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Rock with Barney

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Uh-oh, Barney’s going Hollywood. At least that’s the impression left by this recent addition to the videotape series starring the talking purple dinosaur — who now has his own TV show — and his band of young human followers. For the first time, Barney appears to have forgotten the things that made him and his Backyard Gang popular.

Subtitled Protect Our Earth, Rock with Barney only occasionally focuses on the environment. The audience the tape is aimed at may be too young to notice this failing, but that doesn’t excuse the adult producers. Earlier theme tapes in the series (about camping, school, Christmas, etc.) stuck to the subjects. Barney, who magically appears shortly after six members of his gang begin to explore a movie studio, offers little substantive environmental advice. (One of the kids says something worthwhile about recycling.)

Barney and friends perform 15 numbers, mostly familiar tunes from the show. Kathy, a cast member of the Barney series that debuted April 6 on PBS, visits the studio while the regulars are there. Unlike the veteran Barneyites, Kathy seems overly coached and painfully camera-conscious. For a program ostensibly about the environment, this is all a bit too, well, unnatural. B

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