WildWill's Guide to Kids Shows That Don't Suck - Part I

Discussion in 'Television/Internet TV/VOD/DVD' started by WildWill, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. I have a four year old daughter (ok, she's 3 right now but she'll be 4 on October 5), and while you try to not let your kids watch TOO much television, there's going to be times when it's a necessity.

    These days there are more choices for kids to watch than ever before, with hundreds if not thousands of choices on TV, shows that won't make you as the parent or baby-sitter want to gouge your eyes out can sometimes feel few and far between. Luckily I've previewed a lot of TV that's out there now, and I can steer you to some great choices.

    As a parent if you're going to let your kids watch TV (and you know you really shouldn't but come on, it's the 21st century, who's going to really not let their kids watch ANY TV) you want them to watch stuff that's not mind-numbingly insipid and shows that actually can teach and allow your child's imagination to expand.

    While there are, as I said, a ton of channels for kids now, three really stand out in my mind as being the best providers of good content: Nick Jr., Disney Channel and PBS Sprout. In this first part I'll take a look at a couple of my current favorite shows on Nick Jr., and in later parts I'll tackle the other networks and any other shows I come across.

    Nick Jr. bills itself as "Pre-School on TV" and doesn't have ANY commercials whatsoever. In between shows they will show short animations that are often puzzles for kids to solve. It's really quite genius actually, and without this channel I dare say I wouldn't have been able to survive the last couple of years staying home with my daughter. I don't like EVERYTHING on the station, but there are a few standouts:

    Yo Gabba Gabba is about the hippest live-action show for kids that there has ever been. Taking equal parts from past greats like The Electric Company, Sid and Marty Krofft, 80's-era video game nostalgia and the vinyl toy movement, this show is a treat for the eyes and ears. DJ Lance Rock is our funkadelic guide who brings his five designer toys to life with a shout of "Yo Gabba Gabba" at the beginning of each episode. The figurines, desgined by noted viny toy company Kid Robot, spring to life in a cartoon like environment, each possessing a unique appearance and personality. There's Muno the tall red cyclops, Foofa the pear-shaped pink fluffy thing, Brobie the little green striped one, Tootie is a generic blue monster with prominent fangs and Plex is a yellow magic robot. I think it's cool that the genders are even, two boys, two girls and a robot, though Plex does sound like a guy.

    Every episode has the gang explore some sort of basic emotion or feeling, like "Happy", or "Friends" and there are a number of recurring elements that tie scenes together. In between there are songs from an eclectic group of acts (The Roots, The Ting Tings, Aquabats) and appearances by all sorts of celebrities who do a Dancey Dance with the gang. Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, who is also a producer, does a drawing segment and animation by Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer are just some of the weird mix of stuff that goes on in each episode. One of my all-time favorite sequences is Paul Williams singing his classic "The Rainbow Connection" with a weird monster band, and actually going into the rainbow and walking around. It's a stoner moment for sure.

    The one bad thing about any kids show is that there are typically not as many episodes as other shows, and thus you end up seeing the same one over and over, and I certainly have seen enough repeats of "Yo Gabba Gabba" in the last three years. It's on every day, multiple times a day, often the same episode will be repeated during the day. IN fact, there's 53 different airings of the show according to my U-Verse in the next 14 days. That's a lot.

    The other eye-candy show on Nick Jr. may surprise some people, it's Wow Wow Wubbzy which is a computer rendered show that doesn't look at all like CG. In fact, it looks a bit more like flash animation, but it's not. The title character is a yellow creature with a bouncy tail who along with his friends Walden, Widget and later Daisy have all sorts of stereotypical kiddie adventures. It's not the plots that make this show great, but rather the overall weirdness of the show, and it's really odd way of integrating celebrities into it's universe.

    Personally I really like Widget, the pink bunny rabbit who happens to be a whiz at electronics and builds everything you can think of in order to make everyone's life simpler. Oh and all the gadgets are the "something or other 3000", so that's funny. Widget is also a girl, which I think is great because it provides another example to my daughter that girls can do anything, and I'm very, very pro-female empowerment.

    There are all sorts of interesting or rather "kooky" characters in the Wubbzy-verse, including a smilesaurus named "Silly", a magician named "Moo-Moo" and a dance instructor "Madame Zabinga". Sports celebrities Tiki Barber and Michelle Kwan and entertainment personalities Jann Carl and Ty Pennington have also appeared on the show. Beyonce Knowles also appeared in an extended story arc that saw Wubbzy appear on an American Idol type show and have a brief, metoric, Hollywood career.

    Wubbzy is really a feast for the eyes and ears, as the music is quite catchy, if not a bit repetitive. It's nowhere near as bad as some of the music on other shows (Dora, Diego)

    Lemme know if you guys like this and I'll continue.
  2. Cool list. She may be a bit young for it, but I recommend Adventure Time, Flapjack and Regular Show. They are geared more towards 7-10 year olds, but she might be able to pick up on the fun in it.
  3. Nah, she's four, she's got plenty of time for older kids shows.
  4. I have a 1 year old nephew and we were watching Wonder Pets and they had Frank Sinatra on lol. We also watched an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba and they had Tony Hawk on killing this mini pipe haha. Good shit. Best Cartoon ever though is Chowder hands down. :cool:
  5. You should have her watch some of the old 90s shows.

    I think Doug, Hey Arnold, and the Angry Beavers are all on demand(if you have comcast of course)
  6. You know, I've seen some of those shows, and I know that they're very popular amongst millenials, but I'm not a big fan. I think the stuff that's on right now is much more inventive and fun.
  7. Yup I feel ya on that. Plus if your kid is 3 then Nick Jr is just the way to go. Its on like 24/7 in my house when my nephew is in the living room.

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