Best of 'Tune In to Kids and Family II' Week
Most of the programming for "Tune In to Kids and Family II" week is standard fare - the kinds of shows youngsters might see any day of the week. The point of the Cable TV event, which starts on June 8, is to give parents a chance to see the shows available to children throughout the day - during parent-friendly prime time.
Two exceptions are: Take a Moment (see story, right) made expressly to encourage parental involvement in their children's TV viewing, which will air June 8 on 29 networks; and HBO's Inventor Specials: Newton/A Tale of Two Isaacs.
The debut episode of this promising series concerns Sir Isaac Newton and his discoveries (gravity, calculus). It is narrated by the young son of Isaac's secretary, Humphrey Newton (no relation). The boy has been named after Sir Isaac (thus the title), and the whole film is witty, informative, and delightfully realized.
Here are some of the week's best shows:
* From Horton Hears a Who to The Cat in the Hat, the Cartoon Network hosts a Seuss retrospective all week. But is it really representative of daily programming?
* Bear in the Big Blue House, is the Disney Channel's answer to Barney. This expressive full-grown bear, a product of the Jim Henson Company, sticks his face in the camera, asks good questions, and teaches little kids all sorts of lessons in gentleness and kindness.
* Jim Henson's Storyteller, in which English actor John Hurt narrates fairy tales from around the world, is elegantly written and produced, with high-profile casts and directors who understand the true nature and value of fairy tales. It airs on HBO.
* Blue's Clues: Blue's Birthday Event on Nickelodeon is one of the most creative of all the interactive shows for young children. It encourages little children to join in, to make simple drawings that connect ideas, and to answer questions out loud. The pace is slow enough to encourage thoughtful interaction, and the subjects are always charming.