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

Terrific Trucks

Terrific Trucks

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: Sprout
Rating: TV Y

Trucks are terrific. Any kid will tell you that.

Now, Terrific Trucks is here to back up that claim with a new half-hour series airing on NBCUniversal's Sprout channel. This eye-popping program is aimed at children ages 2 - 5 and it takes a novel approach to production. The Terrific Trucks are five actual trucks in a live-action setting with animated touches and voice-overs that bring these vehicles to life. This creates a cast of characters who are all about, well, the kind of things trucks are all about, like digging trenches and crushing cars. According to press information online, the program is intended to encourage children to "explore, overcome obstacles, be curious, and discover new ways of interacting with the trucks and their environment."

Each episode features two separate stories starring construction site crew Tork, Dug, Sparky, Stotz, and Blinker. Each vehicle execute specific tasks, explained step-by-step by truck leader Tork at the beginning of each story. The task isn't always easy but they prove teamwork is the best way to get any job done. In "Monster Truck MashUp," Dug gets distracted and ends up damaging some equipment, an incident that leaves him less than confident. It takes reassurance from Tork to help him regain his confidence and get back to performing his job conscientiously. In "The Scrap Yard Smash," little Blinker loves river stones so much that she ignores Tork's safety instructions and almost gets hurt while the stones are off-loading. Throughout that episode, the trucks remind Blinker to be patient as they perform their tasks but her lack of self-control sets off a chain of events that injures another truck. And, in "The Car Crunching Mix-Up," Tork is in the garage for repairs and Sparky is eager to act as team leader. However, it's a harder job than she thought and she has to deal with the consequences of an embarrassing mistake when she decides to ignore instructions and do things her own way. Her first instinct is to run and hide but her crew encourages her to act like a real leader and come up with a way to fix the problem. Because there is so much to see with the unique art direction, plotlines are straightforward and story morals are revealed through obvious dialogue, for instance, "I can see how being careful is good but believing in yourself is just as important," and "Practice waiting and waiting will be easier."

Terrific Trucks may put parents in mind of Thomas the Tank Engine, another popular series that brings vehicles to life, but with its sophisticated visuals and up-tempo songs, this program gives off a more modern vibe. Deconstruct it and you'll find it's pretty similar to many other children's programs featuring cool vehicles but thanks to its production devices, it's likely to capture the attention of plenty of truck-lovin' kids.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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