For the next two Sundays, local PBS station KCET sets out to show just what makes its children's programming fun and educational.
"It's really one of the toughest challenges of any TV producer, the concern for creating entertaining shows that kids will enjoy and yet give them a chance to explore and watch other people work out situations and learn from them," says Steve Kulczycki, KCET senior vice president.
One of the purposes of its Sunday Morning Showcase is to bring together parents and children. "We thought this was a great collection of shows for young children that would work well for the kids to watch with their parents," Kulczycki says.
The showcase offers two new shows, "Showstoppers From 'Barney Live! in New York City' " and the popular "Road Construction Ahead," previously available only on video. All other programs on the "Showcase" have aired in regular time slots but are shows KCET believes best demonstrate the station's quality programming.
"Road Construction Ahead" was originally taped by a father who found that his 2- , 3- , and 4-year-olds were enraptured by road construction and big road machines at work.
The new "Barney" show features excerpts from a concert by the popular purple dino at New York City's Music Hall.
Sunday's lineup includes Shalom Sesame: Alpha-Bet Television Discovering the Hebrew Letters, in which violinist Itzak Perlman appears (7 a.m.); Shalom Sesame: Kids Sing Israel (Grouches Don't) (7:30 a.m.); Showstoppers From 'Barney Live! in New York City' (8 a.m.); The Magic Schoolbus Plays Ball (9 a.m.); Road Construction Ahead (9:35 a.m.); Storytime with Hector Elizondo and Mara (10 a.m.), and Lamb Chop's Play Along (10:35 a.m.).
The Israeli television show "Shalom Sesame," which is an English adaptation of Israel's version of "Sesame Street," is designed to introduce American families to Israeli culture. It airs Sunday to celebrate the end of Hanukkah. The first episode features Jerry Stiller ("Seinfeld") and Perlman; the second offers Sarah Jessica Parker ("Honeymoon in Vegas").
On Dec. 11, "Sunday Morning Showcase" will feature Sesame Street (7 a.m.); Put Down the Duckey (8 a.m.); Barney & Friends (9 a.m.); Kids Love Trains (9:30 a.m.); Storytime (10 a.m.), and Lamb Chop's Play-Along (10:35 a.m.). \o7 For kids age\f7 s\o7 2 to 8 and their parents.\f7
More Family Shows
Smack in the middle of the season for angel visitations comes a show that's not actually holiday oriented, but definitely for the kids: "Magical Makeover," an ABC Afterschool Special (Thursday 3 p.m. ABC). It features "All-American Girl's" B.D. Wong as an angel named Johnny who's been sent to grant Christine's (Amy Hargreaves) wish to get attention from the school hunk (Mark Brettschneider).
Johnny arranges for Christine to awaken in a different incarnation every morning. One day she's a cheerleader, the next a heavy metal fan and, finally, a glamorous model. Despite Johnny's insistence that she'd be better off as herself, Christine's convinced that her new personas will work--until they begin to go awry. She's also not entirely ready for her feelings toward Johnny. Can you fall in love with an angel? \o7 For ages 8 and up.\f7
Sherman Hemsley guests as a bitter toy inventor on this week's Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman episode, "Season's Greedings" (Sunday 8 p.m. ABC). \o7 For ages 10 and up.\f7