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Posts tagged ‘Children’s television series’

Oh no, I accidentally broke up the Wiggles

So, do you think Sam Moran is in the Outback somewhere, in a dressing room of a traveling production of South Pacific, laughing like this: “Mwah-ha-ha-ha. Ha.” That’s right, the Wiggles broke up.

English: The Wiggles performing at the MCI Cen...

Drive on, Big Red Car. Photo by Anthony Arambula  (Wikipedia)

According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, just a few short months after announcing Sam’s sh*tcanning and Greg Page’s triumphant return to the band, Murray, Jeff, and Greg are leaving the Wiggles. For good. The word down under is that the negative reaction to the last yellow-skivvy transfer was too much for them to bear, and they felt it was time to retire. An “insider” said, according to the Daily Telegraph: “Murray and Jeff are getting older and they’ve been thinking about this (retirement) for ages. And Greg is still a very sick man. The ill feeling towards them after Sam left really pushed them to do it. They felt ‘What’s the point in going on after all this?’, they’re all millionaires anyway so why would they? They don’t exactly need to.”

After 30 Rock sent up the Wiggles a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the group and their machinations of late. I compared them to Oasis. And well, look now.

That “ill feeling”? That’s me! I don’t mean to take credit for the downfall of a international kiddie phenomenon, but literally dozens of readers in Australia (thank you Word Press blog stats page) read my post, and look at the result!  Didn’t think I had that much of an impact on Australian preschool band affairs. Wow. I even tweeted my post to @sammoran and he never responded. Which I take, considering my little joke about not buying his album, to mean “F*ck you,” or the Australian equivalent. Fair dinkum? Fair dinkum, indeed.

And fair dinkum to the Wiggles. Greg and Jeff have some illnesses that they clearly need to recover from. And they are all going to “spend some time with their families,” which I know is true, of course, but it’s also what you say when you’re a politician and you don’t want to say why you are really quitting your post. I wonder if we’ll ever know just how it all went down, beneath the hood of the Big Red Car.

And may I further say DID I NOT CALL IT when I said the Wiggles were all about Anthony Field? Because guess who’s the last man standing? I told you he was running the show! He’s going to continue on in the band, the undisputed leader, at the helm of three newbies in his grasp, with a back-up chorus probably made up entirely of his nieces, nephews, dentist’s roommate’s cousin, etc. And the others are going to remain at Wiggles HQ. Translation: stopping in to collect royalty checks. Maybe an occasional, impromptu jam session of “Move Your Arms Like Henry,” if the ill-will level is low. Who knows.

It is nice to see, though, that they chose a woman to wear yellow. For one, it helps disassociate the yellow skivvy from the nastiness of the recent hand-off, and for two, how refreshing to see a woman take center stage with the Wiggles while not being trapped inside a giant dinosaur suit. Though she doesn’t need that crazy hair bow they’ve given her; we know she’s a lady. Can I also add another of my own opinions, while wholesale changes are being made, Wiggles Pty Ltd.? In your future television programming, can you drop all the green-screen and CGI and go back to filming your videos in random locations all around Sydney? Like some weird little beach or the side of the road? I kind of liked that. Fair dinkum.

But OH NO this isn’t actually what I wanted! No! This isn’t how I intended to use my great blogging power! To be the Yoko Ono of the Wiggles? No no no! No more Fruit Salad! No more Wags the Dog! What about Sprout’s Wiggly Waffle (though they were pretty much phoning it in there)? Murray’s guitar?  Who’s going to wake up Jeff if he falls asleep behind the wheel of a car again? I’m sorry, children! I’m sorry, Australia! I’m sorry, children of Australia!

And what about the collateral damage? Has anyone thought of Captain Feathersword? Is he going to be OK? What’s going to happen to him? I’m sorry, Captain Feathersword! And somebody keep an eye on that overexcited Wiggly dancer from so many of the videos! Those who know, know of whom I speak. A lot of big dance moves, and (even for the Wiggles) a lot of mugging for the camera. I commend his enthusiasm, but he appeared like he was angling pretty hard for the top job when Greg left. And now that the new Wiggles have been announced, and he’s not one of them? Well, you’ve been warned, A. Field.

Paul Paddick who plays as Captain Feathersword...

Are you OK, Captain Feathersword? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for Sam, the Daily Telegraph says, “Moran hasn’t spoken to any of his former bandmates since he was axed. He is negotiating a deal to do his own kids TV show and is expected to announce his plans any day.” Go get ‘em, Sam! Stick it to those rainbow-colored Gallagher brothers.

So good-bye, Wiggles. I don’t know if we’ll be on board for their next incarnation – the family member currently in their demographic has got it pretty bad for the Bubble Guppies (blast them!) and that’s about it. But still, I have to thank them. My older son really loved them, and I was fond of them, too. The Wiggles gave my older son a nice introduction to music, and me a few peaceful moments, when he was younger. And they’ll live forever in our DVD player; C cannot ride in a car to New York without watching Wiggle Bay at some point. I don’t know why that DVD in particular. With the barbie on the beach and the lady in the mermaid suit.

I’ll leave you with my top three Wiggles songs to remember the good ol’ days. One of them will now be stuck in your head all day. Mwah. Ha. Ha.

“Can You (Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?)”

“Rock-a-Bye Your Bear”

“Bow Wow Wow”

Mad Men: Caillou for grown-ups

Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue

Don Draper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s just a guy who’s 40. Each day, it’s debatable whether or not he grows (emotionally) some more. He used to like whoring, he’s Don Draper.

I love Mad Men, but I know that a lot of people don’t. The main reason being, according to my very unscientific research, is that the pace is too slow. You know which other show people hate for being to slow? Caillou. See my earlier post on the vitriol that Caillou inspires in parents. Or don’t; to sum up, many parents think the show is boring because very little happens. It’s a four-year-old boy going about his day. My response: the show is not for you, parents. It’s for the child, who gets taken in seeing his or her own experiences reflected on TV. They are engrossed so we can go off and do something else for 20 minutes. Like read a recap of Mad Men on EW.com.

True, the pace of Mad Men seems slow. It’s not 24, nor is it meant to be. The show isn’t littered with car chases, hostage crises, or melodrama (although that was some good action last week, when Lane…you know what, I’m not going to spoil it. I know it can sit on a DVR for the better part of a week. But it was pretty exciting!). It’s like Caillou for grown-ups; its languid pace allows adults to see themselves in the events of the lives of these intricately developed characters. I can lose myself in the show, and sometimes laugh, and sometimes feel uncomfortable, because I can relate on some level to many of the struggles of  Joan, Peggy, Betty, or even Pete Campbell (though probably not Bert Cooper or Roger Sterling), trying to figure out their roles and lives, just as Caillou does when he struggles at school or gets pissed off at those twins who live next door. There may not be a lot of fireworks on either show, but this inner turmoil shining through is what keeps you riveted – in a preschooler way or in an adult way. Are you telling me Caillou didn’t have major inner t . when he got freaked out by his creepy neighbor? Who turned out to be just a doll after all?

Mad Men works this way on a macro level as well; I am not old enough to match the age of any of the characters on the show (Don Draper is about the same age as my grandfather, who pounded the streets of New York at roughly the same time), but it is fascinating to watch the events of a decade that formed such an important part of our national consciousness today. Let’s see, can I draw a parallel about Caillou? Is Caillou macro in any way? A Canadian way maybe? Nah, better not push the analogy too hard.

In defense of Caillou

Caillou (character)

Caillou. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s just a kid who’s four. So why does everyone hate Caillou? Rather, why does every parent I know hate Caillou? And don’t even read the comments on Caillou videos on YouTube. They’re vicious! I won’t even link to them.

What are the complaints? He’s annoying. He’s whiny. He’s a goody-goody. He’s bald – why’s he bald? Click here to find out! Nothing interesting happens. Well, here’s a reality check! Except for the baldness, that pretty much sums up fourness (with an apology to my own little C)!

But though it can be a bit cloying, Caillou is a sweet, simple, day-in-the-life of a preschooler done in primary colors. And it’s hard, I think, for children’s TV to hold a mirror up to the daily life of little kids without resorting to too many bells and whistles (like giving them fins, say, or a talking backpack). It’s a good thing that children see children on television as they really are: they get excited about little things, and angry about little things. They go to school, they get along or they don’t, their little siblings get in their way. They’re not mini rock stars or astronauts or explorers, they just dress up like them.

My own four-year-old loves Caillou, unless it’s one of those episodes where the teddy bear, the dino, and the cat come to life as live-action puppets. Then he checks out, and I think it’s because that fantasy element takes away from what is good about the show: it’s created a little world for Caillou in which little kids recognize their own experiences.

So, parents, leave Caillou alone! Actually except on two points. One: I’ll grant you the voice is not great. It is a little too obvious that it’s an adult, or much older child, doing a kid’s voice, in an overly cutesy, sing-songy way. I never forget that it’s not a little kid talking.

And two: Caillou taught my son the phrase “Are we there yet?” which is nearly unforgivable. Once he saw that episode where Caillou had to drive like twenty minutes into the big city to visit some friend of his mom’s, I started hearing that on every trip to the grocery store. I don’t need that. I already know it’s Caillou’s world, and I’m just living in it.

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