My ongoing mission to find children’s music that doesn’t make parents grind their teeth like a chain smoker on a transatlantic flight has led my down a number of interesting avenues. From the tuneful edutainment of They Might Be Giants’ Here Come the 123s to the ever eclectic Baby Loves series and even into the surrealist geekery of Yo Gabba Gabba!, I routinely travel into the unfathomable realm of children’s musical entertainment on your behalf. I am your one man away team.
I first became aware of Imagination Movers through the music video bumpers used in the Playhouse Disney programming block. Later, on the good word of Geek Parenting‘s Amy Cottrell, I looked into the band further after the release of their Juice Box Heroes album, and I was pleased to find more of the same harmonious pop rock I’d come to expect. Still, when I was approached with the opportunity to check out the latest offering from this New Orleans quartet, I tempered my optimism with caution. For, you see, the Movers have at last made the full leap to television.
Hit the jump to get imaginative.
Thankfully, their new series, unsurprisingly dubbed Imagination Movers, stands as a logical extension of the group’s kid-friendly, casually educational musical message. An episode typically sees the guys aided in their mission to inspire resourcefulness and promote creative problem-solving by chirpy neighbor Nina, and occasionally hampered by her Uncle Knit Knot, a connoisseur of the banal.
Each Mover is outfitted with a special accessory to both liven up his trademark blue jumpsuit and provide a little insight into his role in the group. Drummer Rich, a former artist, boasts a pair of "Scribble Sticks" used to draw pictures and write words on the TV screen. Ex-elementary school teacher Scott, the group’s founder, has a pair of unique "Wobble Goggles" that allow him to see solutions from numerous perspectives. Mover Dave, the bass-playing jack-of-all-trades, wears a red cap that’s positively stuffed with helpful items, and guitarist Smitty carries a journal equally packed with helpful information. Convoluted plot devices to be sure, but this is kid’s programming we’re talking about.
Obviously, slapstick runs rampant as the guys work in and around their Idea Warehouse, a combination playhouse/practice space complete with its own anthropomorphic mouse, searching for the best solution to the problem du jour. You’re not likely to mistake the acting for Shakespeare in the Park, but my fickle three-year-old seemed completely amused by the onscreen action. More importantly to parents, the underlying theme of the show, that thinking things through is the best way to overcome obstacles (or "idea emergencies"), is hard not to get behind.
As the narrative of an episode hinges on its musical selections, it also bears repeating that this is where Imagination Movers shines. With slick production and ample amounts of styles as disparate as ska, funk, country, jazz, and zydeco perched atop an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll base, the songs are easy on the ears. It’s got to be difficult to pen compelling lyrics about the days of the week and growing taller, but the Movers manage to keep things fun and lightly inspirational without ever devolving into classic kid’s music cheesiness.
Imagination Movers premieres Saturday, September 6th at 10:00 AM ET/PT, and it comes highly recommended, particularly for preschoolers who are finally transitioning out of the dreaded Wiggles demographic or those lamenting the loss of the humorous but short-lived Upside Down Show. Fans of the Juice Box Heroes album will be pleased to hear several of its tracks ably featured in the show, and new fans of the series might want to invest in a copy of the disc for car trip sing-alongs. (I’ve included a little primer, a clip of "Imagination Movers Theme," for parents looking to take the band for a test drive.)
If my family viewing experience is any indication, Imagination Movers is a bit more than your average preschool fare. It’s musical television for children that actually encourages creativity by example. And who better to explain to kids the virtues of imagination and analytical thinking in song than a group of guys who lost their homes and instruments to Katrina, but managed to salvage their dreams?
Imagination Movers – "Imagination Movers Theme"