Animated show teaches healthy habits to kids
Many TV shows have dispassionate origins, recycling a well-worn format or piggybacking on a trend. But the roots of “Doc Mcstuffins,” an animated program for children ages 2 to 7, are downright maternal.
Chris Nee, creator of the series on the Disney Channel and the new 24-hour Disney Junior channel, wanted to ease her toddler son’s experience with doctors and hospitals after his asthma diagnosis.
“It was me as a mom, more than as a writer first, saying, ‘What can I do to make this better for him?’ ” Ms. Nee recalled.
The result is a fanciful, musicfilled show (“Wash Your Hands” is among the original songs) about Doc (voiced by Kiara Muhammad), a girl who converses with her stuffed animals and toys and treats their scratches, sniffles and whatever else ails them.
Doc and her pals share tips about staying healthy and offering care and compassion to others. The show also attempts to demystify what happens in a doctor’s office to make visits less scary for its audience.
Among those in the cast: Loretta Devine as a reliably competent plush hippo named Hallie. Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) is a guest star in the debut episode, voicing a jack-inthe-box dad who takes his son for a checkup.
Ms. Nee, who received a prestigious Humanitas Prize for an episode of Bill Cosby’s Daytime Emmy Award-winning “Little Bill,” said she intends “Doc Mcstuffins” to be spirited as well as heartfelt.
“It’s got a different flavor than usual in the [TV] preschool world,” she said, offering child-friendly humor with a touch of sophistication and bold characters that Ms. Nee said hearken back to those that she enjoyed on “Sesame Street” as a child.
There is, for instance, a snowman who’s a hypochondriac on the series (produced by Dublin-based Brown Bag Films and the Disney Channel).
“Kids love that character. They don’t understand the full implications, but they find it really funny,” said Ms. Nee, who sees value in aiming a bit over a young viewer’s head.
“We know kids are watching shows over and over again. Trying to create shows so that a kid gets every moment on the first viewing is shortchanging them.”
What does her muse, son Theodore, now 5, think of “Doc McStuffins”?
“He calls it his show. I’m at least trying to get him to use ‘ours,’ ” Mrs. Nee said. “American Idol.”
The 26-year-old disc jockey from South Kingstown, R.I., who dramatically chopped off her hair before Wednesday’s evening of Billy Joel tunes, was eliminated from the Fox singing contest. Miss Van Pelt didn’t persuade the show’s judges to rescue her from dismissal Thursday with a last-chance rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Believe In You and Me.”
“Ultimately, Ryan, no, sorry,” judge Randy Jackson told “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest when asked if she would be saved.
Miss Van Pelt, who pleased the panel Wednesday with her shorter, darker hairstyle and sultry interpretation of “New York State of Mind,” was revealed to be among the bottom three vote-getters alongside 17year-old vocal acrobat Deandre Brackensick of San Jose, Calif., and goofy 22-year-old nonprofit organizer Heejun Han of New York.
“Idol” mentor Jimmy Iovine lashed out at 21-year-old pawnshop worker Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Ga., for not following the advice of the show’s mentors for his performance. Mr. Iovine also admonished Mr. Han for his over-the-top take on “My Life.”
The new Disney Junior show “Doc Mcstuffins” is a music-filled program about a girl who provides medical treatment to her stuffed animals and other toys.