Sunday, June 26, 2011

Imagination Movers

Ah, the Imagination Movers. Four of the coolest guys in children's television, hands down (sorry Wiggles). We had the privilege of seeing them in concert and having floor seats. They definitely understand that just because it's a kids TV show, that doesn't mean you can't be fun for the grown-ups watching too. In concert, they played snippets of songs by Aerosmith and Kiss. Enough said. If you want to see what a concert of theirs is like, I'm linking to my personal photo album for your enjoyment (yes, they even let you bring in cameras!). Now, on to the show itself.

Imagination Movers is a live-action program about four guys, Dave, Rich, Smitty, and Scott, who have a business in which they solve problems for others. They also have a neighbor Nina, who originally worked down the hall for her Uncle Knit Knots (who was later phased out of the program) but now works as a photographer for the local newspaper. There is also a puppet, Warehouse Mouse, who is only understood by Smitty, and sometimes helps solve problems... and also causes a few of his own. Along the way, the Movers sing songs about various subjects, including how to "Brainstorm"... "Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun!" Their music is more of an Alternative Rock style than your plain old kids music, so more fun for the adults to listen to. I have four of their CDs, and not just for my son.

Each of the four Movers has their own special tool to help them solve problems. Rich, the drummer, has magical "scribble" drumsticks, with which he can draw his ideas or make notes in mid-air. Scott, who plays keyboards and mandolin, has "Wobble Goggles", which he uses to see through walls, doors, and other various objects to help him get a better focus on the problem at hand. Dave, the bassist, has a magical hat that holds endless items and his own inventions to help with problem solving. Smitty, the guitarist in the cowboy hat, has a magical journal that acts as a sort of Wiki for any topic they might need more information about during their quest to solve a problem. Nina isn't usually armed with any particular tool (although sometimes she comes equipped with her camera), but she helps solve problems using just her own common sense. In fact, for all the work she does, it's a wonder she's not "Mover Nina" by now. They really ought to have her on payroll at this point.

There are also a slew of guest stars on this program, who portray characters in need of the Movers' assistance. My favorite was "Baker Ben", played by TLC's Ace of Cakes himself, Duff Goldman, who needed help remembering the recipe for his "best muffins ever". Duff even got to rock out with the Movers on a couple songs. Tony Fatone was also seen last season as a baseball player who had a game at the same time as his own son's birthday party.

Their music, as I've mentioned, is more in the style of Alternative Rock. However, they do have songs in other styles, spanning from rap, Irish folk music, country, and ballad. The topics of the songs include days of the week, animals on the farm, how to not be afraid of the dark, mixing colors, loving your mommy, and being a good friend. The lyrics are fun, upbeat, and catchy. In fact, I'd guarantee that you will be humming them long after the show is over.

Imagination Movers is exclusively on the Disney Channel, usually during the Disney Junior lineup. Disney is a channel that is only available through cable or satellite providers, so please check local listings. As far as I'm aware, they don't have many DVD's (I'm only finding two on Amazon), but they have six CDs dating as far back as the days before they were discovered by Disney.

Part of the appeal of Imagination Movers, for me, is their past. The foursome is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Dave Poche, Rich Collins, Scott Durbin, and Scott "Smitty" Smith all have cool pasts that they share openly with their fans. They are all survivors of Hurricane Katrina. In fact, Smitty was a firefighter who helped rescue people during the floods. Scott is a former elementary teacher. Dave was an architect, who has designs all over the Louisiana skyline, including ones for the rebuilding effort. Rich was previously a journalist. The group originally came together to write songs for their own children (Smitty is the only non-parent of the group), and to "brainstorm" a new kind of kids program for local television. They were so popular locally, that they popped up on Disney's radar. However, even now that they are a Disney product, they still made a point to film exclusively in their hometown of New Orleans. They were even given the honor of singing the National Anthem at several of the Saints football games.

They definitely take the time to thank their fans, and acknowledge that they wouldn't be where they are without them. Their Facebook page is always packed full of behind the scenes pictures and videos for the fans. During the concert, each of them took the time to come out to the audience and give kids high fives and head pats (my son got both from Scott!). They also have a website with information on upcoming tours, merchandise, band info, pictures, a fan club, and more. I think it's neat that they behave more like a band than kids television stars, as it gives kids their own rock idols without parents having to worry about what messages they take away from the music they're listening to.

What your child learns:
  • Problem solving: How to think a problem through, coming up with solutions, and implementing ideas.
  • Music education: Singing along, different musical styles, dancing.
  • Social and Emotional Development: Being a good friend and neighbor, caring for animals and the environment, feelings and emotions.
  • Health: Eating healthy foods, exercising, going outside to play, using your body.
This show has a much more broad demographic than other kids shows. With the musical overlay, it appeals to even young infants. In fact, for a few months of initial teething, Imagination Movers was the only thing that would calm my son down as a fussy baby. The problem solving aspect can range from early preschool years all the way into the elementary years. The music itself is perfect for any age (as even I rock out to it on occasion). 

While education isn't the main focus of the program, there are lessons hidden in the fun antics of the Movers and their music. I think this delivery makes learning more fun for kids, because as the Movers remind us, having fun is part of learning, and you learn more when you're having a blast doing it. As a parent, the Movers know from personal experience just how annoying some kids music is, and they work hard to make their music fun and enjoyable for us too. I adore them (and have a little bit of a mom-crush on Scott and Smitty, haha) and my son loves dancing to their songs. What more could a parent ask for? Rock on!

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