Sunday, March 12, 2006

MY NAME IS SAL, AND I’M ADDICTED TO LAZYTOWN.


I suppose it’s strange that a thirty-eight year old man and his three year old daughter have the same favorite TV show. But that’s the case in my house. And the TV show is...LazyTown!

Spain’s Playhouse Disney channel started broadcasting LazyTown last year, and Inés and I were immediately hooked.

LazyTown’s central premise is encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles—with particular emphasis on exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, tooth brushing (“Twenty times up; twenty times down...”) and getting lots of sleep (“8:08...time for bed”). This may not seem revolutionary on its face, but the first time you watch LazyTown...you’ll immediately notice that it’s no ordinary kiddie show.

No other show looks like LazyTown. It uses a seamless mixture of live actors, puppets and computer generated images (CGI). The set design is funkalicious. None of the props have straight lines or right-angles—so things like buildings, furniture and picture frames look like they’re being slowly sucked into a black hole. The color scheme is big, bold and primary. The show has that distinct Yellow Submarine feel to it. Yellow Submarine, that is, with an extra hit of brown acid.

No other show sounds like LazyTown. Some of the actors have odd accents and, at times, use odd sentence structures. This drove me nuts during the first episode. I just couldn’t place the accent. So I carefully read the closing credits, and got my answer—LazyTown is filmed in...are you ready for this?...Iceland (for God’s sake!)!

LazyTown also has amazing song and dance numbers—full of tight choreography and funky, complex camera angles. And the songs are very, very sticky on the brain. The song “You are a Pirate” has been playing in my head for the past six hours. I’m sure that I’ll be labelled a dork for admitting this, but...I actually have several LazyTown songs downloaded into my iPod. Why do you think I run so much?

I don’t know how much it costs to produce an episode of LazyTown, but it must be a fortune. And since you’ll all be programming TiVo to record all LazyTown episodes from this day forward (screw the The Sopranos!), let me give you a quick rundown on the cast of characters:

SPORTACUS: He is a super hero who comes from an island in the North Sea. He lives in a red, white and blue “airship” (i.e., blimp) that runs on pedal-power. Sportacus is so full of energy that he makes Iggy Pop seem like Abe Vigoda. He jumps, cartwheels, handsprings and flips through the air instead of walking. He does one-armed push-ups for relaxation. He has a crystal on his chest that beeps whenever “Someone’s in trouble!” Then he flips across town and saves the day. Sportacus gets his energy from two things: plenty of sleep, and plenty of “sports candy” (i.e., fruits and vegetables). The actor who plays Sportacus is actually a world-class athlete. He was the two-time aerobics champion of Europe. And believe it or not, the bastard is in his forties. There must be something to that sports candy stuff.

STEPHANIE: She is the mayor’s niece, and is visiting LazyTown for the summer. She has pink hair and sings most of the songs. The actress was in the Broadway production of Oklahoma, and it shows.

PIXEL: He is a rasta-kid who is only interested in computers and playing video games.

ZIGGY: He is the youngest kid, and is only interested in eating candy.

STINGY: He is the selfish rich kid that doesn’t like to share. His favorite line is, “It’s mine.”

TRIXIE: She is the little girl who looks like Bjork with three ponytails. Trixie is the prankster; always playing practical jokes on others.

MAYOR MILFORD MEANSWELL: He’s the mayor of LazyTown, and Stephanie’s uncle. He is a good-natured boob. His overbearing secretary/girlfriend leads him around by the nosering.

MISS BUSYBODY: The mayor’s overbearing secretary/girlfriend. She’s bossy, self-absorbed and spends half her life gossiping on the telephone.

ROBBY ROTTEN: My personal favorite. Robby is the laziest man in LazyTown. He lives in a dark, dusty factory under ground. He wants LazyTown to be the laziest town on the planet...which it was before Sportacus and Stephanie arrived. He especially wants the kids to stop playing and eating healthy foods. Why? Because energetic kids are noisy kids. Robby only wants peace and quiet so he can take naps on his fuzzy pink lounge chair. The actor who plays him is a comic genius. Reviewers often call him "the Jim Carrey of Iceland."


Anyway...each episode usually involves Robby Rotten undertaking some crafty plot to make LazyTown lazy again and banish Sportacus forever. His plans are usually incredibly elaborate and involve his wearing disguises. Robby inevitably makes some headway (often by tricking one of the kids into doing something naughty or unhealthy), but then Sportacus saves the day, the kids learn an important lesson, and then everyone sings and dances a number.

I never thought I'd say this, but...I like LazyTown even more than Teletubbies. And I loooove Teletubbies. But that's a post for another day.

18 Comments:

At 11:14 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Thank you for the Lazytown news, I could have benefitted from that show but please Sal, don't write on the Teletubbies ... or warn me and I'll avert my cyber-eyes ;)

Did you ever consider how incredibly difficult a dyslexic person would find the word verification thingy? I think about it sometimes ...

 
At 12:07 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Lady Di:

A glass of single-malt whisky.
A pair of slippers.
A little incense.
A three or four flickering candles.
A thin layer of vegemite on buttered bread.
And Teletubbies on the TV screen.

How could you possibly top that?

Sal

 
At 1:03 AM, Blogger traveller one said...

Wow Sal... you're a talented writer! I'll be back :)
Kim (expat in Albania)

 
At 3:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LazyTown is now a favorite in the van and at home, thanks to my niece! We, of course, have the soccer episode. Are there any others coming via Amazon.com???

Nina

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Perhaps Sal ... but an entire bottle of whisky might be completely necessary (and I'm not sure about Vegemite with whisky ... she thinks a little, who needs Vegemite anyway)

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

I cannot believe another "adult" likes lazytown! I'm so glad I read this post, my life is now complete, now that you have solved the mystery of their accents, It bugged me, iceland huh? I just found your blog, via mausi's blog..I'll be sure to keep reading:)
kim

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Lady Di: Mmmm...OK. You've convinced me. We'll skip the vegemite and get more whisky.

Kim (the one in Albania): I am amassing quite a collection of Canadian friends. Two more and I think I'll be eligible for honorary citizenship. You are, however, the only expat I know in Albania. And I thought I had it hard in Spain just because I can't easily find descent peanut butter. I'm interested to read more about your life there.

Kim (the one with a French husband): So...you've also fallen prey to the charms of LazyTown, eh? Easy to do. I suppose you also sing "Twenty times, twenty times down" when brushing your kids' teeth. If you should ever find yourself puzzled on a LazyTown trivia item, don't hesitate to ask. I'll be happy to answer, provided I'm not in a tattoo parlor getting Robby Rotten etched across my chest.

Nina: An Amazon.com package is on its way to Mom's house right now, but it contains no LazyTown. Why? Because since I gave Mia those LazyTown DVD's for Christmas, nobody has mentioned that she likes them. Or has even watched them. I assumed that they were tossed into the "I don't like" pile...right next to the Teletubbies DVD's that I gave her for her last birthday. I should've known better. Nobody can resist LazyTown.

 
At 9:43 PM, Blogger Angie said...

Hmm, just as I missed the entire province of Guadalajara while visiting Spain, somehow I also missed LazyTown. (In our casa, we were too busy watching Cuentame Como Paso or The Simpsons. But for the grace of God, NOT the Teletubbies!) I miss Cuentame, even though half the time I had no clue what was happening and my 10-year-old hermana had to explain the plot to me.

Gracias for your extensive list of names, by the way! Now I have to list you in the credits of my book. I'm narrowing down the new name selections and they'll be coming soon to a blog near you. (Well, you've heard that before.)

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Ang:

First, yes...you do have to list me in the credits of your book. Something short, yet mysterious. "To Sal...the one who named names."

As for LazyTown, you really can't blame your host family in Madrid because LazyTown wasn't on the air when you lived here. It has only arrived within the past year. However...I have good news. You can watch it in the US. It's on Noggin, and it's also on one of the 10,284 Nickelodeon channels.

And finally...I can't understand the widespread hostility toward Teletubbies. It's far and away the most surreal show on TV. Entire college dorm floors should be crowding around a television each time Teletubbies is on the air. It should be the official TV show of every bong-smoking frat house on campus. Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream ain't got nothin' on Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Lala and Po.

Sal

 
At 12:32 AM, Blogger jbrookins said...

Son and I are lazytown fans also. With all the junk on TV for kids its a nice change.

Although I must say it's gotten better in the last few years.

 
At 3:23 AM, Blogger Nyana said...

I am so glad a t.v. show for kids is actually pushing a healthy lifestyle. I live right across from a school myself, and usually am sitting on the porch when kids are leaving to go home.
All I see is chips and more chips, with kids yelling "I'm hungry" at the top of their voices. Most of them are overweight, if not boarderline obese. If parents aren't setting these kids right, perhaps television will! Nice one Sal!

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Tracie B. said...

if i have to get up to turn on the tv to watch lazy town, i'll just skip it. i think i'll have a nap...

jk :)

 
At 8:21 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hey JBrookins: Glad to see another adult guy joining me in the unofficial LazyTown fan club. It helps show the other readers that I'm not completely crazy. You're right in that there are some other good shows out there (e.g., Franklin, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Jojo's Circus), but none come close to LazyTown (IMOHO). Thanks for popping in.

Nyana: Believe it or not, Spain has the highest child obesity rate in Europe (or so I read a few months ago). And like your town, I watch the kids here march up and down the street snarfing potato chips and soda. Only it's worse. Once they hit 15 or so, they start binge drinking on weekend nights. Now THAT will really wreck a waistline. For some reason, however, the people in Madrid and Barcelona seem much thinner than the people living out of the city (like here). Haven't figured that one out yet.

Tracie B: Your comment is very Robby Rotten-esque. You don't have a fuzzy pink chair in your living room, do you? Hey...a Texas girl living in Naples? I went to Naples a few years ago. Great city, albeit in a rough-around-the-edges way. The neighborhood around the train station was a bit shocking in its anarchy, and the drivers are nuts. But the inner neighborhoods (can't remember the name) were fantastic. There was something to see on every block. And the pizza was life altering. I'll pay you any bribe you ask if you can get me the recipe of Naples pizza dough. You know, the soft, floppy kind that you can fold-over twice and then stuff into your mouth. Please!!!

Sal

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Tenerife Scribbler said...

... Opens door to find he is fashionably late, mingles into crowded room. Sees DDT in the corner, waxing it lyrical. Leans over to hear wise words. DDT (Don Dude Traglia) smoking a fat one and talking about his daughter's TV program and the 'bubs. T Scribbly hitches up his kaftan and squats down on the shagpile.
"Dude, remember the Magic Roundabout," he says as his eyes glaze over.

 
At 11:51 PM, Blogger christina said...

Hmmm. My kids used to watch LazyTown but I never paid that much attention. Maybe I should have. It's in German here though so we couldn't dig the Icelandic accents (I wonder if you have any Icelandic readers, Sal).

As for the Teletubbies: I'm still coveting Tinky-Winky's red handbag. And the pudding machine.

"Again, again!"

P.S. Seems like German kids are getting up there on the obesity scale too, unfortunately. Not mine, though - I eat the chips before they can get to them.

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Christina: Your kids may not be obese yet, but we might need to re-consider after that hamburger cake is finished.

T-Scribbly: "Magic Roundabout?" That one never made it to the US. I had to Google it to figure out what it was. Now that I know, I think I'd probably like it.

A glass of single-malt whisky.
A pair of slippers.
A little incense.
A three or four flickering candles.
A thin layer of vegemite on buttered bread.
And Magic Roundabout on the TV screen.

Really...it's all just a ruse to drink more single-malt whisky.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

While in Switzerland I got used to teletubbies in French. But when I hear it in English, I just can't stand it. Amazing how that is...

I just hope my kids don't grow up on tv...

And it's looking like Canada is moving up on that obesity scale too. I'm sure it has to do with fast food. In fact, they are claiming the french have a problem now too! (age 5 to 25 mostly)

 
At 6:52 AM, Anonymous IceBlizzard said...

I watched lazy town for 6 hours straight with my 2 girls today, hardly ever miss it.. love Magnus Scheving (Sportacus) only wish he weren't married, wish I weren't either. I actually cry because my husband is mean, a cheat, everything bad, and don't love kids nowhere near like sportacus or Robbie Rotten (Stefan Karl S) does.
Definetly am in fear of burning for wishing Sportacus was my man.
Julie

 

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