One of the hottest new programs on cable television this year is the English children's program, "Bob the Builder," which is currently airing on Nickolodeon. Each of the shows features Bob, who runs a construction company with his intrepid partner, Wendy, and an urgent project they need to complete with the help of their eager, talkative construction equipment pals with hearts of gold -- like Scoop the back-hoe, Lofty the crane, Rolly the Steam roller. Whether they're replacing a rotten beam in Farmer Pickle's barn, or pulling Travis the tractor out of the the mud, the crew is unflappably confident exhorting each other on with the chorus: "Can we fix it? Yes we can!"
Four videos from the series have been released so far, and they're sure to keep your preschoolers fascinated, with their old-fashioned model animation and their rock-solid optimism -- that by working together anything is fixable.
For the older children in your family, don't miss The Storyteller videos that Jim Henson first produced for network television in the 1980s and that are available on video. This was his final project before his untimely death, and many feel it was his best work -- a blend of dazzling animatronics and other special effects that were all put in the service of beautifully and cleverly told stories from traditional fairy tales and the Greek myths. The myths of "Perseus and the Gorgon" and "Dedalus and Icarus " were adapted by Anthony Minghella, who would later do "The English Patient" -- with wonderful actors like Michael Gambon, who plays the storyteller, and Derek Jacobi as Deadalus, the artist-designer of the famed Labyrinth. Other retellings of myths in the series include "Theseus and the Minotaur" and "Orpheus and Eurydice." The fairy tale videos have spirited versions of European tales, like "The Luck Child," "The Soldier and Death," and "A Story Short (a version of "Stone Soup"). The storyteller for this group is the incomparable, gravely-voiced John Hurt, who can turn a simple phrase into an Oscar-winning performance. These are videos for the whole family to watch again and again and again. They may be a little hard to track down at your local video store, but they're worth the search -- the best stories always are.
Copyright © 2001 by John Cech
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Tuesday, 12-Jul-2005 15:15:12 EDT