This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.
Best For Ages: 6-8, 9-12
THE JERSEY, a magical shirt inherited by two pre-teens from their grandfather, enables the kids to turn into professional athletes and experience sports at their most exciting. Guest appearances by the likes of Michelle Kwan and Steve Young, plus witty storylines about school life, make this an extremely enjoyable show for all ages.
Educational Value: Young viewers will pick up some of the famous names in sports, plus background on equipment and safety. The characters are mostly committed students and athletes - fine role models themselves.
Entertainment Value: This show celebrates sports on all levels, from having professional role models to enjoying exercise for the fun of it. Most subplots focus humorously on school travails like detention and peer pressure.
Emotional Intensity: Occasional sports injuries and people faced with career-ending problems.
Questionable Behavior: Typical kid behavior - disrespect for parents or teachers, locker room pranks - has generally been punished or compensated for by the end of each episode.
Violence: Boxing, wrestling, and football occasionally inspire misplaced tackles or punches.
THE JERSEY celebrates American sports in all their glory - the marketing and merchandising as well as the athletic achievements, since for most athletes, those are a major part of the profession. Jerry Rice, Junior Seau, Laila Ali, and a number of other prominent names join skateboarders, little leaguers, and the regular cast in this witty, spirited look at would-be athletes and their struggles.
When cousins Nick Lighter (Michael Galeota) and Morgan Hudson (Courtnee Draper) inherit a jersey from their grandfather that transports them into the world of pro sports by turning them into athletes, they have no control over when or where they'll be taken - the jersey decides for them, usually to teach them some sort of lesson. The effects can be lasting - when Nick gets football injuries, for instance, his backside hurts for days. Morgan recovers from peer pressure to "dress like a girl" by meeting female athletes celebrated for their beauty as well as their talent. Though she doesn't make the baseball team, she knows it's because her arm needs work - not because of her gender.
The cousins and their best friends form a group called the Monday Night Football Club, or MNFC, a private club where they can admit their secret athletic ambitions. They work hard on the field as well as in the exotic locales to which the magic jersey takes them, stressing the importance of practice as well as fantasies of future triumph. Yet they act enough like typical kids - flooding the locker room toilets, for example - that seven-year-old viewers had no trouble relating to them.
Viewers watching the show specifically for the guest stars may be disappointed at how much screen time the celebrities actually receive, but the character development and continuity of the regulars is excellent. This superbly packaged show can be enjoyed by families watching together.
Children's Television Reviews