I’m on a constant search for television I can show my children that isn’t totally insipid and utterly devoid of artistic merit. I hate illogical shows, within reason. Recently, I sought something with the music and star power of Yo Gabba Gabba! — but pitched to bigger kids.
Then I found Beat Bugs.
Each episode starts with a rendition of “All You Need Is Love” sung by the Beat Bugs: Jay, a beetle; Crick, a cricket and inventor; Walter Walrus, a slug; Buzz, a fruit fly; and Kumi, a ladybug. Writing and animating a giant blue slug as a compelling character should earn the creators an Emmy in itself. The Beat Bugs live in a suburban backyard and — this is the best part — each episode is anchored on a Beatles song, usually sung by someone you’d recognize, like Eddie Vedder, a member of the Lumineers, Rod Stewart, or Jennifer Hudson.
So, yeah, the parents can enjoy this show too.
The one I happened to watch today — because Beat Bugs is a staple in our household — featured “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Nowhere Man,” which my 7-year-old informed my youngest is from Yellow Submarine. So clearly something is sinking in here. A brooch is lost; the bugs sail through rain puddles in a boat singing the countercultural song with lyrics adapted, according to Peter Brown, from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and likely written under the influence of something. Before you start clutching your pearls, remember that first, it’s art, and second, the kids have no freaking idea.
My sons claim their favorite episode is “Nowhere Man,” because it involves a giant blue worm with sunglasses. As their mother, I know they get most excited by “Yellow Submarine,” the first episode of the second season, where the bugs float back to their home in their own submarine after a sprinkler accident.
The plots are simple. The characters are memorable and distinctive, and people, there are Beatles songs, with the salacious parts edited out. Your kids will be singing along with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in no time, which opens the door for you to play Sgt. Pepper’s in the car without complaint. And you can’t shake the visual of a slug dancing beatifically around a plant, leaves fastened wing-like to his stubby arms, dreamily singing “Strawberry Fields.”
Beat Bugs airs anytime your moppets scream for it on Netflix.