Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Stinky & Dirty Show

The Stinky & Dirty Show

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: Amazon Studios
Rating: TV Y

Preschoolers (and their families) need plenty of problem solving skills. Enter Stinky the garbage truck and Dirty the backhoe loader, the stars at the heart of this original animated children's program from Amazon, based on the I Stink! book series by Kate and Jim McMullan.

These two likable guys go about their daily business with good humor and earnest efforts. Their speech patterns and interactions suggest they're young. so kids will have no trouble identifying with them, or with the dilemmas they encounter on the job. According to the program's website, it is "important to develop good problem solving skills" and Stinky & Dirty are just the guys to model how to talk through a problem, ask questions, propose solutions, and resolve conflicts. Each episode shows several failed attempts at problem-solving, then offers a short sequence recapping their failed efforts. They reason through some more possibilities and finally put the most promising one into action.

Each half-hour episode includes two separate stories and the scripts include friendly banter, corny jokes, and lively music. The plots stay focused squarely on problem-solving and the solutions these little trucks suggest range from practical to fanciful, much like the scope of solutions the intended audience might suggest.

In "Running on Empty," Dirty runs out of gas and the duo tries several options to harness enough power to get to the gas station. Creating a sail doesn't work when the wind wanes so they enlist the help of a friendly tugboat for part of the trip. Gravity helps when they hit a slope but that doesn't entirely solve the problem because the gas station sits at the top of the next hill. After talking it through, Stinky and Dirty ask a bigger construction vehicle for a tow. In "Rolling Blunder," another truck loses her load of bowling balls. Stinky and Dirty decide to help by gathering and delivering the bowling balls themselves but those things are heavy and awkward and it takes several attempts before they figure out the best methods for achieving their goal. In another story titled "Lost!," the guys get lost on a foggy day so they experiment with new ways to "see" using their other senses. In the other story in that episode, titled "Squeak," an irritating sound is interrupting the trucks' rest, leading them to investigate sounds and how some, like lullabies or steady water, might help soothe someone to sleep.

Other episodes present problems including rescuing race cars led astray by crooked lines painted on a track to keeping a fancy car clear on its way to an auto show. They may not be the kind of problems preschoolers encounter every day but this program is more about the process of assessing a situation and searching for potential solutions, and sticking with it even if the first attempt at solving the problem doesn't always produce the desired result. In that regard, Stinky & Dirty's try it, test it, try it again will encourage preschool viewers to think, talk it through and persevere. Valuable lessons at any age.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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