Drake and Josh

promo pic for Drake and JoshDoty, G. (Writer) & Christiansen, R. (Director)  Vicious Tiberius [Television series episode].  (September 24, 2006)  In Schneider, D.  (Producer) Drake and Josh.  Hollywood, CA: Nickelodeon Productions.

Review:

Drake Parker and Josh Nichols are best friends, and now brothers.  Step-brothers, that is.  They get along fine at school, even though Drake is always looking for fun while Josh is always determined to do his best, but can they survive sharing a room?  They’d better, because  they also share an even bigger problem that will take both of them to solve: a sneaky little sister.

I was fully expecting to hate this show, based on the ads, but it wasn’t that bad.  Again, it’s full of the stupid humor that I rarely liked even as a kid, but it manages to be not quite mind-numbingly dumb.   I can think of plenty of tweens that would find it funny enough, and the main premise of the episode I watched was something tweens can relate to, even if it quickly ventured into the unlikely from there. The best parts are the intros, where Drake and Josh each tell the same story from their own point of view.  I would totally watch whole shows of just that.

Best for ages 8-14

Show website: http://www.teennick.com/shows/drake-and-josh/

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Sonny With a Chance

promo ad for Sonny With a Chance

Feldman, M. & Marmel, S. (Writer), & Seaton, E. D. (Director).  (June 10, 2010).  Falling for the Falls [Television series episode].  In Robbins, B. (Producer), Sonny With a Chance.  Hollywood, CA: It’s A Laugh Productions.

Bryon, E. & Kapstrom, L. (Writer), & Seaton, E. D. (Director).  (November 21, 2010).  Sonny With a Kiss [Television series episode].  In Robbins, B. (Producer), Sonny With a Chance.  Hollywood, CA: It’s A Laugh Productions.

Feldman, M. & Marmel, S. (Writer), & Seaton, E. D. (Director). (November 28, 2010).  A So Random! Holiday Special [Television series episode].  In Robbins, B. (Producer), Sonny With a Chance.  Hollywood, CA: It’s A Laugh Productions.

Feldman, M. & Marmel, S. (Writer), & Seaton, E. D. (Director).  (December 5, 2010).  Sonny With a Grant [Television series episode].  In Robbins, B. (Producer), Sonny With a Chance.  Hollywood, CA: It’s A Laugh Productions.

Review:

Sonny Munroe is only seventeen, but already has the job of her dreams working on her favorite sketch comedy show, So Random! With the help of her friends and castmates, Tawni Hart, Nico Harris, Grady Mitchell, and Zora Lancaster as they deal with work, school, rival shows, and romance.

Like most of the tween shows I’ve seen so far, this had a decent amount of only laugh track worthy humor and unrealistic characters.  Still, the main cast felt much more genuine than those of most other shows and the story lines made a lot more sense.   Even better though, the whole conceit of this being a show about a show just begs for all kinds of deconstruction, and the writers are more than happy to give it to the audience.  It’s done in a very tween appropriate way, too, such as Sonny and her new beau, Chad Dylan Cooper, dealing with the pressures of being a high profile couple or even just the fact that Chad’s show, MacKenzie Falls, is clearly a jab at series like The Vampire Diaries and Dawson’s Creek.

I also like that it’s a tween show that has a tween on it that is a positive role model.  Zora isn’t exactly typical, nor is she the center of the show, but she is entertaining and smart and is perfectly happy being 12 and not 17.

To be honest, this show had me hooked the moment I saw the characters dump water on someone who said “falls.”  Any show that pays homage to You Can’t Do That on Television will always have me as a fan.

Best for ages 10-14

Show website: http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/sonnywithachance/

Wizards of Waverly Place

image for Wizards of Waverly Place

Goodman, R. (Writer), & Koherr, B. (Director).  (2009)  Monster Hunter [Television series episode].  In Greenwald, T. J. (Producer), Wizards of Waverly Place.  Hollywood, CA: It’s A Laugh Productions.

Varava, J. (Writer), & Gonzalez, V. (Director).  (2009)  Three Monsters [Television series episode].  In Greenwald, T. J. (Producer), Wizards of Waverly Place.  Hollywood, CA: It’s A Laugh Productions.

Review:

Alex is a wizard.  Well, a wizard in training, anyway.  So are her brothers, Justin and Max.  The only problem is that they need to keep their powers hidden, which isn’t always as easy thing to do when your older brother is dating a monster, your younger brother can’t manage to do any spells correctly, and your family lives in the very busy city of New York.

I keep trying to think of something nice to say about this show, and I keep coming up with nothing.  It’s not just that everything in it was ridiculous, it’s that it was ridiculous and yet still not brave enough to be really out there like Pee Wee’s Playhouse.  I can’t even figure out where to begin with describing the episodes I watched – except to say that the whole conscious story-line seriously wigged me out.  It was pretty much everything I hated about Saved by the Bell (minus the first season on the Disney channel) only worse.  I feel like I should try to watch more episodes in order to see if it was just the one I watched, but I can’t quite bring myself to do so.  (and seriously, this show won awards?  what?)  I think instead I need to find some kids who watch it in order to ask them what they like about it.

Show website: http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/wizardsofwaverlyplace/

Zeke and Luther

image for Zeke and LutherBunje, D. & Stanton, N. (Writer), & Putch, J. (Director).  (2010).  Robo-Luth [Television series episode].  In Dearborn, M. & Burkhard, T. (Producer), Zeke and Luther.  Burbank, CA: Disney XD Original Productions.

Review:

[Once again, one can tell that a show about teens is meant to be watched by tweens instead by it’s notable lack of sarcasm.]

Zeke Falcone and Luther Waffles are best friends whose primary goal in life is to become the best skaters ever.  This particular episode revolved around Luther first getting injured during a failed attempt at a daring trick, and then later surpassing everyone’s (including Zeke’s) records via the extra power he gets from the microchip the doctor implanted in order to fix his injured knee.  The knee, of course, eventually goes crazy and must be brought back to normal.  A side plot involved Zeke driving his germ phobic little sister crazy by claiming to have sneezed in an undisclosed location in her room.

 

So, clearly, not the most realistic of shows.  It is, in fact, full of quite a bit of stupid.  However, with the exception of the fact that once again it is the third wheel, Kojo, that is black while both of the title characters are white, it’s mostly harmless stupid.   Zeke and Luther’s exploits are generally too outrageous and unbelievable for any one old enough to enjoy the show to consider trying to emulate them much, and while they spend most of their time loafing around, it’s clearly meant to portray how tween boys would like to spend their time and not how teen boys are expected to spend their time. It’s bit too ridiculous and over the top for me to find it enjoyable personally, but I’m not overly surprised to find that it is one of the higher rated shows among tween boys.

Best for ages 8-12

Official Website: http://disney.go.com/xd/zekeandluther/

The Wonder Years

Perry, M. B. (Writer), & Hillshafer, B. (Director).  (1989).  Wayne on Wheels [Television series episode]. In The Wonder Years. USA : New World Television.

Langan, T. W. (Writer), & Stern, D. (Director).  (1989).  Mom Wars [Television series episode].  In The Wonder Years.  USA : New World Television.

Carlson, M. (Writer), & Karrel, M. (Director).  (1989).  On the Spot [Television series episode].  In The Wonder Years.  USA : New World Television.

Review:

In each and every episode, The Wonder Years shows us that the times may change, but there are some parts of growing that never do.   Originally a primetime show that aired in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and took place in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, today’s tweens can now follow Kevin Arnold though his junior high and high school years on The Hub at 9 pm.

Kevin himself is far from perfect, but that is exactly what makes him so endearing.  He may say and do obnoxious things at times, but the narration of his thoughts show his internal struggles as he tries to figure out this whole growing up business.  He’s helped – and sometimes hindered – along in his journey by his family, his best friend Paul Pfeffer, and his friend and love interest, Winnie Cooper.

Some parts of the show, such as Mr. and Mrs. Arnold’s fight over whether the latter will get a job, will certainly feel out of date – as they were meant to even when the show first aired – but they also give an intriguing glimpse into how culture has changed over the last 40 years.  However, today’s tweens will certainly recognize and identify with Kevin’s fights with his brother or dealing with his first pimple.

Best for ages: 11-adult

Awards and Reviews:

Emmy for best Comedy Series 1988

Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy/Musical Series 1989.