Thursday, January 01, 2004
New show for ages 3-6 from Teletubbies creatorsPhoto courtesy of Ragdoll Ltd The Boohbahs, "five sparkling, spinning and dancing atoms of energy" debut Jan 19 on WTTW.
Boohbah. The name already gives you a clue-this is something completely different. Different is a start to describe this show, which debuts at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 19 on WTTW-TV Channel 11 and will run Monday through Friday.
Brought to you by Ragdoll Ltd., the same people who made "Teletubbies," "Boohbah" is jaw-dropping-literally.
That was how five adults and more than a dozen children, ranging in age from 2 to 10, reacted when they watched the episode we were sent for review-their mouths hung open.
The children were fascinated and couldn't take their eyes off the screen. The adults shot each other quizzical looks and made references to how the show would have worked well in their college dormitories. But no one was quite sure what the show was about.
You must understand, you never really understand "Boohbah." We weren't sure what was going on without the accompanying press material. Each episode begins with the Boohbahs, "five sparkling, spinning and dancing atoms of energy," who travel in a "BoohBall" of rainbow streaks, according to the producers. The screen is filled with color, dancing and humming with these five atoms: Humbah, Jingbah, Jumbah, Zing Zing Zingbah and Zumbah. Then there are the Storypeople, played by actors, who are faced with the episode's dilemma.
The Boohbahs are there to help Mrs. Lady, Mr. Man, Brother, Sister, Grandmamma, Grandpappa and the rest. But only the Boohbahs' magic interacts with the Storypeople.
"Boohbah" is for ages 3 to 6, picking up where "Teletubbies" left off. And it is just as out there as "Teletubbies," which debuted in March 1997. (I'll admit, I had trouble with it at first. But found myself drawn to it-especially Noo-Noo the vacuum cleaner.)
"Teletubbies" created headlines and controversy because it was seen as glorifying television; the characters had TVs in their tummies, and it was geared to ages 1 and younger. Child experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend children younger than 2 not watch videos, let alone television (see page 72).
"Boohbah" does not have that problem. But it does create the same out-there feel as "Teletubbies." On the whole, we all really enjoyed the colorful and compelling images.
But I took exception to the Boohbah bubble exercise, a straight steal from Loonette's clock exercise from "The Big Comfy Couch."
I also took issue with the claim an interactive show like this gets children moving, and fights the childhood obesity epidemic. The best way to fight obesity is to turn off the TV.
But I loved the lessons of inclusion, cooperation and helping. "Boohbah" stimulates a child's imagination-something that is missing from many children's television.
I highly recommend you and your children give it a try.