Martha Speaks/Sid the Science Kid



Airdate: 7-9 a.m.; 9-11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1;

PBS has outdone itself with two new animated kids series, "Martha Speaks" and "Sid the Science Kid," both of which help jump-start very young kids' imaginations and transport them to a wondrous place.

It's for sure not the real world, but who needs that when you're still in preschool? The landscape belonging to Martha and Sid is a delicious, colorful and very inviting world to inhabit. What a great start for young minds.

The two follow each other in PBS' morning lineup. "Martha Speaks" is up first, premiering at 7 a.m. Monday with four episodes, then moving to its regular daily 8 a.m. spot. Martha happens to be a friendly dog who by chance eats a bowl of alphabet soup, which then uncannily goes to her brain before it reaches her stomach. These letters enchant Martha, and she begins speaking English to her tightly knit family of humans.

"Martha's" animation is colorful and perky, just like Martha and the family home she inhabits. Each episode features two 11-minute stories that are kid-friendly galore and introduce kids to fantasy and fiction as well as a tempered reality (life is not this colorful, no matter how much we want to believe). "Martha" is a great start for young kids sitting in front of the tube.

"Sid the Science Kid" is nothing short of enchanting; a feast both for the eyes and for the imagination. Premiering from 9-11 a.m. Monday, it then takes up residence daily at 9 a.m., a half-hour after "Martha Speaks."

"Sid" is an extraordinary series, not only for the fabulous look of its computer-generated action but for the way it feeds kids' minds. Sprouting from the Jim Hensen Co., "Sid" just assumes that kids want to learn about everything in the universe (and more than likely, they do) and just takes off from there.

Sid the kid wants to know how a roly-poly potato bug moves (and every other creature, for that matter), and his dad tells him a bit of information. Then him mom goes on the computer with him, and Sid takes his questioning mind to preschool, where it seems every other kid there has the same thirst for knowledge (not to mention the same dance moves).

Again, the real world this clearly is not, but it's a world of color and creativity for young viewers. Both Sid and Martha give preschool kids great gifts -- and so early in the morning.

Production: "Martha Speaks: WGBH Boston and Studio B Prods.; "Sid the Science Kid: The Jim Henson Co. Voices: Tabitha St. Germain, Vanessa Tomasino, Madeleine Peters, Nicole Oliver. Producer: Sarah Wall. Co-director: Colleen Holub. Based on the "Martha" books by: Susan Meddaugh. Head writer: Ken Scarborough.

"Sid the Science Kid": Executive producers: Lisa Henson, Brian Henson, Halle Stanford, Bradley Zweig, Joyce Campbell. Puppeteers: Drew Massey, Alice Dinnean Vernon, Julianne Buescher, Victor Yerrid, Donna Kimball, Kristin Charney. Producers: Chris Plouride. Directors: Katy Garretson, Dean Gordon, Dvid Gumpel, Brian Henson, Hugh Martin, Allan Trautman.