NBC: Network TV Gets Smart for Kids

Like many parents of young children, I prefer my kids to get something edifying from the television shows they watch. But I also understand the basic human need for mindless entertainment every now and then, which is why I’m not a stickler about them viewing purely educational programming. My kids are allowed to tune in to the silly action stuff, too—which is what I thought they were doing a few Saturdays back. While channel surfing, looking for something they could watch, we caught a glimpse of some animated spaceships and aliens on NBC. The show was Zula Patrol, and as this was network TV, I assumed those E.T.s would soon be involved in explosions and underwear jokes.

The plot had something to do with a villainess who wanted to use frogs to control the planet Zula, and the squad of heroes needed to stop her. So far, no surprises. Then, suddenly, the good guys are looking up—and explaining to the audience—factual data about the life cycles of frogs. This was educational TV! I double-checked to make sure we weren’t actually watching PBS or one of the good-for-you cable networks, but no. Another episode of Zula had the patrol discovering a bad guys secret hideout by studying facts about ecosystems. I never saw the aliens blast anybody with a laser; I heard no reverberating belches. And my kids were riveted.

This has completely changed my understanding of network children’s television.

If you kids want more Zula Patrol, check out ZulaWorld.com. In Zula’s unique, intera universe, kids can create their own avatar, fly their own spaceship, and discover for themselves that when it comes to science, exploring is never boring.

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