What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids will be attracted to Strange Hill High because of its unique animation style, which combines elements of puppetry, toy figurines, and computer imagery for an entirely original look. The characters' antics are more about fun than an attempt to convey any meaningful messages, but there are hints at some life lessons (the importance of doing your homework or being on time for class, for instance) in some of the stories. Many adventures incorporate monsters or mysterious beings of some kind, and there's some low-grade violence in the form of sword fights and self-defense against those creatures, but it's pretty tame stuff.
What's the story?
On the outside, STRANGE HILL HIGH looks like any other high school in its town, but walk down its halls and you'll find it's actually harboring secrets and surprises of many kinds. With curious hidden doors and mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, there's no telling what best friends Mitchell (voiced by Doc Brown), Templeton (Richard Ayoade), and Becky (Emma Kennedy) might find on a normal day of school here. An ancient secret stall adjacent to the boys' bathroom? Perhaps. A curious power to the building's clock? You never know. As these students quickly find out, anything's possible within the walls of this one-of-a-kind school.
Is it any good?
Created by Josh Weinstein (The Simpsons, Futurama), Strange Hill High is a fun series for any kid who's ever imagined that his teacher has superpowers or that there's some unseen force sabotaging his school work. Set in a high school filled with bizarre characters and promising adventure at every turn, these stories will give kids a lot to like. The fact that they keep the scares light-hearted and the violence to a minimum (and even then there's no blood to speak of) makes it a safe pick for young kids as well as tweens.
On the other hand, the stories are short on any standout positive behavioral models since they're often driven by Mitchell's half-baked plans to skip out on work in some way. Kids who make the effort will see that each of these attempts winds up in some absurd disaster, and they may be able to derive a lesson from that, but imparting wisdom isn't what this show sets out to do. As this kind of series goes, though, Strange Hill High's creative animation style, intriguing characters, and witty writing will appeal to a range of ages.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why fantasy and the idea of the supernatural are common traits in entertainment. Do your kids like to imagine there's more to the world than what we see? Is that idea ever frightening when they see it on-screen?
How do the characters fix the problems that arise from bad choices they make? Are all mistakes solvable in real life? Is it important that you learn lessons from entertainment and its stars? Have you ever watched something that sent negative messages?
Did your kids like the way this show was animated? In what ways did this style allow for more creativity in the design of the characters? Would the effect have been less if it were a cartoon? Would the stories be any more or less scary in some other style?