November 12th, 2005

SilverLinings?

Not In My Backyard(igan)

At her Moms group this week goudabonbon took part in a meeting based on a book called "Unplugging the Christmas Machine," about how to make the holidays less expensive and hectic. One Mom at the meeting told a story about a friend/relative who has a daughter. At one recent Christmas, she came up with 38 items for her "Wan' it! Wan' it" letter to Santa. That same Christmas, the family got TiVo.
And know how many items were on the girl's list the following Christmas? THREE. What made the difference? With TiVo, they zapped the commercials, so the girl missed all the merchandising appeals. The three things she DID want she discovered by logging onto a Barbie web site.

Stories like that make me glad we don't have cable. I miss 'The Daily Show' and 'Your Locals on the 8s' on the Weather Channel (gotta have my Doppler), and I'm sure I would've become an ardent watcher of the new 'Battlestar Galactica' series by now. (I think NBC showed some over the summer; I watched one and was fairly impressed.) But with all of our child-rearing activities, we don't really have time to add more shows to our schedule (the only must-watch shows we have these days are Lost, The West Wing and Arrested Development -- and Arrested Development, it was announced yesterday, will only fill out 13 episodes of the current season, then end). And being restricted to broadcast TV mercifully keeps Sweetness's options to a minimum. (That's why we've never seen 'Spongebob Squarepants' except at the beach that time.) Sweetness mostly has a diet of PBS Kids , whatever we currently have checked out from the library (right now tapes by The Wiggles, Angelina Ballerina, Kipper and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"), her stuff in our DVD/tape library and the Nick Jr. shows on CBS Saturday mornings.

I could (and no doubt will) go on at length about various kid's shows I've gotten to know, but just want to mention one: "Backyardigans" (8:30 a.m. EST Saturdays on CBS). It's *crazy.* The premise is like any other kids show: four or five colorful computer-animated animals (who represent ordinary kids) have different imaginary adventures every week in their backyards. (Hence the name.)
They sing and dance every week, and the *music direction* is what makes it so strange: the genres of music almost never match the setting of the latest adventure. Some make sense: Country/Western/Swing when they were pretending to be Canadian Mounties; Cab Calloway-esque jazz when they were pretending to be ghosts. But hip-hop for the cowboy story? Disco for the Indiana Jones-esque treasure hunt? They sang tango-style songs for their spy adventure with the exception of when they had to go under an electric eye/laser, and they did the Limbo: "Get on your toes now spy team / Limbo under the laser beam!" On today's episode they were fake-believing superheroes and supervillians, and the music was Latin-influences. Why? Sort of a Mexican wrestler thing? I don't know! Plus, the dance moves (and there must be a bona fide "human" choreographer involved in the animation process) match, so you'll have, say, Pablo the Penguin doing those John Travolta finger-pointing disco moves. I'm not hung up on it enough for it to be an obsession or anything (although I'm probably more interested in the show than Evelyn is), it's just this weird sort of pop culture blip I find myself compelled to keep track of. What will those crazy Backyardigans do next?
  • Current Music
    "Bikini Bottom," Electrocute (from the Spongebob movie)