Picks and Pans Review: The Chimples at School
There are some eerie moments when this tape begins to resemble what children's television might be on the Planet of the Apes. Two chimpanzees, Buster and Lulu, are followed through their morning routine—overseen by a woman described as "their mother, Barbara"—and then head to school. The video is supposed to make children feel comfortable about new experiences, though the thought of having a couple of chimps come rampaging into your classroom might not be the most comforting of notions to younger children. The narration, written by Roy Williams and read by country singer Rex Allen, ranges from forced ("I'd like to see Jane Fonda do that," when one of the chimps does a monkey-bar routine) to ungrammatical ("others in the classroom couldn't draw real good"). There are also some indifferent songs, such as I Am An Expert at Eating. This is the first in a series of tapes starring Buster and Lulu, with educational consultation from Barbara Flores, a former member of the California State Board of Education (and wife of Los Angeles Raiders' football coach Tom Flores). Evolution is to be hoped for, if not believed in. (Morris, 30 min.; $19.95)
BIG BIRD'S STORY TIME
Like the Sesame Street home tapes released last year, these two videos combine clips from regular TV shows with new material. Like that first series, this one brims with good feeling, honest entertainment and a pervasive respect for children. Highlights of the Sing Along tape include Madeline Kahn doing a punctilious duet with Grover on Sing After Me, and regular cast members Alaina Reed and Linda Bove doing a lovely version of Sing a Song—Bove, who is deaf, does her part in sign language. The Story Time tape features Kermit the Frog, the amphibian answer to Geraldo Rivera, appearing as a TV reporter in various fairy tales; in one, all the king's horses and all the king's men are trying to restructure an egg Kermit refers to as "Mr. Dumpty." The two other new tapes in the Sesame Street home series are Getting Ready for School and Learning to Add and Subtract, which includes a clever turn on Bruce Springsteen, Born to Add. (Random House, 30 min.; $19.95)
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