Another in an ongoing series where a dad watches toddler TV by himself and for his own entertainment.
I thought I had to sit through some rough stuff when my now first-grader was a toddler. But I can now say I am grateful she toddled before the rise of the hellspawn that is The Fresh Beat Band. I had caught glimpses because my nephew loves it, but never sat through a whole one until now, and I've never gone through more to earn my pay.
The Nick Jr. show, if you don't know it, is about a two-girl, two-guy quartet, who appear to all live together and play tunes -- rock and roll with a touch of hip-hop -- in the tradition of The Wiggles and Kids Incorporated. Only they make those two bands seem like Slayer and Black Sabbath.
Let me say a few nice things first. I'm all in favor of kids learning beats early, especially if they're fresh. And the show isn't predictable in the set-up of the band. No girls as back-up singers, or even bass players. The two ladies -- Kiki and Marina -- play guitar and drums. We need more of that. (The Wikipedia entry on the show contains what may be the most vapid fact on all the million pages of the site: Kiki loves to play anything and also loves to be herself. You'll never get back the two seconds it took to read that.)
The two dudes play keyboard and turntables. They are named Twist and Shout, in a shame to the memory of the Isley Brothers, The Beatles, and Ferris Bueller.
And in the episode I saw the band tried out some killer under-served instruments like the concertina and the bassoon. But the pleasures end there.
They constantly ditch whatever instruments they play in favor of boy-band choreography that it seems we're all stuck with for eternity now.
Twist, the DJ and big troublemaker, is the source of most of the show's plots and the source of most of my pain.
Imagine a combination of Keanu, Screech, Urkel, and Vanilla Ice, mixed together in the body of a frat boy and cooked up in a meth lab.
Before watching closely I seriously thought his name was "Twitch" and he was a twisted writers-room joke about a speed addict. In the episode I sat through he ended up building a manic, over-the-top, Dick-Van-Dyke-style one-man band set-up that could only have been assembled during an all-night crystal binge.
His big discovery after his one-man band experiment? "My favorite instrument is ... me!" Okay, I'll grant you this, Twist and the Fresh Beaters, that's a great lesson to learn. If you're high.
Be sure to check out last week's review of Yo Gabba Gabba.
Images via Andrew Dalton; NickJr.com