Strange Hill High

Common Sense Media says

Innovative animation with a few spooky bits is fun for kids.

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
10
11
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.  

Positive messages

There's little reality to the stories set in a high school teeming with mysteries and strange creatures, but often the tales include some kind of positive message about being responsible or learning lessons from mistakes. Some teens bully classmates (taking their school projects or something similar), but it's not a major plot point. Templeton, Becky, and Mitchell are good friends who help each other out of the many scrapes in which they find themselves.

Positive role models

Mitchell is the kind of teen who will do anything to get out of work, whether it's manual labor or classroom assignments. His hijinks often lead the friends into comical trouble of some kind, while Becky tries to be the voice of reason that brings him back to reality. Adults are mostly nonentities in these teens' lives, with the exception of the headmaster whose warnings and admonishments the teens mostly ignore.   

Violence & scariness

Some violence and scares are rooted in fantasy and intended to be funny rather than frightening. In one scene, a boy uses a sword to slice off a water monster's tentacles (they ooze black goo like blood); in another, an explosion sends a boy falling from a clock tower. No serious or lasting injuries, however. 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Rarely name-calling, such as "idiot." 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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?

QUALITY
 

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?  

TV details

This review of Strange Hill High was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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