Saturday, September 22, 2007


One of my most enjoyable creative experiences in recent years was traveling twice to Australia to oversee production of the pilot and then the early episodes of The Upside Down Show. This extraordinary show teaches creativity via imaginary play (with powerful literacy, vocabulary, and mathematical concepts thrown in along the way) for preschoolers. Actually, describing the audience as "preschoolers" sells it far short. Creators and performers David Collins and Shane Dundas are so uniquely talented that these episodes tickle older brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents as well! And the awards reflect this success. The Upside Down Show has won an Emmy Award, a Parents' Choice Award, and Australia's Logie (the equivalent of the Emmy) for "Best Children's Program."

Sadly, although at its debut it was instantly one of Noggin's top-rated shows, this brilliant program is caught in the politics and economics of the increasing consolidation of the children's media industry. Nickelodeon/Noggin do not own the show outright, as it is partially financed and owned by the company that created it, Sesame Workshop. My hunch is that Nick is simply not willing to put their powerful promotional machine behind making a hit out of a property that they do not own outright. Sesame Workshop, on the other hand, is too uncomfortable with any kind of conflict to take the kind of aggressive approach that I believe it should to reclaim those rights and find another way to finance and continue to produce the show. And so, this exceptional piece of educational programming (in my opinion as radical and ground-breaking as Sesame Street was back when it was created back in 1968) will disappear with just the barest hint of a whimper.

The Upside Down show airs on Noggin daiily at 7:30 am and 3pm ET/PT. Since the folks at Nickelodeon show no sign of getting it out on DVD, I'd strongly advise that you tape it and keep it for posterity (as well as any occasion when you might want to entertain and stimulate the imaginations of young children).

I recently stumbled across this long chain of parents talking about the show and how it has benefitted their children. In particular, check out the July 8 entry re child with Asperger's Syndrome. Although the show is not going to have the longevity it so richly deserves, at least, reading these words, I know that we accomplished what we set out to do.
UpsideDownShow Parent Chat Boards

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