If "Teletubbies" has worn out its welcome in your house, as it has in mine, you may already be skeptical about the next generation of colorful creatures to emerge from the hands of Anne Wood.
On Monday, PBS is launching "Boohbah," a new series created by Wood starring five colorful atoms of energy who emit wordless sounds and are fond of touching their toes (yes, they have toes and fingers). The program -- which airs weekdays at 8 a.m. on WGBX-TV (Channel 44) and at 1 p.m. on WGBH-TV (Channel 2) -- is designed to appeal to 3- to 6-year-olds. Its ambitious and noble goal is to encourage kids to get up and exercise.
Unfortunately, the segments featuring the Boohbahs are ploddingly slow, maddeningly repetitive, and without much purpose. Babies may well find the color flashes fascinating, but to older eyes the live-action segments with real people are the only things worth watching.
Mindful that the Teletubbies are a phenomenon among the preschool set, I decided to let my 3-year-old daughter, Carol, judge the advance tape of "Boohbah" sent by PBS. She was thrilled to oblige.
Together we sat on the couch and watched the screen as a meteorlike ball of light flashed through the sky. For 2 minutes and 30 seconds -- an eternity on television, even for grown-ups -- we observed as children in different settings danced as this ball spun around them. The haunting theme song (lyrics: "Bee Bah, Bee Bah, Bee Bah Bee!") -- repeated in the background. Then the show's title flashed on the screen for 15 seconds.
"When is the name going to go away?" Carol asked, losing patience.
At last, the Boohbahs appeared, pear-shaped creatures with tiny legs and arms and huge eyes and bellies. (They are played by actors in costumes; some scenes are enhanced by computer special effects.) They danced around, making baby-bird chirps. They repeatedly touched their toes to a beat, making noises that sounded a lot like rhythmic flatulence.
"Do you want to watch `Dora'?" Carol asked, referring to Nickelodeon's "Dora the Explorer."
We kept watching as the Boohbahs touched their toes, faster and faster. "How come they look so crazy?" Carol wanted to know.
At last, some real people appeared in a live-action segment. Carol smiled during the introduction of Grandmama, Grandpapa, Mrs. Lady, Mr. Man, Brother, Sister, and Auntie.
Sister decided to jump rope as music played. One minute later, Sister was still jumping rope. Then Brother and Sister skipped rope. You get the idea.
Then the rope was longer, and all the characters were jumping.
"Whoa, that's cool," Carol said.
But then the Boohbahs came back, hopping around with their flatulence sounds.
"Want to see how I jump?" Carol asked. Maybe Wood is onto something after all.
Carol jumped for about a minute, with her back to the television. Winded, she completely lost interest.
"Can I color?" she asked.
I think that says it all.
Suzanne Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Time: Weekdays at 8 a.m. on Channel 44, 1 p.m. on Channel 2