Monday, May 08, 2006

Noggin Anonymous

Deep Questions about Children's Television:

On Blue's Clues, what exactly is the nature of the relationship between Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper? They're French, and she was feminist enough to keep her name. And he does the cooking. Come to think of it, I dig Mr. Salt!

And while we're at it, why can the dogs not talk, but everyone else (cats, shovels, Side Table Drawer) can? Is this making some statement about the relative intelligence of canines versus household appliances?

Why does Thomas the [f'ing] Tank Engine's eyes move, but not his mouth when he talks? (I posed this to a dad at the bookstore one day as we refereed our children battling over a Percy. He was stumped.)



Considering Father Bear and Mother Bear (and the grandparents, obviously) dress in late Victorian garb, covering up as much as possible, why do they let Little Bear run around naked all the time?

Is there any adult supervision of Max and Ruby? (If I were their mom, I certainly wouldn't leave Ruby in charge!)

And finally, WHAT IS UP WITH THIS THING?

Please feel free to post theories in response to my questions, or suggest your own stumpers.

14 Comments:

Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

My friend MysteryMommy is all about Oobi. I've tried to watch it, because she likes it so much, but the hands-as-faces really creep me out. I can't even pay attention to the message of the shows (which apparently are quite sweet).

8:17 PM  
Anonymous kr said...

Don't watch TV (except late-night PBS), but have Thomas videos (sigh). Boring answer from a sometime-artist: eyes are simple to animate remote-control, mouth/cheeks are very hard (I actually think it's fun to watch the editting they have to use to switch the expressions).

That oobi thing looks cool.

Hey, question: any good animated movies/videos with strong female role models (besides the evil queens)?

11:04 AM  
Blogger Neel Mehta said...

Come to think of it, I dig Mr. Salt!

Uh, aren't you married to Mr. Salt? Oh wait, he likes to be called Tenderizer...

Noggin, huh? Good for you. Let me know when The N starts showing Daria again.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

My favorite was that before Alden could pronounce his R's, he would run around the house trying to find his green engine, Percy, "Where's Percy? I can't find Percy." Well, you can imagine how that sounded without the R. Pretty funny for a while until we went out into public.

KR, about the Thomas videos: Do you ever get the feeling that the railroad on the island of Sodor could possibly be the worst and most dangerous railroad of all time? Even worse than Amtrack.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Elle said...

speaking of adult supervision, Dora strays pretty far from home for my tastes (singing, accurate map aside).
and how do salt and pepper combine to make paprika?

5:57 PM  
Anonymous kr pdx said...

Nathan: you must have the exciting adventure Thomas videos. We somehow ended up with all emotional-intellectual ones (lots of facial expressions, not so much action). But then I guess that correlates to you and me. eh ;)?

6:43 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

kr-
Ooogah, oogah, me Tarzan, you Jane!

I'm not sure I approve of the Thomas Series. I use to like it, or more to the point, I liked watching my child empathize with his inanimate friends (covering his eyes when Percy crashes into the Jam car is really, really, cute). However, part of me hopes my child will find something more, well, friendly.

While Thomas and his buddies eventually do right, they spend a lot of time teasing and excluding the other engines (see Harvey the Crane Engine or James anything). They're pompous, arrogant and always quick to remind each other of their faults ("Remember that time Gordon used a bootlace to fix his brakes", Whoosh, lay off!). Too much like the school yard. Any suggestions for better role models?

9:47 AM  
Anonymous kr said...

;). I just meant you actually go DO stuff :).

Yeah, Percy is like the ONLY nice Sodor engine. We try to minimize Thomas-watching, actually, and to much Kid Complaining, have in fact gotten rid of a Thomas video that turned out to be all grumpy and mean. With the DVDs, we let the kids choose episodes; they usually choose Percy anyhow. Of course, this might be to avoid having so much mommy-commentary ("now, THAT wasn't very nice, was it?").

For good male role models, I like the Wiggles, although I find it disturbing that the lead singer is just like a certain tall high school friend of ours.

Sesame Street (with all the "male" monsters) used to be good, but I haven't watched it in a long time.

Believe it or not, Bambi is pretty good (Bambi is a boy, as are his friends Thumper and Flower, and they are three very different but nice boys--it was back before we were too scared of boys to write good stories for them!), but there are naturalistic scary(!) hunting dogs and a male-deer fight to be considered. His love interest, Faline, is also fairly well-written, although the briefly-seen love interests of the other two are necessarily shallow.

Aladdin is also not bad, but the sorcerous fight at the end is also scary. Although Jasmine is a papmered princess, she is aware that it's a problem, and Aladdin even touches briefly on the resposibilities of leadership. 'Haven't watched the sequels.

Fisher Price Little People are alright (and give good gender-equity and a nod toward racial-equity), but kinda boring.

Most(?) Winnie the Poohs are good (gender equity severely lacking, but just because a little boy naturally imagines most of his stuffed friends to be boys)--the puppet-one is clever enough to keep a grownup entertained as well.

Our libraries have a bunch of stuff we check out to try--oh, oh, KIPPER! OMG the kids LOVE Kipper, and those boy-animals are so nice they are almost bizarre. And, since they are essentially animations of the adventures a six-year-old can imagine, having a grownup around to clarify that "you really shouldn't go down into an animal hole, and if you did there would be no light and the animal would be scared not friendly" (and suchlike) can be a good idea.

(Anyone with good female role model coments?)

11:23 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

We dig the Wiggles in our house, or did last year. Gayle loves dancing so she's all about doing the moves that the kids do in the show. We saw them live last year. I have a crush on Captain Feathersword. Rar!

We watch PBS in the morning, so we really enjoy Dragon Tales, Clifford and Sesame Street (which is totally cool and has female monsters now) Gayle is into Strawberry Shortcake movies, which are different than when we were kids. First off, they updated the wardrobe. Secondly, that bad Pie dude isn't there anymore - the stories are all about friends either working together, playing together or helping each other get over a fear (of the dark, etc...) The only "bad" person is Pepermint Fizz, who is really just sort of spoiled and rude, and she learns her lesson in the end. Come to think of it, Strawberry is probably a pretty good female roll model.

Gayle knows Thomas the Train from school, but has never seen a video or anything. She also loves Bob the Builder even though she has never seen the show (she yells "Bob the Builder Yes You Can!" whenever we drive by construction)

If you have a chance, watch Dragon Tales on PBS. It's very cute and entertaining.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous kr said...

Jade, do I remember correctly from Andy's blog that you went to SHS? If so, would you give me a hint who you are? OK if no, of course.

Bob the Builder, which we did inherit a video of, makes me crazy because the answer to every problem seems to be "Ask the Great White Male"--although I guess Wendy gets more independent in later episodes.

Never would have guessed SS ... I will check it out, thanks :)! And Dargon Tales, if we are ever up early enough ...

9:59 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

Re: Oobi. Yeah, can't do it. Too freaky.

Re: female role models. Disney is fairly slim pickings. Belle is probably the pinnacle, but Jasmine has some positive characteristics. Mulan is strong, dependable, clever, and is willing to sacrifice for her family (but in all, not that good a movie and the emphasis on militarism is a little scary.)

Dora the Explorer is not a bad role model, and DQ has taken after her considerably. Loves to try new adventures, climb, etc. The spin-off, "Go Diego Go" is about her male cousin, and it is more educational (about animals, aimed at an older audience) but also starts his sister, Alicia, who is an animal rescuer.

Probably my favorite is "Charlotte's Web." Fern is good, Mrs. Zuckerman is good, and Charlotte runs the place!

4:52 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

kr - Let me think of what I can say without just printing my name (which is generally a boy's name, unless you put my middle name "Ann" with it - which is how I went in high school) I was in the drumline, I am short, and I enjoyed dating guys named John. I was never "in" theater, but I did make-up crew for "My Fair Lady".

Disney does seem short on female roll models, doesn't it? That's why I sort of liked that "Ever After" movie with Drew Barrymore in it. It was the Cinderella story, but she wasn't all helpless in it - my favorite part was when the prince came to "rescue" Danielle, and here she is walking out of the house of her captor all on her own. I guess we have to wait until our kids are older to see stronger females?

10:54 AM  
Anonymous kr said...

That's what I was afraid of, yep, slim pickin's. Sigh.

Jade: thanks; I drew a blank, but Quinn helped. Saw theatre-John's mom at a Tea in the old neighborhood today, so especially ironic that I couldn't parse your clues ... .

Quinn--I actually thought Mulan kind of knocked on militarism and unthinking discipline ... although the Huns are very very freaky. [I can't watch it with any patience because they do a sort of decent job initially trying to understand and present Chinese culture but then transform it to Southern Californian culture. With freaky Huns. Bleah ;).]

Charlotte's Web and Dora. Check :)!

I meant to see Ever After ... 'looked good.

Thanks :)!

8:22 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Hi, I'm commenting on your Noggin post several months late.

Please do give Oobi another shot. The bath episode is wonderful, as is the car episode, and the one about t-ball. And the one about asparagus! And the piano teacher!

My son just adored them, and they have really strong stories with good messages without being bludgeoned by them.

10:01 PM  

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