The Wee Sing series of videotapes
But the kids like ’em. But the kids like ’em. But the kids like ’em. Repeat that mantra, and you may be able to stomach the more sugary ingredients in the phenomenally successful Wee Sing video series, six upbeat musical fantasies full of morals and characters that sound like candy: Spurtlegurgles, Rolypolys, Snoodle Doodles, and Twirlypops.
The denizens of Sillyville and other Wee Sing video locales (the Big Rock Candy Mountains, Wee Sing Park, and so on) may make parents’ teeth ache, but the kids like ’em. Heck, they love ’em. The Wee Sing videos dish up large portions of terribly cute child actors and stuffed animals come to life (via costumes). They dance, clap, goof around, and sing classic rhymes and songs and new ditties. A pinch of plot and a dollop of message complete the Wee Sing video recipe, and it is a wholesome one. Little ones can snack on a serving before dinner without triggering a guilt attack in TV-wary parents. Even the hypersweetest of these tapes invites singing along. The best ones have charming sets that look like storybook pages, amusing special effects, and genuinely funny shtick.
Dreamed up by two moms from the Pacific Northwest who turned a homemade book into a kids’ media sensation, the Wee Sing videos are intended for 2- to 8-year-olds, but that’s probably stretching their appeal by a couple of years.
Wee Sing Together(1985)
”It’s the middle of the night,” says Sally to little brother Jonathan. ”So why are there giant stuffed animals dancing around my room?” As the commercial says, why ask why? Hum Bear and Melody Mouse, formerly of Sally’s toy shelf, explain they’re going to throw the birthday party of her life. They whisk the siblings and pooch Bingo off to Wee Sing Park, where musical notes grow on trees. The songs are infectious (”Skid-a-ma-rink a-dink-a-dink, Skid-a-ma-rink-a-doo, I love you”) and are punctuated by join-in activities of the hokey-pokey sort. The moral of the story: ”The very best times are the ones that you share,” says Sally. B
King Cole’s Party (1987)
En route to a party for the ”merry old soul” of nursery rhyme fame, Mary (sans lamb), Little Boy Blue, and Jack and Jill encounter various characters, including the Six Little Ducks, whose leader has a Rodney Dangerfield attitude, and a professorial Humpty Dumpty, who gets put back together again. The self-described ”ovoid rotundity” shares his secret means of entry to the castle (a magic word: please), and the jovial king proclaims the children’s homespun offerings ”the greatest of gifts — gifts that are given from the heart.” A standout Wee Sing video, this one combines clever sets, beautiful costumes, zesty music, and droll bits. A
Grandpa’s Magical Toys (1988)
Peter and two friends visit his grandfather, a twinkly-eyed fellow who has a playroom with a mind of its own. When Grandpa leaves, a magic box opens and the three children shrink to the size of the toys — Punchinello the puppet, the Muffin Man, a Dutch Girl with a Brooklyn accent, and an absentminded cuckoo clock, among others. Like King Cole’s Party, this one is cute without being cloying. The songs are warm and sweet, & like a fresh-baked cookie: ”Say, say, oh playmate, come out and play with me,/ And bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree.” A
Wee Sing in Sillyville (1989)
One minute Laurie and Scott are coloring a picture with a rainbow, and the next they are transported into Sillyville, a formerly happy place torn by racial strife. The yellow Spurtlegurgles won’t play with the blue Twirlypops, who avoid the green Jingleheimers, who shun the red Bitty Booties. Angst and alienation aside, the Sillyvillagers manage to put on a humdinger of a revue while waiting to settle their differences and ”Make new friends/But keep the old;/One is silver/and the other gold.” C
The Best Christmas Ever (1990)
One of Santa’s elves crashes into the Smith family’s cozy living room on Dec. 20, to no one’s particular amazement. Poofer, the size-changing elf, turns the agreeable Smiths into miniature, and they all ride the snowflake-mobile to Santa’s workshop, where the elves — you guessed it — have a problem. Elf Gusty’s clumsiness has put Christmas toy production way behind schedule. Bespectacled Susie Smith provides the answer — glasses for Gusty — Christmas is saved, the elder Smiths recapture their youthful wonder, and lots of cherished carols are nicely rendered. B
Wee Sing in the Big Rock Candy Mountains (1991)
Lisa can’t get along with her friends and retreats to her jungle-gym fort. Her stuffed bears come to life as joke-spouting Snoodle Doodles, and the trio slips down Lisa’s slide into a land where popcorn and puns grow on bushes and flowers are lollipops. But all is not well. The snack-crazed Snoodle Doodles won’t go with the others to Stew Lake for a good lunch and some recycling, and Little Bunny Foo Foo will be turned into a goon (”Hare today; goon tomorrow”) if he keeps bopping the Meecy Mice on the head. In time, Foo Foo and Lisa learn ”you can’t always have your own way.” C