My Breakfast with Bear

June 20-24, 2005

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday

 

 

   Hey, wake up! Rise and shine, there's no time to waste -- we've got to meet Bear over at Kayla's house four paragraphs from now, and she's all the way out in the country.

 

   This is the thing: The last season of Bear in the Big Blue House aired in 2002, and since then, Bear's been kind of kicking back and taking some time off. He went to Europe, he did a triathlon, he worked on his novel. He's enjoyed it so much that when the Disney Channel wanted him to come back and do a new show, he arranged it so he would only work mornings. 

 

   So Disney came up with a new reality show called Breakfast with Bear, where Bear shows up at a kid's house first thing in the morning, and helps them get ready for their day. It's an early start for Bear, but he's out by 8, and then he has the rest of the day to himself. 

 

   This week, we're going to wake up with Bear every day, and see what life is like for the ultimate morning person. Up and at 'em!

 

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday


     

A Giant Leap

Monday, June 20

 

   Now, this wouldn't be Bear without a peppy folk-pop theme song, and he doesn't disappoint. "Hey! It's a brand new day," he chirps, "and I'm feeling fine in every way. Have you got some time to spare? Come on! And have Breakfast with Bear." And already, you can feel that infectious Bear groove, a positive isn't-life-amazing attitude that's either completely sincere, or so elegantly calculated that it seems completely sincere. Either way, I'm sucked into it, bopping along with Bear. On the other hand, I just woke up, so I may not be thinking clearly.

 

   And, hey! Bear's outside. On his old show, Bear was studio-bound, stuck in Woodland Valley all the time. Now, Bear's out in the real world -- and if I've learned anything in my long acquaintance with the Muppets, that means he's about to get chased across the country. It might be that Doc Hopper's after him, or maybe a couple of guys want to paint him blue and put him in the circus. Either way, somebody's just on the other side of those trees with a pair of binoculars. 

 

   But before that plotline kicks in, Bear has to get this breakfast thing started. "Today, I'm going to visit my friend Kayla," he says, "who lives out here in the woods, in a log cabin her father and his friends built!" He moves toward the house, but then turns back to explain: "Oh! Logs are really big, round pieces of wood." And yeah, I know what a log is, thank you very much, Bear. The thing I really want you to explain is how the hell did Kayla get so lucky? The kid's seven years old, and she lives out in the back end of nowhere. I'm thirty-four, I live in a major city and I have my own website, and I've never once had a Muppet show up for breakfast. Not once! What kind of pull does Kayla have? I don't get it.

 

   Anyway, Kayla's mom lets Bear in -- he says, "Good morning, Kayla's mom!" which is adorable -- and then he just marches right into Kayla's bedroom. She jumps out of bed and gives him a big hug, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. And maybe it is for her, I don't know. He looks closely at her: "You know, you look different, there's something different about you... Let me see..." He gasps. "Your smile! You have a new smile! What happened?" And man, what happened is right. It looks like somebody's been using Kayla's mouth for target practice.

 

   Bear moves smoothly past that subject with some good-morning small talk: "So, I have a question. Do you sometimes have a hard time waking up in the morning?" Kayla sure does. "Yeah, especially when you have school, plus you take care of the kids, plus you do dance, plus you do softball, plllluuusss... you have a big bear come to your house." And the only possible response to that is: wait a second, Kayla has kids? I thought life in the country was pretty relaxed, but you ask Kayla a simple question, and she starts whining about how overscheduled she is. Dude, you're seven years old, relax.

 

   To her credit, Kayla recovers quick: "And guess which thing is the funnest!" Bear pretends to think. "Hmmm, let's see. Is it the big bear coming to your house?" She grins and hugs him again, so we've gotten through another awkward moment. 

 

   Moving things along, Bear sings "The Morning Mambo," another fun slice of Bear pop that gets Kayla up and dancing. And boy, that girl is shakin' it! Unfortunately, you don't get to see as much of their dance as you might like, because all the camera shots are lined up to feature Kayla's collection of Disney Princess dolls lining the walls. Now, you might not be familiar with these, but apparently, they take all the pretty female characters from the Disney animated movies and they make toys of them, and Kayla has five of them in her bedroom. If you're interested in the Disney Princess toy line, I'm sure you'll find that they're available for sale at all major toy retailers. 

 

   I'm just saying all this because obviously these Disney Princess toys are the most important things in the room, and the camera always makes sure they're in shot. Seriously, whenever Bear and Kayla move down a little, and the camera follows them, then it instantly moves back up to get the dolls in the shot. It's obvious that they'd rather have the dolls in the frame than Kayla. You can see this happen three times, it's amazing. How lucky they were that Kayla had such photogenic toys in her room! It's just a lucky day all around. 

 

   Anyway, Bear's exhausted, so it's time to take a break for a couple of cartoons. Breakfast with Bear isn't really a full show, it's just four Bear segments and a bunch of cartoons, plus some ads for other Disney Channel shows. The whole thing adds up to twelve and a half minutes of Bear material. So that was three minutes of Bear and Kayla, and now we watch cartoons for a while, and we meet up with them again at 7:20.

 

   Hey, welcome back! Now, we're in Kayla's kitchen, where she and her mom are cooking "egg in a nest," which sounds exotic but is really just a fried egg on toast with cheese on top. It's not a very interesting recipe, so we can take a moment to check out how the kitchen is decorated. And here's a little note for Kayla's mom: Just because you live out in the woods doesn't mean that everything has to be in earth tones. Seriously, there's enough brown and green right outside your door to last you a lifetime. Would it kill you to buy something red? 

 

   Anyway, Bear and Kayla go out on the porch with their plates, and there's some interesting tension around whether Bear is going to eat or not. Kayla picks up her knife and fork, and then she notices that Bear doesn't have his. She puts the fork in his hand, and points to his knife. It's an odd moment -- does she really think that Bear's about to eat those eggs? It's fascinating. 

 

   Bear points out that they're drinking orange juice, and Kayla gestures at the other food on the table: "And then we have blueberry muffins, blueberries, strawberries and bananas." Bear's impressed: "Wow! This is very healthy!" Now, call me a cynic, but there's something about how those strawberries are arranged perfectly in a little glass bowl that tells me that the fruit was provided by the TV crew. Kayla's a healthy kid, but she looks like a fried egg on toast kind of girl, and there she goes, chowing down on the eggs, without giving the blueberries a glance. I'm suspicious of that fruit.

 

   Bear asks what she'd like to do today, and she says that she could show him how to jump on her trampoline. Bear's excited: "You have a trampoline? No way!" And then he says the most magical sentence of all: "Do you think I could get on the trampoline?" And all of a sudden, this is a very, very exciting show. Sometime within the next hour, we're going to see Bear on a trampoline! There's some more cartoons coming up, but now I've got a reason to keep watching. Before this morning is over, I want Bear up on that trampoline.

 

   But the trampoline action will wait, cause first they have to go back to the bedroom, where Bear sings another song and we get another close look at those Disney Princess dolls. Kayla picks out her clothes and brushes her teeth, and she's scrubbing so hard and so long that you have to wonder if maybe she just brushes them right out of her head. And man, look at those leaves and twigs around the bathroom mirror. How rustic can you get. 

 

   Kayla's going to go to school soon, and Bear asks what her favorite subject is. She says she likes gym. "Gym!" Bear says. "So, you really like moving. You really like moving your body." Which is a nice way of saying, so I guess you're not good at math. This leads into some more signposting of the trampoline thing, but unfortunately, there's a whole twenty minutes of a Wiggles episode between us and the trampoline. 

 

   Fast-forwarding past the Wiggles, which is the only way to travel, we finally get to the trampoline at around 7:56. Kayla jumps for a while, and he asks her to describe what she's doing with her legs. She gets off, but before he takes his turn, he asks for some more tutoring on how to jump. Stop stalling, Bear! Get up there, I've been waiting all morning. 

 

   With the help of a quick edit, Bear hoists himself onto the trampoline, but it's obvious that this is a big effort for poor little Noel MacNeal, struggling to keep his balance inside the heavy Bear costume. He's already breathing hard, and he's just standing in one place. He rocks up and down on the trampoline a bit, not moving his feet, and says, "Since this is my first time, maybe this is all I can do for now." 

 

   Now, nobody is more sympathetic to Noel MacNeal's problems than I am, but I've been waiting a whole hour for this, and I want to see some action. Kayla agrees with me, and she tells him to get jumping.

 

   Bear tries a little jump, and he actually gets his feet up one at a time. Then it's back to the creative editing, and we see Bear's head jumping up and down. Apparently while we're not looking at his feet, Bear is just going to town on that trampoline. 

 

   Anyway, we do get our money's worth at the end, with Bear executing a nice fall on his big ol' bear behind. Noel is clearly exhausted, panting really heavily as he says, "Well -- puff puff -- I definitely need some more practice. (Puff puff.) But..." -- and here he's trying to roll onto his stomach and nonchalantly crawl towards the edge -- "... this was fun! Ha ha ha!" And yeah, it was fun, even though it sounds like Noel is about to die in there. Luckily, that's the end of the show, so he has the whole rest of the day to sleep it off.

 

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday

 

    

Small Talk

Tuesday, June 21

 

   I'm sure that I'm giving away too much of my personal internal life when I say this, but there have actually been many moments when I've wished that I was more like Bear. The way he takes care of all his friends in the Blue House, and how he's always patient and gentle and strong. The way he helps people to solve their own problems by just listening to them and being there for them, and how everything always gets better when he's around. He's like the ultimate therapist-dad-boyfriend, but he's not stuck up about it, plus he walks around naked all the time. My feelings about Bear are very complex.

 

   Anyway, whenever I get too caught up in comparing myself to Bear, I try to remind myself that it's easy for Bear to be patient and gentle and strong, because he lives in a fictional world where everybody always apologizes, and I live in the real world, where people are just jerks and they don't want to talk about it. So trampolines aside, this is the real drama of Breakfast with Bear: What happens when Bear has to go out into the world and actually interact with live kids? Is it possible to stay perfect in an imperfect world?

 

   Today, Bear is visiting his friend Aaron: "Aaron lives in an apartment, in an apartment building here in the city!" I love how Bear says the word "apartment" like it's the most wonderful thing in the world, like Aaron's parents aren't paying three thousand dollars a month for three rooms and a tiny kitchen. He knocks on the door, and Aaron's mom lets him in. Aaron's mom is pretty and self-confident and relaxed; she has a cool blouse on that says I'm not making a big deal about the fact that I'm on TV, but I want to look my best. She welcomes Bear in with a big smile. He says, "Thank you... Oh, you've redone the place." This throws her for half a second, and then she laughs. Aaron's mom is awesome.

 

   Aaron greets Bear by throwing his arms around him and then not letting go, which forces Bear to back up a step in order to dislodge the child, on account of I love you, but we're taping a TV show. "Good morning!" he says. "It's so good to see you." Aaron doesn't say anything. "Thanks for having me." Aaron blinks and looks down at the carpet. Bear looks around: "Wow, is this your room?" Now, I know it's weird to compare myself to Bear like this, but just for a moment, I get a little feeling of relief, because Bear's life involves making small talk with six year olds on television, and mine doesn't. 

 

   Bear admires Aaron's artwork, and then out of the blue, Aaron shows him the book he was reading. Bear says something about liking that book, and Aaron points at the back cover: "And you can collect all the books!" Bear says "Really!" because what else is there to say.

 

   And then there's just the most amazing dialogue.

 

   Bear: "So... are you still a little sleepy when you wake up sometimes?"

   Aaron: "Um... well... I have a lot of trouble."

 

   

 

   Aaron is talking to Bear, but he's looking off to the distance, presumably checking in with the producer who told him what story to tell. 

 

   Bear: "Really?"

   Aaron: "Cause my mom tries to pull me out the bed and says wake up, and I don't wake up." 

   Bear: "Ah... That happens to me, too. I have a lot of trouble waking up in the --"

   Aaron: "I'm so tired! And..."

   Bear: "It's hard --"

   Aaron: "And I sleep late, then she wants to wake me up, and I don't wake up."

 

   Bear says, "Aaaaahhh," but you know that deep inside, he's thinking: Dude, my name's in the title, stop stepping on my lines. 

 

   After a little Morning Mambo, Bear and Aaron go out onto the balcony, where Bear yells over the side: "Hey there! I'm on Aaron's balcony!" Which is pretty much what every non-city person does as soon as they walk into a city apartment. 

 

   Bear sings his song about having breakfast, and then says: "I'm here on Aaron's balcony, about to have the most important meal of the day -- which is what, Aaron?" And Aaron says, "Spinach!"

 

   And there you have it, right? Kayla was totally spot on perfect, all smiles and can-do attitude, and if there was a modeling agency where you could find seven year old girls missing most of their front teeth, I would think she was a professional. But Aaron is just a normal kid, and he's gonna say whatever the heck pops into his fool brain. 

 

   So Bear just lobbed this huge softball question low and across the plate, and Aaron hit it way off into the bushes somewhere. Bear tries to recover. "Spinach! That's an important food. That's a, that's very good. Spinach is very im -- good for you, too. But, let's think about this. Now, in order to start the day off with a lot of energy, you need to have a meal that begins with a B."  

 

   Meanwhile, Aaron is looking at his grapefruit, clearly not paying attention. Aaron is the perfect urban child. A huge magical creature has come over to the house for breakfast, and Aaron is thinking about where he's going for drinks tonight after work. He's just on the verge of saying, can we wrap this up here? I have some calls to make. Even with all that begins-with-a-B stuff, they still need to cut away to a shot of Bear, and then to a shot of Aaron saying "Breakfast!", which means that somewhere in the middle they had to coach Aaron on what to say. 

 

   "That's right!" Bear shouts. "Breakfast, which begins with a B, is the most important meal of the day. And that is why we're about to have breakfast, here on his balcony." He looks around at the city. "Wow. I never --" Aaron reaches across the table, and says: "Can you pass the raspberries, please?" 

 

   "Oh, yes," Bear says, and then there's another edit, and then the next shot is Bear asking Aaron what they're going to have for breakfast. 

 

   So that's the secret, right? I think this is a breakthrough. Bear has a whole production team to bring him little bowls of fresh fruit and edit around the really awkward moments, and even with all of that, he can't quite get the rhythm of a casual conversation with Aaron.  

 

   Usually when I watch Bear, I feel like he's a comforting dad type presence, taking care of all his little friends, which naturally includes me as the viewer. But today, I actually feel protective towards Bear. He's just trying to keep his TV show together, and the kid is running rings around him. 

 

   And then, just when you think life can't get any harder for Bear, Aaron puts on his school uniform and then wants to play superheros. "We save kids, and also we save grownups," Aaron says. He's got a tie and a button-down shirt, and then a black cape on top of that, so he looks like a vampire at his bar mitzvah. He tells Bear that they're catching robbers, who are robbing the bank, and some of the robbers are robbing the people, so we better go get the money and give it to the people. And then about thirty seconds later, he kind of drifts off and forgets what they're doing, and Bear is basically on his own, just sneaking around some kid's bedroom in a cape. 

 

   It's a beautiful thing. Bear is more perfect now than ever.

 

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday

 

     

White Flight

Wednesday, June 22

 

   We're up to the third episode, and Bear is ready to put it all out there. There are no secrets between us anymore. "Good morning!" he says. "I'm here to visit my good friend Rhea. We have lots planned this morning. I think we'll do the Morning Mambo -- I love that dance! -- and then we should have a really good breakfast, to help us get energy for the rest of the day. Oh! And then Rhea has to get ready for school! I wonder how she does that? Hmmm, I'm curious." Yeah, well, I guess doing the exact same thing yesterday and the day before didn't quite scratch that curious itch for you, Bear, so I have my doubts that today is going to be the day that it all comes together for you. 

 

   The TV producers' pedagogical theory is that young kids really like repetition, because they're more comfortable watching a show if they know exactly what to expect. And that's a really convenient pedagogical theory to have, if you don't want to spend a lot of money on writers. The inescapable logic of reality shows has now hit preschool TV in a big way -- kids can learn by watching other kids, plus we don't have to pay puppeteers. At some point, the same logic will be applied to elementary schools, and then we won't have to pay teachers, either. 

 

   I don't have a problem with this; I think watching reality shows engages children's critical thinking skills, and their capacity for sarcasm. Breakfast with Bear is like the kids' starter pack for Queer Eye and Trading Spaces, where the show is the same every episode, and you just tune in to see the split ends and the track lighting. I imagine us breeding a nation of pint-size Carson Kressleys. Oooh, they wince -- watching Breakfast with Bear as they reorganize their action figures by color -- get her.

 

   So Bear greets Rhea in what we're supposed to believe is her bedroom, but it must be some kind of camera trick, because no child's bedroom looks like this. Everything in it is white. The walls are cream colored. The bedspread is white and pale blue. The dressers are white. The carpet is light beige. There are four little pictures on the walls, each one immaculately framed. This room is not inhabited by a child. 

 

   That feeling gets even stronger as you watch Bear and Rhea interact. Bear walks in, and Rhea yells, "Bear!" as she hugs him. "Hello, Rhea!" he says. "How are you?" Rhea says, "Good." And that's about all she has to say. The rest of the conversation goes like this.

 

   Bear: "Good morning!" 

   Rhea: (smiles)

   Bear: "Thanks for having me come by!"

   Rhea: (smiles)

   Bear: "I can't wait to spend the morning with you!"

   Rhea: (smiles)

   Bear: "... So. Did you have a good night's sleep?"

   Rhea: (nods)

 

   And there you have it, that's the next hour of Bear's life. Rhea says one more word in this opening segment -- "Stretch" -- and that's all. In the whole twelve and a half minute show today, Rhea says 57 words total. That's approximately the number of words Aaron said in every sentence. Rhea is the anti-Aaron.

 

   So I'm sitting here, thinking, what on earth is the matter with people in the suburbs, and then the camera pans over to Rhea's bed, and I notice that there are seven stuffed animals on the bed, and all of them are white. And I realize that there is something terribly, terribly wrong going on in this house. 

 

   Because you know what that means, right? The picture of Rhea's childhood clicks into sharp focus. Rhea's at the toy store, and she's hugging a toy bunny, and it's soft and pretty, and it's her new best friend. And Rhea's mom gently takes it from her arms and says, No, honey, remember? We only buy stuffed animals that match your bedspread. And then she puts the bunny back on the shelf. 

 

   The rest of the show is essentially a case study. There are three times when Rhea says more than five words at once, and those three sentences are: "Usually, I'm kind of all pink," "I think I need a sweater," and "For safety, in case you fall on your head." At breakfast, Rhea puts twelve blueberries in her granola, which she counts out one by one. During the "get ready for school" segment, Bear says, "I hear that you're a great maker of the bed," which means that the producers asked her mom what Rhea did well, and they were told that Rhea's special talent is making the bed. 

 

   Best of all, we see Rhea's mom twice -- once at breakfast, and again when Rhea leaves for school -- and Rhea does not speak to her mother or make eye contact at any time. I think it's pretty obvious what's going on here. Rhea is a desperate housechild. 

 

   So I never thought I'd say this, but it looks to me like what Rhea needs is a nice set of Disney Princess dolls, and maybe a cape. Can't we do something about this? 

 

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday

 

     

Rerun

Thursday, June 23

 

   So this is my fourth day of watching and writing about Breakfast with Bear, and it's traditional with these My Week columns that Thursday is the day when it starts to get to me.

 

   Breakfast with Bear has gotten to me. I wake up in the morning and I say, Hey, it's a brand new day, and I'm feeling fine in every way. I eat a banana and I think, this is going to give me energy for the whole day. Breakfast with Bear is inside me now. I've swallowed the blue pill.

 

   And it must be giving me flashbacks, cause Bear's in the suburbs again, and he's talking to another closed-mouthed kid. This one's name is Abby, and she says five words in the opening segment: Bear, You're welcome, Thanks, and Yes. What is it with kids in the suburbs these days? I grew up in suburban New Jersey, and all the kids I knew used to yammer away something fierce. It was a struggle to get them to pipe down for five minutes. Now they're all mimes. 

 

   When Abby does manage to get a couple words out, she talks in a throaty whisper, like it's a state secret what waffles look like. She's also spectacularly unhelpful.

 

   Bear: "So, Abby... what do you usually like to have for breakfast?"

   Abby: "ummm... i like... to have waffles..."

   Bear: "Waffles! Wow, waffles can be very good. Now, waffles: What do they look like? Are they flat?"

   Abby: "ummm, they're a circle, with squares in them."

   Bear: "Like little pockets?"

   Abby: "no... not pockets."

   Bear: "Not pockets. No. Like little -- like little dents?"

   Abby: (grins and shakes her head)

   Bear: "No. No, no, no. No. Like little holes!"

   Abby: (shakes her head)

   Bear: "No. Like little... waffle spaces."

   Abby: (shakes her head)

   Bear: "No. Okay. But they're different from, say, like, pancakes. Do you like pancakes?"

   Abby: (nods)

   Bear: (nods)

 

   And then they have pancakes. I mean, is it me? 

 

   Then it turns out that the way she likes to eat pancakes is to pour some syrup on the side of the plate, pick the pancake up with her fingers, and dip it in the syrup. "Wow!" Bear says, although what he's thinking is how did I end up having breakfast with Wednesday Addams. Then she spends half of the next segment chewing pancakes with her mouth open.

 

   So the question is: Is it okay for me to not like a child? Not in general, not in the abstract -- for the most part, children are hilarious, and I'd rather spend an hour with any given child than five minutes with the corresponding adult, so I have this nagging sense of guilt when it comes to not liking Abby really at all. I wasn't crazy about Rhea in yesterday's episode, but it was more that I felt bad for her. I don't feel bad for Abby. I feel bad about her. 

 

   Luckily, the show's essential Bearness kicks in at the end. Abby shows Bear how to play hopscotch, and she's just as whispery and impenetrable as before, and it doesn't seem like she knows the rules of hopscotch. Bear hops across the squares, and Abby responds to this amazing sight by looking down and chewing on her fingernail. 

 

   Then Bear thanks her for spending the morning with him. He asks her what her favorite part was, and she says hopscotch. He says, "My favorite part was... everything I did with you. How about a bear hug?" And she throws her arms around him, and gives him a huge, long hug. Then Abby's mom says that it's time to go to school. Abby runs into the house, and without looking back, she yells, "Bye, Bear! I love you!" And Bear says, "I love you too!"

 

   So. I mean. You know?

 

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday

 

     

Let's Do Lunch

Friday, June 24

 

   So now we've been out to the country, we've met a talkative city kid, and we've witnessed the quiet desperation of the suburbs. And that's it, right? Everything from now on is just going back to the same places. There's nowhere left to go.

 

   Except for, maybe, the CIRCUS! 

 

   For real! Bear has a ringmaster's hat, and he's singing the theme song in front of a big red tent. Today, he's visiting Christopher, whose parents are actual circus people, and they live in a trailer at the actual circus. Christopher is a happy kid, with a wild mop of curly hair and a permanent smile. He can't take his eyes off Bear, and he communicates mostly in enthusiastic shouts. Bear gives him a hug, and then his first question is: Do you often have trouble waking up in the morning? 

 

   Which is my first clue that maybe there's going to be a problem with this episode. Here's a fun, appealing kid, and he probably has the most exotic and interesting childhood you can think of, and Bear is strapped so tightly into the show's format that the question he asks is the same one that he asks every other kid. Of course Christopher doesn't have trouble waking up in the morning! There's a circus right outside his door every single day! 

 

   They do the Morning Mambo, and Christopher bounces around and grins his face off. Bear asks what the most important meal of the day is, and Christopher says BREAKFAST! and then they go inside the trailer for breakfast. Which is more than a little disappointing. There's a whole circus right next to them, and we're going inside the trailer to make eggs? It better be, like, Pee Wee's Playhouse in there.

 

   Guess what: It's not. It's just a trailer. We might as well be anywhere. Bear asks what Christopher likes to eat, and Christopher says EGGS! and Bear says LET'S MAKE BREAKFAST! and Christopher says YEAH! and they do a high five. Bear sings the breakfast song while they help Christopher's mom to make scrambled eggs and waffles. Back at the table, Christopher shows Bear how he pours syrup on his waffles. "Oh, you just pour it right on!" Bear says, as if that's something. 

 

   So, basically, are you kidding me? I don't want to sound like a broken record, but Bear's hanging out with circus people, and all we get to see is eggs and toothbrushes. All the important questions go unanswered, like: Is your mom an acrobat? and Is it fun traveling all over the place, or do you get tired of it? and Can we go see the elephants? This might as well be a trailer in any given trailer park, except that Christopher isn't dead inside.

 

   The only real circus content we get is when Christopher juggles at the end of the episode, and he doesn't even juggle very well. He has three little juggling balls, same as I do, and he can only do two passes before he stops. He doesn't juggle like somebody who lives at the circus with professional jugglers from Serbia. He juggles like a preschooler. I can juggle better than this kid.

 

   So that's where I really take issue with this structure. These days, a lot of the early childhood shows have an incredibly strict format like this, with the same pieces in the same place every time. Elmo's World is like this too. Elmo always says "Let's ask a baby" at the same time every day; you can set your watch by it. The producers always say that kids like structure, and they need repetition in order to learn, but that just feels like an excuse. If they showed Bear and Christopher exploring the circus together, it would have been a lot more work. I'm sure editing this show is a breeze -- once they have the rhythm of the questions and the songs, then it's just a matter of putting the pieces in place. Which is great for them, and I'm sure it saves them money, but it makes for a boring and repetitive show. 

 

   I personally would like to see the research that proves that kids like these heavily structured shows. Do they really need to hear "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" every single morning? Couldn't we just write that down on a postcard and hand it to them, and then go check out the acrobats or something? What's so great about pancakes that kids need a daily infomercial about how to eat them?

 

   This show proves that Bear is one of the sweetest, most adorable characters of all time, and that Noel MacNeal is amazing at having improvised conversations with kids. If this was a real show, with Bear going out into the world and having adventures, then it would be one of the best kids' shows of all time. 

 

   Bear could be doing a high-wire act every day, hanging out with kids and performing without a net. Instead, they've got him locked up in a cage, forced to do the same dance over and over. Now that we know he can do this dance, let's take him off the chain for a while. I bet he could do anything.

 

 

Monday  --  Tuesday  --  Wednesday  --  Thursday  --  Friday

 

 

Danny@ToughPigs.com 

 

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