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Daytime TV

We don’t watch much daytime television. Here and there a sports event, a cooking show, the weather channel. Always weekly, The Farm Report and Sunday Morning on Sunday mornings. What a coincidence.

But I have gotten hooked on Curious George on PBS. It began as an entree to The PBS News Hour. We pretty much skip the news (mostly bad) and watch George, then substitute the Middle East carnage with Judge Judy.

My unabashed enjoyment of these two disparate programs has drawn a lot of laughter from friends and mere acquaintances, many of whom have never heard of George. When I explain that he is a cartoon monkey on a kids’ program, I get rolled eyes, raised eyebrows or a half-lipped sympathetic smile. However . . .

Curious George is aimed at children. But beneath that facade, in two quarter-hour segments a day, the program offers valuable lessons in science, environmental awareness and--perhaps most important—respect for other humans which is daily woven throughout the episodes.

George lives with ‘The Man in the Yellow Hat,’ a Caucasian fellow whom I mistook for a forest ranger the first time I saw the show. His hat is much on the order of the stereotypical witch’s pointed hat. The key word here is Caucasian, and this is clearly demonstrated by the color of his skin. George’s human friends, however, are portrayed by skin tones of probably every race on the planet.

After each segment ends, the program goes to a group of little children, live ones in a live setting. Again, omni-racial. They engage cooperatively in projects (which is more than can be said of our Congress). What they do echoes what the preceding situation was for Curious George and his housemate and caretaker, The Man in the Yellow Hat. I should add here that the two-some are globetrotters. Yesterday they were at the South Pole, part of a research cruise led by a female scientist.

They go looking for Chinstrap Penguins, become trapped in a cave in a blizzard and make shelter by blocking the cave openings with ice chunks. This is followed by the real kids learning from an adult how to make a brush lean-to as a survival skill.

After this, the cartoon twosome returns, now at their home in the country (they seem to have several homes) and George’s cartoon buddy gives him an envelope of carrot seeds. In brief, the carrots grow and are decimated by rabbits, all but one magnificent vegetable. But it is cold, the bunnies are freezing, so George gives them the giant carrot for sustenance.

Again, when the segment ends, the live children are taught how to plant carrots. They go to zoos, planetariums, boats, lakes—any place we might take out our own kids who are under eight or so years.

The best part for me, and ultimately my wife, is that George (and sometimes the real children) are funny, funny, funny. Our responses range from chuckles to belly laughs.

George is also available in books. They are at the library. But do give the TV version a try, ideally with the children. You too may get hooked, even if the kids are napping at 3:30 daily.


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