Thursday, June 2, 2016

We end up liking Shimmer and Shine, despite ourselves

Last August, Nick Jr. gave us Shimmer and Shine, a cartoon about two genies in training and the hijinks they got into. When we first watched it, neither my wife or I cared for it. However, sporadically watching it, the show grew on us.

The show is as formulaic as an algebra class. Leah and her goofy friend Zack try to do something and fail. She summons up Shimmer and Shine, her genii friends who grant her three wishes a day, to solve the problem. Shimmer and Shine, misunderstanding her wishes, make things worse while hiding from Zack. Finally, out of the wreckage of the wishes, they work things out.

Part of our issues with the show are the characters Leah and Zack. Not only are they two children who seem to live alone in their own homes, Zack is a space cadet only loosely connected to reality and Leah fails to show any realistic reaction to Shimmer and Shine messing up. 

The moral of the show is not that it's okay to make mistakes or everyone makes mistakes but that you can your mistakes work out for the best. That does beat teaching kids about giving up and quitting as a moral but I don't think it's the best lesson.

In actuality, it's the genies that we have to enjoy about the show. They are more developed and realistic characters. Their relationship as sisters and pet owners with a mischievous monkey and tiger cub creates an actual dynamic, as opposed to Leah and Zack's flat and empty lives.

As a gamer and fantasy reader, I also enjoy the vague but fairly consistent laws that define their magic. The genies have vast reality warping powers that are limited more by their understanding than anything else. (Which is why two thirds of their mistakes come from culture shock) They are only allowed to do three things per day for Leah who holds their bottle but they are able to do just about anything they want of their own volition.

Okay, they seem to basically have the same restrictions as the a Robin Williams genii.

According to Wikipedia, Shimmer and Shine has had very high ratings, so apparently other folks took to it faster than we did and watch it a lot more regularly. A new season has been announced that looks to be shaking just about everything  up.

For one thing, the new season will be in CGI, completely changing the look. It also appears we will have Leah and Zack ending up in the genies' dimension, having adventures there. New characters will be added, including the princess of the genies and an antagonist. In other words, it looks to be nothing like the first season.

I'm quite curious to see how this goes. On the one hand, it definitely livens everything up. On the other hand, wow, doesn't it break every series was built around.

If nothing else, I got to give the creators credit for being so brave.

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