Jim Henson’s Doozers Teaches Kids to Solve Problems With Engineering
Work your cares away.
Doozers is a new original show from the Jim Henson Company and Hulu. It brings the industrious background characters from Fraggle Rock to the forefront in a computer animated kids show that puts the focus on creativity and engineering.
The show follows “The Pod Squad,” a group of four young Doozers named Spike, Flex, Mollybolt, and Daisy Wheel, who in Doozer tradition are named after tools or machine parts. They run into problems around Doozer Creek, which as far as I can tell is a completely separate Doozer community than the one seen in Fraggle Rock.
That might help explain how different these Doozers are than those we’ve already seen. Fraggle Rock’s Doozers were hard-working, all-business, builders. Their outlook on life is summed up pretty well in the Fraggle Rock theme song. “Work your cares away. Dancing’s for another day.” Today is apparently that day.
These Doozers seem to have lightened up a bit. The first episode has The Pod Squad rally to put on a puppet show for the whole town — something their Fraggle Rock counterparts would have no doubt turned their noses at. Each episode is only about 12 minutes long. They seem fairly formulaic, as you’d expect a children’s show to be. The Pod Squad finds a problem around Doozer Creek and they have to solve it.
What makes Doozers unique and really wonderful is that they solve those problems with engineering. A common trend in children’s television has the protagonists solve problems with a preset list of items. Dora the Explorer finds something along the way that later comes in handy. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse follows a similar model with whatever happens to be in Mickey’s bag that day solving any problem they come across.
Doozers relies on critical thinking. The solution isn’t as easy as pulling a tool out of a bag. In one episode, The Pod Squad is trying to get supplies to their friend who is building a dock to study plants and animals in a lake, but the terrain is too dense for their vehicle. First they get a blimp, but there’s nowhere to land.
Then they pull the trailer with a smaller vehicle, but the trailer is too long to make the turns. They solve the problem by building a brand new vehicle out of connected segments capable of easier handling, and they get the inspiration from watching a caterpillar’s segmented body inching along a branch.
I’ve watched the first three episodes with my one-year-old daughter Amelia. She’s already familiar with Fraggle Rock and is much of a fan of it as a one-year-old is really a fan of anything. She seems to have the same enthusiasm for Doozers. When I go to the Hulu menu on our Apple TV, she points and says, “Doos!”
It lacks a little of the magic that Fraggle Rock and other Henson productions have, particularly where the music is concerned. While Fraggle Rock had beautiful songs in each episode, The Pod Squad just has a go-to song they sing when they’re building something. I’m sure it’s something children will sing along with and that their parents will grow to hate.
Given that it’s a show aimed at children, I won’t judge it too harshly for how much I as an adult enjoy it. My daughter loves it, and with its focus on critical thinking, engineering, and sustainability, I love that she loves it. Doozers is exactly the kind of show young geeks should be watching.
All seven episodes are available to stream on Hulu now, and I hope they make more.
(via Doozers on Hulu)