Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blue's Clues

Today we will look at Blue's Clues. I'm actually a little ashamed of myself that I don't have this in my header. What was I thinking? Blue's Clues is another one of those children's television staples. It's been around for 15 years. Yeah, you read that number right. FIFTEEN. Feel old yet? No? The first preschoolers introduced to Blue's Clues are in college now... yeah, time to apply for your AARP card now, huh?

Blue's Clues is a cute little green-screen animated show about a puppy named Blue and her live-action friend Steve Joe. Blue will usually want her friend to figure something out, so she leaves paw print clues around the house to help him decipher what she wants. Then, Steve Joe will sit down in the "thinking chair" and consider the clues in various combinations until he gets the right one. Along the way, there are puzzles and problems galore to solve, and Steve Joe urges children to answer for themselves by asking questions and giving long pauses to give the children a chance to shout their answer at the television. The creators of the show said they were hoping for a game show sort of feel, but directed towards a preschool audience.

If you're not familiar with the program, you may be wondering why I seem to have a sort of Blue's Clues Turrets going on in this post. About halfway through the series, Steve (the character pictured at the start of the post with Blue the dog), played by Steven Burns, leaves the show. They did a nice transition from Steve to Joe (played by Donovan Patton and pictured just above in the orange shirt) for the kids, where Steve goes off to college and leaves his brother Joe to take care of Blue and his house. But us parents, we didn't want to let go nearly as easily. Some parents I know now actually were one of the Blue's Clues kids who grew up with the program. Blue will forever be Steve's dog to US.

Which team are YOU on?

Aside from the Steve/Joe issue, there are various other recurring characters on the show. Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper live in the kitchen, with children Paprika and Cinnamon (who were both added after Mrs. Pepper had a pregnancy, first Paprika and then Cinnamon, who remained a baby). There's Tickety the alarm clock, Side Table Drawer, who holds the "handy dandy notebook", Slippery the soap, Shovel and Pail who live outside in the backyard, and Mailbox who delivers the mail by stretching in on a scissor lift through the window after an awesome fanfare and a song from Steve/Joe. Periwinkle is a cat who lives next door to Blue, who used to live in the city. Blue also has friends from school, including Magenta (a pink dog), Green Puppy (take a guess), Purple Kangaroo, and Orange Kitten. I guess at some point in the naming process, they got tired of being creative.

Blue's Clues airs on Nick Jr. at various times throughout the day. Nick Jr. (formerly Noggin) is a cable/satellite channel, so check local listings for times and channels. There are also tons of DVD's (and VHS if anyone still has a functioning VCR and/or remembers what one is) available to rent or purchase, including a few full-length features. According to online sources, the show was officially ended in 2006, so all the episodes you see on television now are reruns. A spin off called "Blue's Room", where Blue is a puppet who actually talks instead of sing-song barks, was made briefly, but is also no longer being produced. (Thankfully, because as a Blue's Clues purist myself, talking Blue creeped me out.)

The lessons taught in this show are broad-ranging. Your child will likely never get bored with this program because there's a lot going on during each episode. As far as age ranges though, kindergarten is probably as far as this show will be interesting. Parents watching will likely either be bored out of their minds, or if you're like my husband or me, will be up doing the silly dances that Steve/Joe does and annoying your children.

What your child learns:
  • Mathematics: Shapes, counting, addition and subtraction, fractions, sorting, matching.
  • Social and Emotional Development: Caring for friends and neighbors, empathy, feelings, sharing, helping.
  • Art: How to draw specific objects, colors.
  • Critical Thinking: Problem solving, puzzles, finding clues and using them to figure something out.
  • Music: Fun songs, writing music (in the "Blue's Musical" episode), singing along.
Overall, it's a fun little educational show for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Parents may find their own reasons to love it, maybe they even grew up with it themselves, or they may just be glad it only has a 22 minute running time. If you need help loving it, here's a fun video of what Steven Burns is up to now (with Stephen Drozd of the Flaming Lips, from another Nick Jr. show "Jack's Big Music Show"), a song entitled "I Hog the Ground" about groundhogs.

Edited to add: I finally found an embed code again for Steve Burns' song! Score!

Steve Burns: I Hog the Ground

michelle | Myspace Video

(There was also a fun 19 minute podcast at The Moth back in October 2010 with Burns talking about being "fameish", which is like famous but not really... but apparently they don't archive more than seven months back, so it seems to have been erased from the internet. If anyone finds it, or has it downloaded somewhere, please feel free to share. It was epic.)

Edited to add: I FOUND THE MOTH INTERVIEW!!! (Insert Kermit The Frog flailing YAYYYY! here.)


  1. I like it because every once in a while Steve sneaks in a joke or semi-snarky comment that's totally for the adults watching.

    also, did you know that there are 3 pink snails hidden in every episode? you have to pay very close attention, sometimes they're not on screen very long. it's like a game within a game.

  2. No, I did NOT know that! I know what I'm doing every time it's on from now on! Is that true of the Joe episodes too?

  3. I'm totally going to try to talk James into watching Blues again (as opposed to the now constant Little Bear and occasional Dinosaur Train). I bet if I tell him that there are hidden snails he will jump on board!

  4. I'm not sure, I do't watch Joe. ;)

    I also like that they use sign language. more so in the later episodes, but it's there and used in a really natural way.