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Posts tagged ‘Bubble Guppies’

Follow up: Firefighter Bubble Guppies and a few notes on Fireman Sam

Even the Lego Fire Chief has an awesome grey mustache.

Did I call it or what?

Bubble Puppy got stuck up a tree and the Fire Department came to get him down. And Gill climbed up there (why didn’t he swim??) to be with him, looking all scared of heights. Well, Gill, why couldn’t you just swim down yourself, without using undersea taxpayer resources?

The most realistic detail of the firefighter-themed Bubble Guppies was the awesome grey mustache on the crab/fire chief. Fire chiefs must have awesome grey mustaches. Just look at a firefighter-themed show that does justice to the profession: Fireman Sam. The blowhard, yet loveable, Station Officer Steele has an incredible mustache.

This is a show for young children, but things get real in Pontypandy, Wales – just off the top of my head, say, Fireman Sam and his crew deal with: a school bus full of children teetering on a cliff; a child trapped under falling rocks on a beach; several people marooned at sea; heads stuck in railings (one of them was Station Officer Steele); road accidents, people lost in the wilderness without cell phones and, oh yeah, ACTUAL FIRES (at least Bubble Guppies didn’t have the nerve to set a fire under the sea…but then again I wasn’t watching that closely). All this was handled capably by Fireman Sam, sometimes on his day off. And all of it taught children that though the world can be dangerous, there are good people in your communities able to help you, and also, safety and common sense are important.

Fireman Sam is a pretty good show, albeit it ten minutes long (or maybe because it’s ten minutes long), but I think for an American audience it benefits from that inevitable sheen of class gained from British accents and quaint landscapes. In a sad way, I kind of like being immersed in this small town. I feel like I know the hippy Bronwyn, the dotty Dilys, the impish Norman Price, which gave me the time to wonder (next para for adults only, for you millions of kids reading this blog):

…I know Norman Price is a pain who deserves his constant comeuppance for causing all sorts of problems for Fireman Sam to solve, but don’t you think Sam is a little hard on him? He assumes the worst on sight. He deeply resents him…because…he is Sam’s own love child with the grocer Dilys. It all makes sense; think about it! Spend valuable brain cells thinking about this: Norman’s father?  We don’t know who he is, we never see him. Dilys gets all moony and lovelorn around Sam, always thinking of reasons to get him into her shop. And Norman and Sam? The only redheads in the town…

And now I have to go Fireman-Sam the baby off the stairs…

Bubble Guppies, you’re on notice

American kids are falling behind in math and science. Here’s why: the TV program Bubble Guppies is letting our kids down when it comes to understanding the laws of physics.

Look, I dropped physics in high school. You know that law that tells you the rate of speed at which something is dropping? Well, I dropped it real fast according to that law. But I can tell you what: Bubble Guppies allows all sorts of things to be going on underwater that just physically CAN’T happen underwater.

I get, for the sake of art, one must often take a leap of faith, and accept certain fictional worlds have their own sets of rules. I know bunnies don’t talk, but on Max & Ruby they do (I still don’t like you, Ruby!). I know that community college study groups aren’t generally as tight as they are on Community, but for the sake of a good show, I’m willing to accept that as reality.

But on Bubble Guppies, there are no laws at all. They make a big show in the opening credits that the program is going to happen underwater: when the screen fills with H2O behind the title, my little one commences a fit of glee. Then after that, it’s all willy-nilly. The Guppies swim around, but they can also sit or fall on the ground whenever they feel like it. They can place objects on surfaces and they don’t float away. That’s not how it works in the pool, little Johnny! And let’s not try it.

And the most egregious flouting of physics comes in today’s brand-new episode: the Guppy world has a FIRE BRIGADE! REALLY? Where do they get the water from to put out all those fires? I couldn’t think! I haven’t seen the episode yet (and I assure you – I soon will) but I bet they skirt the issue by doing something dumb and safe by rescuing a kitten from a magical underwater tree. And I bet the fish-kitten won’t figure out that he can just swim out of the tree. We’ll see.

I guess they want to ease preschoolers into the hard facts of life: that gravity exists. That what goes up must come down. But like a lot of kids’ shows today, I think they take it a little too easy on children – they can handle a bit more than we give them credit for. On the episode I saw earlier today, one of the kids is sad he can’t dig up dinosaur skeleton on his own. Because he’s allergic to dirt! Dust clouds make him SNEEZE underwater! But by the end, just when he’s feeling so so down, he sneezes and the breeze that this stirs up (…) causes a huge dirt wall to fall, revealing a perfect triceratops skeleton! And then the paleontologist, who presumably spent years developing a career just to carefully and slowly achieve such a goal, does a dance of congratulation for the Guppy and everyone is so proud. Because he “finally” (as he says) found his dream fossil! After twenty whole minutes! What does that teach our kids? Nothing, that’s what.

It’s a sweet show and it really tries, in a very contrived way, to be inclusive and encouraging, which I appreciate. But I don’t mind a kids’ show with some teeth – baby teeth. Have you ever seen Shaun the Sheep? “He even mucks about with those who cannot bleat!” The sheepdog uses a clipboard to keep track of the sheep! See? That doesn’t obey the laws of biology, but it makes perfect sense!

[Please - it might not be the best joke in the world, but this essay is meant to be A JOKE - so if you cannot see this and are thinking of sending me a comment in which you explain to me that guess what? Barney the Dinosaur isn't real either, or I should find something better to worry about, please move on with your own life instead. I have gotten several of these comments and I am no longer going to post them, so feel free to advertise your inability to understand sarcasm elsewhere. This post was a first attempt at a humorous blog post after a long period of not writing - if you can do better,  go straight ahead]

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