New shows rescue tweens from boredom

April 04, 1993|By Diane Werts | Diane Werts,Newsday

There's regular television, aimed at the 18-to-34 demographic. And then there's kidvid.

Viewers who find themselves in the middle -- teens and the younger people the biz calls "tweens" -- don't have much that speaks to them.

That's starting to change. This week, new shows with slick productions and enormous ambitions arrive to entertain and enlighten.

* "Beakman's World" (Sunday at 7 p.m. on the Learning Channel) features performance artist Paul Zaloom as the gonzo scientist Beakman with "the monumental mission to describe how the world works."

At that, he's pretty good, whether he's showing where puddles go or figuring that one steer yields 400 Quarter Pounders.

Based on Jok Church's popular comic strip, the TV "Beakman" has acquired such a cult following that CBS will add the show to its Saturday morning slate this fall.

* "Ready or Not" (premieres Saturday morning at 11:30 on Showtime), an accomplished Canadian series, is sort of "The Wonder Years" from the girl's-eye view, as two sixth-graders -- sensitive Amanda (Laura Bertram) and tomboy Busy (Lani Billard) -- face puberty's transitional crises and daily humiliations. There's plenty of humor, too, but the focus is squarely on the sheer bravery it takes just to get through the horrors of tweenhood.

* "Chris Cross" (premiering Saturday morning at 11 on Showtime) is set at a stuffy boarding school with an international student body. This British-Canadian-American show blends "Animal House" antics with concern for coping with change and being on your own.

* "Jonny's Golden Quest" (tonight at 7 on the USA Network) revives the '60s cartoon kid. This new two-hour film finds 12-year-old Jonny traipsing the world with his government scientist dad Dr. Benton Quest, bodyguard Race Bannon, "adopted brother" Hadji and dog Bandit. In a nod to the '80s, at least, mom Rachel gets to come along.

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