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Hi, Fellow Troper! Do you want to hear about the Non Interactivity trope?
Writing preschool television is tricky — the youngsters have a limited understanding of the world, and a limited attention span. Non Interactivity solves the problem thusly: since your audience is under the age of five, let's make them think they're playing a game! Isn't that great?
Yeah! I think so too!
Some educators like this format because it helps the kids feel like part of the show and that they've accomplished something. Others dislike it, since the child's action has no real bearing on the plot at all, unlike in an actual game.
Sometimes, the show will include voices, supposedly those of other kids watching the same show, giving the "right" answers.
When this trope is being used in a show-within-a-show, it could involve The Tape Knew You Would Say That.
Shows with Non-Interactivity have No Fourth Wall.
Would you like to see some examples now?
You would? Then let's go!
- The incredibly bland and stupid TV show watched by Millie in the film version of Fahrenheit 451 does something similar to this, with the characters concluding that the unseen third character (played by the viewer) is absolutely right.
- Mo Willems "Pigeon" series of books, beginning with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus present this in literary format, encouraging the readers to shout out "No!" when the Pigeon begs to do something he's not allowed to do, like driving the bus. Some of these stories were later adapted for DVD by Scholastic and Weston Woods. There are other children's picture books that have adopted this format as well.
- Blue's Clues and its reboot use this technique so heavily as to call attention to itself.
- This was used in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, though the well-remembered "Can you say X" example never actually happened.
- Parodied in Bloom County, as Opus learns English from the show. In the first of those strips, he responds to "Trumpet player" with "Terflump Gerflump"; in the second, he answers "Public servant" with "bozo". In both cases, Rogers just says "Good!"
- In another strip, Oliver's computer does the same thing, but responds to the TV by saying "Ted Koppel is a waffle". When Mr. Rogers says "Good!", the computer addresses the house: "MISTER ROGERS HAS LOST IT!"
- After averting it for nearly ten seasons (although it did have Barney Says), Barney and Friends did this when the show switched sets.
- And aside from the occasional fourth wall break, Sesame Street avoided this as well for the most part. Then along came "Elmo's World".
- Drake and Josh both try to talk to the five year-olds watching the show. In a truly hilarious bit Drake is warmly received by his audience and given a plate of cookies through the fourth wall, while Josh is both insulted and spit upon.
- In another episode Crazy Steve is watching Dora the Explorer, asking Dora why she would need to ask the audience something so simple, when she could probably figure it out all by herself.
- Subverted Trope in Angel , which had a fairly dark take on this in the "Smile Time" episode. Puppet demons hosted their own show and used it to steal the souls of little kids. In The Teaser, a kid was watching the show and as the mom walked out of the room the lead puppet watched her walk away and then talked straight to the kid. This looks like normal Non Interactivity until that particular kid, and no one else so far, loses his soul.
- Played with in Romper Room: The host could use the Magic Mirror to "see" who was watching, naming children who'd written to the show. Since this was a show franchise produced by local stations, it was likely that a given child watching might be called.
- Shane and David do this during the beginning of The Upside Down Show.
- An early (and iconic in Britain) example comes from Listen With Mother, The BBC's radio programme for children in The Fifties: "Are you sitting comfortably?" (Pause) "Then I'll begin."
- Older Than They Think - this is a time-honoured technique in pantomime theatre.
- Sent up in, of all places, the Japan-exclusive Nintendo 64 Raising Sim Wonder Project J. A selling point at the time was that Josette, the Robot Girl whom you have been tasked with raising, would respond in full voice to player input, which generally came in the form of simple "praise/scold" prompts. In one of them, if you praised her dancing ability, she would modestly deny her talent, insisting that since you'd taught her everything she knows, you must be a much better dancer, and asks for a demonstration. After staring out of the screen for a few seconds, she claps her hands and laughs happily, admitting that she can't actually see you, but she's certain you were fantastic!
- Used somewhat bizarrely in Barney's Hide and Seek. If the player starts the game and then goes long enough without providing input, Barney will simply start walking toward the end of the level all by himself. He won't complete the actual objective of finding hidden kids or presents, but he will walk all the way from the beginning of the game to the end after only a single button press on the controller.
- Steamshovel Harry. It purportedly is a game about jump physics where you have to save the earth from an asteroid that will strike in ten minutes. Unfortunately, the mandatory tutorial video takes ten minutes, and you die immediately afterwards.
- Parodied in the Homestar Runner Strong Bad Email "for kids". Strong Bad demonstrates how bad of a kids' show host he would be by hosting a show like this, and then going into a rage at how ridiculously down-talking the show is.
- Wonder Pets normally avoids this pretty studiously, but did do it once in a Something Completely Different style story.
- Dora the Explorer (to the point where the show is supposedly set inside a computer game with an onscreen mouse pointer) and sister show, Go Diego Go!
- When Swiper comes around, remember to shout "Swiper No Swiping" along with Dora until he goes away.
- It does this in the PlayStation 2 games based on the franchise too, despite the interactive media.
- Parodied in a Saturday Night Live Dora spoof called "Maraka", in which the title character asks about the meaning of life, the nature of free will, and the Robert Blake murder trial while acting as though the viewers are giving a specific answer. Maraka also becomes aggravated when the "audience" does not pretend to toboggan down a mountain.
- A mainstay of Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, especially when the episode gets to the point of resolving the Character Development issue of the day.
- Also a staple of the Nick Jr. channel's "Puzzle Time" interstitials with Moose A. Moose.
- Shameless Dora ripoff Bo on the Go does this.
- Pinky Dinky Doo has an (Non) Interactive quiz session at the end of each story which plays this trope straight.
- French animated TV series Didou (known as Louie in the UK and Australia) plays this trope straight.
- Animated TV series Boo also plays this trope straight, requiring the viewer to point out where Boo's hiding. As the show's Title Theme Tune explains "Can you find Boo? It's all you have to do!"
- The Where's Wally TV series does this somewhat during breaks, showing a static picture and encouraging the viewer to locate Wally/Waldo before time runs out.
- The trope appears in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "One False Movie" in the Dora Captain Ersatz "Explorin' With Lauren".
- Played with very briefly in The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?":
Dr. Hibbert: "We can't figure out who did it... can YOU?" *Points at the screen*
- This was connected to a contest the show was running in which viewers could figure out the assailant to win a prize.
- Used in Stanley, mainly by the goldfish Dennis to quiz the viewers.
- Similarly, the Fish character on the PBSKids series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! does this in short segments called "Fish Facts." Played for humor, because the answer to the question is always demonstrated in the background by the actual animal while Fish is asking the question. "You're right! Next time, I'll stump you for sure."
- A mainstay of many Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior programs such as My Friends Tigger & Pooh and Special Agent Oso
- The Ur Example, Winky Dink marketed a plastic overlay and crayons, which were to be used to draw props on-screen (for instance, a ladder to help the title character out of a pit.) A number of children simply drew on the screen.
- Parodied on one of the Show Within a Show programs that Meatwad watches on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Puppets sing and flail about, occasionally directly addressing the in-universe audience in a demonic tone. None of the characters seem to notice this at all.
This is your left! Left! Left!
- The Disney Junior show Little Einsteins stars four child prodigies who, by the age of six, have mastered various musical instruments and forms of interpretive dance, but are still worse at problem-solving than your four-year-old is, and constantly needs their help. Er... sometimes, anyway. Can be Fridge Brilliance, since prodigies or not they're still just children.
- Parodied on Phineas and Ferb, with "Ducky Momo" Show Within a Show which is a strange hybrid of Hello Kitty and Dora. Here's a sample of what an episode entailed;
Narrator: Ducky Momo needs to get to the other side of the Bumbleberry river. Can you help him find the bridge?
Boy, we sure had fun today, didn't we, Fellow Troper?
Yeah! I knew we did!