In case you havent heard, Amazon is getting into the content business. Having devoured all of House of Cards
on Netflix, I like where this trend of new players is headed. Whats cool is that these Amazon Originals include childrens shows, and all six of the pilots have potential. I highly recommend watching them all and taking the survey to help decide which become series. Bear in mind some of these are animatics still in production and you only get glimpses of their final form. Heres what we thought of them.
Sara Solves It
: This one is Ozzies clear favorite. It was the first one he gravitated towards and then its all he wanted to watch for days. I couldnt even watch the other pilots until today because hes obsessed withSara Solves It.
And no wonder, its made by our friends at Out of the Blue productions, who also brought us Ozzies fav,Daniel Tigers Neighborhood
. Sara and her brother Sam live in an apartment building where there are all kinds of math hijinks. What Sara solves are math problems like addition and pattern making, with the math concepts integrated into the show. Its delightful. This show also gets bonus points for starring two main characters of color.
: This one is my favorite, and its a close second for Ozzie. Its got a bit of aFantastic Mr. Fox
quality to it, with gorgeous animation (in the parts where its finished). The story has some weird fantasy moments and characters that make it hugely compelling, like when strange fuzzy creature beckon Fig the Fox to the finding place or when he puts on a rainbow kite suit to fly high in the sky. Theres some STEM stuff happening here, as science concepts crop up throughout the episode, but its never heavy-handed.
: This is the only one of the pilots for older kids, and because of Ozzies domination of the Amazon viewing I havent had a chance to show Olive yet. I think shell like it, though. Why? A cool girl inventor that hangs out in the junkyard building android helpers for her experiments. When the new boy in the neighborhood happens upon the junkyard, he begs to be her human helper because shes just so cool.
: Another entry from Out of the Blue, this show is all about art and creativity. I have an art background, so Im all for introducing the kids to works of art. Ozzie pointed at the screen and said, Look at THAT picture! It was the Mona Lisa. Theres also a Ferris-Bueller-inspired moment of looking deeply into A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte
, the George Seurat painting, before leading into a lesson on pointillism.My only beefs with this show is that some of the dialog is heavy-handed with the characters thinking and being creative, and for a show about creative expression, it totally throws architecture under the bus. (The premise is that the architect Moms library is too blah, so they have to go make art for it.)
Teeny Tiny Dogs
: This one comes from The Jim Henson Company, and when its done its going to be all puppets. Ozzie didnt grab onto this show, but I think when its done with puppets he will. Its all about a doggie day care, and it deals with the social-emotional stuff that little kids go through at their own day care being left by mom and dad, making new friends, trying new things, etc. And if theres one thing that Henson consistently does well, its music. Theres a great musical number midshow that again will be awesome with puppets.
: Really, just for title alone this should top our list. Im sure to be saying this to Ozzie from now on. I like this show more in concept than in execution (though the bit of finished animation looked cool). Its little kid versions (or the kids of?) the characters from The Wizard of Oz. Dot and her dog can travel freely to Oz where they visit with their friends. In the pilot, Dot is looking for a gift for her mother, and travels through Oz looking for a wishing hat to wish for the perfect present. This being preschool TV, Dot naturally realizes (spoiler!) that she must make her own gift for mom. That ends up making Oz feel like a convenient plot device and not an integral part of the story.
I hope Amazon decides to move forward with all of the shows. Even for the shows that I liked less, Id still like to see more.