A beginner’s guide to: Zingzillas. AKA “Lost for Toddlers” #altbeebies

At first I found Zingzillas unnerving for no discernible reason, then my other half cracked the key problem: it’s  a programme where people have dressed up as monkeys who then dress up as people. That’s unsettling. Beyond that presentational issue, what else is going on?

The show is about music, and it does a pretty good job of introducing kids to a wide range of different musical genres through a simple narrative we find in every episode:
  1. The Zingzillas live on an unspecified Pacific island. They are trying to write a song for a concert called “the big zing” (stable world)
  2. One member of the band can’t find a way to contribute to the big zing (disruption)
  3. A guest band appear on the island and act as a magical donor, providing the Zingzillas with a new way of considering their problems
  4. The Big Zing happens, and all agree it’s the BEST ZING EVER! (order is restored, but the world is changed)
A crucial part of any Zingzillas plot is the “Coconut Clock” – a MacGuffin which creates tension in the story. Some unknown cosmic system dictates that the Big Zing must occur as soon as the Coconut Clock hits four. The Zingzillas will always perform for this clock, like Pavlov’s Popular Beat Combo, never questioning what would happen if they didn’t zing.

Pacific island? Castaways who meet enchanted visitors who help them to resolve conflicts? A bizarre existentialist problem about a countdown timer of unknown provenance?

If that sounds familiar it’s because I’ve just described seasons 1-2 of Lost. 

Zingzillas is Lost for babies. Let’s hope they keep zinging every 4 coconuts because I’m not sure if Desmond is going to come and hit the failsafe switch for them anytime soon – he’s too freaked out about the monkeys dressed as people thing. And if you were in any doubt the island moves.

if you like this sort of thing head over to http://altbeebies.tumblr.com/ – and contribute your own sideways looks at kids’ TV by tagging tweets #altbeebies

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org