Monday, December 10, 2012

A Big Blue Home for Christmas

Bear in the Big Blue House was a special kind of children's show.  It attempted to emulate the ultimate daycare experience, providing both education and playtime during its allocated time.  Now, every children's show attempts this to some degree, but each one does it slightly differently.  The character of Bear is the show's main "adult" character, and he not only dispenses wisdom, but love and protection as well.  He welcomes the viewer into his home through the fourth wall to create a comfortable atmosphere for all.  Kids may laugh at the antics of the younger puppets, but they grow and learn with them as well.

Like Sesame Street, the Big Blue House was a fantastical location unlike anything seen in real life.  But, as seen in the Christmas episode, reality always has a way of coming in.

Enjoy the fun while it lasts, because things are about to take a turn for the serious.

In the two-part episode "A Beary Bear Christmas," Bear and his tenants learn a valuable Christmas lesson.  On a snowy Christmas Eve, as the gang gets ready for Christmas and Bear teaches the viewer about different holiday traditions, an old, weak dog is discovered outside in the harsh weather.  The dog's name is Jack and, after he is brough inside to be warmed up, he reveals that he is homeless.

And he's voiced by Dave Golez, just to make him even more endearingly tragic.

All of the fun and songs of the Big Blue House are brought to a screeching halt.  The kids discuss what it means to be homeless and Tutter the mouse has the most difficult time handling the situation.  He starts to fear that without a moment's notice, he could find himself out on the streets and, being so young, consumes his thoughts.

Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean the world stops to celebrate.

Bear has to come in and reassure both Tutter and the children at home that he doesn't have to worry about finding himself homeless.  But he reminds us that this is a reality for many people and necessary precautions must be taken to avoid a similar fate.  He teaches us to not ignore those in need, and the Christmas is a perfect time to remember those less fortunate than us.

Don't worry, Tutter.  You're safe.

Jack is allowed to stay in the house for the Christmas holiday, but there is always the omnipresent fact that eventually, he will have to leave.  Still, they let Jack join in on their holiday traditions, including opening presents on Christmas morning.

Bear gets a very crappy, rusty bucket from Ojo, and it just makes your heart melt.

The kids realize that they haven't gotten Jack a gift, once again reminding us that there are no easy answers in life.  But at least their heart is in the right place.  So they all go out caroling and searching for the Winter Berry (it's a bear tradition, don't ask).

Pip (or Pop) finds the berry.  The world can continue existing for another year.

Finally, Doc Hogg, Bear's neighbor, decides that, you know what, he can take Jack into his home.  And it works out because Jack is a dog and not a person.  So, the homeless metaphor doesn't quite extend all throughout the special, but we can't end a kids show on a crushing, somber note.  Everyone rejoices and Jack snuggles into his new home.

This is much better than sleeping outside.

Dealing with such a weighty topic in a Christmas special is par for the course in fare that is geared to an older audience.  Sitcoms especially put humor on the back-burner while they handle difficult and heartwarming topics at Christmas.  So, to see a show aimed at pre-schoolers attempt the same feat (and pull it off successfully) is an amazing wonder.  With all of these hokey Sesame Street specials, I was worried that the post-Henson Christmases were lacking of substance.  But the always cute, always charming Bear in the Big Blue House managed to put the "special" back in "Christmas special," and we are all better for it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment