Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Image Courtesy Disney Junior©
Peter Pan fans, this is a show for you! Jake and the Neverland Pirates is one of Disney Junior's new programs, their first after the switch from the Playhouse Disney setup. Jake and his pirate friends sail around the seas of Neverland solving "Pirate Problems" and collecting gold dubloons for their efforts, and learn some great little lessons along the way. Disney has dreamed up new characters to inhabit the Neverland world that Peter and Wendy loved so dearly.

The main cast consists of (from right to left) Jake, Izzy, Cubby, and Skully the parrot, along with Captain Hook, Smee, and that croc with the ticking clock in his belly. Fun fact: Skully the parrot is voiced by David Arquette (as in used-to-be-married-to-Courteney-Cox David Arquette). Each of the members of Jake's crew has a special pirate piece of equipment: Jake has his trusty wooden sword from Peter Pan himself, Izzy has a pouch of pixie dust--which she reminds viewers is special and only for emergencies--given to her by the fairies of Neverland, and Cubby has a special map of Neverland.

Each episode begins with Jake and his crew asking the viewer to say the Pirate Password, "Yo ho ho!". Any little pirate in your home will happily oblige, I'm sure. The program has other instances of question-answer format, in which the characters ask the viewer a question and pause for a response. Some of their pauses are a little long for a parent's taste, but kids will love being able to shout out their answers at the television. At the end of each episode, the crew sings a song about counting the dubloons they found during the program, and encourage the kids to count along with them to put them in their treasure chest. It's Disney, and in typical Disney fashion, there is a lot of singing--some done by the characters on the show, and some done by two live-action guys in pirate outfits (akin to those on Captain Hook's crew, and oddly enough, they bear a striking resemblance). The songs are catchy and, above all, short. Any parent will like that!

In this program, Captain Hook isn't nearly as despicable as he is in the Pan films, but he does still have a naughty streak about him. He likes to take things from Jake and the crew. There are lots of misunderstandings between the two crews that make for fun viewing. Hook is slightly more demanding in this program too, although he always was the egotistical leader in the Pan films. Many times, the two crews meet up and work together to solve big problems (such as finding Mr. Smee's pet chameleon Blinky).

Jake and the Neverland Pirates airs on both the Disney Junior channel and the regular Disney channel during their Disney Junior block of programming. These channels are available through cable and satellite providers, so please check your local listings for channel numbers and airing times. There are also episodes on Disney Junior On Demand, and a "full length" (hour long) feature available on DVD in which Peter Pan returns to Neverland. 

What your child learns:
  • Logic: Solving problems using given information, answering questions. 
  • Counting: Counting dubloons to put in the treasure chest.
  • Social and Emotional Development: Being helpful, being a good friend, sharing, and being kind to others.
As a parent watching, you might find amusement in the antics of Smee and Captain Hook, and the animation is adorable. It has enough cartoonish humor to keep you from being too annoyed. There are also lots of cute catchy songs to sing along with, and it's always fun to encourage your child to help the characters solve problems. The program doesn't tout itself as being overtly educational, but your child won't walk away empty handed for certain. It also doesn't come off as preachy, which is important for keeping the kiddos' attention.

Age ranges for this program are going to be from early preschool years through about second or third grade, maybe longer if your child is a pirate fanatic. Younger toddlers will probably enjoy the bright happy characters and the music as well.

Image Courtesy Disney Junior©
Now, something fun I get to do with this post is talk about their upcoming Mother's Day special and share some exclusive previews! Captain Hook's mother, Mama Hook, pays the Captain and his crew a visit. Fun fact: Mama Hook is voiced by none other than Sharon Osbourne. (I think she is downright perfect for the part. Heck, she's had to deal with Ozzy's shenanigans for easily three decades now, I think she could easily handle a self-absorbed pirate!) Another fun fact... apparently we get to learn the Captain's full name...

Leave it to a mother to "full name" her son in front of his entire pirate crew! Of course, good old Hook doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact that his crew is snickering behind his back.

Image Courtesy Disney Junior©
During this episode, Mama Hook finds out that her son isn't being very nice to Jake and his friends, and "teaches him a lesson about sharing."

This episode is perfect for sitting down with Mom and Grandma to learn a lesson about being kind, and show kids that you're never too old or too important to love your mom! This special episode will air during Disney Junior's Mother's Day weekend, on Saturday, May 12th at 8:30 Eastern and Pacific times. Be sure to set your DVRs for this one, folks!

And of course, Happy Mother's Day to all my mommy readers! To celebrate, claim the remote this weekend, and watch what YOU want. :)

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