Monday, April 13, 2009

Children's Programming: the Stupid and the Sublime

Okay, so as a parent of three successive children and having logged almost nine years on the journey now, I thought I'd seen it all in the way of children's programming. Especially with my unfazeable know-it-all tendencies.

IMHO (or maybe not so "H"), there is a definite spectrum, ranging all the way from "that's pretty cute," such as the Wonderpets and Little Bill, to "end my misery now," such as Barney or Max and Ruby. There are also some shows that are too smart, like Ni Hao Kai Lan, too dumb, like Wow Wow Wubbzy, or just a bit too weird for me, a la Yo Gabba Gabba or Oobie (um, "grandpoo?").

I have also found that many kid's shows divide: some adults love Barney and hate Elmo and some feel exactly the opposite. (In fact, some people who might otherwise represent themselves as being in their right mind actually disagree with the categorizing I've done above. Gasp!)

If you want to see kid's shows divide, you just need to hang out with my family when the youngest (two and a half) tries to watch The Wiggles or anything on Playhouse Disney. The walls reverberate with groans and "come on Mom!"s from my two older ones (ripe old six and nine year olds).

So imagine my shock when I stumbled upon The Upside Down Show on Noggin (a channel that, I might add, is usually otherwise rather unremarkable). Long story short, it's a uniter, not a divider. The Upside Down Show's main characters are two Australian guys who are known Down Under as a comedy duo called The Umbilical Brothers, and it is simply the most original kid's programming I have ever seen. In certain ways it reminds me of Sesame Street, but is closer in spirit to The Muppet Show, perhaps. We all love to watch it, adults and kids alike. It's just hilarious.

You'll get a kick out of the following outtake from the "Camping" episode, where Shane and David discover camping because they can't find their bedroom (the show is set in their living room and the rooms behind the doors leading off of it are an always-changing variety, e.g., the Very Hairy Room, the Wind Room, the No Fun Room, the This Way room, etc.). Before they find themselves in this conundrum, though, they help some of their friends, the Schmuzzies and Puppet, get off to sleep, as follows:

Puppet's lullabye -- and especially his reaction to it -- are some of my all-time favorite bits on this show. If only bedtime was that easy! Incidentally, Puppet's lullabye always makes me think of my brother-in-law, The Irreverent One's husband, since I think that, if he could, it's just the kind of lullabye he'd sing to their monkey. He may just try it now.

Sidenote: Unbelievably, it was cancelled after one season, thirteen episodes, in 2007 (sob). We have it on DVR, but some episodes accidentally got deleted (note to self: lock 'em down!) and now I find that Noggin isn't even showing it anymore. Boo. Bad form. Way to not live up to your name, Noggin.


Blogger Amanda said...

Yep, Monkey just made me watch it three times! I wonder, do they sell this on DVD yet?

4/13/2009 9:04 PM  
Blogger The Witty One said...

I haven't found it on DVD. When I search for it on, I get these Noggin variety DVDs, so they must put one episode on with one each of a bunch of other shows. Might not be bad to try, though you get one at a time, and there are thirteen.

4/14/2009 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Kirri said...

You can purchase most of the episodes from

4/15/2009 1:46 AM  
Blogger The Witty One said...

Thank you thank you thank you, Kirri! I can not wait to order it and save my episodes from their precarious delete-able status on my DVR. You may have just saved my life.

4/15/2009 8:22 PM  

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