Sunday, March 07, 2010

Monkey Man

So my mother-in-law took my wife and kids to a live action Curious George show in Worcester. The eldest, Big B, likes the TV Show quite a lot and Jota goes along for the ride. As for me, I'm ambivalent: on one side, I have the adult male's appreciation for monkeys, on the other hand, the show is destructive and even terrible.

This is a PBS kids show and, you may not know, but PBS now has top level animated educational shows that I would have killed for as a kid (instead we had puppet shows and Reading Rainbow). So while there's some superlative stuff, e.g. Zula Patrol & Super Why, there's also Curious George.

Any thinking person will be driven batty by this show - it takes the conceit of the books that a monkey can act as a surrogate/metaphor for a child's sense of curious wonder, play down the freaky pre-War imperialism angle, yet play up the imperiling destructive power of the lead primate.

In nearly every episode, a different set of adults give George access to sensitive and/or expensive venues and he spends most of the episode enacting thousands or millions of dollars of property damage - often to irreplaceable or significant objects. And, after the adults realize that they've allowed such damage to occur, George bears absolutely no consequences! What a wonderful metaphor and lesson for our youth.

My favorite example is when George manages to flood the first few floors of his New York City high-rise domicile. Ha ha! As a former tenant of a flooded NYC building, this episode was both humorous and a PTSD trigger. Another example is when George is introduced to the train engineer booth which had a control set-up similar to an airport's tower. The trains needed the engineer to switch tracks, as they move at top speed, so they will arrive on time. The engineer, after telling our hero about the controls, decides to leave George alone in the booth while he departs for a long lunch. As he leaves, George hears radio calls for help from the trains and he uses his monkey ingenuity to switch the trains - potentially ramming each locomotive into others, resulting in death and carnage. Hoo hah.

Ironically, my boys haven't learned to emulate the destruction (yet) but they do like speaking like monkeys. Which sounded cute, at first, but is actually annoying.

Anyhoo, the live show. The tickets were expensive, and I asked if there was a trained monkey on stage - which would kinda justify the cost, right? I mean, add up your monkey chow, monkey cage interior design, and the rest and that means high overhead. But no, George was played by a dude in a monkey suit (see pic above). So I concluded that the cost must be going to pay for therapy for the kids of the guy in the suit.

No comments: