This is the cute but convoluted pretext for introducing a solemn young yo- yo expert who is identified as Daniel Volk on the box but left uncredited on the tape itself. (In fact, the tape lacks production credits of any kind.) Volk and Tom Smothers proceed to demonstrate the nine basic yo-yo tricks that make up most of the program.
To facilitate review, each trick is color-coded so you can quick-scan through the other material, stopping when you detect the right segment title on its colored background. The idea, however, is not executed well, because first you must locate the on-screen list that shows you which trick has which color. That calls for two searches instead of one, and raises the question of why the color-code index wasn't printed right on the box.
Tom and the Yo Master never utter a word - in keeping with the atmosphere of absurd mysticism, one supposes - but Dick expounds continuously on proper yo-yo-ing, pointing out how the wrist is held, how forcefully to throw the yo- yo, and so on.
Video turns out to be an ideal way to learn yo-yo maneuvers. Where written instructions can be ambiguous or incomplete, the visual treatment makes each move plain and instantly reviewable. Even the stringing of the yo-yo, tying the proper finger loop and replacing worn strings are covered.
Generous use of slow motion explains the apparent wizardry behind such classic stunts as Around the World, Rocking the Baby, Walking the Dog and Loop the Loop.
Tom is fairly skillful with a yo-yo, but Volk is really the one to watch. In an advanced section that closes Yo-Yo Man, he builds on the nine basic maneuvers to come up with some truly impressive finger-weaving effects like the Eiffel Tower, Spider Web, Brain Twister and the indescribably complex Roller Coaster.
These advanced tricks, although well-demonstrated, are not broken down step by step. They provide a challenge to dexterity that's sufficient to keep adult yo-yo'ers entertained long after their children have tired of the tape, and in that sense it is truly a video for all ages. If your VCR has a good, clear slow-motion and freeze-frame feature, you'll have an advantage in going on to this higher state of Yo.
Yo-Yo Man can be bought by itself (30 minutes, $11.95) or packaged with a Smothers Brothers yo-yo ($12.95). Kodak Video Programs maintains a toll-free number for consumer information on its library of cassettes, including advice on where they can be bought in your area. That number is 800-331-6839.