Robert Frost. William Shakespeare. Gertrude Stein. No, it’s not the syllabus from your freshman poetry class. It’s a partial list of poets featured in the latest special in HBO’s Classical Baby series. The special was aimed at children but gained its share of grown-up cheerleaders due to its lofty goal of arts education for the youngest students and the star power we’ve come to expect from HBO kids programming. The Poetry Show features child-friendly works in bite-size morsels, recited by celebs including Gwyneth Paltrow and Susan Sarandon, and set to colorful, mostly animated visuals. One entry, Federico Garcia Lorca’s "Mariposa," is even recited in Spanish by Andy Garcia. Not all of the visual accompaniments are animated. One highlight is Langston Hughes reciting his "The Rain Song" set to a collage of real kids playing in real rain. But HBO gets our vote for using animation in a unique way to elevate the words of some of the best-loved bards.

Fast Facts

  • HBO introduced its Classical Baby series in 2005.

  • Despite criticism from some organizations opposed to television programming aimed at infants, Classical Baby won a Peabody Award in 2006.

Honorable Mention:
Galactik Football – ¡Sorpresa!: One part soccer fest, one part ethereal sci-fi send-up, Sorpresa’s series is a dynamic amalgam of cutting-edge animation and compelling storylines. The ball seems to jump off the screen during intergalactic matches.

Return to 2008 CableFAX Program Awards table of contents.

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