I grew up with Christian cartoons, from Superbook to Hanna-Barbera’s Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible and, as I hit high school Veggie Tales. So when I was asked to review Theo I was very intrigued. The idea of teaching systematic theology with fun cartoons is very appealing because, as School House Rock can tell you, animated featurettes can sometimes teach more lasting lessons than a room full of teachers.
Theo is a very cute premise, a nice old English man who lives in a cozy cottage in the Cotswolds with two mice named — of course — Luther and Belfry. Luther and Belfry are my favorite part of the movies. Their antics add the fun part of the videos. The two episodes I watched had them acting silly, but it actually fit with the lesson for each video.
I also enjoyed the illustrated shorts (like the story of Abraham done in pop-up graphic style) and I think that it’s a resource that works really well for adults as well as kids because of the pacing and storytelling. I can see it easily setting up a message or used in a worship service. It also would be helpful in Sunday School or homeschooling settings if supplemental materials are used (discussion especially).
The theology itself and the message is sound. For those who really want to teach the fundamentals of the Christian faith, this is a great series. Again, the lessons are simple enough for children to understand, but are also ideas that work well for adults. In one episode Theo explains how the word “sin” really means “missing the mark” and that it’s an archery term. He illustrates the fact by firing a bow and arrow.
As enjoyable as the videos are there are a couple drawbacks. The series is geared towards urban kids or younger children who probably would get bored with the didactic style of the videos. There’s not enough story here to keep people engaged (though, the videos are short 5-7 minutes). I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that theology can only be taught by older, Caucasian Englishmen. I would have liked to have seen something more universal (or at least a larger, diverse human population).
If you’d like to find out more about Theo, which is also available on iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch check it out at: www.theopresents.com
You can also check out the first episode for free and download it at their website.
I was given a review copy of Theo for the purpose of reviewing on this site. The free copy does not in any way change my opinions of the product and I strive to always give honest and reliable reviews.