I should start this off with a disclaimer: I'm not a child, even though I can be immature at times. Nor am I a parent. But, what I am is a television-watcher and, believe it or not, I was even a child at one time. Yes, really, I was! And, not only that, I still can remember those days.
The world may have changed a lot since I was a child, but Saturday mornings are still the primetime hours for children and television watching. Instead of the never-ending cartoons I watched when I was young — you know, the ones which kept a child glued to the TV, but really didn't provide any sort of interaction or a learning experience — today's Saturday mornings are very different.
I recently had the opportunity to watch two shows from the new KOL/DIC's Saturday morning "KOL's Secret Slumber Party" block of programming on CBS. Just for clarification, KOL is AOL's Kids Channel, a popular destination for kids online. DIC Entertainment is a global managing company in family-based intellectual properties. The two shows I viewed were Dance Revolution and Cake, although there are several other shows in the programming block.
Dance Revolution works on the same premise as American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, albeit with a kinder and gentler judging staff. The show's host is a popular KOL Radio DJ, Rick Adams. I can see where he'd be popular with kids — he's zany, British, and a kid at heart. The official Girl Band for the show is the singing and dancing Slumber Party Girls. Again, the kids will like them, but they came across to this adult as sort of mature for a show geared to 6 to 12-year-old children.
There is something very cool about the show, even from an adult's perspective and probably even cooler for a child. Unlike other dance shows with choreographers, they're working this differently. They have teams of two dancers each who give an introductory dance set of their own design. Then a choreographer (Leah Lynette) teaches the teams four dance moves, which they have to incorporate into their dance routines.
So, what's so cool about that? Instead of neglecting the audience, the choreographer actually teaches the viewers, too. Yes! If, as an adult, I'm trying to do the Rollercoaster, Scoop, Glide, and Charleston Brush moves, you can bet the kids will be trying them, too. Alas, the kids can probably learn the moves far easier than I can. To me, that's the critical factor for this show. If a child wants to learn to dance, they can pick up the moves and steps from Dance Revolution. The show's prizes include sholarship monies even for those voted off by the judges.
Then there's Cake. I thought this show was cute and kind of nifty (or crafty) in its own way. As an adult, I can look and say that it's an odd mix of friends, as well as sort of unrealistic. But I think young children, especially girls, are going to enjoy the series. It's all about a girl named Cake and three of her friends — Miracle, Amy, and Benjamin. To me, Amy's sort of young to be hanging out with older kids and why the heck does Benjamin wear a tie so much? But that may just be me. Cake has a cable TV show, which Benjamin films from her grandmother's old Airstream trailer. That old Airstream is chock full of neat old stuff and Cake loves to make new from old.
The show features crafts children can do at home, complete with instructions and safety alerts. The episode I watched had the girls making new pocketbooks from old. This is certainly a spiffy project for girls to try at home. Kids love to be creative and I think they'll have fun with this. I do think, however, unless they change the projects, they may lose a lot of the boy audience. Of course, I'm basing this on watching the girls create a purse. Perhaps other episodes will have more unisex or even boy-based crafts. But, even if they don't, this is something parent and child can enjoy on a lazy Saturday morning. The show is wholesome and morals-friendly.
Both shows feature interactive doings on their websites. Cake TV actually exists, as does Cake's site off of the main "Secret Slumber Party" page. Dance Revolution has the moves, the episodes and more online. Those folks with AOL KOL access can find more information there, too. Also included in the CBS block are these shows: Madeline, Sabrina: The Animated Series, Trollz, and Horseland.
Dang. I wish they had cool stuff I could do and make when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. It's a lot more fun than just watching television.