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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that RAD Lands is an iTunes-exclusive limited series from popular burrito chain Chipotle (yes, really!), and produced by Scott Schultz of Yo Gabba Gabba! fame. Despite the show's corporate roots, this isn't a commercial for the restaurant at all -- it isn't mentioned or pictured in any of the episodes. There are a lot of positive messages about sustainability and environmental awareness, but there are also regular animated fight scenes featuring laser guns, swords, and scythe-like weapons. The show examines where our food comes from, and that doesn't only include plant matter -- there are references to eating animals, and one animated sequence depicts an imaginary species of space creature trapped in what is supposed to mimic a factory farm, where animals are overcrowded and mistreated. Nothing graphic is shown, but parents may want to be prepared to answer follow-up questions about these kinds of practices.
What's the story?
The RAD in RAD Lands stands for Respect, Appreciate, Defend -- specifically, in regards to the plants and animals that make up our food supply. Colorfully-wigged hostess Tricket and her talking boombox companion Lo-Fi are our spaceship-bound guides, and help set up the show's various segments that jump between live action, animation, cooking demonstrations and musical numbers. Kids who live on farms are filmed working in the fields and explaining how plants grow, and what it means for a food to be "local". We see firsthand how the cheese that goes into a grilled cheese sandwich makes it's way from the farm to the grocery store to the fridge at home. In the "Now You're Cookin'" segments, celebrity chefs like Amanda Freitag (Chopped) and Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes) help kids get their aprons dirty learning to cook fun basics like customized omelets and sandwich cookies. Kids compete against one another in a timed contest to make the tastiest snack from the materials they're given, and to do so before the evil "Pepperjack" sabotages their creations with an unwanted dose of spicy pepper from his mill. There are animated bits, including playful explanations of concepts like ecosystems, being an carnivore versus an herbivore, and more. Musical guests also appear, including Neon Trees and Biz Markie.
Is it any good?
The elevator pitch for this show could be "It's a mashup between Captain Planet and Yo Gabba Gabba! with a twist of Master Chef Junior" -- and that's not far off. Educational without being dry, the show's at its strongest when it shows real kids interacting in and with nature, explaining what they like about growing and eating foods. Seeing them get excited about learning new cooking techniques is also entertaining, and the "Snack Challenge" segment helps them show off their creativity. Some of the standalone animated bits are great, like the story of photosynthesis re-imagined as a Greek myth.
The weakest part (which is unfortunately ongoing) is the "Cultivators" cartoon, about a band of friends who fight to save the galaxy's plants and animals from an evil corporation desperate to market their highly processed "NuFood". The animation in these segments is stiff, the characters one-note, and the storylines corny. Still, the overall tone of the show is upbeat and engaging, and kids will learn a lot. It may even inspire them to start a windowsill herb garden of their own, or at least try a new fruit or vegetable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their favorite foods, and what goes into making them. How many steps did it take for that strawberry to get from a farm to your breakfast plate? What are some of the benefits to growing your own food?
Kids and their parents can create their own at-home "snack challenge", inspired by the show. What healthy ingredients could you choose to combine into a tasty treat?
Why is there such an emphasis on organic foods nowadays? What does it mean to grow something "organically?"
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.