Also known as “A Pumpkin Full of Nonsense,” this animated short from the eighties is probably one of the more bizarre product tie ins I’ve ever seen. While it’s traditionally known as a Halloween special, the idea of Halloween is only minimal in what is a more unusual fantasy adventure. The entire narrative lives and breathes by the implementation of the trademark letter tiles, in so many unusual and baffling ways.
Knowledge is true power and Miss Jiya, a teacher for a local school in Pakistan wields her knowledge with the ferocity of the superheroine “The Burka Avenger.” In a world where heroines are sexualized, it’s interesting to see that the Burka Avenger primarily clothes herself from head to toe in a burka, which allows her a stealth and grace that make her a deadly opponent; but definitely not deadly in the violent sense, but deadly in implementing non-violence and her intellect to defeat her foes.
Believe it or not, there was once a time where not all kids shows was about goofy characters singing songs in repetition. Surely, we had “Barney,” and “Bananas in Pajamas,” but we also had shows that taught, educated, and brought us an experience. Before Elmo took over, “Sesame Street” was a great parade of puppets and humans learning together. There was also “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” The best among them though was “Reading Rainbow.” After the heartbreaking cancellation of “Reading Rainbow” in 2009 by (the gradually right leaning) PBS Network in America, Levar Burton fought to bring the show back, and despite his difficulty the series still lived on through memories and the love by fans of all ages.
Like every bit of American history, it’s good to know that “Liberty’s Kids” tells its core audience only one part of the story and never the full details on what, when, and why. For one thing, the series focuses on only a quarter of American history with a sometimes artful dodging of aspects like slavery, illness, and the bloody events that were the wars. However there is a considerable acknowledging of slavery as one of our main characters, an African American, battles on the forefront of the Civil War in order to escape slavery. Sadly, the episode that focuses on the Native American experience only depicts us as inadvertent dominators of the land, not the evil villainous barons who strong armed a race out of their motherland.
Not being a history, engineering, or architecture buff, I didn’t see what I could take away or find of interest in the pilot episode of “Engineering an Empire.” Spinning off from the special “Engineering an Empire” in Rome, the series will now chronicle historical accounts of architectural landmarks from all civilizations and discuss monuments, buildings, fortresses, and dams.
A parent in “Spellbound” makes a point of saying, “The National Spelling Bee has been around for nearly a hundred years, and it’s a part of Americana that has been somewhat brushed aside.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but they make a good point. We live in a country where the strongest and prettiest are revered, a country where we strive to be the strongest and prettiest among our peers. “Spellbound” is an apt title and a glowing portrait of eight kids from humble beginnings who are training desperately for the national spelling bee. What comes with the territory of making it into the National spelling bee aside from adulation and respect is a lot of pressure which is set upon by parents who unwillingly and willingly apply pressure to their children and high expectations that they strive to reach.