Posted by: Ticktock | August 27, 2008

Sid the Science Kid on PBS

PBS Kids is featuring a new children’s show about science.  Finally.

But is it good?  Yeah, um… not so much.

I really wanted to like Sid the Science Kid, which is about a digitally bitmapped puppet child who is very curious about the world.  The show is modeled on preschool science curriculum, and the series is segmented into scientific themes for each week.  The premise sounds great, and I certainly endorse science education.  There’s only one problem – the execution.

The director of Sid the Science Kid produced a mess of a show.  The problems start with the animated puppetry; the characters move around with an unsettling heightened realism.  I can’t quite place what is so odd about the movements, but watching them move fills me with nervous anxiety.

Another problem is the eye-contact.  These animated puppets have eyes that jiggle without focus.   Nobody really connects with anybody else in a meaningful way.

Finally, the voice talent is poorly matched to the characters and sounds jarring and awkward.

Beyond all those significant barriers to entertainment, there is the annoying reliance on characters breaking into song as transitions.  The idea is to give the show a pattern that children can expect for each episode, but if those recurring numbers suck (I’m looking at you Doodlebops) then you are left with a self-perpetuating annoying series.  Maybe they won’t bring back those musical theater transitions in later episodes.  I’ve only watched the premiere, but I am suspicious that they will.

The first episode was about charts.  Yawn.  I know they are following the advised curriculum, but I honestly don’t think that is a great idea.  Why not start us off with natural curiosity?  Why paint themselves into a corner by giving kids the same lessons they will learn in school?  There is so much to explore in the world, and they chose to talk about charts in the premiere???

Don’t get me wrong.  Charts are important.  They just don’t belong on the premiere episode of Sid the Science Kid.  By aiming so safe, they insult their young audience.  Without an emotional connection to Sid, we are left with an over-eager program that delivers nothing but bland sugar frosted science.

I miss Mr. Wizard.

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Responses

  1. Colin,

    Just browsing your blog for the first time. Found it informative and I had a few laughs as well. Keep up the good work.

    Sorry to hear that this new PBS science show is a dud. So many of these kids shows follow these Dora-type plot patterns. Booooring.

    My daughter’s new favorite is WordGirl! on PBS. It pokes fun at the superhero genre from an adult POV but my duaghter likes the female superhero angle. Love to hear your review if you get time and if it is on PBS in Cin City. It is only on one of the PBS stations in Chicago.

    Cheers,
    Jim

  2. Mr Wizard…brings me back, dude.

  3. You remind me of my dad, for whom watching Dr. Rogers was torture. Don’t even get him started on the wisdom of naming a character Mr. McFeely. My three year-old and I think Sid is good, though. Preschoolers like an anticipatory set and the routine of Sid’s day certainly provides that. If there’s no math, you’re really not doing science, so all the tools (like those charts) are important. Love and wonder is good, and you get that on Zula Patrol and Big, Big World. Environmental Ed and Science Inquiry are both important. Hopefully, they’ll get it all in school, too.

  4. I like Sid the Science Kid but I didn’t like today’s propagandic episode regarding vaccinations…

    • I did. Sid was worried about getting his flu shot, then he learned the value of vaccination, and now he understands that it is worth it. What’s not to like?

      • Jeff (below) said it best…

        It focuses on the “mainstream” view of vaccinations. I for one don’t believe you need a shot to prevent every infection that may or may not encounter the body.

        I had to sit through the episode explaining to my daughters why they don’t need a shot for something as simple as the flu (one that ended up being more hype than fact)…

  5. The characters are unsettling because they all look and move as if they have Down’s Syndrome. Whether or not this is desirable is another discussion, but there it is.

    Yeah, I didn’t like the vaccination thing either, but it was based on the currently acceptable views of “mainstream” health science. Whatever. I doubt any TV network is going to do a science-based show that portrays things from the viewpoint of any alternative scientific perspective…

  6. Rather ironic that they had an episode about vaccination fears. They already look like they have Down’s Syndrome (which could be caused by vaccinations).

  7. Cammy, please explain who vaccines can add an extra chromosome to a child with Down Syndrome, also known as trisomy 21 (because of the extra bit on the 21st chromosome). It sounds like an intriguing bit of science. Do you have any cool peer reviewed papers that show the extra chromosome was not there at birth, but happened later?

  8. (Dear SB parents… you really should shut down comments on blog articles more than a few months old, especially those that are two years old!)

  9. But then I wouldn’t be able to see you smack Cammy down so well!

    In all seriousness, we usually only delete comments that are entirely ad hominem or trolling. Cammy’s comment was either written by someone who wants to rile us up, or someone who is exceedingly ignorant. I published the comment just in case it was ignorance, and because I knew it would be swiftly answered.

    I have considered shutting down the comments of older articles, but there are occasions when useful discussion occur, such as the back and forth that happened on Dr. Tenpenny’s article.

    • Okay, fair enough. Also thanks!

      Her comment reminded me back in the days of the disability listserve when one of the early Mercury Moms told me that she found out at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota that cerebral palsy was caused by vaccines!


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