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A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay (TV Review)

About The Show

There has been a growing schism between parents and many of the legacy entertainment studios (such as Disney). More and more, the children’s entertainment industry has become a minefield of problematic content for parents to navigate. Bentkey, the recently launched family entertainment streaming platform from The Daily Wire, is attempting to fill that void. With the first two episodes of one of its flagship shows, A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay, the streaming platform is off to a promising start. Bursting with charm and wonder, the show offers wholesome entertainment and positive messaging for younger viewers.

I’ve had some hesitation about an entertainment platform created as a division of a political media group, but A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay is classic, wholesome entertainment. I’ve seen it aptly described as “Mr. Rodgers meets Mary Poppins.” It follows the template of the former while infusing the quirkiness and sense of wonder of the latter. The show is created by Katy and Ryan Chase (with Katy also starring as Mabel).

The 23-minute episodes are captivating for younger viewers without becoming a sugar rush of hyper stimuli. Mabel speaks with a calm voice throughout and the overall tone is relaxed. At the same time, there are plenty of fancy gadgets and gizmos, amusing puppets, and fun visuals to keep things entertaining.

Each episode offers a lot of variation. Mabel begins with a common object (a wooden box, a magnifying glass), and—along with her talking dog Jasper (a puppet)—demonstrates how wonder can be found in the most unlikely places. There is a “Question of the Day” which is answered in an innovative segment that fuses animation and stop motion. These mini story-within-a-story segments are populated with fun anthropometric animals and quirky characters. The episodes also feature guest appearances, and end with the “masterpiece machine,” a contraption that takes all the lessons learned throughout the episode and uses them to generate an illustrated book which Mabel then shares through a song.

A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay is not necessarily reinventing the wheel, but it offers an enjoyable and well-crafted throwback to an era of wholesome children’s entertainment that can seem hard to find these days. Only time will tell whether Bentkey will succeed as a viable platform in the increasingly crowded jungle of streaming entertainment. But if future shows are able to capture the same classic, throw-back vibe as this, then it may exactly what many parents have been looking for.  

On the Surface

For Consideration

       

Beneath The Surface

Engage The Film

Finding Wonder in the World  

The show is all about finding wonder in the world. I appreciate that the program respects the intelligence of children and doesn’t “talk down” to them. The episodes are focused on empowering and inspiring children, rather than merely reforming them. While future episodes may touch on classic behavioral topics (sharing, obeying parents, etc.), these initial two episodes explore the themes of “Creativity” and “Curiosity”, respectively. Mabel operates on the assumption that children have more value to offer than mere conformity. For example, the first episode features a segment on writing a song on the banjo and overcoming writer’s block. The consistency of its positive messaging is sure to inspire children to look for wonder in the world, and then embolden them to contribute to it.

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