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Produced by Sharon Lipovsky;
directed by Philip Spink, John Thomson and Jeffrey Groberman
Knowledge Network, 1993, VHS cassette, 60 min., $79.95
Both distributed by T.H.A. Media Distributors.


Produced by Sharon Lipovsky;
directed by Philip Spink
Knowledge Network, 1993, VHS cassette, 23 min., $79.95

Subject Heading:
Multicultural education-Canada-Audio-visual aids.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13

Reviewed by MaryLynn Gagné

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

The Kidzone kids are back in a junior high school version of the popular series from British Columbia's Knowledge Network. The two episodes previewed make use of a talented multiculural cast who speak the language of today's adolescents. Escape from the Land of the Megaheads is a humorous sketch that deals with the issue of racism;   Kerrisdale V6M 1Z6 is a longer program which uses a "Beverly Hills 90210" style format to address a number of contemporary issues.

Kea, the central character in  Megaheads, is a fully assimilated, well-adjusted, third-generation Chinese-Canadian. Kea values her friendship with the popular Andrea and her acceptance as a member of the "in" crowd, and thus does not wish to be seen "hanging out with ESL kids." When Johnny, a recent immigrant from Taiwan, aproaches her at a school dance, Kea flees, wishing momentarily that she lived in a world where no one was different.

With the help of a few special effects, she is transported into the land of the megaheads, a sci-fi world where "different" is a dirty word, where conformity is legislated, and where the "mega" hair style (an exaggerated beehive) is  de rigueur. As Kea wanders the hallways of her school--now furbished with framed slogans proclaiming "Don't change, Be happy" and "Same is Sane"--she encounters her friends Jai and Sarah, who belong to the "backcombing backlash," a poorly organized resistance group. When Kea finally escapes from the land of the megaheads she returns to the school dance with a new appreciation for individual differences.

Kerrisdale V6M 126 is an hour-long production focussing on leadership, self-esteem and friendship. The episode, set in a typical (if slightly underpopulated) junior high school in Vancouver's fashionable Kerrisdale district, revolves around the election for prime minister of the school. The election campaign throws into sharp relief the conflict between two cliques.

David and Sarah represent the "technocrats"--a group of high achievers labelled as "dweebs" and "sucks" by the opposition; Kea and Andrea represent the popular "cool" kids in the school. The story-line is complicated by a multitude of subplots that transform the episode into a veritable teen soap opera.

Topics touched upon in this one program include advertising, drinking and driving, energy conservation, gender roles, sex discrimination, labelling, peer pressure, safety, risk-taking, and school drop-outs! Everything is wrapped up (a little too neatly) at the end as Andrea and Sarah reconcile their differences, and the election results in a tie vote with the promise of future cooperation between the two opposing groups.

Escape from the Land of the Megaheads and  Kerrisdale V6M 1Z6 are well acted and smoothly directed. Both programs should appeal to the targeted audience and could be used in the social studies or English class room to stimulate discussion of and debate on diverse issues. Finally, since the medium in this series is often as interesting as the message, the programs might well serve to inspire budding script-writers and actors to launch productions of their own.

Recommended for school libraries.

MaryLynn Gagné is a reference librarian in the Education Library, University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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