Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What's Next on TV for Cap'n Crunch Crowd? ; New Shows Offer Cool Surprises, Plenty of Action

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What's Next on TV for Cap'n Crunch Crowd? ; New Shows Offer Cool Surprises, Plenty of Action

Article excerpt

The new television season for kids really begins with the new school season. Is there something just a tad odd about that?

And in this new season, like the last, there's lots of action. Whatever happened to the understanding that children can handle ideas? For the little ones, though, there are some cool surprises that won't upset parents. Check local listings for times.

Take Disney's paean to the joys of school, Teacher's Pet. The Saturday morning animated show on ABC concerns a fourth-grader, Leonard, whose dog, Spot, decides to go to school with his master. But Spot is no ordinary dog - he can talk and he loves to learn. So he disguises himself, changes his name, and vies for the teacher's approval - Leonard's mother. Clever and buoyant, the show features Nathan Lane as the voice of Spot. And what other kids' show uses opera on the soundtrack?

Then there's Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (premires Oct. 14 on ABC; check local listings), another clever animated adventure. This is the TV show that all the characters from "Toy Story" watch together - the show for which Buzz is the companion toy. In space, Buzz is one dandy hero, fighting the evil Zurg with blaster and wit. There's much action, witty dialogue, and a dynamic blue princess for the girls in the audience - and no one ever gets hurt except for the robots. Best of all, Patrick Warburton (Puddy on "Seinfeld") stars as the voice of Buzz.

CBS's Saturday morning block is all borrowed from Nickelodeon. Little ones will go for the adorable Dora The Explorer, a seven- year-old Latina, who lives inside a computer, speaks and understands Spanish, and then translates for her furry friends. She started online, and youngsters can interact with her at www.nickjr.com. Its pro-reading and pro-social messages are charming.

Books are everywhere - just check out PBS's Bookworm Bunch. Then there's Little Bill created by Bill Cosby from his kids' books. The gentle, animated story about a clever five-year-old African- American child is loving and supportive of little children. Kipper, based on the award-winning books by Mick Inkpen, is another cartoon featuring a good little dog with a big imagination. And Little Bear is based on the popular books illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

NBC is confining its new kid programming to a reality series for teens - Just Deal. It's a charming "dramedy" about two teens from different backgrounds forming a friendship and forging their way through the challenges of high school. Not quite "Freaks and Geeks," but close in spirit.

The WB, teen-central, offers Generation O! for the teen wannabes, 6 to 11. Molly O! is an eight-year-old rock wonder who rides in a limo and can find life in the spotlight a challenge. …

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