“How did your drawing turn out? I bet it’s good!”
If you’re looking for a kids’ show that is educational, entertaining, and lends itself to multiple viewings, then may I suggest Drawing with Mark? Created and hosted by professional illustrator Mark Marderosian, each episode is tailor-made to cater to its young audience. Mark visits a location kids have either been to or would love to travel to, and while he’s there he is sure to interview someone who really knows their stuff, asking questions young kids with would themselves pose. To break up the visit and help kids stay engaged with the subject matter, Mark travels to The Magical Attic, his green screen animated room where he teaches viewers how to draw. Each episode features two drawing lessons whose subject is directly related to the location we’re also visiting during the episode.
Drawing with Mark: Something Fishy features two episodes from the series: “Something Fishy” and “A Day at the Aquarium.” Both take place during a visit to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Kids will enjoy seeing the sea stars (formerly known as starfish), the harbor seals and the turtle that get special attention during the episode.
Each episode ends with book recommendations and also features some animation starring The Angels from the Attic, Mark’s creations who also pop up during the episodes. They help Mark teach viewers to draw and they also appear during the location visits to highlight certain questions Mark asks.
Mark is obviously dedicated to his craft, and he shines during the interview segments, always showcasing a genuine interest in whatever place he’s at and whatever person he’s with. The drawing lessons are perfect family viewing, not only as young ones will need to have the video paused and rewound occasionally but because they provide wonderful opportunities to engage in an activity with your kids. Mark is careful to portray drawing as a fun activity, not as a stressful situation wherein perfection is the goal. He takes the time to point out where kids can place their own embellishments and encourages viewers to keep practicing. Drawing with Mark: Something Fishy is easy to recommend.
The 1.78:1 video transfer betrays some issues typical of lower budgeted offerings such as jump cuts and errant frames. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is soft at times nevertheless care was clearly taken to ensure the dialogue is not just audible but fully present. This is especially evident and appreciated during the outdoor scenes at the aquarium. However, neither audio nor video shortcomings will likely be noticed or commented upon by the target audience.
The fact there are special features at all is impressive, especially for a disc with such a short runtime. The liner notes of the disc are a drawing booklet, and there’s a short arts and crafts video as well as a bonus drawing lesson on the disc itself. There’s also a link provided to the official website which houses other coloring pages you can print out at home among other things.
Drawing with Mark: Something Fishy is a treat. The show combines education and entertainment and lends itself to multiple viewings. Mark’s warmth and encouragement towards the audience helps kids understand drawing is about practice not about perfection.