Monday, September 25, 2006

Threat Watch: VeggieTales

The most mind warping words uttered to a child on Saturday morning cartoons?

Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much.

From the article:
The wildly popular VeggieTales kids videos about vegetables who talk and sing and act out Bible stories are being edited for their run on NBC's Saturday morning educational program time, and the network says it's because of time limits.

In a statement on the Broadcasting & Cable website, NBC said its edits of the kids' shows were focused on airtime limits only.

"VeggieTales was originally created for home video and, in most cases, each episode is over 30 minutes long. As it appears …. VeggieTales has been edited down for broadcast without losing any of its core messages about positive values," the network said.

Phil Vischer, the co-creator of the characters, said that comment was "interesting."

"As a guy deeply involved with the project, I know that statement is false," Vischer wrote on his own weblog. "We sent them our first episode for TV, which was already edited to EXACTLY the right length, and they rejected it because, at the end, Bob the Tomato said, 'Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much.' They demanded we remove that line. The show wasn't too long, it was too religious."

He said the second also was sent edited for perfect timing. The response from NBC was an e-mail with a list of lines that needed to be removed, "each of them containing either the word 'God' or 'Bible,'" Vischer wrote.

Vischer goes on to note in his blog:
As I mentioned before, for the past 4-5 years Discovery Kids has provided NBC's Saturday morning block. These shows earned a rating of between .5 and .7 on an average Saturday. So how did VeggieTales do on its first Saturday? How 'bout a .95 for you! That's about a million households tuning in! What's even more interesting is the fact that the show after VeggieTales fell to a .65, and then 3-2-1 Penguins came on and the rating popped right back up to .95 again! So Big Idea is "rocking the block!"

Will NBC notice?

Some folks are unhappy that Vischer and Big Idea are allowing NBC to edit the show. While it's regrettable, I don't think it's a big deal. Kids who like the cartoon are going to buy or rent the DVDs. They will see the whole show including the Bible verses. Parents are going to enjoy the show on TV because it is funny, filled with sly jokes and references for the adults who watch with their kids.

Update: The Cool kids have picked up the story.

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