Kids are adult-like smart spies in this comedic but engaging half-hour live-action series from The Fred Rogers Company. They call themselves The Odd Squad, and their mission is to “investigate anything strange and odd and put things right again.”
Agents Olympia and Otis (dressed in suits and adopting a very serious demeanor) use math, deductive reasoning, logic and other analytical skills to solve a problem that is usually set against a fairly silly backdrop. They work with other Odd Squad agents to solve the “crimes” (not true crimes as we think of them).
In one episode, for example, three adult, not-so-smart villains keep dropping clues about where “something very odd” will be happening later that afternoon. The Odd Squad team must try to piece the clues together to find out exactly where the odd event will take place. A pattern emerges and the numbers are narrowed down to one address on a certain street. The Odd Squad figured out a way to stop a maple syrup bomb from doing much damage. Crisis thwarted!
In another episode, “negative town” is the dark and gloomy side of one long street. A villain is casting a spell on people and making them dance. The Odd Squad, by discovering the pattern of the numbers where the crimes are happening, is able to save the day and bring a glimmer of happiness to the negativity. It’s somewhat strange, eerie and high-concept, but it works—and there are, thankfully, some humorous moments.
Short “Odd Squad Training Videos” separate segments and provide more information about problem-solving concepts.
The Odd Squad kids are spoofing spy movies, while also showing that problem solving requires persistence and, often, teamwork. But the best part of all is that math provides plenty of basis points for the show’s premise.
Ann Oldenburg ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and interim director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.