Odd Squad

My latest minor obsession..



Last year, when I was in the hospital for two weeks, I tried watching Disney Channel…

Image result for odd squad images

Seriously Disney, what happened? I grew up on Disney. I love Disney movies. I dream of going to Disneyland…

Disney Channel… not so much. It was basically a mess of loud, shrieky middle grade silliness with bad stories, terrible stereotypical plots full of holes and …

…I ended up watching a lot of Animal Planet. (One… more… episode of How To Survive The Alaskan Wilderness and I’m gonna set the moose on you…).

Somewhere in the last couple weeks, I happened to leave the TV on in late after noon and tripped over Odd Squad on PBS…

Image result for odd squad images

What geniuses came up with this?!

(created by Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman and is co-produced by The Fred Rogers Company and Sinking Ship)

Where Disney Channel suffers Epic Fail, this is an Epic Win.

The core of the series is teaching math related skills.

I absolutely hate math. I am an artist, I have no left brain. They lost me somewhere in second grade, but if I’d had something like Odd Squad, I might actually like math now.

The series stars a number of insanely talented kids of various ages (including some babies and toddlers). The entire headquarters they mainly inhabit is scaled to kid size. There are random adult characters, characters calling for assistance from Odd Squad…it’s the kids who save the day and wield the gadgets (was that a Noninvisibleinator or…?) that cure the oddness.

The math is woven seamlessly into the stories. Odd Squad looks and feels like a fabulous mashup of Get Smart, Bond, the Man From UNCLE, Batman (the 60s version) and some other stuff. The hilarious villains often “put a mathematical spin on their nefarious plots” as wiki notes.

This is apparently a Canadian/American production, and the Fred Rogers Company is behind it. It claims it’s geared for kids 5 -8, but any adult caught in the same room will be sucked in as certainly as agents into the travel tubes.

The Odd Squad logo is a jackalope, familiar to anyone who’s roamed the Wild West (where the joke is the jackrabbits are so big they crossbreed with antelope)(every store has a taxidermy mashup of a jackrabbit with pronghorn horns)… the OS jackalope logo can be counted on to produce random weird noises as we shift between scenes.

The thing about this is, it could have been as mindless as the stuff on Disney. It isn’t. It’s funny, clever, spoofy… and the kids are right on the mark. The cast is as diverse as humanity, smart and fabulous.

And it’s… randomly odd…

Scientist Oscar having a conversation with Clock Head Lady (while teaching little kids to tell time).

Agent Olaf who (like Groot, in Guardians of the Galaxy) has pretty much one line: I am Otto (once used to teach how to use tally marks). He is large and cheerful. Also he is a werewolf.

The entire HQ being flooded from the ballroom… that is the room full of round colorful balls… because a villain unbalanced the scales that control the ballroom. It’s up to Odd squad to find objects (giant juice boxes…shoes, a rock) to rebalance the scales (while teaching kids how those balance scales work). The shots of agents rowing lifeboats through a sea of balls, using lifesaving rings, and disappearing into that colorful sea of round plastic (“where are you?” “under the balls, you’re taller than us”)…

Episodes often begin with an adult character who has called Odd Squad for help with odd problems… the guy who can only whisper and has concrete feet (the agents never look behind them and don’t see him across the field, so they don’t find him), the lady who gets water dumped on her when she takes a drink. Cured of that, Odd Squad leaves only to have her end up in a shower of greens when she eats salad. The never explained lemonhead people and roaring dinosaurs, and reaching plant thingies in the credits…

It has to be seen. The sets, the stories, the humor, the kids, all fabulous. It has won awards. It has certainly taught kids to tell time, balance scales and do math.





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