Each February, television changes its hue to reflect the contributions, accomplishments and struggles of people of color who have become a part of — and changed — the landscape of America. Miniseries Miracle’s Boys on The N (the teen-skewing counterpart to Noggin) transcends those color lines with a story so first-rate that it’s easy to forget the skin tone of the characters.
The N approaches “Black History Month” differently than many other networks, as it did last year with a Brown vs. Board of Education documentary. This year, it applied that same straightforward approach to Miracle’s Boys, based on the award-winning youth novel of the same name by Jacqueline Woodson about three young orphan brothers growing up on their own in Harlem.
This tale’s told in full color. It’s about three kids who go to school or work every day, do their homework, get crushes on girls and have fun with their friends. What makes them unique is that their African-American father is dead.
The story begins the day middle brother Charlie (Sean Nelson), who gets into trouble and winds up in a juvenile detention center before the death of their Puerto Rican mother Milagro, returns home with oldest brother, Tyree (Pooch Hall), now legal guardian to Charlie and younger sibling Lafayette (Julito McCullum).
Before dismissing this as another hard-luck tale, take a look. Shot on location, it’s a compelling story told true to form with characters that turn into heroes by surviving their everyday lives.
The executive production team worked with directors Spike Lee, Neema Barnette, LeVar Burton, Ernest Dickerson and Bill Duke to complete the six-installment segments.
At a time when so much programming is inappropriate for children, Miracle’s is reminiscent of afterschool movies that could be watched and enjoyed with excitement, sans parent or guardian.
Without playing like an Aesop’s fable, Miracle’s should prove entertaining for today’s youth, minus sex, violence or foul language. It’s not a story about paradigms. These kids get into trouble and pay for their mistakes. It’s their imperfections that kids will relate to and that makes the story realistic and believable.
Forget that it’s February, or that these kids may not physically resemble yours. Just pretend it’s “Good Television Programming” month and mark your calendar.
The three-part Miracle’s Boys premieres on The N (Part I) Friday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. ET, (Part II) Sat., Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. ET, and (Part III) on Sun., Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. ET.