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.