Thursday, January 11, 2007

Psychedelic Shack, That's Where It's At

Like a lot of you, I work. And also, [I'm assuming], like many of you, after work I like to watch a little bit ofTV before going to bed. Unlike many of you, though, I work third shift. So more than a few of the programs available to me [around 8:30 am] are children's programs. Some of them [Curious George, Clifford] seamlessly combine educational elements with that most important ingredient, entertainment. And then there's Boohbah.

I'm not saying it's not educational. After all, this came from the same British company [and many of the same people, I'm told] who created the universally-feared Teletubbies. Clearly, we are dealing with a crew of visionaries...

The Boohbas, according to the official British website, , are "five magical atoms of power, light, and fun". To me, they look like five pears with legs, reproduced in colors never to be found in nature. They travel the world in a device called the "Boohball". When they are required to leave it, though, they scootch up from their cramped "travel" position, accompanied by a sound which we used to call "the Bronx cheer". (If you don't know what that means, think "fart".) Once free of the confines of the starship Boohball [Sorry, I thought someone was working on a new Star Trek series], they show off some minimalist Boohbah choreography, dancing around the incredibly bright white space that seems to follow them around. While I suppose it shows some talent, especially from those inside the suits ["Boobies"?], I must be a little too old to see What We're Learning From All This. Or, alternately, How We're Being Entertained By All This.

In addition, there is a PC stock company, representing various types of humans, and one dog. They perform little wordless skits, narrated by an English voice which sounds bored beyond belief by the whole thing [well, yes]. In a rare example of understandableness [is that a word, by the way?], the skits can be interrupted at any time by The Spanish Inquisition [no, wait, that's Monty Python...]. The skits can be interrupted at any time by a group of children yelling out, "Boohbah!" This is the cue for the videotape operator to stop the tape, so some bored prop man can place some object relating to the story where those in the skit can get it. Then, when you turn the tape back on, the item appears in the scene "as if by magic" [Some of the show's special effects are computer-generated, and probably quite complex. This one is not. More that a few silent movies used it].

The second-half of the show is usually taken up by the Boohball visiting some city, where children magically appear inside a huge white space. They are Somehow compelled to move their limbs rhythmically [no, I wouldn't call it dancing, even on one of my kinder days]. The tapes of this have been edited in such a way to remove all reality, as well as any chance for the children watching at home to repeat the moves [even American Bandstand was smart enough to leave the dance sequences alone].

This all looks fascinating, by the way. At times, it comes off as one of the most visually interesting shows I've seen in a while. I'm told it's shown around the world, with gratified children and parents in every country it airs on. But when in doubt, go back to the original website that explains the show [that link above]. One of the two main reasons for the show is to encourage "creative movement". The other, to encourage "creative thinking". My parents had an effective way to reach this same goal. It was called, "Turn off the TV and go outside and play". Sadly, in this dangerous world, that may not always [or ever] be an option. But when I was a child, little girls dreamt of becoming ballerinas, and a few little boys dreamt of dancing glories [or at least, scoring touchdowns for the Bills]. Have our children so little imagination that we have to encourage it? Or, as I'm beginning to suspect, have this generation of parents so little time, or interest, in giving their children exposure to the arts?

I blame it all on TV...

Mike Riley

P.S.: Do you like that clock? If you'd like one for your blog, or one of some 30 or 40 different styles, roll your cursor over the clock. This should expose a click-on ad for ClockLink, which graciously provided the HTML code [your clock should be free as well, unless you opt for some kind of custom job. There are also ads here now. I'm not encouraging or discouraging you on this one either way. Some of you may be displeased that I've given up my "amateur" status. But anything that comes in helps me to pay for mint tea and creamer, the two key ingredients this column runs on [along with your comments, of course]. - MR

P.P.S.: I just remembered I still owe readers of this blog an account of my playing Santa at my church. I will get it onto the blog this year. Maybe as a "Christmas In July" feature, I'm not sure. But it will be up before 2007 has ended. (By the way, I hope your 2007 is happy and productive...) - Also MR


Housewife said...

Yeah... well.... the boobah's might be gay you know.

You should ask Jerry Falwell if it's okay to watch that show. There might be subliminal messages in it.

Fat and lazy TV watching kids though.... oy! Fallwell will need those for his ministry, isn't it grotesque shut ins who watch TV all day and can't even get off the sofa to go to church.

Oh it's so difficult.

The devil you know....

Rose said...

I'm so glad that I nolonger have cable Tv.

Anonymous said...

It could be worse, you could be watching American Idol.

Tiphanie said...


This is the kind of stuff that TV watching kids-turned-adults produce: people who "move their limbs rhythmically" for the sake of creativity. For the record, I despised Teletubbies as well.

I didn't care much for TV as I was growing up; my method was called Go Read A Book And Get Lost In It. Or, the other one, Go Write A Book.
They both worked superbly. Cause now, TV still sucks, and books are still wonderful.