Judge Lacey Worrell is not certain that teaching kids to rely on altruistic sports cars is transmitting real-world knowledge.
Brum is here to save the day.
Those of us on this side of the pond may look to the British for pointers on things like manners and propriety, but England's Ragdoll entertainment has brought us what might be quite possibly the worst children's programming in recent years. Brum isn't quite as appalling as Teletubbies or Boohbah, but that's not saying much, my friends. That said, very small children still tend to find this stuff entertaining, so the people at Ragdoll obviously are obviously onto something.
Facts of the Case
Brum is a little roadster who travels about England helping to solve the problems of people he encounters along the way, and he possesses a knack for outsmarting criminals. This show is intermittently narrated by a child, who describes the action as the actors mime each scene. Brum is often called in to help when the adults of Big Town are unable to figure out what to do. This import is currently broadcast on the Discovery family of networks, including Discovery Kids and The Learning Channel. And as my four-year-old pointed out to me in complete exasperation when I wondered aloud how Brum got his name, it is a play on the sound a car's engine makes when revved up.
The episodes included on this release include:
• "Brum and the Snow Thieves"—A man and a woman steal money from an indoor skiing arena, and Brum must bring them to justice.
• "Brum and the Golden Loo"—A woman buys a very expensive toilet that is stolen by two bumbling crooks. Brum must outsmart them and return the toilet to the rightful owner.
• "Brum and the Runaway Ball"—A large concrete ball wreaks havoc on Big Town when construction workers accidentally dislodge it. Fortunately, Brum comes to the rescue.
• "Brum and the Music Box"—Brum observes a ballet class, but a greedy thief wants the ballerinas' music box for herself. Brum must chase her…and the horse she's stolen…through Big Town.
• "Brum and the Bowling Alley"—Brum helps a man whose wallet is stolen at the local bowling alley.
• "Brum and the Pantomime Cow"—When two men steal money from a street musician, Brum must chase the men through the local theater, even after they have disguised themselves as a cow.
• "Brum and the Skateboarding Bride"—A woman about to be married accidentally steps onto a wayward skateboard. Can Brum return her to her groom?
There are also two included special features: "Bag of Gags," which consist of three two-minute shorts in which Brum continues to help the residents of Big Town, and "Top Secret," which features short profiles of characters frequently seen around Big Town.
Not every children's show necessarily needs to educate or moralize, but shows like Brum fall into the bottom of the children's entertainment barrel. Although the idea of no spoken dialogue is unique and Brum himself is charming, the adults on this show engage in pratfalls and overly exaggerated facial expressions in order to move the story along. The entire production has the feel of a badly done silent movie from decades ago. Brum's hometown of Big Town rivals Murder She Wrote's Cabot Cove for the most disproportionate number of criminal residents per capita, as something illegal appears to be happening all the time.
The storylines are mildly interesting and may appeal to children's sense of imagination. Very small children may delight, for instance, in the fact that Brum can fit into all sorts of places cars aren't usually found, such as inside stores, on the ski slopes, and inside a bowling alley.
The overall quality of the picture and sound is about the same as what you might expect on television, but with a slightly clearer picture and sharper colors.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This DVD is a generous 70 minutes long and features seven different stories. In an age when it is not uncommon to see children's DVDs that run only 30 minutes, the Brum releases give parents more for their entertainment dollar.
In addition, the bad guys Brum encounters are nonthreatening and will not scare small children. Adults may be interested in the fact that Brum is actually a remote-controlled car rather than an animated or computer-generated creation.
Brum himself is adorable. But the silly storylines and slapstick humor are irritating. For children four and under only.
Brum is granted parole before any of the other Ragdoll shows, but that still doesn't mean you should spend your money on it. Watch this one on television before you buy the DVDs.
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