An­i­mated show teaches healthy habits to kids

The Washington Times Daily - - Television -

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.”

DIS­NEY JU­NIOR VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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