I had to stay home today as the Little Man, who is 13 months old, was sick with a stomach flu and my wife has a real job. Since he he didn’t feel well he was droopy and clingy and I couldn’t just plop him down in the middle of his toys and get back on the computer, I had to interact with the lad. But he didn’t feel like doing much other than being held and watching a little Sesame Street on PBS.
That kid loves his Elmo: when the furry little monster came on the screen his sad little leaky face lit up, he pointed, gestured, made sure I was paying attention and emitted all kinds of meaningful wordlets of approval. We watched Elmo wrestle with his computer, taunt a baby, sing a one-word song to his goldfish Dorothy, have a one-way conversation with the now-dead Mr. Noodle, and just generally do his Elmo thing until the end of the show. Alex watched raptly.
I was about to turn it off but then saw Boohbah was coming on and I was curious to see the actual show because my daughter (not the one in college) loves to play on the colorful, geometrically-active, eccentric website, which releases an endless stream of bleats and blurts sounding something like a cross between bike horns and particularly fanciful farts, or perhaps kittens and hot air balloons.
As the show came on we were both transfixed: it’s even more subjective and abstract than the Teletubbies (both created by Anne Wood’s UK-based Ragdoll studio) with virtually no words other than during the Storyworld segment: very Yellow Submarine, Peter Max-type pastel animation and art design, and mesmerizing minimalist electronic music with world beat — especially Indian subcontinent — inflections.
The Boohbahs are “five colorful atoms of energy”: Humbah, Zumbah, Zing Zing Zingbah, Jumbah, and Jingbah are “powered by the laughter and joy of children they encounter all over the world.” The Boohbahs live in a glowing white ball of light, the Boohball, which travels from country to country when called by children.
Each Boohbah has a “recharging pod” within the Boohball. The recharging energy is created by the laughter of children when they play with the Boohball, the Boohbahs and the Storypeople. I love the names of the live-action Storypeople: Grandmamma, Grandpappa, Mrs. Lady, Mr. Man, Brother and Sister, Auntie and Little Dog Fido. In today’s episode Mrs. Lady had some issues with a big yellow sweater.
The whole thing just washes over you, bathing the senses in what under different circumstances might be called a “head trip.” I’m not sure how strong the attraction is for older kids (although the target age is listed a 3-6) but for a 1 year-old and his dad, Boobah is mother’s milk.