Huh?! (The Upside Down Show Reviewed)


Okay, parents: if you come home from work, flip on your television set, and find that your settings have been completely mucked up, you might be able to blame the guys on the right. They are the stars of The Upside Down Show, an Australian television show imported into Canada by TVO Kids.

The Upside Down Show is a manic children’s program utilizing the talents of the duo who are otherwise known as the Umbilical Brothers, a noted physical comedy duo from down under (get the pun in the title?). They play “brothers” Shane and David, two complete innocents motivated by a sock puppet to do something they haven’t done before, including going to a movie theatre, visiting an airport, or travelling to the moon.

At the beginning of the show, either David or Shane hands the viewer an imaginary remote, through the TV set. The viewer is encouraged to participate by hitting various “buttons” to fast-forward or rewind certain events, turn out the lights or even, apparently, make the actors stumble. And that’s where I think potential for problems exist with the parents’ television remote. “Would you please press the Light button on your remote?” asks Shane. Hours later, parents come home, wondering why the colour balance on the television is kaput.

But watching Shane and David work makes one exhausted. I’m left to wonder how they get their energy. They don’t rewind themselves using video effects, it’s all acting. Routines materialize out of nowhere and are performed with reckless abandon. There are groan-worthy puns aplenty and it’s all performed at breakneck pace. The actors themselves are mesmerizing and seem to have an easy rapport with the young audience.

They certainly fascinated Vivian. Watching the show as an adult, I feel myself taking on an air of bewilderment, in the perfect frame of mind to be brought to hysterics by a well-timed joke. It’s almost as if The Upside-Down Show is an educational Monty Python for kids. Either way, I was entertained, and I believe that if you find a children’s show that appeals to adults and children alike, one must spread the word.

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