As a parent, you have the shows that your kids watch that you love, the ones you tolerate and the ones you dread. (Unless you have banned TV from your house and engage your kids only in wholesome, improving pursuits. In which case, isn’t there a taffy-pulling blog you should be reading?) The Backyardigans originally fell into the last group for me. When Tuned In Jr. and Tuned In Jr. Jr. discovered it, I just thought that little brightly-colored, CGI-animated kangaroos and moose doing suggestively booty-shaking dances to world music was kinda creepy.
Then I kept watching, and I realized that little brightly-colored, CGI-animated kangaroos and moose doing suggestively booty-shaking dances to world music was kinda awesome. In any case, it’s good the children brainwashed me, because Nick Jr. is debuting new Backyardigans episodes all week.
The basic premise of Backyardigans is simple: five critters (Uniqua, Pablo, Tasha, Austin and Tyrone) have imaginary adventures in their backyard (which appears to be sort of communal, like the one in Big Love). Unlike some children’s shows, The Backyardigans does a good job of giving each character a distinguishable, reasonably rounded personality. (As opposed to, say, Little Einsteins, where you have the precocious one, the really precocious one, and the really insufferably precocious one.) And I like that, in almost every episode, one of the characters simply does not appear–most likely, they have a cold, or have to visit their cousins, or are at karate class, just like in life.
But the genius is the fantastic original music, by composer Evan Lurie, which explores a different genre of music every episode. In one of the new episodes, the tykes have an imaginary horse race while singing, I am not making this up, klezmer songs.
Tiny psychedelic animals, with names of Anglo, Hispanic and vaguely Afrocentric origin, fantasizing about the Sport of Kings while singing the music of the shtetl. Maybe we can all get along.
PS: Yes, some video would be nice, but since The Backyardigans’ corporate mommy, Viacom, is at war with YouTube, you’ll have to settle for this: