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Ranking the Kid Shows: Yo Gabba Gabba

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ranking the Kid Shows: Yo Gabba Gabba

I know this show is huge with kids.  And I've been hearing about it from parents ever since I had a kid.  They'd be all, like, "Have you seen Yo Gabba Gabba yet?" Until last week when my personal trainer Adam told me he'd been watching it at 2 a.m., stoned, I never knew what the hell people were talking about.  And now that I do, I've got to be honest with you, Yo Gabba Gabba sorta scares the shit out of me. It's the kind of show I could imagine stumbling across when I was all fucked up and thinking I'd died (like when I woke up to Dead or Alive's version of "Spirit in the Sky").  

I've been watching Yo Gabba Gabba with Holden lately, as we've run out of new Wiggles' episodes (and by "new" I mean old ones I haven't seen; I refuse to watch any ones with that scrub Yellow Wiggle, Sam).  If you haven't seen the show, it starts with this black hepcat in an orange track suit and giant glasses, named DJ Lance Rock, who takes out some dolls and sets them in a big shoebox, diorama-style.  The dolls then come to life, acting out important life lessons for kids, like eating vegetables is good, being different is OK, and breaking into dance is always appropriate.  The show also has hip guest stars like Jack Black and the Ting Tings. It's pretty original, fusing the cheap craptastic look of Japanese television with an updated, far-cooler Electric Company.  

Rock, Muno, Plex, Foofa, Toodee, and Brobee are the dolls that come to life and the stars of Gabba Land.  I don't know which is which, but they all look different.  Like one is a one-eyed red rubber alien, another a green furry thing with arms like those creepy inflatable balloon-dolls you see on used car lots, and so on.  

Like I said, apparently kids can't get enough of it, and the coolest parents I know, like Todd Robinson of Thuglit fame, have been telling me to keep a lookout.  So maybe I built it up in my head too much, created an expectation reality could never meet.  I don't know.  All I do know is DJ Lance Rock freaks me the fuck out.  He's all super smooth with these humungous glasses.  I can picture a whole gang of DJ Lance Rocks in the Warriors.  "DJ Lance Rocks, come out and play..."  And Foofa, Toodee, and Brobee and Co. don't exactly fill me with serenity now. 

I think part of the problem is I have an anxiety disorder, and this show isn't for people who panic easily.  There are bright lights that go off unpredictably, and quick cuts to quirky kids dancing, and then it's back to the dolls and a shaky cam, before DJ Lance Rock gets a close-up, and everything slows super down and he's all teeth and gums and he's doing some funky breakdown, and really it makes me nervous.

Plus, there's the whole "orange jumpsuit" connotation.

I'm not saying Yo Gabba Gabba isn't good; it is.  I can see the appeal for kids, and you have to love how far programming for kids has come.  We had like Sesame Street or David and Goliath, and while the former introduced multiculturalism, the latter was about as white a show as could be.  Yo Gabba Gabba is new, hip, cool, funky, and it speaks to a new generation in a new world, which practices the inclusion it preaches.  But I'm always amazed at how shows like this get created.  I just don't know who sits down with a producer and pitches it.  "We'll have this jive DJ with Japanese monsters, and country sensations like Sugarland can guest star, and Biz Markie will drop a beat of the day..."  I guess "crazy enough to just might work" comes to mind.

Still, I am old, with a nervous disorder, and Yo Gabba Gabba threatens the sanctity I tried so hard to cultivate by isolating myself on the hill, far removed from things that move fast.

I give Yo Gabba Gabba 6 out of 10 stars.


At May 4, 2011 at 1:35 PM , Blogger Jason said...

Did you watch any of the Syd Kroft shows when you were a kid? Spot on same anxiety inducing. The tunnel is elongating and closing in at the end as I type. Can't watch Yo Gabba Gabba either.

At May 5, 2011 at 8:44 PM , Blogger JCase said...

Jack this to a solid "nine". "Yo Gabba Gabba" is the bomb. Not many kid shows I like better than this one. For less color and seizuristicity (I made that word up, like it?), try "the Backyardigans". That one is a 12 on a 10 scale. I find it brilliantly creative and just firing on all cylinders...


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