and you've got a 4-year-old with a toothache, there are some times that TV at that time of night is when you need to settle that child down. We don't think it's kids watching by themselves. . . .

It's a jungle out there, with Nick Jr. Sprout and all the other shows for the toddler set. How are you different?

The shows we're making look very different you know you're watching Disney -- something that only we have the opportunity to do . . . it'll be pretty hard to mistake Disney Jr. for the others.

The tone of the shows?

Character-driven storytelling and wish fulfillment -- the kind of feeling you get when you walk through the gates of Disney World or Disneyland.

Why a network for the 2-7 set?

What we heard from parents is, "My kid is 5, 6 and . . . starting to age out of the typical preschool shows. . . ."

Does Disney Jr. take over SOAPnet on all cable systems tomorrow?

It's not a light switch. Most will still be able to have SOAPnet for a period of time. We've closed deals with cable operators [including Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, which owns Newsday. Cablevision will launch Disney Jr. on Channel 126 and keep SOAPnet, too, for the time being.] and as other cable operators come to term, we'll add those.

My say The most successful marketer of children's entertainment in world history will finally launch a TV network for toddlers, years after Nick Jr. (originally Noggin). Why the long windup? Money and corporate gamesmanship may have played a role while Playhouse Disney -- Diz Jr.'s predecessor program bloc -- was expected to do the job. (Disney XD is for older kids and tweens.)

But based on a look at the pilot of "Doc McStuffins," which had a sneak peek recently and will air in the block, all is well. It's a gentle, well-animated show about a little girl who cures broken toys and enjoins viewers to take care of themselves. Any advice on how to fill those 24 hours, Doc?

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