Amazon Studios is doing it right. Their newest series for kids, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street is available to download starting November 21, which means kids will have something fresh to watch in time for holiday traveling.
Whenever I get a kid’s show to preview, I sit down to watch with my two junior reviewers — my boys ages 7 and 5. They are my willing assistants who are thrilled to watch something before it’s available to their friends. After watching a few episodes of Gortimer Gibbon together, (and relishing in their reactions which ranged from peeking out from behind splayed fingers to staring in wide-eyed wonder with stupefied grins on their faces,) I asked them for their one-word reviews. “Fantastic!” was my older son’s enthusiastic response.
I’d have to agree. As I mentioned, Amazon Studios is doing things right. Let me explain. Amazon has figured out that people want to watch TV that is thought provoking. The days of a show being popular just because it’s on TV are over. We have hundreds of viewing options, but very few choices that make us think. And the offerings coming our of Amazon Studios, both its programming for kids and its adult offerings like Transparent and Alpha House, are among TV’s brainiest.
Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street isn’t based on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum like another of Amazon Studios’ intelligent shows for kids, Annedroids, but it’s not mindless entertainment either.
The series is a coming-of-age tale of unusually named Gortimer (Sloane Morgan Siegel) and his two best friends Ranger (Drew Justice) and Mel (Ashley Boettcher). The trio are spending an idyllic chronicling their adventures on Normal Street—an off-kilter suburban neighborhood that is rife with intrigue. Even a trip to the convenience store becomes the source for amazing adventure; but is it a figment of childlike imagination, or is there something strange and wonderful happening on Normal Street? The show is mysterious, and whimsical and fun; like Pushing Daisies for tweens.
The upcoming season will bring the trio together to help the unluckiest kid on Normal Street, call upon Gortimer to defeat “The Frog of Ultimate Doom” and outsmart fate after some alarming advice from a fortune teller.
The show also employs cool animation that lends itself to the show’s overall whimsy. Another nice touch to the series is that each episode starts at the plot’s end, then jumps back in time and works its way back to the conclusion. It really got my kids wondering about and excited for what was about the happen. When I asked my son what he liked best about the series, he said, “I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Sometimes my guess was right, but most of the time I was way off. And I liked that.”
As a parent, I yearn for TV shows where kids act like kids, look like kids and talk like kids. I’m over eye-rolling, unobtainable hair and actors yelling their lines. Amazon Studios has gotten the message because on Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (and Annedroids) they’re using actors who look like the kids watching the show. T-shirt wearing, bed-head having, talk to their parents like they’re human beings and treat their friends like friends, kids. Of course, their lives are more exciting than the lives of my kids, but this is television, after all.
Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street is the first greenlit project from Amazon Studios’ open-door pilot submissions process, and the series was created by pre-school teacher and first-time writer David Anaxagoras “I’m so happy that Amazon has allowed me to tell this very special story of a world through the eyes of a 13-year-old where things are still a little magical,” said Anaxagoras. “This is a dream I’ve had for a long time.” The series is executive produced by Oscar winner Luke Matheny (God of Love).
Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street > Amazon Studios > available for download beginning Nov. 21