Halloween & Thanksgiving
Many more treats than tricks await the young ghouls and goblins who watch this double episode from the popular Bear in the Big Blue House series. The first 20-minute show opens on Halloween day; a sea of black and orange streamers and simple cutouts sets a festive tone inside Bear's busy house. Ever the gracious host, Bear welcomes viewers to join his fellow Muppet friends as they giggle their way through standard Halloween preparations: pumpkin carving, assembling a costume, dressing up. The excitement culminates when he and his buddies trick-or-treat through the forest. Next comes Thanksgiving. Bear gladly accepts his friends' offer to complete his to-do list (which includes cooking, making a centerpiece, and preparing for a Thanksgiving pageant), but the results are catastrophic. Not to worry--the ever-cheerful Bear brushes all disappointment away by reminding everyone that they should simply be thankful for each other. Wholesome subject matter, a smattering of education (vocabulary, spelling, some history), and plenty of lively singing and joyful camaraderie make these shows a hit with parents and their 2- to 6-year-old children. --Liane Thomas
Berry Bear Christmas
The friendly home-owning grizzly and his pals celebrate the traditions of a secular Christmas but pay more than a passing nod to both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in this 50-minute holiday program. Agenda items include a gift exchange and a visit to Santa Hog at the mall, but everything is put in perspective when the household discovers a homeless hound bellowing outside their door. They invite him in, share the holiday, find him a home, and learn a valuable lesson. Meanwhile, "Shadow" shows up to sing about the other two holidays in accompaniment to shadow cutouts. The bear, twin otters, lemur, mouse, and little bear were created by the Jim Henson folks, but they have none of the cleverness or occasional bite of the Sesame Street gang or the Muppets. The earnest Bear is kin to another outsized softie of a (purple) predator; they're both strictly for the kiddies. --Kimberly Heinrichs
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