It’s been a long time since I’ve willingly watched a kids’ show. It’s not that I’m above it by any means, it’s because most of what I’ve seen in passing these days is pretty awful.
I’ve got nieces and nephews, so I’ve been an unwilling watcher of the crap that pours out of the Disney Channel. I know the score. TV execs are using the same approach to kid’s programming that they’ve been applying to the lion’s share of adult shows: make it shocking and brainless and it will sell. I’ve essentially lost faith in the genre, but I’m a grown up and I don’t have kids so my opinion doesn’t matter.
But is it that simple? Not necessarily. Excusing the fact that if I did have kids, I’d be the one setting the television on fire rather than letting them watch “Dog with a Blog,” I’m also one who occasionally wants to enjoy the toned-down simplicity of a cartoon or a book from the “Kids Fiction” section (I still say that the Beyonders series is one of the most original works of fantasy that I’ve read in a long time.) So kids’ shows aren’t lost on me…or they wouldn’t be if they didn’t suck.
Enter Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, an Amazon Original series that can be watched gratis with a Prime membership.
I decided to give it a viewing largely because of the raving reviews posted by other Amazon users. The waterfall of five-star recommendations had plenty of great things to say, including comparisons to Harry Potter, X-Files, and even The Wonder Years. Good enough for me to volunteer my eyeballs for a quick episode.
The show impressed me, to be honest. It’s smart, but not fake smart (that thing where the “intellectual kid” will spout random words that are supposed to sound intelligent but are complete nonsense. I hate that.) The characters are a bit cliche, and that’s where the Harry Potter comparison is undeniable. You’ve got the sort of understated main character/hero, his goofy best friend, and the female overachiever. It’s a total Hogwarts trinity, but it’s executed well enough. The actors are quite good, and I’m extremely judgmental in that department, so that should tell you something.
As I mentioned, there were tons of comparisons listed within the reviews, but none of them mentioned the show that I would say Gortimer Gibbon parallels almost to the letter, and it’s one of my favorites: Warehouse 13.
Every episode that I’ve watched thus far is centered around an object that holds mystical properties. Each of these objects is backed up with a legend of sorts, with one of the kids telling it like a bit of schoolyard lore. (Which brings me to one of my favorite things about the show.) Whenever one of the kids tells the story of the object, it’s played out on screen in a unique animation or art style – claymation, moving sketches, figurines, even Monty Python style. Every episode is different, and it’s quite cool, especially when you want to raise kids who can appreciate artistic expression rather than special effects and sight gags involving people getting hit in the groin.
Anyway, these objects show up in every episode and eventually start to cause problems. The kids tackle the issue, have an adventure, and a moral lesson is delivered by the time the credits roll. See! It’s totally Warehouse 13 for kids in suburbia. Which is awesome.
It’s a great show, and if I had kids, I could happily watch it with them without wanting to put my eyes in a garlic press. (Speaking of garlic presses, the jokes in the show are spot on. Another win.)
Keep ’em coming, Amazon! You’re knocking them out of the park so far.
All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!