Life beyond Barney
May 13, 2015 4:43 AM   Subscribe

AV Club has recently completed a series of articles on kids shows that parents won't hate: The Pre-K Years, K-1st Grade, 2nd-3rd Grade and, finally, 8 kids shows to avoid at all costs.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (126 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
8 kids shows to avoid at all costs.

CTRL-F "jessie": 1 of 1

Very well. This list is at least acceptable.
posted by Etrigan at 4:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


No Avatar: the Last Airbender ? FAIL!!
posted by Pendragon at 4:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Disney-sitcom viewings can result in a rise in attitudinal behavior

Oh snap.
posted by phunniemee at 4:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wondered if Caillou would rate a mention.

Next week, we wrap this all up with a list of kids’ shows to avoid at all costs. If you’re concerned about whether Caillou will be on that list, rest assured that Caillou was the reason this entire Inventory series was invented in the first place.

Ha!
posted by Rock Steady at 4:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [25 favorites]


Peg + Cat and Dinosaur train are very good picks in the PreK range. I also dig that they've gone for then stuff that's very much for the kids whether or not parents latch on to it - nobody is going to watch Blues Clues for fun, but it's solid. If you didn't have kids you might think it goes in the same bucket as Barney.

Poor old Dora. TBH there's nothing majorly wrong with it except how it sounds, which is relentlessly and obnoxiously high pitched and difficult to ignore.

Oh, and once a year our kids big cousin visits and prints with her the obnoxious Disney sitcom of the moment, which sticks around like a plague until they go back to normal viewing. A curse on all those things.
posted by Artw at 5:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I got one of the biggest laughs in my life while watching Wonderpets with my daughter.

At the beginning of each episode, there are shots of all three pets in their enclosures. Each shot contains foreshadowing as to which animal they will be saving in that episode. On this particular episode, it was to be an alien from space, so when they cut to the guinea pig in his cage, you can see him forming Devil’s Tower out of his wood chips.

From my experience, they don't do a huge amount of pop-culture references on this show, so that was so totally out of left field that I just busted a gut laughing.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Nice to see shows like Wordgirl getting a nod too.
posted by Artw at 5:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


nobody is going to watch Blues Clues for fun, but it's solid. If you didn't have kids you might think it goes in the same bucket as Barney.

I have no familiarity with the show, but it seems like Steve is a pretty decent human being.
posted by BrashTech at 5:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, all the PBS kids stuff is pretty good (Thomas excepted, but mostly because he's a stooge). babyozzy is just getting to the point where she recognizes and enjoys TV which is, of course, double-edged. Right now she mostly enjoys clapping and dancing with the number and letter of the day, but when she's able to understand a little more, I'm glad there are options other than the obnoxious and, frankly, sad dreck on Disney Jr.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had successfully blocked Barney out of my memory. Until now. Aghhhhhh!!!!!!
posted by Mogur at 5:24 AM on May 13, 2015


Man, they were so spot on with that current Disney Channel assessment. The characters are complete assholes, not only to the parental figures to each other.

These shows are like crack for my kids and it drives me nuts how they keep sneaking it on the DVR when I'm not paying attention.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's not on there but that my kids (3 & 6) like a lot is Octonauts. My husband and I both kind of secretly like it too. And I am convinced that one day the stuff I've learned about squids will come in handy at pub trivia.

As huge nerds, we also love Phineas & Ferb, even if the younger one is technically "too young" for it. But the music is catchy and the jokes are spot-on.
posted by sutel at 5:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd like to add a wonderful Canadian show to the mix: the Octonauts. An awesome underwater adventure show, featuring actual science! 1 of 1 8-yr olds at my house highly recommend it!
posted by Vindaloo at 5:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm really surprised they didn't mention Pocoyo, which has a lot of redeeming qualities (narrated by Stephen Fry!), but perhaps it skews too young (2-3 years instead of 4-5).

Or, it just occurred to me, maybe you don't have Pocoyo in the US?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


You can get Pocoyo on Netflix, or at least you could a few years ago.
posted by sutel at 5:35 AM on May 13, 2015


PREEMPTIVE WARNING: Do not watch any of the below linked videos with a child present, unless you wish to enter the endless hell of Finger Family videos:

This is great for relatively modern shows, but there's a whole weird sub-culture of kids videos on YouTube, and they get weird. For example: there are about a million different versions of the international "finger family" song, with creepy heads on crudely animated hands, as seen with these dinosaurs that shoot fire or fart out noxious gas clouds, and the really confusing dinosaurs standing in ruins, with animated flowers in the foreground, which was apparently popular enough to warrant a cheap knock-off. And there are variants for any theme you can imagine. While asking the internet "why the hell finger family," I found HELL BOY FINGER FAMILY VIDEOS. And that is videos PLURAL.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Speaking of weird fingers, I kind of liked Oobi.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Glad to see Peg + Cat on the list for pre-K. My 2-year old enjoys it every once in a while and his mom and I like that it's all about numbers. I'm a fan of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, primarily because Martin Short voices The Cat.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The two not mentioned here that get the most airtime in our house are Peppa Pig, which I like a lot even though I am apparently Daddy Pig, and Umizoomi which I guess is sort of okay but probably not listworthy.

The BIG thing that the youngest has latched onto through some horrible confluence of events is Youtube videos of adults unwrapping toys and playing with Shopkins and playdoh, like Cookieswirl C. Those things are just creepy and weird and, apparently, kid crack. Ugh.
posted by Artw at 5:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised Korra alone got the nod instead of ATLA or ATLA and Korra together, on age appropriateness if nothing else. Granted, I'm not a parent so maybe I'm just overly cautious? But Korra season 3 has fairly explicit depictions of torture and murder, and 2nd graders are 8-9 year-olds. OTOH Doctor Who is also pretty dark and small children watching it has never given me pause, so hmm, have to think on this one.

I would've given Spectacular Spider-Man the nod along with Ultimate -- as far as superhero shows go it's up there with the best of the DCAU.
posted by bettafish at 5:48 AM on May 13, 2015


nobody is going to watch Blues Clues for fun, but it's solid.

The thing that brought me around on Blue's Clues was reading that (at least at the beginning) they sorted each episode's clues Hard-Medium-Easy and then intentionally ran the same episode each day for a week, so kids could "go back" and A) feel smart for "getting" the Hard clue on subsequent days, and B) see how the clues evolved.
posted by Etrigan at 5:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The first time my son sat down and said he wanted to show me something it was Adventure Time. I wondered about the mushrooms in the pasta sauce we had just eaten, but ok, I was safe on the couch and none of that was actually on the screen. My housemate kicked himself off a stool. That show just works on so many levels and you are really missing out if you don't watch it with your kids.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just want to point out that Chuggington is superior to Thomas the Tank in every way, especially if you have girls.

And no matter how charming there show is, by the hundredth time your tot asks for it, you will wish you had stuck with YouTube videos of cats, or better yet, no screen time at all.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


You can watch Pocoyo in English on YouTube, from the official Pocoyo - English channel, which has links to other language versions under the header "Planet Pocoyo."

Other enjoyable kids shows we've found on Netflix: Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, which is also on YouTube, where we found that there's an American version and an Australian/UK version with different voice actors.

In the realm of "annoying, but with redeeming educational value" are the Leapfrog videos, which are on various video sharing sites and Netflix.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:58 AM on May 13, 2015


I'm still rather find of stuffy reactionary old Thomas, partially because of all the model work, partially because it's message of "nobody gives a fuck about you except for the work you do, and probably not even that" is just so alien to the modern kids TV landscape.

Modern CGI Thomas can go die in a fire.
posted by Artw at 6:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I couldn't see any reason for putting Chuggington in there either. It's fine, although neither of my boys has ever been into anthropomorphic trains. It's certainly better than Underground Ernie.

If these were British lists, I would hope to see the Tweenies on the hate list. Bland, adult-sized muppet children from hell.
posted by pipeski at 6:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Surprised that AV Club is a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. It felt horribly limiting of children's ambitions to me and made a pretty strong case for iron clad class and gender roles from which there's no escape. Even the older Ringo Starr stuff is very culturally conservative although I agree with the writers that the later CGI iteration is ghastly.
posted by dmt at 6:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


2nd graders are 8-9 year-olds

FWIW 2nd Grade kiddo is very into Harry Potter, which is pretty murdertastic.
posted by Artw at 6:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Having done my time, I'll say that those lists are a pretty good assessment of things.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:06 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing that brought me around on Blue's Clues was reading that (at least at the beginning) they sorted each episode's clues Hard-Medium-Easy and then intentionally ran the same episode each day for a week, so kids could "go back" and A) feel smart for "getting" the Hard clue on subsequent days, and B) see how the clues evolved.

I remember reading that, too. Here's a write-up on the methodology, including the multiple test airings of each episode with kids, to be sure the show would provide the message intended.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:07 AM on May 13, 2015


Nice to see My Little Pony in it's context as a very good kids show and not as some other thing.
posted by Artw at 6:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


...nobody is going to watch Blues Clues for fun, but it's solid. If you didn't have kids you might think it goes in the same bucket as Barney.

My kids were way into Blues Clues, and I kind of enjoyed it, too, mostly for the gentle fun and engagement my kids got out of it. To even associate it with Barney is...I don't even.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




Barney was banned in my house. Fucking dead-eyed purple spawn of hell.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:09 AM on May 13, 2015


I had successfully blocked Barney out of my memory. Until now. Aghhhhhh!!!!!!

So I used to work at a fairly popular syndicated morning show that had a wide variety of guests and "talent."

One morning we had Barney and his two little midget dino-minions on. The morning was a shit show, in many ways but two moments stand out:

The body and the voice of Barney are done by two different people. The thoroughly assholic Exec Producer first met the body in costume, who voicelessly held his arms wide for a hug. He got a hover-handed half-assed showbiz hug and a lot of "that's very nice, very good, ok ok ok." About two minutes later the voice of Satan came online. He had been in a different part of the studio and not privy to several moments before so he immediately said "Good morning Mr [Exec Producer] how about a hug?" EP shot him a look full of daggers and said "I JUST HUGGED YOU."

Second, one of the dinosaurs was either freshly shitfaced or still drunk from the night before.

Good times. Hated that fucking show but it was fun on occasion.
posted by nevercalm at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Peppa, Pimpa, Barbapapa, and Sophia the First take their turns as current tot obsession in our house along with Hello Kitty and Frozen.

And those torturous finger family videos have had a silver lining as Peanut #1 has taught herself colors and twinkle twinkle little star in English via the suggested videos bar. And I know that's the source because they only speak in Italian at her preschool and I gave up singing rhymes to her; she'd smack my shoulder until I got the message "Mamma you're tone deaf. Shut up."
posted by romakimmy at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2015


Some additional suggestions for the "avoid at all costs" list:
- Grandpa In My Pocket (how could any child enjoy this??)
- CGI Peter Rabbit (even more annoying than Thomas)
- the irritating adventures of Bookaboo
- Pajanimals
- anything involving the god-damn Wiggles
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2015


Related to the topic at hand: Just How Do 'Thomas & Friends' Drive Sodor's Economy? (NPR, May 12, 2015)
Duncan Weldon, an economics correspondent for the BBC, has a new baby and a toddler at home. "I became over-interested in Thomas the Tank Engine, probably as a result of sleep deprivation," says Weldon. He recently sparked a Twitter conversation with his analysis of Sodor:
There are elements of a stakeholder model at work. Whilst there is little evidence of a works' council, the interests of the staff do seem to be taken into account at times. Suppliers are clearly valued and there is a certain long termism at work. Profit, in the short term at least, is very much a secondary consideration. Maybe the Rhine flows through Sodor? But this theory is too neat.
In Tuscaloosa, Ala., law professor Paul Horwitz grappled with similar Sodorian issues back in 2008, watching Thomas on TV with his two-year-old daughter while he was at home recovering from surgery. "It's possible the reason it was fascinating was the morphine," admits Horwitz.

Like Weldon, Horwitz shared his views in a blog post, called "The Law and Economics of Thomas the Tank Engine."
Sleep deprivation and pain killers: making children's TV more interesting.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Teen Titans Go and Clarence are pretty funny even by adult standards, though they tilt toward the silly and surreal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


2nd graders are 8-9 year-olds

What, are they doing vanity sizing in primary school now?
posted by phunniemee at 6:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The little kids' (pre-K) show that I loved, when my kid was of that age, was Kipper. Animated british dogs and a pig, all walking upright and living in houses - with the lives of human kids and without parents. All very calm, appropriately mischievous, and nice to each other. I swear I could watch Kipper for hours. I like it when little kids come over, so I can show them Kipper on Netflix. Love Kipper.
posted by sheldman at 6:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Any list that doesn't have the Canadian cartoon Justin Time listed is missing a true gem. It is a boy with his imaginary friend that imagines a place goes there. So the first person he meets when he gets there is Olive, who seems real and a little older and in the know about being a Klondike gold miner, or a chef or anything that is period appropriate. Justin usually gets a hat, she's in full costume. Then they meet a guide, and by the end you've gotten a lesson in responsibility or kindness as well as your history. At the end, Justin and squidgy leave when his mom calls, and he is back in his room. It is non-violent, educational, imaginative, and nurturing. Most importantly, it stands up to re watching by kids and adults.

They don't dumb down history too much, which is an amazing feat given the topics they cover.

If you've got Netflix, there are at least two seasons to watch.

Second show worthy of praise is probably Tumble Leaf, which is an Amazon Prime original. It's good, they find a thing and learn a concept by the end - maybe a lever, maybe a spring... It is just good, safe, educational creative television. Also, it is gorgeous.

Last recommendation that I fell in love with was little princess. She might be a real princess, and she might be in a real castle with a real admiral and general and prime minister and maid... Regardless, the audience sees those roles from her perspective: so the prime minister is someone to play with. The admiral hangs out at the pool with a life ring around him, and little hints of actual job function are combined with real struggles of little kids... Like sharing, being overbearing, hiding from consequence, and if course feelings. Three seasons are available on Netflix. Even my son secretly likes the show. It is safe, and the relationships are real albeit weird.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find most of this list to be pretty spot on. Agreed that the new CGI thomas can diaf, Blue's Clues isn't fun, but it is solid.

On the other hand, I've just never understood the disdain for Caillou. When my kids whine, it's a lot more annoying than that! I find the adults in Caillou's life are good role models, and overall it is a positive show. It's not something I would pick, but it's an ok, easy going short. If I had to kick a show off the "good" list for whining, it would be Wonder Pets.

Surprised Martha Speaks isn't on the good list, but word girl is comparably good and on the same network.
posted by Violet Femme at 6:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Very surprised not to see Yo Gabba Gabba on the list. Maybe it's well-known enough not to warrant a mention.
My son (3 going on 4) gets these obsessions, and Blue's Clues is his latest. It's fine, and it's lots of fun to watch him dance and shout at the screen. Although, he referred to it at one point as "Puppy and Daddy." I don't think I look like the host (he's been watching Joe; I know, I know) especially considering I haven't worn cargo pants since high school.
Before Blue, we watched those They Might Be Giants DVDs on an endless loop. It got old after a while, but it was pretty that my kid's favorite band was one of my favorites, too.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 6:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mom used to teach preschool, and the only show I ever heard her say she actively disliked was Barney. Not because she ever saw it, but because she always saw the kids go into this sort of Pavlovian hyper-active freakout whenever they saw or heard or otherwise were reminded of Barney, and that always struck her as pretty suspicious, like there was some sort of weird subliminal cult thing going on or something.

Blues Clues, on the other hand, she really liked. She even made up a very simple Blues-Clues type of game as a way of introducing the conversation she had with them about how she was about to retire.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Surprised Martha Speaks isn't on the good list...

There are two kinds of kids born post-2000: those who have tried to feed a pet alphabet soup, and those who have never heard of Martha Speaks. I love that show too, but only a little bit after I've cleaned up the kitchen.
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know 15-year-olds who watch Caillou ironically.
posted by chavenet at 6:26 AM on May 13, 2015


I used to know a parent who was convinced that the Teletubbies were a conspiracy by the British to destroy the rest of the world's language skills by exporting the show worldwide.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry any list that has "Max and Ruby" as a "best of", is a list devoid of any credibility.
posted by JPD at 6:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lots of good stuff I agree with on this list, but family's current favorite, which is still very new, needs an honorable mention: ODD SQUAD.

Imagine a math-themed X-Files with Spy Kids production values, that is absolutely silly and knows it. It's full of Arrested Development style callbacks AND it teaches word problem-based math and logic!
posted by sleeping bear at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I used to know a parent who was convinced that the Teletubbies were a conspiracy by the British to destroy the rest of the world's language skills by exporting the show worldwide.

Nope, that was Boohbah
posted by chavenet at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


ODD SQUAD

Yeah, what I've seen of Odd Squad has been very good. Similar in spirit to Square One, which was one of my favorites as a kid.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have an almost-three year old, and we are rocking out with
Doc McStuffins, for good natured play and climatization towards doctors
Sarah and Duck, and some Peppa Pig for the British calmcore.
posted by Theta States at 6:40 AM on May 13, 2015


My favorite Peppa Pig factoid is that there's an episide that is banned in Australia - actually for quite sensible reasons.
posted by Artw at 6:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Peppa Pig is my secret obsession.

<british accent>MOMMMMMY</british accent>
posted by destrius at 6:49 AM on May 13, 2015


I used to babysit a little kid who watched Barney and Friends endlessly, and after so many hours I couldn't stop noticing how all the kids were significantly older than the show's target audience. (Fun fact: Selena Gomez was one of the And Friends! When she was ten!) It makes sense, of course, because the show has a bunch of singing and choreography and corny juice-commercial acting, and preschoolers don't have the necessary coordination or focus. But I kind of felt bad for the Barney actors, annoying as they were; imagine all your fifth-grade classmates knowing you work on Barney.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2015


Thanks to Mefi's own jscott, the original Anti-Barney League Newsletter that made the BBS rounds back in the day is preserved for our edification.
posted by dr_dank at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


What's not on there but that my kids (3 & 6) like a lot is Octonauts. My husband and I both kind of secretly like it too. And I am convinced that one day the stuff I've learned about squids will come in handy at pub trivia.

Yes! 3 y/o loves it, and I have learnt plenty of interesting stuff (probably about 1 in 5 episodes has me Wikipediaing something). Also, the various incongruous accents all the animals have are hilarious.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2015


I understand why Uncle Grandpa is on the "avoid" list, but it's charmingly surreal and dumb like a big ol' dog. My favorite episode is "Grounded," where the gang banishes a kid to hell for defying his dad and Uncle Grandpa.
posted by Small Dollar at 7:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My favorite Peppa Pig factoid is that there's an episide that is banned in Australia - actually for quite sensible reasons.

One person complained and they pulled the episode. Remarkable.

"There have been 27 recorded deaths in the past 100 years caused by spider bites."

In the United States, an average of 6.6 people die from venomous spider bites each year.

I think it's safe to say we can lay all those deaths at Peppa's feet.
posted by chavenet at 7:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a 6 year old girl and 4 year old boy. Right now Octonauts (Creature Report! Creature Report!) and Peppa Pig are doing the rounds, which I both like. Maybe the accents make them more tolerable. Doc McStuffins, Dinosaur Train, and Kipper are still on play. The boy LOVES Thomas, which is neutral to me. I wish Wonder Pets was available on Netflix.

The one I absolutely CANNOT stand and will dive to change the channel before it comes on is Special Agent Oso. I think it is made for 6 month olds. Oso, a special agent bear (?), travels around the world to help children with such imposssibly challenging tasks as buttering a piece of toast or kicking a soccer ball. It is mind-numbing and completely age-inappropriate for my kids, but they love it if it comes one, which I will do anything to prevent.
posted by ElleElle at 7:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


My kids are 10 and 7 now and watch NOVA and Cosmos and the like, but back in the day the heavy-hitters in our house were Dinosaur Train, Blue's Clues, Bob the Builder, Thomas, and the queen of them all, Wordgirl. Wordgirl is the best show, you guys. Especially the episode where the Butcher gets a kitten and names it Lil Mittens.

Barney, Teletubbies, and Wiggles were banned in our house.
posted by altopower at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm glad Little Bear was on the pre-k list. Oswald, based on the Dan Yaccarino book, is another great one. Squiggy is the voice of the selfish penguin, Henry.
posted by Francolin at 7:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


We don't have cable, so whenever we visit friends with the Disney Channel, the kids watch the tween shows for hours. The strange thing is, they don't laugh, or even react at all to any of the wacky hijinks of these shows. They just stare blankly at the screen for hours, liked they've been pithed. There's no enjoyment, but they lose all motivation to talk or move.

And afterwards, yes, they are more prone to act like little assholes.
posted by bibliowench at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wordgirl is the best show, you guys.

Proof of this lies in the IMDb cast list, which shows that all the cool people voice villains on the show (Weird Al Yankovic, John C. Mcginley, Patton Oswalt, and on and on...)
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Odd Squad is great. Has also featured most of the members of Kids in the Hall in guest roles, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The pitch meeting for Special Agent OSO must have been one for the ages:

"Okay, picture James Bond recast as a brain-damaged stuffed bear who can't fart and chew gum at the same time. He is waylaid by the simplest of tasks and is pressed into service assisting children who are constantly under surveillance for any sign of difficulty making a sandwich and kicking a soccer ball."

Disney Exec: "That's fucking great! More bath salts, please."
posted by dr_dank at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The first time Dora implored by kid to jump to his feet and shout as loud as he could to help her, that shit got turned off forever.

Jesus fuck, Nickelodeon, don't you know that one of the primary functions of children's television is getting the children to sit down and stfu?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Handy Manny is also crap, if for no other reason than the breathtaking cynicism that went into its creation.

Fat, Cigar-Smoking Disney Exec:
What do you mean we don't have the hispanic kid or the builder guy? Fuck it: give me a show with a Mexican who fixes things, STAT.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just came by to say DINOSAUR TRAIN!!!!!!
posted by maryr at 8:01 AM on May 13, 2015


We told my daughter that our TV wouldn't play Dora which worked just long enough for her to not be interested in it. My god I hate Dora's voice. (fun anecdote: I was once accused of being racist because I didn't like Dora.)

Sponge Bob? we don't let our kids watch. Mean-spirited humor and not very funny.

Cannot say enough good things about Gravity Falls. I'd watch that even if my 8 year-old daughter didn't. Bonus: great love between the siblings in the show.

Also in the not mentioned category: Blaze and the Monster Machines is decent, and loved by my 4 year-old son, who has demonstrably learned some scientific terms from watching it.

Also HUGE Pocoyo and Backyardigans fans in our house. I wish Backyardigans was more popular than it is. Great, funny, writing that doesn't usually bash your heads with Message. And the music is fantastic — some of the songs are incredibly catchy, plus it's a great introduction into so many different styles of music. And, finally, both kids like Peppa Pig, which in itself is reason enough to watch it. Plus it's introduced the term "clever clogs" into our family vocabulary, for which I cannot thank it enough.
posted by papercake at 8:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love you
You love me
Let's hang Barney from a tree...


Five year old daughter here. I loathe, loathe, loathe Caillou. Dora doesn't bother me too much, except I find the moments where she pauses for a viewer response and just stares silently out of the screen at you supremely creepy.

Much love for Wonder Pets. The munchkin is over it, but I'll still put it on from time to time myself just because it's so cute and joyous. To the fly boat!

The ones she's currently into that I appreciate are Pocoyo (it's on Amazon streaming, too), Yo Gabba Gabba, Adventuretime, and Paw Patrol. She also really likes the various Veggietales movies. I object to the bullshit proselytizing at the end of them, but for the most part the actual stories themselves are entertaining, with enough meta-humor in them to appreciate as an adult, and have decent morals that I don't mind her learning. I just try to turn them off before the religious claptrap at the end, until she's old enough to explain it, and our objections to it, to her.

(I mean come on, when one of the characters in "Lord of the Beans" dresses up in a white sparkly suit and sings songs to his unrequited elven crush, only to be greeted with the response "You're no elf! You're just an elvish impersonator!".... how can you not love that?)
posted by jammer at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2015


jammer, my kids love Veggie Tales too, and I feel the same way. Also the songs are kind of catchy and I caught myself singing one of them recently.

Also, Phineas & Ferb is a little too old for my youngest, but we all love that show a lot.
posted by sutel at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2015


Is anyone else watching Clarence? My kid started in on that and I find it hilarious and unpredictable. I gather there was a kerfuffle when the nominal creator turned out to be mentally ill. But the show itself is a treat. Basically, Clarence is a chubby, slovenly, dopey elementary school kid with little to recommend him except for his indefatigable good nature... which always ends up being just enough. The show takes some weird turns, like the episode in which the school is "sponsored" by a fast food fried chicken company, only to be turned into a brainwashing camp for minimum wage earning chicken slingers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


No Futurama? No Malcolm in the Middle? Jeesh
posted by ian1977 at 8:14 AM on May 13, 2015


Who are you lunatics who like Peppa Pig? Can't stand that show (although I do a hilarious Daddy Pig snort).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2015


Chuggington is super boring, but it lacks the "very useful!!!" anxiety factor of Thomas, and it has female characters, so I'll give it a pass.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, SheZow is pretty decent. It was oversold quite a bit with the oft-repeated claim that it was the first trans kids show. Basically, there's a boy named Guy who inherits his favorite aunt's magic ring that allows a person to transform into a (female) superhero named SheZow. It's not at all an examination of any part of the trans experience, though. It's just a gimmick to help Guy learn some respect and regard for women by walking a bit in their shoes (or heels as it were in this case.) It's not quite as awesomely progressive as you'd hope from the premise, but it's nice as a sort of introduction to feminism for little boys who like superhero stuff.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My nephew was over one day and found a show on Netflix called Larva. It's basically a minion-esque show about larvae. My nephew loves it because it has fart jokes. After watching, we usually have to play Larva, which involves rolling around on the floor making fart noises.

My cousin wouldn't let his daughter watch Dora because she speaks Spanish and that's "against our culture."
posted by dirigibleman at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2015



Transformers: Rescue Bots is a decent show, but suffers from excessive toy introductions after the first season.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2015


Francolin: ". Oswald , based on the Dan Yaccarino book, is another great one."

Oswald is like being on a very gentle, very strange LSD trip. I would watch it every day of the week. It has zero logic as to which creatures/plants/things are animate and which are not; which can talk and which can not; it's soporifically calm; and Fred Savage is somewhat inexplicably talking to you. Very trippy.

It freaks me out how much my kids learn from Wild Kratts. Why is it so educational????
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Love: Peppa Pig
Neutral: Dora
Hate: Caillou

Caillou's only redeeming feature is that Andy Partridge keeps singing "we're only making plans for Caillou" in my head.
posted by Slothrup at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My three year old is obsessed with Larva, too. Probably because I think it's gross and seriously limit how frequently he watches it.

I love Peg + Cat and Dinosaur Train and none of my kids could give less of a shit about those shows. They are very fond of WordGirl, though, and they like Arthur and Octonauts.

My two year old is so obsessed with Thomas that it's not unusual for him to be dressed inside and out in Thomas underwear, socks, pants, shirt, jacket... some of that show is truly horrifying (Henry didn't want to get his paint wet so Sir Topham Hatt bricked him up in a tunnel? Wow. Dark.) but like most little boys, my kid just wants to see them go off the rails or get scared of things.

The best thing I ever did was ignore the pediatrician warning about screen time and plop my first baby in front of Fraggle Rock from a very early age. Now he will watch Fraggle Rock with no hesitation and I can actually sit down and enjoy the television too.
posted by annathea at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2015


I don't have kids, but a pizza joint I sometimes have lunch at is usually playing Caillou when I go in (because it's next to a day care and often filled with kids). I find it's much easier to deal with if you note Caillou's physical resemblance to Bill Dauterive and assume that he's Bill's illegitimate son.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: involves rolling around on the floor making fart noises
posted by dr_dank at 9:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I generally agree with this list, but Max and Ruby?

Beyond the whole Ruby being like a kid rabbit version of Hyancith from Keeping Up Appearances, there's the broader question of where the HELL are these kids' parents?

You see other adults, so it can't be like all the adults are gone. And you see Grandmother, but she doesn't live with them. So. Where are their parents?

While my daughter watched it, I concocted this theory: You remember there was an HIV awareness commercial on US TV about 15-20 years ago where it was 11 year olds taking care of the house, and then the voiceover said something like "In parts of Africa where HIV is epidemic, the oldest person in the household averages 11?"

Max and Ruby's parents died of rabbit AIDS, and no one has the heart to broach the subject. Also explains why there are so few rabbits of "birthing years" in the show, too.

It seemed like a horrible, crass thing to think, but then Adventure Time came along and its "Mushroom War" origin story, so hey, maybe there is something dark in the past of Max And Ruby.

It did make the show more watchable (though mostly we were just waiting around for Backyardigans.)
posted by dw at 9:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Handy Manny is also crap, if for no other reason than the breathtaking cynicism that went into its creation.

Fat, Cigar-Smoking Disney Exec:
What do you mean we don't have the hispanic kid or the builder guy? Fuck it: give me a show with a Mexican who fixes things, STAT.


I wouldn't even be surprised if Manny's full name is Manuel Labor.
posted by chavenet at 9:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


And can we talk about Bubble Guppies? I could never get past the fact that it all takes place underwater but they have airplanes down there.
posted by papercake at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good morning!
posted by erniepan at 9:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder whatever happened to Peep and the Big Wide World.

This was a Discovery Channel show on early in the mornings that introduced science and nature concepts to kids. Not just the typical "red + blue make green!" kind of stuff, but also making hypotheses, observations, etc.

The show won me over completely with one particular episode, The Many Moons of Quack the Duck.

In this episode, two of the main characters actually argue back and forth about a "fact" they are both convinced is true: one believes there is exactly one Moon and it appears in different phases and colors. The other is convinced that there are multiple moons and one decides to come out on any given day.

The episode concludes with the stalemate that neither can conclusively prove their case and they decide to leave it at that and choose to disagree but remain friends. I mean, this is a kids show! That's a pretty heavy concept to lay on the little ones but a seriously important tool in scientific discovery and discussion.

(And Joan Cusack narrated. Bonus points there.)
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


God, I wish I could get my 4-year-old to watch ANYTHING but Dinosaur Train. He's been on a Dinosaur Train jag for, like, a year now. And it's not like it's a bad show but Jesus, there are like a dozen shows on that PBS Kids app, would it kill him to try another one once in a while?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:48 AM on May 13, 2015


I totally forgot Masha & Bear, which I sort of love in dubbed Italian or the original Russian even though I don't understand a word; the English dub sounds a bit weird to my ears though.
posted by romakimmy at 9:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dora got quickly banned at my house when the Map showed up.

Current rotation includes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which I suspect most of the Mefi crew will hate because Disney, but it's fine and has the usual teaching stuff included.

Pocoyo is cute and a little quieter. We often put it on before bedtime.

Dinosaur Train is excellent. I appreciate it using real dinosaur terminology.

Blue's Clues gets a lot of play, as well as Team UmiZoomi, because they're both targeted right at my son's Pre-K age.

Shaun the Sheep is absolutely hilarious, and I will happily sit and watch with my boy.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


+Ruby Gloom, Odd Squad, SciGirls
-Chowder, Zig & Sharko, Fleabag Monkeyface
posted by rocketpup at 10:05 AM on May 13, 2015


Transformers: Rescue Bots is a decent show, but suffers from excessive toy introductions after the first season.

I would go one better and say that the first season of Rescue Bots is a delightful, clever, sometimes downright witty cartoon with a gloriously weird "no technology is too weird for the inhabitants of this right-out-of-Stephen-King New England island" setting. Also: Tim Curry.

Second season's still pretty good, but yeah, the unsubtle toy stuff is meh. On the whole, though, it's one of my favorite cartoons. I'd watch it even if I didn't have kids. It's basically Transformers: Friendship is Energon.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:08 AM on May 13, 2015


If I ever end up having kids, one show I'll make sure to expose them to is "Hey Arnold". Most of the current appreciation I have for that show is simple nostalgia, but the show does a fantastic job teaching diversity on all levels, and it gave me exposure to Jazz. The show is HEAVILY set in late 90's/early 00's, so it'll be interesting to see how it ages and what remains intelligible/relevant.
posted by Philipschall at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, we watch some Rescue Bots too. The Professor is voiced by LeVar Burton! Also I enjoy Chase's deadpan delivery of law citations.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:11 AM on May 13, 2015


In our house, it used to be Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Sofia the First with an occasional Caillou and Sarah & Duck.

Now it's Team Umizoomi (ugh), Bubble Guppies (ugh), Paw Patrol (ugh), Cat in the Hat (good) and Dinosaur Train (good).
posted by cuscutis at 10:27 AM on May 13, 2015


I am thankfully beyond watching little kids shows, but I found it striking how few shows were good for girls, even/especially shows that were otherwise nice:
1. Max and Ruby - Ruby is hectoring and classic little girl bossy, but Max is always right. Otherwise, nice pacing and gentle in a sweet old fashioned way.
2. Little Bear - are you kidding me, mom (or grandma?) bear wears full length dresses and hangs around the house all day and dad (or grandpa?) bear comes home from work. Otherwise, nice pacing, gentle, and gizmos.
3. Ensemble shows - have boys and girls, multiple races, but the main one is almost always a white boy, a la Little Einsteins and another where a quartet danced in bold colors then went on the road.
4. Teen titans. Are you kidding me? That's worse than Caillou for disrespect and nasty boy Robin is terrible to the token girl. And it's loud.
5. Thomas the train. Terrible on gender; its whole outlook is so Victorian I'm surprised they don't have workhouses for trains that don't perform. But we did have a great tie in book that told stories of each train in a different kind of poem - sonnet, ballad, haiku. Smash, crash, troublesome trucks.

\rant over

[I have boys, but TV isn't making it easy to avoid casual "girl stuff" disrespect. Even the otherwise great Phineas & Ferb treats Candace a little shabbily. Peep and the Big Wide World was my favorite child's show. Sometimes my spouse even Chirps collecting/organizing obsession mentions - blue things and blue crinkly things to get me to laugh. Poor OCD Chirp in that one episode.]
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:36 AM on May 13, 2015


Even the otherwise great Phineas & Ferb treats Candace a little shabbily.

I can see the point, but there is also the idea that Candace is at a complicated cusp between being a small child and being an adult, i.e. "being a teenager." There seems to me something deeper to the running gag that she can see all of P&F's childlike wondermachine summer backyard miracles, and yet wants to tell on them, and yet never can. It's a fairly neat metaphor for a lot of complex feelings seemingly present at that age (boys & girls alike). There are lots of girls in P&F who are rolled right into the fantasy backyard world; Candace seems to be sort-of left out, sort of left-in. The kids don't fret too much about her, the adults just roll their eyes at her perennial wolf-crying. "Mom! Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence!" seems the perfect cri de coeur in her case.
posted by chavenet at 10:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons: " But we did have a great tie in book that told stories of each train in a different kind of poem "

Ooh, what's the name of that book? We have a Thomas Tells Time talking book that I swear has taught my four-year-old to read an analog clock. I bet he would like that.
posted by Liesl at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


4. Teen titans. Are you kidding me? That's worse than Caillou for disrespect and nasty boy Robin is terrible to the token girl. And it's loud.

I'm convinced Teen Titans Go! is aimed totally at Gen-X parents and has nothing to do with the kids. There are way too many in-jokes that crack me up and my kids don't get at all.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:05 AM on May 13, 2015


dmt: "Surprised that AV Club is a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. It felt horribly limiting of children's ambitions to me and made a pretty strong case for iron clad class and gender roles from which there's no escape. Even the older Ringo Starr stuff is very culturally conservative although I agree with the writers that the later CGI iteration is ghastly."

Yes, but that was balanced out by the fact that I do an *excellent" Sir Topham Hatt voice.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2015


4. Teen titans. Are you kidding me? That's worse than Caillou for disrespect and nasty boy Robin is terrible to the token girl. And it's loud.

Are you thinking of the right show? Two of the five characters on Teen Titans are girls so I don't even know who you're trying to describe as "the token girl", and that's not at all an accurate description of Robin's dynamic with either of them.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why Your Children's Television Program Sucks - a series including Max & Ruby, Thomas and Friends, Super Why!, The Fresh Beat Band, Dora, Chuggington, and Wow Wow Wubbzy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Our daughters 3 and 5 don't watch a lot of media, but we've found some good stuff, and the process of evaluating it has been interesting.

There are a bunch of fantastic Austin Stevens episodes on youtube. Don't miss the one where he catches a gila monster with his bare hand, tickles it, and then feeds it an egg! Or hauls a huge snapping turtle out of the swamp. He conveys a love and respect for nature and reptiles in particular that I think is really valuable given how both are usually portrayed in culture.

I distrust Disney implicitly, and was not thrilled when they discovered Tinkerbelle at another kid's house. With no boys in the family, it's easy for our kids to get into a girls-only bubble, and I try to counter that tendency. I didn't care for the body types and the girl-cliqueiness in Tinkerbelle, but plot-wise they're pretty good. She's a mechanic who solves problems and takes pride in her abilities.

Another one they like is Shawn the Train. A peculiar chap, but loveable. Cartoon lessons in language, shapes, colors, and math are given a calm friendly delivery I think is really great especially for the younger set.

I don't know if it's still being made, but we're pretty big fans of Clifford the giant red dog too.

Didn't know Little Bear was a show; the original book is one of the faves here.

+1 for Peg + Cat. There's a music-themed iOS app my 3 year old really digs.
posted by maniabug at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


These lists always make me sad that international audiences don't automatically receive the wonder that is CBEEBIES here in the UK. Programmes from 7 am to 7 pm, with no ads, just cute little connecting bits using real presenters, pretty much all of them educational and many of them just awesome. Plus you get cool one-off specials such as the Cbeebies prom, ballet and of course a pantomime ever Christmas. My kids alas are slowly growing out of CBEEBIES into the unknown that is CBBC (soo looking forward to Horrible Histories) and I am going to personally miss Sarah and Duck, The Adventures of Abney and Teal, Twirlywoos, Dinopaws, Small Potatoes, Mr Bloom, Show Me Show Me, the gorgeousness that is Bing, Nina and the Neurons, and so many more.

On the downside, of course, you have Waybuloo. You think Caillou is bad; try five minutes of Waybuloo.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you like Gravity Falls, I recommend Star vs. The Forces of Evil. It's really great. My (7 yr old) son and (5 yr old) daughter both love it, as do I.
posted by joelhunt at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My 3.5-year-old has obsessively watched Curious George for about a year and is now really into Peg + Cat, which I think is an improvement. The musical bits are a nice touch; he's learned to walk around the house singing "short-short-short-LOOONG" (Beethoven's 5th).
posted by daisystomper at 12:19 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The disturbingly named Uncle Grandpa on Cartoon Network shows what happens when you just throw in weirdness for weirdness’ sake.

Hey, I resemble that remark. "Uncle Grandpa" is about everyone's ambiguously-related relative who is, in fact, one of their parents' gay best friends who always shows up with fun, assumption-upending gifts and factoids. Or is this an exclusively Northern Californian phenomenon that the AC club simply doesn't understand? All of my friends had one of these growing up. It hits you around age ten that Mr. Gus isn't just his best-roommate-friend who always shows up to family functions for some reason and you're all like, "waaaait -- OOOOhhh, I get it! They're clearly way more in love with each other than mummy and daddy are!"
posted by Mooseli at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


(My evidence for this:
- Rainbow suspenders
- Upside-down pink triangle on the door of the RV
- The ongoing couple dynamic between Uncle Grandpa and Mr. Gus
- Stuff in pretty much every episode, just check it out, it's a really cute show)
posted by Mooseli at 2:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Programmes from 7 am to 7 pm, with no ads, just cute little connecting bits using real presenters, pretty much all of them educational and many of them just awesome.

On the very rare occasion we watch the ITV kids shows (mainly just Pepper Pig) instead of CBeebies, I always find the sheer volume of toy ads incredible.
[kids show] {TOY AD} {TOY AD} {TOY AD} [back to kids show {sponsored by TOY AD}]
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2015


What's not on there but that my kids (3 & 6) like a lot is Octonauts. My husband and I both kind of secretly like it too. And I am convinced that one day the stuff I've learned about squids will come in handy at pub trivia.

Totally agree! Octonauts is brilliant. The original books were wonderful and it survived the transition to a TV series. The latter is a different thing and the surreal is gone but the wonder at the mysteries of the deep is still there. Oh, to be six, huh?
posted by dmt at 2:14 PM on May 13, 2015


When my daughter was younger, our go-to shows were Jack's Big Music Show (great guests -- Buddy Guy as the King of Swing!) and Backyardigans. Worst one, to me (since my daughter thankfully hated Dora), was Franklin -- it was banal and slow, and why was he he only character with a first name? His best friend was a bear referred to as... Bear.
posted by AJaffe at 2:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quoted for emphasis:
If you take nothing else away from this four-week Inventory, take this: Watch Gravity Falls.
Any 'kids show' that takes inspiration from X-Files and Twin Peaks (and Lost when it was good) is something television NEEDS badly.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:55 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also I enjoy Chase's deadpan delivery of law citations.

He's half the humor, yeah. Him sing-shouting "WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, THE ROBO-BABY WILL LOSE ELEVATION PRECIPITOUSLY" had me busting a damn gut.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Liesl: The Thomas poetry book is Railway Rhymes. It's the only Thomas book I didn't loathe, because it's fun to read, and you can mentally discuss style with yourself. And honestly, who can dislike a trouble trucks haiku. I did read selectively, omitting the 4-6 page ballad of Henry, i which Henry is bricked into a tunnel for vanity/stubbornness. Boy is that one long.

Chavenet: A really interesting take on Candace in P&F. She definitely gets her day in the sun too; what differentiates her from sisters in other shows, is the actual love P&F show for her and the fact that she's all dreamy eyed over a boy who's actually worthy, not a bad boy. And, I love the meta moments in show. "Let me tell you my backstory...." Or the entire episode in caveman grunts where every trope is recognizable. Or the one where Candace time travels and we see the first episode (roller coaster) all over from a second perspective.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 5:31 PM on May 13, 2015


Oh you had to mention Candace. Best line in a kids' show EVER:

(Phineas and Ferb clone Candace in their Molecular Separator. Candace #1 calls home.)

Candace: "Moooommmm, Phineas and Ferb made ME!"
Mrs Flynn: "Um, I've got some stretch marks that would say otherwise."
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Our three-year-old is deep into Thomas, much to my dismay. (Seriously, there's like three female trains on the entire island. One is bossy, one is motherly, and one is incompetent.) His very favorite one is the Blue Mountain Mystery movie, which manages to completely and horrifyingly outline the creepy "1950's-era Christian fundamentalist God" vibe of Sir Topham Hatt, who will smite you and banish you from "Sodor" if you aren't sufficiently "useful."

He also really likes the new Curious George series, which is tolerable if you don't have to pay close attention. Though why everyone still seems to *like* George and allow him to do things is confusing to me. (The answer is that George is actually a three-year-old and everyone wants to let him "help" the way we do with Archie, but in-universe it's a little weird.)

Somehow no one has yet mentioned DipDap, which is easily my favorite of the "things that will hypnotize Archie for twenty minutes when necessary". DipDap is wordless, which bypasses most of the annoying aspects of children's programming. It's not exactly educational, but it usually involves some surreal puzzle-solving aspect, or at least changing perspectives and knowing parts of a whole. Episodes last about five minutes, but they come in five-episode chunks (on iTunes, at least). Highly recommended for preschool age, IMO.
posted by Scattercat at 11:43 PM on May 13, 2015


I am without children, but when I was in my mid-30s I accidentally discovered Teletubbies. I finally had some idea of what an acid trip might be like.

I stopped watching shortly after the narrator uttered one of the most amazing sentences ever constructed; I knew the show could get no better after this: "One day in Teletubbyland, it was Tinky-Winky's turn to wear the skirt."

Captain Kangaroo, we miss you.
posted by bryon at 12:39 AM on May 14, 2015


It should be stated for the record that if your various tv/cable/streaming/disc options allow you to show your kid of four or younger Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, you should totally do that. Because that show is still straight-up magical. And the way he teaches kids to deal with their feelings? It's amazing, is what it is, even all of these years later. Low-tech, low-budget, slow pace... don't worry about it. The exhilarating warmth of that man's gentle love and respect for all kids still works all these years later. Don't skip it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Scattercat: "The answer is that George is actually a three-year-old and everyone wants to let him "help" the way we do with Archie, but in-universe it's a little weird."

My favorite episode of Curious George is where there's a new firefighter in town and he's asking the other firefighters something about George, and the senior firefighter says, Oh, that's just the monkey that lives nearby and is always wrecking stuff, just roll with it, and then adds in a hesitant voice, "This town is ... not normal." Cracked me up.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:40 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Glad to see Blaze and the Monster Machines got a mention upthread. My four year old ADORES it. I was like, whatever, monster trucks -- I wasn't watching very carefully -- until one day at dinner we had the following conversation:

"When things are moving, Mom, they like to stay moving."

"Yes, that's correct."

"And when things are stopped, they like to stay stopped."

"Mm-hmmm."

"And that's called inertia!"

"Mmm -- wait, what?"

Then he explained how an internal combustion engine works.

In conclusion: two thumbs up for Blaze and the Monster Machines.
posted by KathrynT at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


I stopped watching shortly after the narrator uttered one of the most amazing sentences ever constructed; I knew the show could get no better after this: "One day in Teletubbyland, it was Tinky-Winky's turn to wear the skirt."

Maybe you missed the Bear & Lion episode?
posted by chavenet at 3:33 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I missed that one. Holy crap on a cracker. What were those people on?
posted by bryon at 11:15 PM on May 14, 2015


No love for Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom? Same people as Peppa (same voice actors too).
Best. Show. Ever.

I have a crush on Nanny Plumb, which is really not right -- because I'm an elf! /blows horn....
posted by couch at 3:47 AM on June 5, 2015


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