Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TV Review: Bubble Guppies


Nickelodeon has evolved so far since the days when You Can't Do That on Television took the opportunity to slime people every time a cast member uttered the phrase "I don't know".  If you don't recall that show, just know that it is where the infamous Nick-Slime originated.  Now there is an entire series of shows dedicated to preschoolers and even younger children; these are tagged as "Nick JR" programs and have even garnered their own television station.

Since this blog is all about things of the water, I simple could not pass up the chance to address another one of my 3 year old's favorite shows - Bubble Guppies.  The students are all mermaids, so obviously they live under water... right? Well, not exactly.  Those who find themselves completely turned off and annoyed at scientific inaccuracies and cringe at the sight of characters based on household cleaning sponges, here is the short cut: BLOCK this show from your toddler!  They will fall in love with the songs and actually learn wonderful and useful things that will make everyday tasks like brushing teeth so much easier on parents.  At that point, you will never be able to take the show away from them and have these fishy little friends in your life for some time.
Probably the only accurate thing about their teacher, Mr. Grouper, is that he changes colors... but, neon blue?
For those parents who are bit less intense, here you go:
Each episode includes the Bubble Guppies' explorations of everyday life.  They learn about colors and how to care for pets, explore the moon and even go camping.  But they DO NOT behave in any way as though they actually live under water.  Now and again there are bubbles floating around, and every swimming creature has a tail, but none of the physiological rules to being below the water's surface actually apply.

Okay, so yeah, I found the rhino a bit creepy
Consider this TV series just another educational program that is as interesting to a small child as a dancing mouse or singing dinosaur.  If everything your little one watches must be accurate on all accounts, this show will annoy your to tears.  I spent the first season grabbing the remote before my son was engaged in the opening music and wincing every time Bubble Puppy floated by.  But now I see how helpful so many topics are - my son was completely relaxed going to the dentist and the doctor's office for a check up.  He knows all sorts of instruments by name and understands more about dinosaurs than I ever expected for that age.

So here are two different ratings for your reference:
EDUCATIONAL rating: ~~~~ 4 out of 5 waves
AQUATIC ACCURACY (if you are looking for watery education) 0.5~ waves

It is not a show about being underwater, that is just the creative setting chosen by the artists.  Don't let that spoil the fun of an excellent show focused on preschool education.  Now, if they could just do an episode on potty training...

Looking for a run down of the entire program's cast of characters and basic methodology? I recommend a blog post from a cool (if a bit cynical) dad in Ohio: http://stevekaczynski.com/?p=971
It's a different view from mine, and worth the short read.

Eventually, I went online to print some coloring pages and Jace hopped, well scrambled is more like it, into my lap the moment the music came on.  We explored the games and he definitely knows how to play "Bubble Pop".  I do NOT let him have unsupervised play with the computer, so it makes for a great play time educational reward where we hang out together.  To discover for yourself: http://www.nickjr.com/bubble-guppies/ and I highly recommend doing this for the first time on your own to allow for familiarization.  Tough to do with a toddler squealing in one's lap, I assure you.  We also chose to download a few episode to his LeapFrog computer, which is perfectly great for unsupervised play and even better for road trips without a DVD player in the car.

Keep monitoring what your child watches, that is a great habit. But relax and take content into account just as must as context and setting, otherwise most of the cartoons out there will simply not make the cut.

Just keep swimming... just keep swimming... Finding Nemo is coming back out in September.. in 3D!
I'll be there!
-Callie

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