So, after some relentless pestering by my children, I upgraded my cable package to include The Hub. I have to hand it to whichever multinational conglomerate dreamt up this package of whacky little kid shows and clearly branded toy tie-ins, but they placed ads in the right places and their efforts paid off. Anyway, that’s not what I’m complaining about today. I’ll save my damning diatribe about children’s advertising for another day. No, today I’m expressing my valid concerns about the state of my native land, Great Britain.
I’m sure we all remember the Teletubbies. The one with the coat hanger on his head, the one who peed sitting down, the gay one. OK, I don’t remember them all that clearly, but I do know that compared to the British show I watched this morning, they were as rational, comprehensible and logical as a PBS documentary on Norway. Tinky Winky was a veritable Ken Burns of clarity, in comparison with…
In the Night Garden. (www.inthenightgarden.co.uk)
First off, it’s not night time. However, it does seem to be set in a garden, if your definition of garden is broad enough to encompass fairy tale trees, clumps of glittery pollen floating through the air, and giant dandelions. The garden is populated by the following homeless denizens of the limbic system:
Pontipines. These are my favorite. They appear to be tiny, peg doll size things all dressed in red, who live in a tiny Georgian house and perform organized, flash mob style dances. They mutter incomprehensibly, and are clearly in need of unionization.
Wottingers: These are identical to the Pontipines, but dressed in blue. Think of them as miniature Jets to the miniature Sharks that are the Pontipines. I haven’t seen them come to blows yet, but a face off is presumably just around the corner. Seeing as you could take both groups out with a small box of well-aimed raisins, I doubt it will take long to quell the uprising.
Haa-hoos. Here’s what the ITNG website says about them: The Haahoos are five enormous pillowy characters, who roam about the garden at a leisurely pace. They are sedate and gentle, but are so big that they can stop the Ninky Nonk in its tracks - no small feat! I’m telling you, it’s like these people dropped three hits of acid, then decided, mid-trip, to do some coke, and THEN went totally off the deep end and ate two dozen Krispy Kremes. Once their vision settled a little they handed out the crayons and went to work.
Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka. I don’t know where to begin. Upsy Daisy seems to be some kind of big girl, made of velvet with wiggly hair, Iggle Piggle is a hydrocephalic blue guy who keeps his security blanket close (probably a wise move) and Makka Pakka is what would happen if a baby Teletubbie mated with one of the robot women from Metropolis. And pulled the short end of both sticks, if you follow me.
Tombliboos. These are a trio of hellspawn plush babies with eyes that don’t blink and a homicidal tendency to fly their aircraft into the Haa Hoos. Presumably it’s a cry for attention, but I’m telling you, I’ll be seeing them in my dreams tonight, and it won’t be pretty.
There are also a variety of vehicles called the Ninky Nonk and the Pinky Ponk, but you can skip that bit. The look of the whole thing is so druggy it makes Yo Gabba Gabba look two dimensional.
I sat there with my kids this morning and just gaped in horror. None of it makes any sense, and it’s written for children with severe ADD. First the Tombliboos fly their pinky ponk around, stopping every so when they run into a Haa Hoo. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the Pontipines and the Wottingers appear and perform a series of formal dances to a medley of Gaga tunes, ultimately turning on one another and going all medieval. When half of them are dead a Haa Hoo floats in and out, like something seen at the edge of a show about Burning Man. I looked at my kids. They too had their mouths open, but with amazement. They think it’s awesome. They don’t understand it any more than I do, but with them that’s not an impediment to pleasure. So much of their lives are inexplicable to them that a show that boldly incorporates that reality is a welcome relief.
A little research later, I discovered the whole thing is the work of the Teletubbies team, also known as Smack & Angel Dust productions (that isn’t true), and that it’s won numerous awards. Wiki it, the description will save you the effort of actually watching it. It was created, they claim, to create a relaxed and calm state of mind in children aged 1 – 4. Well, I’m here to tell you that it works for 6 and 8, too. And as soon as I can dig out my bong and run it through the dishwasher, I think I’ll sit down and take in a few episodes myself.
Now I’m off to Zazzle to make up a Team Pontipine t-shirt.
F*** you, Wottingers.