“Learn to Draw with Mark!”
Mark Marderosian, illustrator of dozens of children’s books, turns his attention to TV with Drawing with Mark, a cable access show that targets kids 5 and older who want to learn to draw. Drawing with Mark: A Day with the Dinosaurs contains two episodes from his series: “A Day with the Dinosaurs” and “Reach for the Stars.”
Each episode plays out roughly the same way. There are two drawing lessons interspersed with trips to the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts. During the trips to the museum, we learn from an expert about the topic at hand. This is a kids’ show that tries to impart a skill to those who watch. Make no mistake, Mark moves pretty fast during his lessons and your child will not end the half hour with a picture that looks like Mark’s. However, throughout the drawing lesson, Mark teaches kids about basic shapes, which pop up in a small insert and are highlighted by the Angels from the Attic, Mark’s animated animal creations. With names like Twinkle Mouse and Looner Bunny, these cute characters will draw kids’ attention.
Mark’s Bostonian accent and ease of speaking keeps viewers engaged. And while I rarely advocate a disc with such a short runtime, in this instance I think it’s smart, as kids will get too frustrated if they are expected to tackle more than four drawing lessons at a time. As it is, really young ones will find it a challenge to keep up, but that’s why there’s a rewind button. This is definitely a disc you should watch with little ones, as they will need you to pause and rewind at times in order to take the drawing lessons at their speed. But it’s a show I can recommend with ease, especially for those with budding artists at home.
The video transfer, a 1.77:1 ratio picture, is not the best and suffers from the same type of quality issues you see during other low budget releases. There are sporadic camera shakes, a palette which could use a bit of color timing, and the animation occasionally suffers from misplacement on the screen, specifically when the characters are supposed to be next to Mark during the museum shots. The audio is soft but there’s no heavy lifting the Dolby 2.0 track is expected to shoulder, just some dialogue and a soundtrack, both of which are handled adequately if not expertly.
There are a few special features. First is a bonus drawing lesson. It lasts about 5 minutes and features a spaceship as the subject. Next is a link to the website where you can print out coloring pages. And finally within the liner notes is a booklet which highlights the basic shapes which comprise the drawings as well as a coloring page. I am impressed with what is offered, especially for such a short runtime.
Drawing with Mark: A Day with the Dinosaurs fills a void in children’s programming. Imparting an actual skill while teaching young ones about basic shapes and kid-friendly topics like dinosaurs and outer space, this is a show little kids can truly learn from.