A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this futuristic cartoon airs online (primarily at Kabillion.com) and includes commercials. The fast pace and short runtime (each episode is about 12 minutes long) means that there's not a lot of time to build suspense or plot, but kids who want resolution and want it now won't mind. Plus, the brevity of each episode has a "quick fix" upside; maybe after watching, young viewers will want to turn it off and build a play rocket of their own.
What's the story?
Based on the award-winning Australian picture book by Matt Zurbo and Dean Gorissen, I GOT A ROCKET has already won over kid viewers around the world. Now it's airing stateside on Kabillion.com, a multimedia site for kids. The futuristic show follows the wacky adventures of Vinnie Q, a middle-school-aged kid who's trying to figure out who he is and solve the problems that affect him and the people around him. His best friend is a rocket (a gift from his inventor father to help build confidence and responsibility) that talks, goofs around, cracks jokes, and lives for the here and now. Rocket zips Vinnie into trouble and misadventures, turning him from "the weird kid" into one who's ultra-cool.
Is it any good?
The show's fast action, goofy characters, and futuristic visuals are sure to please young viewers, though kids older than 12 or so will probably grow bored by the predictable storylines and tween silliness. A colorful crew of characters helps hold the show together. There's V.P. Stern, a beatnik-ish administrator who tries to "connect" with his students but misses the beat each time; Rainbow, a friend of Vinnie's who's mellow, peaceful, and understanding but carries around a vindictive, angry doll named Judy; and Frankie Ducky, the leader of a group of three bullies that's out to get Vinnie and steal Rocket (though there's a slight hint that she might have a bit of a crush on Vinnie, too).
It's worth noting that Vinnie's sudden coolness -- all because he gets a piece of high-tech machinery -- is a situation not unlike what many kids and parents grapple with daily regarding gear like cell phones and other hand-held devices. Still, I Got a Rocket offers plenty of slapstick, tween-oriented cartoon humor (Vinnie getting hung by his underwear on a flagpole, threats of exploding Rocket, etc.), and its fast-paced, simple plotline will appeal to kids who like immediate action. But best of all, perhaps, is the example it offers of a close, reciprocal friendship.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the growing popularity of online television. What appeal do online shows have for viewers? In general, how are Internet series and regular TV shows similar and different? What do you like and not like about each? Is this a show that could only exist online, or is it just like a regular TV show? Families can also discuss how Vinnie changes after getting the rocket. Is it just the rocket that makes him seem "cool," or does he have newfound confidence in himself and his abilities?