Slap Me Five
By the time my toddler and I had watched Slap Me Five three times, my admiration for Frank Cappelli was tremendous. Now, some parents would say that any tape a 2-year-old will watch three times is a good tape. I like to think my standards are higher, but Cappelli, the host of a Pittsburgh TV show for kids, meets them, too. Slap Me Five, a Sesame Street-style hodgepodge of songs, skits, and lessons, amuses tots without hypnotizing them. In the Sesame tradition, it’s guilt-free TV.
His features hidden behind horn-rims and a hairbrush-size mustache, Cappelli comes on quietly. He’s so genial and goofy that he can do a lounge- singer spoof (the title song), complete with sequined tots shimmying onstage, without being unwholesome. He sells his characters, not himself. In his best number here, the hilarious opera farce ”Brush-a Your Teeth,” he is a dentist lounging amid outsize teeth, a bon vivant, and an ageless tyke being reminded to brush after every meal. Toddlers will find it reassuring that he can ably play all of these roles while still remaining himself. This blend of mildness and mystery is the mark of an outstanding children’s entertainer. A