Review: ‘Storytime’

In today's juvenile world of immediate gratification and easy-to-swallow entertainment, it's fortunate there's an oasis like KCET's "Storytime." Hollywood celebs are plopped in front of fidgeting preschoolers and their puppet friend, Kino, to read children's books. What happens is an easy introduction to books for both kids and parents.

In today’s juvenile world of immediate gratification and easy-to-swallow entertainment, it’s fortunate there’s an oasis like KCET’s “Storytime.” Hollywood celebs are plopped in front of fidgeting preschoolers and their puppet friend, Kino, to read children’s books. What happens is an easy introduction to books for both kids and parents.

Ideal viewer age is 3-7; any younger and it will be a difficult 30-minute sitting. This is not home-alone watching for Junior: parents are implored to watch along. Most children’s books are not pabulum and deal with subjects that create questions.

Pretensions are checked at KCET’s studio door in the skein, especially in the season’s bow with John Goodman.

Reading “Little Polar Bear” by Hans de Beer, Goodman brings the book to life with inflection and friendliness. Other readers lined up for the season include Tom Selleck, Edward James Olmos, John Ritter, Valerie Bertinelli, Mariel Hemingway, Fred Savage, Wilford Brimley, Cindy Williams, Meshach Taylor and Jeff Altman.

Emcee of sorts is Mark Ritts’ Kino, a Muppet-like youngster who has celebrities wrapped around his orange finger.

Family entertainment is an overused and often inaccurate description of what’s supposed to be enriching programming, but producer Julio Moline and director Cordelia Stone have the reins on true family entertainment in “Storytime.”

Show airs five days a week on most PBS stations, but KCET is airing it seven days each week. Now the opportunity exists for parents of preschoolers to set their VCRs to assure 30 minutes of quality time daily.

Storytime

(Mon. (6), 9:30-10 a.m., KCET)

Production

Taped in L.A. by KCET/Los Angeles in association with the Corp. for Public Broadcasting. Executive producer, Patricia Kunkel; producer, Julio Moline; director, Cordelia Stone; writers, Moline, Patricia Kunkel, Mark Ritts; art director, John Retsek.

Crew

Music, John Nordstom II, Dick Hamilton.

Cast

Cast: Anne Betancourt, Marabina Jaimes, Mark Ritts.
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