Friday, August 6, 2010

Old School, Preschool Style

A while back, I'd say at least two years ago, J really got into Nick Jr's The Upside Down Show.  His level of adoration for the show could probably be described as bordering on obsession.  At first the show drove me completely insane, but in time, it grew on me.  It eventually became one of my favorite kids' shows, not because I liked to watch it (I would much rather watch The Backyardigans or Blue's Clues), but because of what J got out of it. 

And now, for your reading pleasure, here is my expert review and opinion on The Upside Down Show:

The Upside Down Show
The Upside Down Show made its debut on Nickelodeon's Noggin (now Nick Jr.) in October of 2006.  The live-action show features Australian comedians Shane Dundas and David Collins, who also perform comedy for adults as the Umbilical Brothers.  Shane and David explore the world by visiting various rooms within their house.  Each room has its own crazy theme - the no-room room, the no-fun room, the echo room, etc.  Joining their adventures are Mrs. Foil (their human neighbor), Puppet (you guessed it, a puppet), and the Shmuzzies (fuzzy little creatures with a language of their own - "Shmello, Shmuzzies!").

In The UDS, Shane and David encourage their viewers to help them with their exploration by asking them to press various buttons on an invisible remote control; it's a clever way to "get meta" with the viewers.  The "remote" can move the action forward; it can give kids an instant replay of an action (complete with Shane and David's commentary); and it sometimes turns things - literally - upside down.  Often, the "incorrect" button is pressed ("Whatever you do, don't press the ... button!"), leading to rather silly situations - such buttons include the "Wiggle" button, the Irish Dancing button, and the celebration button (which causes balloons and streamers to fall from the sky and disco music to blare). 

The Upside Down Show was not well received by Noggin viewers (despite its affiliation with Sesame Workshop), and thus only twelve episodes were produced.  It currently runs late at night on Nick Jr. 

(Reference cited:  Wikipedia)

It's been almost four years since The Upside Down Show debuted on Noggin, but all three boys are currently enjoying it, thanks to DVR.  What first made me appreciate the show was watching J use pretend play as a direct result of watching.  What makes me continue to appreciate it is that all three boys - ages six, three and a half, and nineteen months - love to watch it together, and they love to reenact it. 

The Upside Down Show is silly, creative, fun, and developmentally appropriate for a wide range of ages.  It's really a shame that (a) this show never took off in the United States, and (b) there aren't more children's shows that have such broad appeal.

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