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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that like creator Josh Wakely's other series Beat Bugs does with music from The Beatles, Motown Magic incorporates remakes of classic Motown songs into its story about a young boy who uses a magic paintbrush to bring street art to life. The series boasts standout messages about self-esteem and creativity, and its protagonist, Ben, is always willing to go out of his way to help others and to do the right thing. The show is set in the fictitious place called Motown (clearly intended to suggest Detroit) with homages to its historic musical and automotive past all around. Urban scenery and the characters' ethnic diversity reflect the city setting as well. With Smokey Robinson on board as music producer and among the talented contemporary voice cast, and prominent themes about family ties, creativity, and embracing individuality, this exceptional series is a great pick for parents and kids to enjoy together.
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What's the story?
In MOTOWN MAGIC, 8-year-old Ben (voiced by Ava Fields) has a problem. His teacher wants him to share his talents with his class, but Ben fears he has nothing worth mentioning. When he confides in his grandparents, Grandma Ruby (Kandace Lindsey) sends him on an unusual errand that ends with Ben discovering a magic paintbrush called Masterpiece that empowers him to unlock a different world and to bring street art to life in his hometown of Motown. Now with his best friend, Angie (Betsy Kenney), and his younger sister, Ella (Marissa Margaux), who are privy to his secret, the adventure really begins as Ben's new creations help him learn important lessons in unique and harmonious ways.
Is it any good?
Deceivingly juvenile at first glance but ultimately broadly appealing, this gem of a series marries iconic Motown music with a quality story that emphasizes family, friendship, and self-esteem. Ben's struggles with self-confidence don't stop when he learns to use Masterpiece, but the experience slowly helps him realize the worth of his own unique qualities. Masterpiece manages the magic, but it's Ben who learns to use what it brings to life to help himself and those around him resolve difficult emotions and situations.
And then there's the music. A kids' show structured around Motown hits may not seem like a list topper, but it works amazingly well. The reprisals of favorites like "My Girl," "ABC," and "The Tracks of My Tears" are quality productions that introduce young viewers to the classic Motown sound in the modern setting of these likable characters' experiences. Each episode of Motown Magic introduces a different song integrated into the story in creative ways that will leave viewers young and old tapping to the tunes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about creativity and the arts. How do your kids like to express themselves? Do they draw? Sing? Paint? Why is it important to recognize our talents in the arts and in other areas? Can you relate to Ben's struggles to feel special?
Ben's relationship with his grandparents is very important to him. How do our extended family members help and support us in ways that might be different from our parents' care? In what ways do your kids cultivate their relationships with family? Do you have any family traditions that are important in this regard?
Are any of these songs familiar to your kids? Does your family enjoy listening to music? How do different styles of music make us feel?
- Premiere date: November 20, 2018
- Cast: Ava Fields, Marissa Margaux, Betsy Kenney
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids Musical TV
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Great Boy Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Compassion
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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