Younger set: A preview of this fall's new shows for rugrats, tween, teens and the young at heart

Younger set

A preview of this fall’s new shows for rugrats, tween, teens and the young at heart

By GRANT MCINTYRE

Saturday, August 25, 2001 Print Edition, Page 4

It’s that time of year again. Amid the usual crop of comedic cartoons, adventures, kid-sitcoms and preschool fare, there are a few bright lights. As a bonus this year, two of the new digital channels launching next month are for kids. Discovery Kids and Animal Planet offer science and nature “edu-tainment” for the young. (BBC Kids launches in November.) As for the familiar channels, producers have once again demonstrated that a shortage of new ideas doesn’t mean a shortage of new shows. Here’s a sample of just a few notable newcomers up and down the dial.

Animal Planet (digital channel)

Jeff Corwin Experience

Weekdays at 9 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. Starting September 7

Jeff Corwin is one of those fearless TV biologists who glory in picking up rattlesnakes and alligators and telling them what lovely specimens they are. This entertaining series explores wildlife in such locales as Louisiana, Alaska and Thailand. Corwin is easygoing and likeable.

CBC

Slim Pig

Weekdays at 11:30 a.m.

Starting September 3

New to CBC’s Get Set for Life preschool schedule, Slim Pig is a delightful short cartoon series about a paper-thin pig who lives on a farm. Slim can transform himself into things such as a bouncing ball and a parachute to save the day.

The Hippo Tub Co.

Sundays at 7 a.m. Starting October 7

Part of the school-age CBC4Kids slot, this lucid computer-animated series is about a hippo who finds himself in Drainworld, the land of lost items. It’s inspired by the Anne Murray song Hey Daddy (There’s a Hippo in My Bathtub) – you can’t get much more Canadian than that.

Smart Ask

Starting in December

Watch for these televised finals from the quiz show that begins on the Web this month and moves to CBC Radio in September. Comedian Justin Landry and rap artist Michie Mee (Drop the Beat) will host. Ralph Benmergui is the creator and executive producer.

CTV

Waging Peace

September 4, 10 p.m.

CTV is airing this terrific documentary to correspond with back-to-school day. It’s about a Nova Scotia junior high school wracked by vandalism, bullying and rowdiness until a remarkably committed principal steps in to turn things around. Great, moving documentary filmmaking.

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Sundays at 7 p.m. Starting October 14

Hold on to your aging angst – it’s already been a decade since the popular teens of Degrassi High finished their high-school adventures. The Next Generation picks up the story of Emma, the 12-year-old daughter of original Degrassi kids Spike and Snake. The proud parents are joined by many of their former mates for a 10-year reunion to kick off the series, which features Bruce McDonald (Highway 61) in the director’s chair for the first three episodes. CTV also plans to unveil Degrassi.tv, an issue-based companion show featuring real-life teens. (-Scott Colbourne)

Discovery Kids (digital channel)

Jaws & Claws

Tuesday 11 a.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m.

Starting September 11

There seems to be a boom in nature shows about scary predators – nothing gets the attention like some twit taunting a deadly snake with a stick. Jaws & Claws looks at predators such as crocodiles, wild dogs and deadly Komodo dragons.

Outward Bound

Weekdays 10:30 a.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.

Starting September 10

Eight kids go on 14-day expeditions around the world. In this live-action series, kids learn about nature, discipline and teamwork while climbing a Texas cliff blindfolded, learning to shoot white-water rapids and helping to repair a school in Mexico.

Sail Away

Monday and Saturday 11 a.m.

Starting September 10

Another “reality” show, this time following 10 kids on a sailing expedition through the Caribbean. It’s not all fun in the sun, as the crew members have a close encounter with a whale, and battle sunburns, bug bites and jelly fish.

Family

Lizzie McGuire

Friday 7 a.m., Saturday and

Sunday 10:45 a.m.

Neither Clueless nor Legally Blonde, Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff) is a 13-year-old with an acute sense of self-awareness. Here is a surprisingly wry sitcom for tweens; a rare small-f family comedy that would rather be funny than sentimental. Lizzie McGuire debuted last month.

Disney’s The Legend of Tarzan

Weekdays at 5 p.m.

Starting September 3

In this spinoff from Disney’s recent feature-length cartoon, Tarzan’s long-chinned, surfer-dude look and the movie’s bucolic visual style are still intact. Character voices include Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty and Diahann Carroll.

The Proud Family

Saturday and Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Starting September 8

A half-hour animated comedy that’s another variation on what’s become a familiar theme on Family: the tribulations of the early teen years. This time around it’s 14-year-old Penny Proud and her African-American family.

Teletoon

Butt-Ugly Martians

Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.

Starting September 4

This U.K. production makes its North American debut on Teletoon. Animated in the computerized ReBoot style, it’s about skateboard dudes who befriend aliens. Listen for the voice of Robert Stack.

Braceface

Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Sharon (voiced by Alicia Silverstone, who is also executive producer) is a pretty, blond high-school student whose life is changed by a visit to the orthodontist. Light and funny, in the Saturday-morning animation style. Braceface made it’s debut last week.

Martin the Warrior

Starting in December

Great news: A third Redwall series is in the works, and Teletoon plans to launch it along with its Christmas programming. No preview tape was available, but it’s a sure bet that the medieval rodent adventure will equal the superb animation of Redwall and Matimeo.

Treehouse

Max the Cat

Sundays at 7 a.m. Starting September 9

Based on the series of books by Adam Whitmore, this new Canadian animated series follows the adventures of a cat travelling the world in search of his lost tail. It airs in short, five-minute episodes.

Tama & Friends

Monday 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. and Sunday 9:30 a.m.

Starting September 3

From the producers of Pokmon comes this new series for preschoolers. Tama the cat and his animal friends try to solve life’s perplexing problems. These are gentle tales that combine humour with adventure to impart positive lessons.

Wumpa’s World

Wednesday 10 a.m., Saturday 9 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m.

Starting September 5

As Canadian as the Northern Lights, Wumpa’s World is an animatronic series about life in the Far North. The main characters, Zig and Zag, believe it or not, are snowmobiles. Other characters include a polar bear and two arctic hares.

TVO

Sagwa: The Chinese Siamese Cat

Weekdays at 8:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.

Starting September 3

Based on the children’s book by novelist Amy Tan, these captivating tales, aimed at five- to 10-year-olds, centre on a cat living in a human village in ancient China. It’s nicely drawn and the folkloric music adds a pleasant ambiance.

The Fantastic Flying Journey

Fridays at 6:30 p.m.

Starting September 7

From the naturalist author Gerald Durrell, this animated series combines a love of nature with a flair for fantasy. Uncle Lancelot, an eccentric naturalist and adventurer, takes three children on a world tour in his fantastic hot-air balloon. It may remind you of The Magic School Bus.

The Hoobs

Weekdays at 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.

Starting September 3

The latest from the Jim Henson Co., the Hoobs are Muppet-like puppets who live in a brightly coloured fantasy world where preschoolers can learn about “finding things out” and “soft, squidgy things.”

Superteachers

Sundays at 6 p.m.

Starting September 23

A great idea – placing some of the world’s most accomplished people in the role of teacher. The episode submitted for review features a profile of Canadian naturalist and photographer Michael Runtz, who takes a class of high-school students through a snow-covered Algonquin Park. Other subjects include Jane Goodall, shark conservationist Rodney Fox and pianist/conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy.

YTV

Xcalibur

Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

Starting September 12

Top-notch 3-D computer animation, haunting soundtrack and a dramatic storyline make this one of the finest of the new season. A French production based on the medieval legend of the magic sword, it may be a little bit heavy the very young.

Sitting Ducks

Thursday 7 p.m.,

Sunday 6 p.m.

Starting

September 13

Based on the books by Canadian author Michael Bedard, this computer-animated series has wit, style and some satire. Wisecracking ducks live in the Fifties-ish retro-style Ducktown.

State of Grace

Mondays at 6 p.m.

Starting September 10

In the style of The Wonder Years, State of Grace is about a girl growing up in the Sixties. Frances McDormand (Fargo) is the voice of the grown-up Hannah looking back on her poignant childhood.

Medabots

Saturdays at 7 a.m.

Starting September 15

This new ‘toon combines the collecting elements of Pokmon with battling transforming robots. If your kids can’t wait for the premiere, there’s a sneak preview on September 3 at 2 p.m. (-SC)gT

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