Now that "JoJo's Circus" has stopped airing new episodes on a regular basis, "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends" is the best children's-animated series out there still regularly putting out new episodes. This program (which is worked on by many of the cast and crew of programs such as "Franklin" and "Little Bear") is a CGI-animated tour-de-force that also features wonderful vocal and instrumental music, strong story lines and wonderful characters.
The world of "Miss Spider" is populated mainly by bugs. Miss Spider and Holley are the proud parents of a number of spiderlings and three adoptees --- Dragon the dragonfly, Shimmer the jewel beetle and Bounce the bedbug. Each character brings something wonderful to the party. Squirt is adventurous, fun-loving and helpful. Wiggle is creative, but sometimes nervous and shy. Spinner is very intellectual, but likes having fun as well. Pansy and Snowdrop are twins, but with different personalities. Shimmer is a bright pink, kindly jewel-beetle who is also rather sporty. Dragon can be a bit mean at times, but the others admire his toughness and he's usually a nice addition to the group. Finally, Bounce is very energetic, speaks with a Spanish accent (masterfully performed by Julie Lemieux) and likes to eat a lot. And then there's Miss Spider --- always kindly, always patient and full of wisdom and Holley --- very musical, still learning how to be a good parent, and always fair.
This show has a wonderful supporting guest cast as well, including Ted and Ned (the laziest ants you'll ever meet), Beetrice the Queen Bee, Grandma Betty Beetle (Miss Spider's adoptive Mom), Uncle Gus and many more.
This show explores all kinds of stories, from being afraid of sounds at night, to wanting to find one's true family. As I mentioned --- not all the characters are bugs --- there's a frog character in later episodes named Felix and a Snake that sometimes incites fear in the bugs.
My review wouldn't be complete without a mention of the late, great Tony Jay, who provided the voice of Spiderus. Just recently, what I can only assume must be one of his last episodes premiered on Treehouse TV. His vocal presence added a lot to the series and he will be missed.
"Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends" is a Gemini-award-winning series that shouldn't be passed by, although unfortunately a lot of people are doing just that. Currently, new episodes are only being shown in Canada --- Nick Jr. does not air the program at this time and Noggin is only playing the first season. Fortunately, more episodes are being released on DVD. One can only hope that both Noggin and Nick Jr. will get on the ball, and soon.
Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends is a computer-animated television series that is based on the beloved books by David Kirk. The program is geared to little ones from say 2 to 5. Each episode follows the diverse bug family through the wooded area they inhabit called Sunny Patch. Miss Spider (Kristin Davis from Sex and the City) is a kind, and generous spider who’s married to Holley Spider. The couple adopts several bugs to be apart of their family, and together they learn valuable lessons.
The Spider’s are a family of 10 bugs who live in a hollow tree called the Cozy Hole. There isn’t a central character, but many of the episodes revolve around Squirt, the curious, middle child. Dragon is the oldest sibling. He’s a fun-loving dragonfly, yet a bit braggadocios. Shimmer is a thoughtful jewel beetle, and helps Miss Spider with her younger siblings. Bounce is an exuberant bedbug who’s always ready for fun, and adventure. Spinner is classified as the geek of the family. He wears glasses, and plays the fiddle just like his dad. Wiggle is the vulnerable child, and often needs coaxing. Pansy and Snowdrop are the youngest of the Spider family. They are twins, but are polar opposites. Pansy is very outgoing, and a natural athlete, while Snowdrop is shy, and excels in academics.
In addition to the Spider family, many bug friends share Sunny Patch: Ted and Ned the ant brothers, Spiderus and Spindella their spider neighbors, Eunice Earwig, Lily Ladybug, Beetrice the queen bee, and Mr. Mantis to name a few.
My son and I were pleased to discover the new animated series, which gave us a respite from the Backyardigans continual repeats. The first thing I noticed about the show was the phenomenal animation. The colors are vivid, and the pictures burst off the screen. It’s 3D animation. Next, was the adorable theme song. It’s so cute, I can’t get it out of my head. Some classify Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends as educational programming, but I wouldn’t. Albeit the show doesn’t teach the alphabet, or numbers, it does have merit. The primary focus of each episode is to teach a life lesson. Most of the lessons promote acceptance, discuss forgiveness, or persuades children to be responsible to themselves, to others, and to their environment. The show also teaches interesting facts about insects, and it encourages children to be attentive to the bug kingdom.
Unlike some of the super hero programming today, my son actually relates to this show. It’s sweet, and simple, and although he can’t "surf a web" like Squirt, he understands the premise. For instance, in the Marin Rose installment, Shimmer convinces their selfish neighbor, Spiderus, to give his wife seeds from a rose rather than picking the rose. Flower gardening is a passion of mine, and together William and I spend a lot of time working, and watering the soil. My son respects plants, and instantly connected the points of the show.
In addition, one, or both of the adult Spider’s are ever present. Contrary to the very popular kid’s show Dora the Explorer, where we continually see kids in perilous situations without adult supervision. Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends doesn’t talk down to kids either. The program isn’t formatted like the excellent HBO Family show, Crashbox, or says the PBS series, Between the Lions, but the writers don’t have a problem working in bug facts like earwigs are nocturnal incest’s. William’s favorite character is Bounce the bedbug. Bounce is the joker of the family, and usually gets most of the laughs. He’s a vivacious little bug who’s usually clowning around. I understand why he finds the blue bug so irresistible.
If I were to rate each episode from 1 (avoid it) to 10 (excellent), I’d probably rate most of the shows in the 9ish area. The show does plenty of things right.
● It’s bright, and fun to watch
● It incorporates musical bits
● The themes are full of valuable lessons
● Interesting bug facts
● Adult supervision is present, and
● It doesn’t talk down to kids
The bug themes are original, and witty. I’m continually amused by the writing, and marvel how they incorporate everyday subjects into the buggy world. All in all, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends is a terrific show.
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