Sunday, March 25, 2012

TV Shows We Love: “The Aquabats! Super Show!” and “Mike the Knight”

I’m in tween heaven: The Aquabats have their own show. Don’t confuse this band with The Monkees, a band that was created by tv producers in order to create The Monkees tv show. The Aquabats are a real-live band. Originally formed in 1994 in Orange County, California, they’ve released five full-length studio albums and have toured internationally. And they’ve found new life in the world of kid’s television, thanks to front man Christian Jacobs (The MC Bat Commander) who co-created, writes, and directs Yo Gabba Gabba! for the littlest hipsters. Jacobs seems awfully fond of exclamation points, but his shows are worthy of all the excitement.

The Aquabats! Super Show! features the members of the band as both live-action and animated rockers/superheroes. They bring the silly, even the surreal to kid’s television. They’re more nutty than politically correct. No, there’s no female Aquabat, but no big deal. They bust their own collection of stereotypes, including the rules that a superhero needs to be in superb physical condition. These guys will be recognizable to kids (without their masks, that is) as guys similar to their own dads and uncles.

The show has a very sharp but not a nasty sense of humor. It has a retro sensibility and the entire show reminds me of 1950’s sci-fi and monster movies. But at the same time, it feels very now, sending up the world of teens and their created dramas. The five Aquabats—The M.C. Bat Commander, EagleBones Falconhawk, Ricky Fitness, Jimmy the Robot and Crash McLarson—each have their quirks and their slight variations on their identical costumes that make them easily identifiable from the group. The special effects are silly but surprisingly well done in the live-action sequences. It’s hard work to look this perfectly retro cheesy. I could imagine this show becoming a hit with many different audiences, right up to college students. It’s a multi-layered extravaganza. You can catch The Aquabats! Super Show! on The Hub.

Your preschooler will love Mike the Knight, a modern story set in the era of chivalry. Mike’s not a page or even a squire. He’s a knight in training. Don’t look to this show for historical accuracy. It cherry-picks the age of knights as well as the world of superheroes to create a fun, lively world where “mom” is the queen, sister Evie is a wizard in training, and a pair of talking dragons are half pets/half pals. “Dad,” better known as the king, is off somewhere doing knightly things. Mike uses exclamations like “by the king’s crown” and everybody is very free with their “huzzahs.”

The slogan for the show is, “Be a Knight. Do it Right,” and episodes touch on the issues of thoughtfulness and the perils of cutting corners in all endeavors. Mike learns the “power of responsibility” as the show drives home the simple yet important idea that great things are achieved through hard work and persistence.

My daughter isn’t bothered by the fact that the show centers on a male lead character and not a single cry of “this is for boys” has been heard to date. She loves it and why not? There’s plenty of fun to go around: Mike gets to ride horses but Evie gets to cast magic spells, so virtually every youth trend is covered. It has its share of eccentric touches, my favorite being the character Fernando, the “resident bard,” who plays a mandolin and book-ends each show with a troubadour-like song and dance (it’s got to be seen to be appreciated). Mike the Knight is produced by HIT Productions, a division of Fisher-Price, so brace yourself for a mountain of product tie-ins. My suggestion? A Mike “Knight” light.

You can see Mike the Knight on Nickelodeon.

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