Looking for something new for the kids to watch? Maker Shack Agency can solve that problem!
Back in August, I mentioned that Amazon was planning to produce Maker Shack Agency, a children’s series that follows three teenagers who use gadgets to solve problems in their school and community. The pilot is now available for free, through Amazon Instant Video.
Now, it’s important that you not only watch this pilot, but vote on it. And you’re going to want to do that—at least if you have a maker-in-training at home. Amazon uses all of that customer feedback to decide whether or not to order additional episodes of its original programming.
For adult viewers, Maker Shack Agency may be a bit on the goofy side. However, to quote GeekMom Kelly, “12-year-old me would have loved it!”
That’s because Maker Shack Agency has Disney Channel production values, with a similar writing style and taste in jokes. Even though the pilot was directed by Alex Winter (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, dude!), the show doesn’t really try to appeal to an older crowd. That’s OK, though; we don’t have to like everything that our kids like. After all, I wouldn’t expect my 7-year-old to sit through two minutes of something like Parks and Recreation. However, Maker Shack Agency is a show that I wouldn’t mind him watching, because of the science, invention, and gadgets highlighted in the pilot episode.
Despite being geared towards pre-teen and teen audiences, my son was pretty captivated and giggling within the first few minutes of the pilot. A “pantsing” and lunch spewed all over the principal (played by The Office‘s Brian Baumgartner) will do that to a 7-year-old. It also didn’t hurt that my hockey-loving son saw the main character being driven to school in a Zamboni. (And yes, I was fairly intrigued by that as well.)
For all of the goofiness though, Maker Shack Agency does have tons of science, tinkering, and general maker goodness.
It focuses on Wolfie (Kalama Epstein), Merle (Gregory E. Freeman), and Jo (Gianna LePera), three teens that come up with all sorts of inventions to help out their school and their community in general.
The pilot finds the school being terrorized by Floyd Butscomb (Zachary Conneen), a rather angry kid looking to be the student body’s sole candy supplier. The kids decide to enlist Wolfie and Merle (a.k.a. the Maker Shack Agency) for help. The dynamic duo builds a “Fart-O-Meter,” which can sense when the tootie-plagued bully is nearby. Of course, when that runs out of gas (I said it!), Jo steps in with her super-cool robot to save the day.
Flatulence, candy, and robots: What more could you ask for? Maker Shack Agency uses bodily functions and more of the typical tricks that would pull in its target audience. You can’t really fault them for that. However, the underlying themes are great—and pretty unique for any television comedy currently being produced.
Overall, I think my 7-year-old was a bit on the young side for Maker Shack Agency. He does have a hearty interest in STEM, but some of the speedy dialogue and concepts seemed to go over his head. That said, it kept him entertained and sparked a great conversation between the two of us about the gadgetry and inventions highlighted in the episode.
It’s certainly not perfect, but Maker Shack Agency is exactly the type of program I’d like to see become a regular TV show. What will the kids come up with next? Hopefully, it will include an accompanying website and/or book with projects. The opportunities are endless. Take a peek and if you like it, make sure to vote at the Amazon Originals website. However, you’re going to need to do that fairly soon. The pilot for Maker Shack Agency will be available to stream for free through the voting period, which ends on March 8, 2014.
Amazon Instant Video is available on a variety of smart TVs, game consoles, mobile devices, Blu-ray players, streaming media players, and more. Check out Amazon’s website for a complete list of compatible devices.
Rachel Cericola will never be a real New Englander because she can't stand the sight of clam chowder. She spends her days (and nights) covering home, technology and entertainment topics, as well as trying to update her website.