Jim Henson's Construction Site
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Easygoing series will appeal to mini gearheads.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Solid social lessons to be learned around cooperation and problem solving.
Each episode has a recognizable theme such as "try your best" or "it's not nice to brag." Characters usually spend the first part of each episode making mistakes and the last part learning from them.
Positive Role Models
All of the machines on the construction site are loyal, friendly, and trustworthy. The youngest machines on the show, Diggs and Scooch, are often guided kindly and wisely by older machines. There are two female characters on the show, voiced by distinctly different female voice actors.
Characters sometimes disagree and may call each other transportation-related names: "You old rustbucket!"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this gentle, mild cartoon is suitable for even the youngest of viewers with its calm, slow pacing. Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine will find the same focus on machine metaphors and drama (Oh no! That big job won't be done on time!), and even a similar look as the characters solve problems using cooperation and learn positive pro-social lessons. Unlike Thomas, this series has two female characters who add a welcome diversity to the Construction Site.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In a factory that's apparently undergoing some rebuilding, the friendly talking machines of JIM HENSON'S CONSTRUCTION SITE live, work, and play. Well, work, anyway, as that's what the show focuses on: how these machines come together to dig holes, knock down chimneys, construct parking garages, and so forth. All the while, the characters suffer from human foibles calculated to interest the very young: worries about who can boss whom around, or what happens when a machine makes a mistake.
Is It Any Good?
The machines really look great: Bright, shiny, sympathetic and expressive, sort of like a cross between the Pixar Cars cars and a Muppet (not surprising really, with Henson's hand in this), they're very interesting to watch roll around. That alone will probably be the focus for most of the show's audience; the show's conflicts are just gravy.
There's never any real tension to stress out preschoolers; whenever the younger characters on the show need guidance, an older machine is always at hand to lend a steadying influence. All of this gentleness may bore the pants off parents and older kids but imagining the writers trying to come up with endless transportation and construction metaphors may amuse you.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why Carrie sometimes gets in trouble trying to show Scooch and Diggs how to do things. Is it a big kids' job to teach little kids how to do things? Have you ever thought you knew how to do something, then found out in the middle of doing it wrong that you didn't?
On the show, Bozer the Bulldozer is presented as the boss of all the machines. Why are male characters usually the boss on television shows? Can you think of a show where a female character is the boss? Can women be bosses in real life?
When the team of machines work together, they usually accomplish what they set out to do. Is your family like a team of machines? How do you work together well? What problems do you have that keep you from working together?
- Premiere date: September 10, 1999
- Cast: Charlotte Bellamy, Mak Wilson, Mark Jefferis
- Network: ABC Kids
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Cars and Trucks
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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