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Thursday, 1 February, 2007

I’ve become interested in a television program
not available in the States, produced in Spain for British companies.
It is inteded for an audience under age 10 and intensely charming. The
initial idea long ago was of a little boy and his rubber duckie having
imaginary adventures from the comfort of bed. Specifically referenced
influences include Calvin
& Hobbes, Little Nemo
and, especially considering
the rather stark world which they inhabit, Krazy Kat. Over
the course of three years it evolved into a core group of
gender-balanced characters in an environment which could become

A creator and director of the show keeps a blog where
he speaks of the issues faced through the evolution and production of
the program so far. Occasionally he writes of unanticipated issues with
regard to content. Among the problems addressed are the depiction of
These characters consume more cakes and such than healthy snacks, like
fruit. The
issue will be addressed in the coming season and thereafter. Both
before and during production, small issues like this have been ironed
out. Much text is dedicated to the issues of character design,
considering both aspects of the animation and what the character
communicates through their inherent physical nature.

However, I have a small problem which the producer’s blog has not yet
addressed. In the package of twelve episodes making their way through
the java-based video sites Pocoyo and his comrades encounter
technological devices which are temporarily mysterious. Some of these
devices are inappropriately anachronistic.

Pocoyo with Land Camera

In one such episode, Pocoyo
has a camera with which he takes photos of his friends and the few
objects in his world. You may note that the camera and its photos
appear to be similar to the Polaroid SX-70 system. This
program is intended for children under six years of age, although in
practice the show has a very broad audience. I cannot imagine a
Land-style camera being something which exists in the world of anyone
under twenty. Even if children grasp the idea of the device within the
context of Pocoyo’s world most of them will never encounter such a
thing. Introducing and exploring the idea of a camera appears to be an
important element of the episode, and the plot would not be possible if
it were another kind of camera. These cameras, for all purposes, no
longer exist.

This is the conception within this universe of a telephone.

CGI telephone

This telephone is of the
desktop variety, not unlike a Western Electric 500, and features
a rotary dial. I challege you to find a phone which looks anything like
this not available either as a cheap novelty or an antique. Indeed, the
only aspect of this phone which places it plausibly in the twenty-first
century is the cordless handset. The entire idea of “phone” is likely
to change dramatically by the time the intended audience enters high
school. That is, the idea will change from the desktop paradigm which
as I type is quickly becoming obscure into something which is an
evolutionary step above the personal, wireless communicator common
today. To introduce children to a completely foreign device borders on

How many people likely to encounter television are likely to encounter
a rotary telephone?

Do you know what this is? I’ll wait.

CGI radio

Pocoyo and his cohort Pato encounter this object and don’t know what to
make of it. Pocoyo slaps the front of it and it starts to play music,
thus causing the pair to panic and run away. It is a radio. The radio
is only present to initiate a sequence ultimately in celebration of
individuality. In short, it is acceptable that everyone dances in their
own way to their own music.

In Europe, with DAB and such, radio may prove to be long lived, unlike
America. The very existence of a radio set in this world is not my
issue. This thing in no way resembles a radio made after 1930. I
realize the need to model everything on a certain aesthetic, but this
looks more like a device native to this universe rather than something
which could exist in our world also. It certainly doesn’t look like a
radio. A generic radio should have its tuning mechanism off to one side
of a mostly rectangular box. This has been the style of proper table
radios since the 1930s and persists today.

From time to time the artistic types hit creative walls. At least one
of these guys works spends his head-clearing time working the Pocoyo
characters into classic photographs. Among the works posted on the blog
include a variation on Abbey
the central characters in the cockpit of the
Millenium Falcon, and the group present during an Apollo mission. One
of these photos allegedly depicts the taping of a very early episode. I
found this one interesting for other reasons.

Early TV taping

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