15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I usually don't write reviews on shows. A little about me and how I rate: I'm a parent who attempts to find shows that will not only entertain my son (4-yrs), but educate, inspire, or teach him values. I'm not a fan of 'empty' cartoons.
Before having my son watch 'Creative Galaxy', I actually first watched an episode myself. I was impressed and knew right away, not only would he enjoy it; but also, how it would impact him. The show inspires creativity and mildly educates. After watching an episode, he immediately built a house for his alien... using glue, glitter, pipe straws, and crayons. I also like how immediately after the animated show, they show real children making projects based upon the concepts of the preceding show. Hence the name, "Creative Galaxy".
Now, the only caveat would be that I've only seen 2 episodes; I hope the quality and content remain high.
A rare gem in a sea of children's shows!
28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2014
Having worked in the animation industry as a composer for 30 years, and more recently as a writer of children's programing, here’s my detailed critique .
THE SHOW’S LOOK
Wonderful coloring and color palate. This is not as easy as it looks. Especially in what they call FLASH 2D (2 1/2D–3D like shading). Though many reviewers complained about the look, I found it cute and very exceptible in the financial limitations they must have had. This is NOT a Dreamwork’s budget! It makes a difference.
Having a show that deals with art, when there is a glut of STEM shows (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is not only refreshing but, adds a needed balance in the marketplace of children’s programming and some RIGHT brained thinking!
INTERACTIVITY / A FALSE RELATIONSHIP WITH AN ON-SCREEN CHARACTER
It has been a concern from Dr. Dimitri Christakis at Washington University and Dr. Micheal Rich (CMCH - Center on Media and Child Health) where talking out the screen (the 4th wall) creates an unreal interaction and relationship with the onscreen characters and your kids at home. For example, Arty, “Will you help count the crayons with me”. Young at home viewer ”I can’t, I have to go potty first” Arty, ”Great! Let’s do it together”.
With scripting of this nature, there is nothing to block this type of exchange and resulting confusion. Though this is called interactive educational content – it is NOT. It’s not a two way communication scheme. Rather it’s entra-active (within one’s self, your child’s own perception of the communication). Questions to children from ANY show should NOT be directed for a response. Here’s an example of how it might be better employed.
Arty, as he looks out the screen at your child “I’m going to count the crayons WE need. 1,2,3,4,5”. Your child CAN count along or not. It has an interactive feel but remains engaging while not calling for a response. In all fairness, I only found a few of these that were problematic in Creative Galaxy. My guess is, this “interactive modality” in “sit and watch” programming will soon lose favor. Where it does work, however, is on the IPad where there CAN BE input and a genuine response from a child playing a game after a question from an on-screen character.
The common sense advice from media researchers to parents is… always watch the show with your children to catch anything that may be misunderstood or… inappropriate. Afterward, have a discussion of the shows content and activities. (see Kaiser Foundation’s - “A Teacher in the Living Room” / 2005 / critical studies and reviews of children’s interactive media)
Having an art curriculum is novel. I can’t think of another show that focuses on art. How else would kids learn about “Pointillism”, “Jackson Pollack” or how to tie-dye. But there may be a number of hidden drawbacks to this curriculum as well.
First, as many other reviewers have noted, the target age group and the maturity of the subject matter may be at odds. For that reason the show may be inherently limited in its scope and explorations of art forms and materials. For example, only using nontoxic glues, water colors, acrylics, paper and cardboard. As for Picasso, Mondrian, Johannes Vermeer, surrealism and Neo-romanticism and, the myriad of others styles, this may be out of mental reach for a pre-k to k-1 show. Still 13 shows (the industry standard number in the pipeline) may be enough to generate a lot of fun and exciting art experiences for kids. But, don’t expect one a week with 52 fresh an novel art ideas with projects to match.
AFTER SHOW ART PROJECTS
It’s great to have kids get their hands dirty and dive in. The show is clearly sending the message of creative independence to your kids but, at the same time, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Parent/child activities not only foster “quality time” together, it’s safer. The on screen example here is–do it by yourself or… with a friend unsupervised.
Additionally, having raised two daughters with plenty of artistic oriented homework and such, these videoed art projects also appear to go flawlessly. A little glue here, a pipe cleaner there and “Voilà”… it stands up perfectly. Prepare your kids for a few structural failures and for things that just won’t stick together as shown or… when their results don’t compare to the perfect “canned” examples shown on screen.
Arty is a cute little guy, though the idea is that they are supposed to be aliens on another planet. Thus, the characters are in colors of green, purple, bright pink and blue with antenna. The voice casting is excellent for him and the other characters. Captain Paper is heroically over the top in his dialogue deliveries and quite fun.
There are a few minor disconnects however. Though the mom is clearly an architect, dad appears to have no job other than to be a fixture/baby sitter with a little advice here and there for Arty. The other adult female characters all look like Arty’s mother. If it wasn’t for the different voice actors, kids might not be able to tell the difference. I’m an adult and I was thrown by the visual similarities, NEW alien skin colors aside.
I felt Arty’s character traits were a bit forced, as other devices, like his antenna sparkle ball (“I’m lit up”) and that a treasure box goes in and out of his head through a cone or a horn. Then there’s space junk that’s all over the universe being used for art projects. Not exactly a Neil deGrasse Tyson moment for the reality of astronomy and space travel. So, be mindful. Your kids may take this show on its face value. In the “tie-dye” episode, you can find rubber bands floating around in space.
Epiphany was my favorite character. Like a Greek Chorus of one, she (he?) is commenting on the action or mirroring it in very creative ways. She also helps the kids at home solve questions by answering them, or by morphing into the object being discussed. For me, this was a very creative approach to smooth over the conceptual speed bumps and was a lot of fun on many levels. A very charming character in my view.
I’ve never seen so many negative comments in these reviews from parents about the music. So, let me ferret out this issue with a little more detail.
The song writers are pop artists (Graeme Cornies) with some credits that are quite distant from preschool educational children’s programing. “Dark Rising: Warrior of Worlds” , “My Babysitter's a Vampire” and “Wedding Dress Wars”. On balance however he has just few credits like “Paw Patrol” and “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood”. But it’s my opinion that’s not enough to have the preschool music genre in your DNA.
Many other reviewers mention that they did not like the theme (which I myself did not care for). I believe this has to do with the melody going DOWN instead of UP in the opening lines. Melodies that go down in pitch… sound like they are losing energy in the start of a song. And, the harmony is too sophisticated (a contemporary rock chord progression) in the opening bars as well. For those who really want to drill down on this issue, the opening lyric line, “Creative Galaxy”, and its melody, usually follows the contour of the spoken words. “CRE-A-TIVE GAL-AX-Y”. Clearly the final syllable “Y” is up in tone when spoken. In the song, the final syllables all go down each time the phrase is repeated. And, this has the effect of being pulled downward. As one reviewer noted, “vocals manage to sound as though they are being dragged through molasses by the beat”
Next, when a song for children is sung by “pop” artists, it doesn’t necessarily make it cool, it may add distance between your kids and the singers. Young children love to sing songs when they hear OTHER kids singing them in TV shows. They don’t relate well to slick productions, and, as one reviewer mentioned “pitched corrected” vocals. It’s NOT the sophistication of the music alone that causes this problem. Wonder Pet’s music is a classical opera in its form, but, it is sung by 6 year olds and… IT IS ADORABLE. If 6 year old’s sang the “Creative Galaxy” song, I guarantee you and your child will have a completely different experience of the theme music!
Lastly, the orchestration (the size of the sound) though appropriate here and there in outer space trips, is generally too big “on land”. However I think the little musical punctuations work well even though the instrumentation sounded a bit large, I still thought it was fine.
Unquestionably, kids love brightly colored animation and cute characters and can’t get enough. They also love ice cream and candy and want more of THAT too. As adults, if I may, WE have the responsibility for healthy media consumption for our children. Most all of the 5 star reviews are from 4 year old’s telling their parents that THEY LOVED the show and that THEY wanted more. Where as the 3 to 1 stars where more from skeptical parents with mature concerms. A good place to keep up with shows of all kinds is at the Common Sense Media’s web site.
AMAZON’S RATING SYSTEM
The scoreboard of stars doesn’t actually reflect the basis of the reviews. For example, out of the 300 five star reviews, 100 found issues they would like addressed. That’s 30%. The star scoreboard graphic gives the appearance that 4.5 out of 5 liked the show. That’s a 90% out of a 100% favorable response “look” to the chart. So it is not visually representative.
All that said, on balance, I liked the show VERY much, despite my detailed cynical critique. I felt the spirit and the energy was quite infectious and, above all else, its heart was in the right place. I would recommend this show to any of my friend’s children.