I am the only person in the world (apart from possibly Jan Crouch) who is excited about the new TBN channel.
The appallingly named Smile of a Child launches 24 December on American cable and satellite. I'm hoping very hard that it also gets streamed online, as with the other TBN stations. See, as the name implies, the channel is all kids' shows, all the time.
All Christian kids' shows.
As with their secular counterparts, many of these shows involve puppets. For some reason, I can suspend my disbelief enough in order to accomodate dealing with the puppet's lifestyle issues, or even when it becomes keen to explain matters of theology. However, particularly in mixed human/puppet environments, actively considering the puppet's salvation or having it engage in prayer strikes me as slightly dubious. It's not so much that I can't grasp the idea of a fictional character having a fictional soul, goodness knows, but the spiritual crisis later in life must be rather on a par with Santa Claus. It's bad enough trying to determine whether or not your pets are going to heaven; what the heck are we supposed to make of, say, anthropomorphized hamburgers? How do we even account for anthropomorphized hamburgers in any form of Christian theology? Really, my issues with talking animals just pale by comparison.
That said, I can cope with thinly veiled allegory, especially when it comprises a chunk of high school TV nostalgia. One of SoaC's launch programs is the Canadian high-fantasy puppet show Kingdom Adventure, which was sort of kinda impressive almost fifteen years ago. At the time, it was an interesting stab at straddling Christian and secular children's markets, something we wouldn't see take serious hold until Veggie Tales came along a few years later. I found the idea of the experiment fascinating, and kept hoping that the execution would grab me.
Unfortunately, as with any syndicated kids' show not bent on selling hot product back then, you only got to see it insensibly early in the morning. I used to watch it in the mornings, when the reverse insomnia kicked in and it was too early for anything else but County Calendar and weird, babbling nuns. Lacking reruns of Rocket Robin Hood and the Trans-Lux Hercules, what else are you gonna do?
The answer? Mostly, build up a tolerance and miss Newton.
Unfortunately, the production company -- Crossroads Christian Communications, best known for 100 Huntley Street -- didn't do the best job in retrofitting effective metaphor to their high-concept agenda. There's a bunch of cute little elfy characters in cute little woods. And a bunch of cute little ugly monsters in the service of evil. And a cute, beloved Prince. And that Prince's Bride.
The Prince dies. Then the Prince comes back. Gosh.
While there's really only so many times you can watch the
Gelflingscute little elfy things expounding on how much they like the Prince, how much they need the Prince, how bad it is that the Prince is gone, &c., it's not without brain candy merit. Anyone who gives you guff about how unsubtle the various Chronicles of Narnia were? Point'em at Kingdom Adventure, where cute little elfy things are yelling from the cute little treetops: "I SAID, IT'S TOTALLY BEEN THREE DAYS AND I WONDER WHERE THE PRINCE IS! GOSH, I HOPE HIS BRIDE IS OKAY!"
There was also a sword involved. And bad animation (Kingdom Adventure made an admirable effort to combine puppets and 2-D animation on an insufficient budget, but it just didn't pull together very well). Mostly, though, I remember the highly marketable Lolly, all red yarn hair and pug nose. She really should have grown up to take over the cute little elfy world. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the Prince preferred blondes.
Honestly, I'm kind of sketchy on a lot of the details. I haven't seen this in years, and there's not a lot around to punch up the memory. The show faded into utter obscurity in North America. Kingdom Adventure was dubbed for the Russian market, and the only reference I can find to the show at Crossroads's website concerns demand there for an overtly evangelical tie-in colouring book. You can find the show on video, at least in theory, but there's nothing on IMDB to indicate that it ever really existed. I know it's not for me, but it must have been for someone.
At the time, I'm sure I found the show utterly forgettable. Right now, though, I'm kind of looking forward to catching it on SoaC, if only so that I can remember how forgettable it really was. Give it a week, though, and I'll totally be praying for the batty technology and grievous heresies of Superbook.