In 2002, I spent a month in Arlington, Virginia, working on the world premiere production of my play, Boyz of All Nationz: The Rise and Fall of a Multi-Ethnic Boy Band. Each morning I would exercise while watching Blue's Clues, a hugely popular Nickelodeon show for preschoolers. But the program was also oddly mesmerizing for adults like me—not only because of its strangely soothing premise and structure (just perfect and gentle so early in the morning), but also because I had a huge man-crush on the host, Joe. It was Joe's first enthusiastic year on the show—he replaced Steve Burns, who had been hosting since 1996.
Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the terrific book, The Tipping Point, called the show "perhaps the 'stickiest'—meaning the most irresistible and involving—television show ever." His description of it:
Steve, the host, presents the audience with a puzzle involving Blue, the animated dog.... In between the discovery of the clues, Steve plays a series of games—mini-puzzles—with the audience that are thematically related to the overall puzzle.... As the show unfolds, Steve and Blue move from one animated set to another, jumping through magical doorways, leading viewers on a journey of discovery.
One of the more fascinating facts about the show was that the same episode was aired five days in a row. And kids would watch it every day. Their comprehension increased, of course, upon repeated viewings.
Anybody who watched Blue's Clues during the Steve years will swear by him, and they will brush off Joe as an unworthy successor. (A cursory look at Blue's Clues comments on YouTube will uncover such outrage as: "I hate Joe"; "Ever since Joe took Steve's place this show started to suck"; and "Fuck you, Joe.")
But to those who became familiar with the program during the Joe years, they can't imagine anyone else hosting. Man, you would not believe the long, involved discussions I've gotten into with friends, defending Joe's efficacy (and, well, hotness).
Which brings us, dear readers, to The Most Important Poll in Bamboo Nation History. The question is simple: Steve or Joe? To remind everyone who we're talking about, here are pictures of Steve and Joe:
I already know that this poll will skew towards Steve, so may I use this opportunity to point out once again the glory of Joe (who is really Shakespearean-trained actor Donovan Patton)?
Donovan Patton will inevitably find this post. (In the past year, I've been contacted via this blog by a film director, a movie producer, a screenwriter, and a talent manager, so it's not wishful thinking. It really IS inevitable!) Mr. Patton, will you sign my Handy Dandy Notebook? (I actually have a Handy Dandy Notebook!) I will treasure it forever and defend you until my dying day. (I know you've gotten my letters! Ahem:)
[Read the follow-up to this post: "My Readers Are Hilaaaaaaaaaarious; or: Steve vs. Joe, Part 2."]