Thursday, November 29, 2012

Web Series We Love: “The Digits”

If I could design the perfect show for ages seven to eleven, I’d want it to seamlessly blend its educational layer with entertainment that’s as witty and downright smart as the concepts its hoping to convey. And I’d want this perfect show to teach math, because this is the time in a tween’s life when math moves from simple arithmetic into more abstract concepts like fractions and geometry. I think I’ll really reach for the sky: I want the show to be able to help my child with her math homework (at least the questions Aunt Liz can’t handle). I know I’m asking way too much, but nonetheless, I’d like you to meet The Digits.

The Digits are a rock band headed up by teen gal and lead guitar Pavi (played by Sara Castilleja), the mighty and bombastic Gorgolax (played by Joe Bolenbaugh) on drums, and gentle robot Ray Ray (played by puppeteer Lance Woolen) on keyboards and backup guitar. They found a flyer for the Intergalactic Battle of the Bands and they mean to win it and beat the evil Doomfinger. (Marwell Doomfinger III is the the boss at Doomfinger Records and is using music to make the galaxy stupider.) The Digits need 1,000 fans to qualify for the competition (you can be one of them). Space travel and garage band music factors into each story and I’ve heard from the friend of a friend that tweens like those topics.

Oregon native Sara Castilleja is Pavi
The Digits is the brain-child of Scotty Iseri and is produced in Portland, Oregon. The look of the show is low-tech in a knowing Aquabats sort of way. The writing is outstanding—absurd and silly but never forgetting to layer each moment with math in an active, real-life context. And speaking of context, users can watch The Digits on their own YouTube channel, FundaWatch. Users can ask questions and get help with their math homework by posting it under the videos. Or users can download The Digits App at iTunes or Google Play for true interactivity where users can not only play games, but can make choices that affect the outcome of episodes of the show. For now, everything’s free.

I love the nutty sense of humor of this show. In one of the first episodes (see above), “Tell Time with The Digits,” Gorgolax sits behind his drums and sings, “This is a song that’s one hour long. The end.” Pavi and Ray Ray explain the concept of time to him, explaining how his song wasn’t an hour long, but only five seconds. They help him understand the concept of time with a Clocktopus. Gorgolax catches on and plays out the episode with his new song, “This is a song that’s four hours long, this song is just four hours long. This is a song that’s four …” fading out to the sound of screams. Nice.

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