Parents, take notes you will be quizzed

TELEVISION REVIEW

October 29, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Parents, get your pencils ready: Tonight is quiz night on MPT (Channels 22 and 67).

BAt 8, it's the "Baby Phases Quiz"; at 9, it's the "National Parent Quiz."

The baby test, produced locally by MPT, is an interesting and well-produced program with much valuable information. The parent quiz, an Orlando, Fla., production aimed at helping parents keep their children off drugs, is full of good intentions, but it's one of the most tedious hours of pedantic skits, talking heads and pschobabble this season on PBS. And that's saying something.

"Baby Phases Quiz," with Steve Aveson, Joyce Scott and Kay Lawal as hosts, starts with some quick warm-up questions: "Do you have the Poison Control number near your phone?" "Should you use an oral anesthetic when your baby is teething?" Then it gets to the actual quiz, which viewers can take at home. The top score is 100 points.

DThe questions here are a bit more difficult. True or false: "Experts say you should shake a child to rouse him only when he's unconscious." "Babies who are breast fed are not as susceptible to iron deficiencies."

Interspersed between questions are answers from experts, such pediatrician Ray Colman. There are also suggestions for "child-proofing" the house: a lock on the toilet bowl, rubber appliques in the bathtub, touch fasteners on the refrigerator and oven, and plastic covers for electrical outlets. Finally, to give viewers an extra yardstick against which to measure themselves, the show includes groups of nurses, mothers, fathers and grandparents who are also taking the test and offering feedback.

It's a fun hour that offers some information which could improve the quality of your infant's life -- and yours.

"The National Parent Quiz" offers neither fun nor much useful information. Orlando's WMFE chose to go for celebrity instead of clarity, with a resulting mishmash of skits depicting parenting situations, taped celebrity cut-ins from the likes of Sandy Duncan and Howie Mandel and a panel discussion presided over by Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree. The panel includes a doctor of psychology, a social worker, two teen-agers, entertainer Ben Vereen and other folks variously identified as parents and grandparents.

The discussion is dominated by hackneyed adages like, "Children watch the tongue in our shoe more than the tongue in our mouth." (Translation: Actions speak louder than words.)

"The National Parent Quiz" really isn't as much a parenting quiz as it is a test of viewer patience.

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