Thursday, September 9, 2010

Timmy Time: Animated Animal Folktale

The world of animal folklore has really opened up in recent years. Thanks to animation we can watch lions, chickens, chimps, pigs and cats navigate their worlds; overcoming obstacles while learning valuable lessons about how to treat one another and the planet.

I recently watched a very creative animated episode of Timmy Timecalled "Go Kart Timmy". The upcoming North American premier will include “Tidy Timmy” and “Timmy’s Plane,”” takes place September 13 on Playhouse Disney after the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally special.

Created by Aardman Animations of the UK, Timmy Time is designed for preschool audiences. The main character Timmy the lamb has, like all preschoolers, a lot to learn about social skills, such as being responsible and learning to play fairly with others.

Fast moving, the colorful show is based on the hit childrens' series Shaun the Sheep. It does a good job of capturing common elements of preschool life that are common to all children. Timmy and his barnyard friends must help clean up after doing an art project and they must share the play yard toys. But to do so requires teaching and training from adults about putting supplies away once you are done with them and taking turns so that everyone has a chance to play.

Timmy’s personality and his impulsive desires to just do only what he wants to do when he wants to do it get him into trouble. He isn’t interested in being responsible and he doesn’t want to be last in line when it comes time to learn how to drive the go kart. Fair enough, right? Almost everyone can relate to the impatience and the desire that over time must be developed into patience and self-control that do allow a lamb – or child – like Timmy to have it all.

This is the lesson we all must learn in order to get along with others and what better way to learn it than by watching a cute little lamb find out the hard way that he must pay attention and do as he is told so that he can have his cake and eat it , too?

The simple storytelling style is clever, very clever. There is no human dialogue which alleviates challenges of cultural differences. I believe this underscores the universal nature of "what is important" when it comes to interacting with the world we all live in. In the freedom from verbal interpretation, we are allowed to experience the "other" senses. We observe the character’s expressive animation, gestures and reactions to the situations he finds himself. Through this we experience, as he does, the ease that occurs when he finally learns to do the right thing.

This show – a work of contemporary folklore - is perfect for any language, any culture because it is based upon core human (and animal) values of respect for self, others and property.

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