Dora the Explorer is strangely engaging

Remember that cousin I mentioned a while back, the one who was tickled so hard she peed? Well, I babysat her a few days ago, and we had a great time. Mostly, she just wanted me to lie down and then stand up while she walked me around the house before making me lie down again. It went kind of like this:

Okay, nap time’s over.

“Really? Okay, what do you want me to do.”

Get up.” Then she grabs my hand and we take a short walk. “Okay, come back.

“Whatever you say, boss.” Then she’d grab a blanket, make me lie down on a cushion, cover me with the blanket, and watch me sleep for about 30 seconds before rinsing and repeating the whole process.

We did that for 2 hours.

TWO.

HOURS.

Before my 17 naptimes, we popped in a Dora the Explorer Christmas DVD, and I sat through my first episode of this series that has captured the minds of toddlers worldwide. And I don’t know what this says about me… but I got kind of in to it. Here’s my understanding:

Dora

Dora is a little girl with no parents, and she lives in the woods with a bunch of animals. Either she’s crazy and everything that happens happens in her head, or they’re magic talking animals with peculiar tastes in fashion. The skeptic in me leans towards “crazy”, but the giant red chicken kind of tips the scale the other way. We’ll go with “magic”. (For now…)

Boots

Dora’s best friend is a monkey named Boots. Boots wears boots, and has done one of three things to the tip of his tail:

1.) sucked all the fur off it

2.) lost the tip of it and replaced it with a prosthetic banana that responds to his thoughts

3.) dyed it blond during his rebellious phase and it’s never grown out

I leave the conclusion up to you, since they didn’t cover it on the DVD.

The Guys

The Guys aren’t all guys. I think the green thing is some kind of lizard, and also a girl: you can tell by her eyelashes (which she totally shouldn’t have since she’s a LIZARD, but whatever). The purple thing is some kind of tree-dwelling beaver that only speaks Spanish, Babe the blue bull sounds like a 30-year smoker, and the chicken a gentle giant that the others tolerate because he could probably kill them all.

The Equipment

Dora has a magic backpack that can talk and is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and a map that shows the location of anything she needs to find (kind of like Jack Sparrow’s compass). Both of these items are completely priceless, and they’re owned by a toddler in the woods.

The Villain

Swiper is a fox with a Zorro mask (which is brilliant because “Zorro” means “fox”, something that’s completely lost on their core viewership, but I loved) who is also a kleptomaniac. My understanding is that when he shows up he’s going to try and steal some of your crap, and the only way to stop him is to yell at him.

What gets me is that no one gets angry or tries to punish him except Santa Claus, and the only punishment there is that he’s not getting any presents. This punishment is not brought on by his rampant, decade-long stealing-spree, but because he was “swiping on Christmas”. This offense the Big Red Cheese will not tolerate, so he puts the guy on the naughty list.

The Adventure

With Swiper on the naughty list, Dora offers to help him get OFF the naughty list by teaching him the true meaning of Christmas. And the only way to do that? TIME TRAVEL.

This show just gets better and better.

Time travel can only be achieved with magic capes owned by the Grumpy Old Troll Who Lives Under The Bridge.

The GOTWLUTB
(cause I’m not typing that again)

He’s willing to provide the capes, but only if they answer some riddles: he shows them outlines of Christmassy things (Rudolph, Frosty, Santa), offers some clues, and if they answer correctly, then the power of time travel is theirs.

That… just strikes me as incredibly irresponsible. The guardian of time travel is a homeless, two-foot-tall bearded koosh ball?

“I can hardly believe it myself!”

Anyway, they go to the past and the future, see the origins of Swiper’s kleptomania and the results of him staying on the naughty list, before returning to the present… and then the kid lost interest, so I have no idea how it ends.

The setup was interesting, the characters aren’t very deep but they’re brightly colored and strange enough for me to develop my own backstory for them so I don’t notice, and it pressures you to get involved by providing awkward silences that you feel the need to fill by yelling at the screen.

If I were 3, this show would be like cocaine.

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