Friday, January 29, 2010


So I've had a go at Martha Speaks and Pingu, but what about this new arrival taking up roughly the same time slot on BBC2 - Tronji?

It's a 3D computer graphic world mixed with some live-action events. The story as relayed at the being is that Tronji World (which seems to be a collection of disparate settings) has been cracked apart and all the colour drained leaving it monochrome. This event has also caused some problems and left the inhabiting Tronjis very unhappy most particularly Tronji-O whose brother Tronji-I seems to have vanished along with the colour.

Not to worry though it seems all the colour has been sucked through to People World (i.e. Earth) and condensed into crystals that have been found by children. When three crystals meet they open a gateway and the children can come through to help restore happiness and release that part of their colour back to Tronji World. Some CGI Weebble, whom I can never catch the name of, is in charge and directs everything.

It may sound complicated, but it's quite simple and follows a set pattern. All the kids have particular skills and when interacting in Tronji World form a 2D style Tronji based on that skill (so someone good at hockey becomes a anthropomorphic hockey stick). One of the kids is sent on the back of a cloud called Ooee-ooee to find the unhappiest part of Tronji World that's still floating aimlessly lose. The Great Weebble can then use Ooee-ooee as a conduit to pull it back into the main mass, but only provided that the section in question is restored to full happiness. That's the task of the other two kids who are teleported there directly.

As a side point Tronji-I is found in People World connected to some object in a "parallel particle state" and as a result is causing unhappiness there. Tronji-O has to think of some swap to perform that will restore balance... then they can sing.

It sounds quite complicated and a little silly, but it works it really does. You get some nice bits of lateral thinking to solve things - a Football kid needs to get the Star-swingers back onto their perches so they can direct light back to the ground to make the grass grow. He tries to head them up there, but can't get them high enough. Up flashes X>Y on the screen. We cut back later to find that he's now decided to bounce himself on the ground and then head them up and we get the extra height Z such that X=Y+Z all shown with a little diagram.

The grass grows everyone's happy until Tronji-O performs a swap of a Longness of a rope for the Shortness of the grass and the Star-swingers get swamped. Then Hairdryer girl tries to blow the grass to one side, but it keeps bouncing back up until she uses the heat setting to make it dry out and go curly.

Meanwhile Number kid has guided Ooee-ooee through the Happy Lands into the Monochrome Zone and is approaching The Gap where he has to face the Gap Minders and answer the impossible question - a 2m by 3m patch of ground needs to be turfed with 1m square pieces of turf; how many pieces are required.

So as you can see an odd mix of easy and mildly hard challenges which leaves me curious as to what age this is aimed at. Anyway it's educational and most importantly it's parent friendly too  - it's just the odd remark that will go over the heads of most, but just produces a mild chuckle. Try these:

The Gap Minders are dresses as lolly-pop men with red/green sign when they appear they say "mind the gap" in a delightful British Bulldog manner.

When stating that it's difficult to get grass to bend the Great Weeble mutters something about Conditioner.

When trying to calculate how many pieces of Turf is required all through a snazzy Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy style board the Great Weeble ponders if they just can't turn it into a patio instead cue animation of ground being covered with crazy paving.

It's just little touches like that that make this quite enjoyable to watch as an adult and retains educational value. Bravo more I say, more.