Indie auteur Richard Linklater pleasantly surprised audiences with his charming 2003 comedy School of Rock, in which a struggling musician (High Fidelity co-star and Tenacious D frontman Jack Black) hijacks a 4th grade prep school class and inspires them to become a killer rock band. Buoyed by likeable characters, a great soundtrack, remarkably talented kid musicians, and Black's lengthy, irrepressible, almost improvisational classroom scenes, the film earned rave reviews and inspired scads of copycat programs around the world (as featured in the '05 documentary and reality series Rock School). But while the cast kicked ass at their ten-year reunion concert in 2013, plans for a sequel fell through. Everyone loves an encore, though. And so this weekend saw the Broadway debut of the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical starring Alex Brightman, with a TV adaptation to air on Nickelodeon next year. Because there's no way you can stop... the School of Rock. [more inside]
"I can still hear him signing off his show similar to the way he concluded his letter to Amy Melder: “You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you. There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” Some have suggested that this message sought to instill children with a sense of self-importance, but to believe that is to fundamentally misunderstand Fred Rogers. At the core of Rogers’ mission was the paradoxical Christian belief that the way to gain one’s life is to give it away." (SL Atlantic)
AV Club has recently completed a series of articles on kids shows that parents won't hate: The Pre-K Years, K-1st Grade, 2nd-3rd Grade and, finally, 8 kids shows to avoid at all costs.
"I tilted my head in cartoon-like confusion. Where had he picked that up? Bruce Lee? He knew nothing of martial arts nor had he ever watched Kung Fu Panda (this is where my brain went). So I asked Noah to repeat himself. Perhaps I’d misunderstood or heard it incorrectly."
"From days of long ago... from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend: the legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe!" [more inside]
Earth, 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, where man fought machines—and machines won. Bio-Dreads — monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors... and digitize them!In 1987, before he created Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski was a writer for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, a live-action sci-fi show for kids. 24 episodes were produced. Straczynski wrote or co-wrote 14 of them, including multi-episode plot arcs. A line of interactive toys brought the battle into kids’ living rooms, and Captain Power was also one of the very first shows on television to feature computer animation in every episode. But in an attempt to appeal to both children and the adults who watched with them, the campy show included some concepts and scenes critics deemed too violent for children and lasted only a single season in syndication. The full run of the show has now been uploaded to Youtube. [more inside]
Actor, Playwright, Artist, Comedian, Magician, "Man of A Thousand Voices" (including Mighty Mouse,) "Beloved Herring Maven"
Saturday morning cartoons were once a staple of American television, but by the year 2000 they had all but disappeared. Of course, the Internet never forgets. Case in point: Cartoon Network Video -- a free, searchable, ad-supported service that provides hundreds of full-length episodes of classic shows like Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Johnny Bravo, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and The Powerpuff Girls, as well as current offerings and scads of shorter material. Too recent for you? Then give Kids WB Video a whirl -- it does the same thing with the same interface, but for older programs like Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo, Thundercats, and the original Space Ghost. If you're in the mood to learn (and don't mind some live-action), PBS Kids Video has educational fare such as Arthur, Wishbone, and Zoom. And don't forget about Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, The Magic Schoolbus and Schoolhouse Rock! Now if only we had some Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs...
Childrens' cable television mainstay and media brand Nickelodeon is rebranding as "The Nick" with a new splat-less logo. [more inside]
Andy's Gang - 1 2 3: "The green puppet, Froggy the Gremlin, appeared in a puff of smoke, and was always interrupting the story." [more inside]
Is Doctor Who too scary for kids? Parents surveyed by TheBabyWebsite seem to think so. But is being scared a good thing? (via io9)
“He’s courageous, he’s optimistic, he’s representing everything that Mickey Mouse should have represented but never did. There’s even something Jesus-like about him—a 9-year-old Jesus after 15 packets of Junior Mints.” SpongeBob SquarePants at ten years old.
Fantasy Meets Reality. The very best works of science fiction illuminate controversial current events and the intricacies of human nature. So, it's no surprise that the United Nations Public Information Department and the Sci Fi (SyFy?) Channel co-hosted a panel yesterday evening on "humanitarian concerns" at the UN, with the creators and actors of Battlestar Galactica -- a show which regularly explores those themes. A 2-hour video webcast is archived here. (RealPlayer video). Entertainment Weekly has an additional write-up. [more inside]
Can you say Hero? The Life and Times of Mr. Fred Rogers One of the most influential people ever to grace television, Mr. Rogers was a neighbor to millions of children across the US. His legacy has left a long lasting impression on the fabric of society. With today's children being force fed Hanna Montana, and Joey 101, wouldn't it be nice if we could go to the kingdom of make believe, just one more time?
Remember when TV raised us right? Time for Timer taught us about cheese, carrots, breakfast, and oral hygiene. The Abominable Snowman taught us about lunch, money, advertising, and the Food Group Disco! Woodsy Owl taught us to Give a Hoot! and keep America lookin' good! and Mr Yuk SCARED THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF US. [more inside]
In The Night Garden [Danger - lots of Flash and YouTube] is your new favourite TV show (if you're under 4). Meet Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy, The Pontipines, The Tombliboos, The Haahoos, The Ninky Nonk and The Pinky Ponk. Brought to you by the creators (previously) of the Teletubbies. Wikipedia link for the confused. Oh, and the great Sir Derek Jacobi narrates. [more inside]
Before purple dinosaurs roamed the earth, back when sponges went pants-less, children in the US had to rely on their local TV stations for entertainment. Even “national” programs such as Romper Room or Bozo the Clown had a local component. From coast to coast and in between, everyone ate their cereal in front of someone different.
Yo Gabba Gabba is a new concept for a children's television show, featuring a hip-hop edge, guest starring Biz Markie and Paul Frank's Julius The Monkey, as well as the standard complement of day-glo monsters and songs. Some children's programming is the product of serious thought. Some is completely bewildering. Some just plain rocks.
House Appropriations panel eliminates ALL public funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS Ready To Learn. From this morning's Cynopsis:Kids e-newsletter: "In our nation's capital yesterday, a House Appropriations subcommittee voted to approve a new bill that will see budgets sliced for both public TV and radio. Specifically in the line of fire in the kid TV universe is the elimination of the full $23m in funding for Public TV's Ready to Learn initiative. Ready to Learn provides some funds for PBS series including, Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Arthur, Reading Rainbow, Clifford the Big Red Dog and could have Buster sending smoke signals instead of postcards. [...] Though the President proposed a small budget reduction for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting this past winter, yesterday's subcommittee vote would also eliminate all government monetary funds intended for the CPB over the course of the next two years, beginning with a $100m decrease in funding to $300m for next year." Perhaps this will free up some money for No Child Left Behind?
Ultra scary puppets sing hymns of love Via Boing Boing, the scariest tv show that I have ever seen in my life. The poor puppetry, the references to God, the organ sound it all comes together to burn into your brain. Children subjected to this will remember it forever. I think I may even have cold sweats about it in the night. Its long but worth it. (Quicktime movie)
From MathNet to that silly song about the number nine, Square One was one of my all-time favourite programs as a kid. It hasn't been released on video or DVD, but luckily there are plenty of fansites with video clips, pics, and other media to take you on a trip down mathematical memory lane.
Pancake Mountain presents Ian MacKaye performing "Vowel Movement" for the kiddies. As a friend said, this site has "pancakes and indie rock and bob mould as a corporate goon all in one package." [via sullivan]
A Requiem for Mr. Rogers got me thinking about the TV shows that spoke to me as a child. Captain Kangaroo was there and Mr. Dressup was always great. But for me, no one surpassed The Friendly Giant and "Look up. Look way up!" still makes me feel warm and safe. I did not have PBS available as a child but my sons did and for them Mr. Rogers was a favorite as was TVO's Today's Special with Jeff Hyslop's manikin who came to life each night. Who spoke to you via TV as a child? Parents, who is speaking to your children on TV these days?