Reprint: Kid’s TV revisited

–Sorry, sorry…this is the official last day of recovery from the sinus infection. Not that I don’t have ideas, just that it’s been difficult to stay awake long enough to physically type them out. 🙂

As for the kid’s shows…yeah. Highly inappropriate olfactory stimuli aside (really did not need to know I had ‘that just-rolled-out-of-bed smell!’) I lurve Bear in the Big Blue House and hug it and pet it and call it…well, Bear. In every loose, clever, earnest way possible it’s the direct descendant of the Sesame Street Muppets – making Elmo, yes, the redheaded bastard child. We just won’t get me started on the little red freakazoid, OK?

Anyway, Bear. Tutter the mouse never fails to amuse (esp. the bedtime bits, where he’s holding his tiny yellow banky and…oh, lord, I think I’m going into sugar shock just recalling it…a teeny stuffed cat.) I also get warm fuzzies from the music, as when Pip&Pop do an impromptu disco riff on L-O-V-E…although, again, we have Bear in the background murmuring Barry White-style, ‘G’wan and tell me more/about the way that you adore…’ and it is just, I dunno, I just really want to beat him off with a stuffed Barney toy.

Newer shows I love still include Pocoyo…and, oddly enough given my ongoing war against ‘icky-creepies’, Miss Spider. Hey, as long as they’re CGI, I’m all about the beetle bonding. Seriously, this show is gorgeous to look at, and the ‘be good to bugs’ message is fairly realistic – ie, refuses to take itself too seriously. Also, possibly as a direct result, they keep the insect-based puns to a decent minimum (‘everybuggy’ is even kind of adorable). Can do without the genuinely squicky big white spider villan, though. Famous voice actor or no.

Am up in the air about Rolie Polie Olie. Having been overexposed as a teen to Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive, I am so not about the comedic value of machinery to begin with (my one-line review of Cars: “If they had been humans, it would’ve been a great movie”). Naturally, fifties-sitcom-cliche-spouting machinery is way down the list.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s witty and colourful and I can easily see where little kids would get oodles of chuckles out of it, but some small part of my grown-up brain just keeps asking “and programming super-advanced bots to sound like Ozzie Nelson is whose idea of a useful concept now?”

Blue’s Room…doy. Speaking of useful concepts, except not. Aside from the inherent Force disturbance caused by giving female dog Blue a five-year-old boy’s voice, this sucker is so overprocessed it sounds exactly like the spoiled little proto-yuppie prince/sses watching it.
One of the main characters is all about having birthdays. That’s it, all she wants out of her (presumably about five-year-old) life is to be endlessly celebrated. Blue and co. think this is all just wonderful, natch, despite the fact that this kid is so obviously going to grow up to insist they wear fuschia taffeta bridesmaids’ dresses with butt bows the size of Cleveland, and frankly I sort of hope she does.

Love, love love the Backyardigans. The amount of pure imagination spilling out of every minute of the best eps of this show is breathtaking (ie, most of them, although the Western theme isn’t quite as fascinating as they seem to believe. Couple Pixar fans on that posse, I reckon). Somehow the writers have been able to recapture how a bright, on-the-ball child at play actually thinks – not the way the grownup experts wish they’d think.

Then there’s Toopy and Binou, which is cool. Really. I mean, some of my best friends are gay, if not necessarily mice. I don’t really go around asking my rodent acquaintances about their sexual orientation, come to think of it, so it’s kind of jarring to keep having it shoved in my face like that. At least they could’ve picked some less annoyingly flamboyant stereotypes to play up.

Finally…must close with a word of appreciation to the good folks at Four Square. Because, well, it takes some serious cojones to stick yourself in a blue leotard and call yourself ‘Captain Hup’. Either the show’s a hit or every single casting agent you meet thereafter can’t read your resume because they’re laughing too hard.


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