Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Backyardigans

Backyardigans

Spring 2005 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Network: Nickelodeon
Review:
Gripping adventure! Breathtaking visuals! Wonderfully orchestrated music! Sound like a classic Hollywood musical? Actually, it's an inventive new television series for preschoolers (and then some).

The premise involves five friends who live in a neighborhood in which the backs of their homes spill out onto a communal yard. On this grassy field of dreams, Pablo (a cross between a bluebird and a penguin), Tyrone (an orange moose), Uniqua (a pink indeterminate creature), Tasha (a yellow hippo), and Austin (a purple kangaroo) get together and conjure up imaginary journeys. Rich computer-generated animation bursts from the screen as the friends are transported (in their fantasy) into scenarios that range from a pirate treasure hunt to a cowboy ride. Underscoring the sights are the sounds of music, including jazz, classical, hip-hop, and '50s rock. The characters often dance to the songs, à la vintage musicals, with choreography that could've come from Gregory Hines or Bob Fosse. Numerous episodes have aired, but a couple bear repeated viewing. "Secret Mission" has the band on a stealthy adventure and features an infectious tango-tinged score. "Viking Voyage" involves the gang sailing on a Nordic ship, being followed by Tasha, who's been transformed into a hippo-mermaid. All of this animated joy is infused with a sense of humor that's perfect for its preschool audience. Show creator Janice Burgess and her team of storytellers, animators, and composers have delivered a remarkable program.

Gregory Keer   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Gregory Keer is a writer, teacher, and father of three boys. Gregg's web site is www.familymanonline.com


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