Most of the shows I have covered by now have been didactic, dull, obnoxious, and repetitive. But for a show that has truly dialed an 11 on the WTF scale, you have to go with Oobi.
I’m trying to imagine the writer at Nick Jr. who came up with this premise and how the meeting with his boss went.
Writer: I have a new idea for a children’s show. Sock puppets talk to each other like cave men. There’s a family with two kids. We’ll call them Bob and Jane, and they can be the stars of the show.
Boss: Sock puppets? That’s ridiculous. We don’t have enough money in our budgets for socks.
Writer: Oh. Well how about we just use naked hands?
Boss: No. That would look lazy. Here, I have these creepy eye balls left over from Halloween. Stick them on the top.
Writer: That’s really disturbing. Do you think kids would watch it?
Boss: Kids will watch anything. Oh, and those names are so boring. Come up with something catchier, like a noise you might make when your appendix is about to burst.
Writer: How about Oobi and Uma?
Boss: Perfect! And the head office says we need to represent different types of families. So get rid of the parents and give them a grandpa. That way we only need one hand instead of two. But don’t call him grandpa. Call him Grandpu.
Boss: Yeah, that’s my pet name for my grandpa. He kind of smells.
Writer: Okay, then. I’ll get right on it!
I bet you’re still thinking I’m making this up. I am not. This is so totally real. You really have to see it for yourself.
When my mom friend first told me about it, I thought it sounded pretty weird. I had no idea, people, no idea. See this show has these hands with eyes on the top that talk to one another. And it’s not just a five minute spot here or there. No, it’s an entire show of this. My mom friend said, “I wish I could get paid to do stupid stuff with my hands.” Don’t we all? Except my hands would probably not get the G rating after having watched some of the stuff that passes for children’s T.V.
Anyway, like with Clifford, this show poses all sorts of questions. There’s one episode where Oobi and his pal play patty cake with their faces. That’s also the one where little sister Uma gets sick. Her fingers blow into a Kleenex and then she drinks juice with those same fingers. And there’s another one where Uma goes to preschool. Of course there’s a preschool for hands, stupid. And she draws with her fingers, except her fingers, remember, are her face. Or maybe they’re her teeth? I get so confused.
Let’s just think about this, shall we? We’ve seen them pick up food with their hands, which would be normal except that they also swallow with their hands. And they brush teeth, which I guess is their nails. And then there’s the bathroom. Would it all come out of their elbows? Maybe I’m reading too much into this. But I can’t be the only one who has wondered about the physics of this show.
I am? Maybe I just need to get out more.
My daughter liked this show when she was three. She doesn’t want to believe me, but she did. Kids like weird stuff. She went to school and talked with her hands. This is entirely believable coming from a three-year-old, especially this one, who would make the seatbelts in the back seat of the car talk. I have creative children. But we have to remember that adults came up with this program. It’s really not normal for adults to talk with their hands unless they’re deaf and using sign language. Otherwise, it’s weird people. Weird.
On the other hand, it’s extraordinary because they couldn’t have had much in the budget for this show, which must have meant almost everything was profit. I mean, it’s not like they had to do a whole lot of casting. The actors could have looked like Quasimodo. All we saw was one hand. I’m trying to imagine how they must have acted this out. Adults and kids crawling around on the floor with one hand in the air. Can you imagine the actor playing Grandpu getting home from a hard day of work? “Man, my arm is exhausted! What’s for dinner?”
In the end, I have to hand it (pun intended) to these guys. This was pure genius. And it aired for FIVE YEARS. To heck with you, Sesame Street, covering your hands with puppets. How lame. All that work when all they really needed were some creepy eyeballs. A shame, really.
Bodily function character names: Yes
Creepy eyeballs: Yes
Marketing Genius: Yes
Freaking Disturbing: Yes, yes, yes.