The New Fab Four

By: Tim-Knox

The news of their arrival reached these shores long before they did. A massive ad campaign introduced them to America and touted their status as Britain's "New Fab Four." There was an extensive media blitz launched by the television network that would carry their already "wildly- successful in Europe" half hour show. And there was a steady stream of network news coverage, including the now-famous segment on Nightline in which Ted Koppel used the word "cute" a hundred and sixteen times and just for the briefest second, actually seemed to smile.

I must admit, all the hoopla did make me wonder whether or not their coming to America was such a good thing. What affect would they have on our impressionistic youth? Would our children cry and scream in unadulterated joy at the sight of these new superstars? Would they fall flat on their diapered bottoms and call out their names? Was it to be Barney-mania all over again? Only time would tell. Nevertheless, I prepared myself for the worst.

So, from across the ocean they came, this New Fab Four, singing and dancing and, much like the original group, talking with accents so thick one had to listen closely to understand what they were saying. But being understood has nothing to do with success. Their debut song, a cheerful, little ditty called, "Say Eh Oh" knocked the Spice Girls off the top of the charts in England late last year and will probably give Madonna a run for her money here. I would venture to say they are now more popular than John Lennon, especially among those who have no idea who John Lennon was.

Who is this multi-talented group of young performers that has the world in such a tizzy? They are Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po, or as they are called by fifty-eight gazillion kids around the world, "The Teletubbies," and they are PBS's latest offering for viewers one-year old and up -- the group TV executives refer to as the "Daddy, buy me that!" demographic.

Now, if you don't have kids, especially little ones, you probably have no idea who the Teletubbies are. But if you do have kids and haven't been hiding from them in a cave for the last few months, you are well aware of who these carpet-covered Kupie dolls are. And like 'em or not, you have to agree that they are the best damned babysitters since the aforementioned dinosaur named Barney. When the Teletubbies are on, my two-year old doesn't move. She doesn't blink. In fact, I'm not even sure she breathes, so strong is the Teletubby allure.

How best to describe the Teletubbies to the uninitiated? Imagine Barney without the wonderful singing and dramatic acting. Think Mr. Rodgers without the expensive costumes, sets and musical arrangements. Think Bozo without the high drama. Think Captain Kangaroo on Quaaludes.

Still don't get it? Let me put it into terms you'll understand: if Pink Floyd produced a half-hour show for kids, this would be it. And you would enjoy it immensely. Guaranteed.

Like a classic Pink Floyd album, there is something strangely hypnotic about this show. No matter what your age is, this show will calm your nerves, relax your tired muscles, put your mind at ease. It will numb your bones, soothe away tension and make you go, "Whoa, dude..."

In fact, after watching several hours of this show with my daughter (okay, sometimes I watch it without her), I've come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the members of Pink Floyd or some other '60s counter-culture group really does have a hand in its production. Here is the evidence thus far:

When the show begins, you enter Teletubby Land; a land of green, rolling hills dotted with beautiful flowers (could those be Poppies?) and grazing bunny rabbits (could these be flying pigs in disguise?). The sky is always blue and filled with puffy clouds. It is a truly happy place, watched over by an animated sun that has a real baby's smiling face. Then they appear; Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po, dancing and jumping around like giant Beanie Babies on a hot stove. They have antennae on their heads and TV screens in their stomachs. And they giggle alot, even when nothing is apparently funny. Could it be that our little friends have been smoking a bit of the old Teletubby weed?

There are loud speakers that arise from the flowerbeds and order the Teletubbies around. There is a magic windmill that sits high on a hill and spews a glittery substance (I'm having it analyzed) into the air. The windmill activates the TV screens that are lodged in the Teletubbies' stomachs. These screens show video clips of real children wreaking havoc on the world; jumping up and down on the beds, screaming at the top of their lungs, making a mess in the bathroom, etc. All the things you discourage your kids from doing the Teletubbies make seem like fun (this is to instill a disregard for authority, I'm sure).

Everything is provided for our furry, little friends when they crash in their hi-tech Tubby house. They eat Tubby Toast and Tubby Custard (munchies), and are always under the watchful bug eyes of a noisy vacuum cleaner named Noo-noo (obviously their parole officer).

Here's further proof from PBS Online, home of the Teletubbies website:

    "Tinky Winky is the biggest Teletubby. His favorite thing is his bag, which he likes to take out with him for walks. He usually sings his song "Tinky Winky." He loves to dance and fall over on his back."

Notice they didn't say what's in Tinky Winky's bag, but we all know what's in there. Can you say, "Tubby paraphernalia?" Then there's Dipsy, whose name, I think, says it all. From PBS:

    "Dipsy sings a song with a reggae beat and when he is feeling 'especially cool' will go for a walk by himself, wearing his hat and singing the song."

Ah, a Rastafarian Tubby, mon. Next, Laa Laa:

    "Laa Laa is the happiest and most smiley of the Teletubbies. She too loves to sing and dance. Her favorite word is 'nice'. Laa-Laa loves the way her ball bounces and wobbles and grows bigger and smaller. Laa-Laa always likes to know where all of the Teletubbies are. She has her own special La-la-la-la-la song."

Which I believe is sung to the tune of Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit.' And finally, there's Po, the smallest Teletubby. From PBS:

    "Po often jumps up and down to express her feelings of joy, enthusiasm, and surprise. The natural place for Po is to be on her scooter zipping around the hills. She makes the noise "quickly, quickly, quickly" or "slowly, slowly, slowly" when riding her scooter. Po spends a lot of time on her own."

This is the one that will go nuts one day and start running over bunnies. "Po was always such a loner..."

Whether it's an innocent kid's show or the subliminal tool of some covert drug organization, "Teletubbies" is not without its share of critics. Oddly enough, it's the very simplicity of the show that sparks the most controversy. Critics accuse "Teletubbies" of dumbing down children's television to the levels of "Baywatch" and "Wheel of Fortune." Po, say it ain't so...

"I don't think babies have to watch television,'' Peggy Charren, an advocate for better children's TV programming has said. "There's something creepy about propping an infant up in front of the television, no matter what's on.''

Thank God for social watchdogs like Ms. Charren. If not for people like her they'd be showing cigarette commercials on the Cartoon Network and passing out condoms with Happy Meals at McDonald's! Heaven knows there's nothing worse that a two-year-old chainsmoker who packs a condom and watches "dumbed-down" TV.

Ms. Charren, lighten up. "Teletubbies" is just a cute little show that means no harm to anyone.

And if you really think it's such a bad thing to plop a kid down in front of a television set to keep them occupied for 30 minutes, then come on over to my house and watch my kids.

My favorite show is coming on. Everybody say, "Eh Oh!"

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Tim Knox, Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Radio Host Founder, The Insiders Club, Giving You The Power To Start Your Business Today Bestselling Author of: "Everything I Know About Business I Learned From My Mama"

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