A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After finding success in Europe, the Swiss animated series PINGU has made it across the pond to the United States. Chilling out on PBS's Sprout channel, Pingu is about a family of penguins -- particularly the adventures of son Pingu. Pingu often teams up with his equally mischievous friend Robbie the Seal, and together they explore the ins and outs of growing up at the South Pole.
Is it any good?
Pingu and Robbie are often a magnet for trouble, and usually their impish conduct ends up coming back to haunt them. In one episode, for example, while Pingu is ice fishing, Robbie coyly steals his friend's catches. The ordeal ends with Robbie hitting his fin on a rock and crying, but instead of Pingu being angry at Robbie, the young penguin cries with him while caressing his wound. Young viewers will easily find this scenario funny and touching because the situation perfectly mirrors how kids behave with their peers. Some of Pingu's humor is aimed at the parents. For example, in one segment Pingu's sister throws a temper tantrum because her father ran over her stuffed animal. When the father buys a new toy to make up for it, the sister cries more and, as a result, the father cries because he doesn't know what to do next. It's funny for everyone, but definitely more relatable for an adult than a kid.
One element that sets this series apart is that all of the characters speak "Pinguish," a special penguin language conceived for the show (Pinguish became such a trend in Switzerland that a Swiss music artist created a popular rap song based on it). The incomprehensible language enhances the series' physical comedy, but the story outlines aren't developed enough for younger children to fully grasp complete plots based on visuals alone. Parents can use this minor disconnect to teach their kids how to pay attention to small details in order to piece a story together. When watching Pingu, expect cool claymation tricks. For example, Pingu and friends can turn their small, clay figures into balls to roll down a hill. The hip theme music is a nice touch, too, and silly acts of both mischief and kindness can carry the entire show. Even though some plots can be tricky for younger viewers to comprehend, the show is structured in a way that lets you enjoy the situations from moment to moment, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to control emotions. How can you prevent a temper tantrum? How can good deeds help you overcome bad behavior? Parents can also discuss the show's format with their kids. How can you visually grasp a story when you don't understand what the characters are saying?
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