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 wholesome, back-to-the-basics show encourages children to be curious and to use their imagination as they're playing. The search for objects is a bit like a treasure hunt, and kids can get the satisfaction of spotting items before the characters do.
What's the story?
HBO Family's play-along adventure series I SPY, based on the children's books by Jean Marzollo, features two charming stop-motion animated characters -- a little boy named Spyler (with a tennis-ball head, red pipe-cleaner hair, a gum-eraser torso, and button feet) and his pal, a wooden dog name CeCe. They live in an imaginary land that's a jumble of toys and all sorts of colorful objects stacked up to make buildings and other shapes. In each episode, Spyler and CeCe -- with the help of friends such as Duck (a perky rubber duck on wheels) and Wheeler (an amiable toy truck) -- go on a hunt for four items that will help them complete a project or mission: putting together a circus act, building a robot to clean their room, caring for a lost lamb, and so on. At the end of each episode, viewers are also presented with a whole field of objects and challenged to spot certain items within it.
Is it any good?
Younger preschoolers will love this show and probably beg to watch it over and over -- it's colorful, the treasure hunt-like adventures are reasonably entertaining for that age group, and the repetitive "Look! We found it!" routine that Spyler and CeCe go through each time they find an object is lively and engaging. Parents, on the other hand, may feel like pulling their hair out after hearing that routine more than half a dozen times, and older toddlers and adults who've grown accustomed to the clever, highly interactive, and impossibly cute shows on channels like Noggin may quickly get bored with I Spy's simple games and subpar animation.
Still, the series encourages toddlers to be curious and use their imagination (Spyler and CeCe often come up with some creative solutions to their dilemmas), and it illustrates positive values such as friendship, teamwork, and sharing. I Spy is a wholesome show that gets back to the basics: simple animation, likable characters, and straightforward games that involve everyday objects -- and tickle the brain just enough to keep things fun and interesting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about each episode. What were Spyler and CeCe trying to do as the episode began? Which objects did they need to find to help them in their task? Did anyone help them with their search? Were you able to spot the objects before Spyler and CeCe did? What was easiest to spot? What was hardest?
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