I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Can I give you my testimony about Backyardigans? http://www.nickjr.com/home/shows/backyardigans/index.jhtml

I watch A LOT of tv and this? This is the best thing on tv.

First of all, unlike most kids shows on tv, this is entirely suitable for really little but really smart kids.

Jones is but three and a half, and I don’t relish explaining why the police put Gadget Boy in jail, even though he’s the good guy; or how the Cute but sinister Kitty did that thing with his eyes to enslave the Professor into taking over Townsville.

Or, on the other end of the spec, I don’t want my kids modeling these dopey whiny little imports. I pose to Caillou http://www.caillou.com/language.htm the same query as Ralphie May http://www.ralphiemay.com/Home_Frame.html put to his “Last Comic Standing” adversary, “ I can’t tell if you are a b**ch--*ss punk or a punk--*ss b**ch.”

What are you looking at, Ord http://pbskids.org/dragontales/index_sw.html ? You’re next.

Also, I bring my own particular pet peeve, which is anthropomorphism issues. These, I’ll admit, aren’t so much reprehensible as they are just unaccountably stoopid. Like why a DRAGON who can, y’know, FLY, would employ a wheelchair. Or why the cat should resist the peer pressure to eat, rather than enjoy the companionship of, the mouse. I mean, listen to yourselves!

OK, I think WAAAY too much about this stuff.

But oh Backyardigans. Backyardigans is brilliant. Oh. So simple.
This moose,
this penguin,
this kangaroo,
this hippo,
and this pink creature named Uniqua live in suburban duplexes backing onto a large yard. Each day they meet and imagine themselves on a different adventure – pirates, knights, detectives, cowpokes, etc. – in broad cheery caricature. Like, if they’re pirates, there won’t be any swords or stealing, but they will say “Arrr” a lot. There’s maybe sometimes a moral, but it’s really just this anarchic playtime that ends when one of their tummies rumbles and they cut back to reality for a snack.

But – here’s the beauty part – it’s musical. It’s a different musical genre every time – Cab Calloway, 19th Century Broadway, Tango. All original tunes. And choreography. Like real people do the dancing and then they CGI the creatures on top of it.

You will be captivated. I am not EVEN kidding.

My fave is Pablo, the penguin. Even though sometimes when he rolls his eyes, he looks a little like he’s in blackface.