By Liz Shannon Miller
It’s hard to know exactly how to review a children’s program when you’re an adult. There’s plenty of quality kids programming out there in the world, but the stuff that has grown-up appeal might be not really be suitable for the truly young, and vice versa.
However, when I was in the target demographic for “Doozers,” Hulu’s first original programming for youths (all those millennia ago), I did happen to be a very big fan of “Fraggle Rock,” the Henson Company-produced series which originally introduced doozers. I don’t remember “Fraggle Rock” well (it was, after all, all those millennia ago) but the residual fondness lingers.
It’s never really established what, exactly, doozers are, but according to Wikipedia, they’re “pudgy green ant-like… anti-Fraggles; their lives are dedicated to work and industry.” So while the four primary Doozers — Spike, Flex, Molly and Daisy, known as the “Pod Squad” — are technically just kids, they’re still eager to help out adults by building projects and solving mysteries.
The first seven episodes, which debuted last month, run about 12 minutes each (which is in line with a lot of children’s programming these days). And in a move I fully approve of, Hulu has made “Doozers” available commercial-free (as part of its Hulu Kids hub), saving young people from yet another ad for Capital One Insurance.
“Doozers” doesn’t quite have the personality of Netflix’s “Turbo FAST,” which also adapts a pre-existing property for an original digital kids’ series, but features a unique visual look that helps it stand out. “Doozers,” by contrast, is production-wise on par with other animated programming, but its 3D CGI style is a bit generic.
However, “Doozers”’s biggest challenge — to incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts into preschool-appropriate stories — doesn’t get in the way of it being pretty entertaining. The jokes could be slightly sharper and the pacing could be slightly tighter — but for its target demographic, “Doozers” probably plays at exactly the right tempo.
And the charms of the show are hard to deny. “We’ll need creativity/In Doozer Creek ideas are key,” the opening theme promises. “Let’s have fun, let’s create,” goes another song from the second episode. There are a lot of songs, in general. The young Doozers all sound like actual young people. And one of them has a jet pack. It’s hard to go wrong with a jet pack.
It might not be a perfect example of children’s entertainment, even in comparison to the original “Fraggle Rock” (which, let’s remember, is millennia old). But it’s cute. So let’s not hold its lack of puppets against it.