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Jewish World Review / Jan. 6, 2000 / 27 Teves, 5760

Evan Levine

'Amanda' has potential;
needs reworking

The Amanda Show
Nickelodeon, Saturday

The success of "The Amanda Show," a comedy-variety show, which airs as part of Nickelodeon's Saturday-night SNICK lineup, hinges entirely on one 13-year-old girl. Amanda Bynes is familiar to Nickelodeon audiences from her role on the series "All That," as well as other Nick specials, but here she's carrying a show pretty much solo. It's a lot to ask of anyone (unless you're Cher), and it remains to be seen whether she's up to the task. She does get some help from an ensemble cast of four actors, and the show also includes animation and an online component.

The show includes such recurring skits as "Judge Trudy," which focuses on a judge who always rules in favor of kids, and "Miss Elegance," a young woman who seems refined but is actually rather crass. "I would give it a four (out of 10)," decided Andrea, 10-1/2. "I liked `The Amanda Show' but the skits weren't funny. They need a better writer."

Amanda Bynes is certainly talented, and the characters she creates have an endearing goofiness and all-too-human flaws with which viewers can certainly identify.

Andrea said she would try logging on to the Web site that was supposedly created by Penelope Taynt, an obsessed fan of Amanda (whom Amanda plays on the series. Got that?)

But Andrea also added, "I thought `The Amanda Show' was going to be funny, like 'All That.' It wasn't! I think the series would improve if they had better material."

Ratings Scale: 1-10

(10 is the highest)

Appropriateness: 8 -- Another high-energy entry for preteens that definitely has potential. Humor: 7 -- Some of the humor doesn't work or feels strained, but kids might like the sassy, up-with-kids vein of humor that's prevalent.

Visuals: 6 -- A fun jolt of mixed media gives the series a hip feel.

Social Value: 6 -- A cheerful, creative entry for preteens, "Amanda" is a nice addition to the lineup. Believability: 6 -- The best skits are those that take familiar characters into unexpected territory -- it would be nice to see more of those.

Fun Factor: 6 -- Whether it's cool or not in the long run is up for grabs.

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century
FOX Kids, Mondays

Great characters from literature never die -- they just seem to pop up in alternate time zones or universes. The great sleuth Sherlock Holmes has now found his way to the 22nd century, with the help of Inspector Beth Lestrade of the New Scotland Yard and some advanced technology. He's joined by Dr. Watson, whose personality has been programmed into the brain of an android. Professor Moriarty has joined the proceedings as well, and he's as dastardly as ever. Each episode in the series has been inspired by actual cases in the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The series has the potential to be quite engrossing, although sometimes the line between the literary and the lowbrow is rather thin. If kids haven't read the original stories, or don't know much about the stories beyond Holmes' name, some of the potential is lost, and at times, the futuristic threatens to overtake the classic.

Still, the summation of Steven, 15, may prove correct: "Overall," he decided, "the show is very entertaining. It has the classic sleuthing aspect with a futuristic twist."

Ratings Scale: 1-10

(10 is the highest)

Appropriateness: 6 -- The futuristic and the traditional don't always meld gracefully, but when they do, the series has appeal for kids 8 and up.

Humor: 6 -- Inklings of Holmes' dry wit do pop up.

Visuals: 7 -- Better-than-average animation helps give the series a sometimes-sophisticated edge; the backgrounds, especially, look great.

Social Value: 7 -- An educator's guide is being created to complement the series; if the aspects of critical thinking and problems solving are played up, it could be a real boon, both in the classroom and at home. Believability: 6 -- It's sometimes hard to reconcile the forward-looking with the classic, and at times, the characters seem like mere shadows of their real literary selves.

Fun Factor: 7 -- Kids may enjoy the mystery-solving aspect; best of all, they may be intrigued enough to look up the original books at some point.

Evan Levine is the author of "Kids Pick the Best Videos for Kids."


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