In reviewing children’s shows, I often chance upon two types: First, there are the wonderful, niche productions aimed at a specific audience with specific goals. Then, there are the broader, mainstream-aimed shows that are just waiting for their national breakthrough. The Choo Choo Bob Show falls in to the later category.
Based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota, The Choo Choo Bob Show is a live-action comedy show aimed at children 2-7 that has echoes of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody. ’Choo Choo Bob’ is set at Bob’s clubhouse, and features visits from his wacky human pals (includes actors with experience at Comedy Central) and puppet friend Charlie Rat. Choo Choo Bob keeps it updated for modern audience with stop-ins from hipster musicians (Ozomatli), humor that will appeal to parents and kids (“Cleaning with Autotune”), and a likable lead host (Sam Heyn) that won’t scare off parents.
And, of course, there are the trains. Executive producer and show creator Bob Medcraft was inspired by his retail storefront Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, located in St Paul. His knowledge of trains carries over into each episode where the characters travel across the country visiting real working railroads, answering train questions from kids, and watching “guest trains” zoom by their club house. Even if your little one is not train-infatuated, the music, wrap-around plots and characters will keep them engaged. And if they are train enthusiasts, this show will send them roaring down the rails. We had a viewing party with our friends’ sons (ages 2 & 5) who were already in love with all things locomotive. The show resonated with them after the first 10 minutes, and the one DVD we gave them as a sample was surely not going to suffice.
Right now The Choo Choo Bob Show has 46 episodes produced, all airing in the mid-west. But anyone outside those geographic lines can access Choo Choo Bob merchandise online, including, DVDs, CDs, and stuffed animals. Bob Medcraft and team hope to ride their train into other states soon. In the meantime, you can check out some great clips on their YouTube channel.