The Backyardigans: “The Yeti” Review

The Backyardigans is a Nickelodeon preschool show that is enjoyed by both adults and children. We continue the series with reviewing the DVD, The Snow Fort. This week’s episode is, “The Yeti.”

Themes: Creativity, Friendship, Listening
Cost/Availability: $1.99 on iTunes. Whole DVD available on Amazon for ~$5.00]
Length: ~24 minutes

This episode is similar to that of “Pirate Treasure” in terms of it being a great story to support the social lesson – with extremely catchy songs. Pablo decides to be a Yeti (a.k.a. the Abominable Snowman)for the day, while Tasha, Tyrone, and Uniqua set out to find him.

Backyardigans - Yeti

First, it must stated that “Yeti, yeti, yeti!” is entirely too much fun to say, and you can be assured that your children will probably be repeating this mantra for days, especially younger children, to whom this will be the most appealing. The word, “Yeti,” is actually the name typically used by the indigenous peoples of the Himalayas, where the legend of the Yeti first originated. This fact is not directly stated in the episode itself, and it might have been nice to have “the Frozen North” be called the Himalayas instead, but“Yeti” is understandably a friendlier term than “Abominable Snowman.”

As an expert on the Frozen North, Tasha is adamantly against the existence of a Yeti. She’s never seen one, so therefore they don’t exist. Tasha’s cynicism is played off more as being pessimistic, rather than pure vindictiveness. Uniqua sees the glass half-full, however, and is of the opinion that because she’s never see one, they could still exist. Her enthusiasm is so contagious, that even though we as the audience know who the Yeti is, we almost wish she really would find a real one. Tyrone, affable as ever, becomes the unwilling peacemaker. He has the very difficult task of trying to get both sides to listen to each other (active listening) and to not fight, so they can continue their journey on finding the source of the mysterious noise.

Uniqua and Tasha’s conflicting views finally come to a head in the song, “There’s No Such Thing As a Yeti.” It’s not a real argument, but (to borrow a phrase from Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch) just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says. Tyrone realizes this in his solo bits: “There’s only one thing we can do instead of going round and round / We’ve got to follow what made that sound.” At this point, there’s a fun wordplay on the “droppings” of the Yeti:

Uniqua: [upon spotting ominously brown objects on the ground] They’re Yeti droppings!
Tasha: Actually, they’re just raisins.
Uniqua: They are too Yeti droppings! Yetis do a lot of dropping, because their hands are hairy…and a little sweaty.

In the end, the girls’ are proven to be both right as Pablo is not a real Yeti, but indeed pretending to be one.

The musical genre is funk, a rhythmic blend of soul, jazz, and R&B that originated in the 1960s by African-American musicians. One of the most famous funk musicians is James Brown, whose style is particularly evident in this episode’s songs, down to a funky version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” All the songs are very upbeat and danceable, and will even have the grumpiest of listeners tapping a toe or two. Again, “Yeti Stomp,” is probably the best song to sing with your kids, as you can sing “Yeti, yeti, yeti!” while stomping about in the house, stomping around the grocery store, or stomping across the playground.

The next episode is also on The Snow Fort DVD, “Knights Are Brave and Strong.”

How do you help your child be an active listener?]

[Images © Nickelodeon via Viacom, Inc.]

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