Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Martha Speaks

Caught a animation for kids on CBBC over the past few mornings called "Martha Speaks" wow is it patronising... patronising that means to behave in an offensively condescending manner toward someone. At first glance it appears to be a vocabulary builder, except the level seems more CBeebies than CBBC. Oh and it is of course American.

Anyway Martha is a talking dog, rather than just accept a talking dog we're given a rationale for this in the annoyingly repetitive opening sequence song - she ate some alphabet soup. At which point a simple cut-through appears along with a scientist type to explain that on the way to her stomach "the letters lost their way" and ended up in her brain. This is easy to spot as apparently the 'tube' that leads from mouth to stomach branches off directly to the brain too. Excellent biology lesson there for all the kids - "Watch what you feed the dog as it may end up lodged in their brain" I also wonder how many kids upon learning this tried feeding their own dogs alphabet soup.

Although they bother to give this reason no explanation as to how a dog without the appropriate vocal apparatus can talk or why she does so in an perky American accent (that makes you want to strangle her after a minute). Likewise why she even speaks English and not for example Latin which uses the same alphabet.

The format of the show is simple Martha learns a word and occasionally a lesson; appears all well and good educationally. Except the lesson isn't always clear and the word is either only used once along with a bunch of synonyms or beaten to death by stressing it in every sentence.

Even Martha's vocabulary is a touch eclectic, she understands the rarer "burro", while not understanding "burrow". She uses "hyperventilate" in the opening song, but doesn't understand "crops" heck even the singer uses "re-iterate" while Martha asks "What's a caboose?".

It may seem petty pointing out flaws in what is a children's show, except this is what children are being taught which is important and I can't grasp exactly what age-group this is aimed for. In one episode they're explaining "consensus" repeated ad nauseum and in this morning's we get "crops", "produce" and "agriculture"; but only once. I don't see how this, in this format, can be classed as either entertainment or educational. It just seems to be cheap filler.


Anonymous said...

Drat! They're onto us! Move to plan-beta…

FlipC said...

Plan beta - three back-to-back episodes of Pingu ;-)