Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sensing The Need

In the last post, as I nattered on about all things Dora, and then lamented that Sara preferred her to Blues Clues, I realized something shocking. Some of you, you who do not have small children, are ignorant of such shows.


Had you not spoken up in your lovely comments, I would have gone blithely on my blogging ways, and you would be reading something else. But, noooooo. You brought this to my attention and therefore I feel compelled to wax lyrical and rant rancidly about pre-schooler shows. (Sorry, Cagey, I just couldn't resist, and you are unlikely to hop in the car and drive 2 states up to hunt me down, especially with your adorable but noodle-necked infant. I am hoping by the time he gets head control, you will have forgotten my using your blog title in such an off-handed way.) You have no one to blame but yourselves.

OK, some housekeeping to get out of the way:

First, Sara received a total of 4 Dora presents: 3 jigsaw puzzles (from her loving mom) and 1 loud, mechanized, battery-operated, gyrating Dora (from her indulgent, and possibly vengeful, paternal grandmother). As no one chose "cuatro Dora gifts", I will fall back on the set of Dora and Boots toys that adorned her cake and add them in to make "cinco Dora gifts". Everyone applaud Jamie, who wins bragging rights. This is especially impressive as she has no two-legged progeny, at least none that she admits to. Three- and four-legged progeny, yes, but they do not seem to need much in the way of heavily marketed toys, being content with sticks, snakes, walks, and balls.

Second, yes, my kids watch, *gasp*, TV. How the hell else am I able to get all this cleaning and closet organizing done that I seem to go on and on about with them always after me to "play" and "color" and do "homework" with them? (If anybody takes that as anything other than complete and utter sarcasm, I will slap them and then mock them for the next 12 months running.) The truth? We watch TV. Some. Some days more, (I have no problem with a sick kid lying on the couch chain-watching show after show.) some days less, some days not at all. We mostly watch Nick Jr (the pre-school Nickelodeon channel) and Noggin (has essentially the same shows, having seemingly purchased their whole line-up from Nick Jr and just shifted the time slots).

Now, on to the shows, from the standpoint of an adult in the same room with them:

Dora the Explorer: The premise is that a bilingual Latina girl and her best friend, Boots, the monkey, go on errands with her talking backpack and talking map. The map knows all and the backpack holds all. There is always a set of 3 things they must get through to achieve their destination. Repetition is key. Repetition is key. Repetition is key. This show annoys the crap out of me, which as an adult, it should. I do like that the lead character is female and not Caucasian. Plus, Sara really is learning some Spanish, like hollering, "ayudame, mommy!" when she wants help. Marketed up the ying-yang as evidenced by all the loudly mechanized dolls and accessories and plates and towels and underwear. A couple of loud dolls are unleashed on the public each holiday season. My mother-in-law will purchase them all, because Sara needs them.

Go Diego, Go!: A spin off of Dora. He is her bilingual cousin who rescues animals and lives in a tropical rain forrest / animal refuge. He doesn't have a talking backpack, he has a talking rescue pack, that has everything. Of course, all the animals talk. Not quite as annoying as Dora, but close.

Blues Clues: The original show was with Steve (Steve Burns) and a cast of animated animals, like Blue (his dog), Mr Salt and Mrs Pepper, Shovel and Pail, Slippery Soap and Side Table Drawer. Steve solves a question posed by Blue, who for some reason doesn't speak words, (unlike the furniture and cooking utensils), by finding clues (marked with her pawprint), writing them down in the handy-dandy notebook, and skidooing into alternate realities, like pictures on the wall and books. Then, in my opinion, the show goes downhill, (although not everyone thinks this is the case) when Steve goes off to college (in reality, apparently, joins a band) and turns the house and show over to his sappy brother, Joe. Joe is annoying, like an over-enthusiastic cheerleader. Steve was more underplayed and just a bit simple. Steve was soothing, Joe grating. Just my take. Of course, my kids prefer Joe. I do like the problem solving aspect to this show and I like the animation. I like Steve (no, not in that way). Several people, mostly his students, think Charles looks like Steve. Neither of us think so, aside from the brown hair and eyes, cheekbones, two arms, two legs, pasty, thin white guy thing. Charles is also about a foot taller and does not dimple. He is also a much better conversationalist. And a better dresser. (Steve wears only green stripes and khaki.) We will not speak of the completely vile and wretched Blue's Room spin-off.

Play With Me, Sesame: A Sesame Street spin-off with the irritating Prairie Dawn. It does have Bert and Ernie and Grover (my personal favorite) but not the good, interesting stuff of the real show. (No Cookie Monster in this one, Dana) Sadly, the real Sesame Street show has seemingly been taken over by the high-voiced irritating-to-the-point-of-violence characters like Zoe, Elmo, Prairie Dawn, Rosita, et al. Teri sent me a link that is completely hilarious involving Grover and Elmo, which I have lost. She may feel up to sharing it again. It is not rated G.

Franklin: Animated, sweet, innocuous, but not irritating, bland adventures of the turtle, Franklin, and his friends: Bear, Rabbit, Beaver, Duck, Fox, etc. It is fine.

Little Bear: Based on the Maurice Sendak books. I like this one. Also sweet but not treacly. About the little bear, Little Bear, and his friends: Owl, Goose, Cat, etc.

The Backyardigans: Animated imaginary "real" adventures of 5 animal friends who share a large backyard. This is actually well written and I may have been known to sit and watch it when it was on and a child was involved in something else. I would never admit to such, though.

Miss Spider: Yes, animated. Story of a family of various sorts of bugs, many of whom were adopted and their adventures. Pretty good. Doesn't annoy.

Max and Ruby: Animated show of fat bunnies, centering around Ruby, the bossy big sister, who is very girly, and her little brother, Max, who is naughty. Guess who we like best?

Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: A girl, Maggie, and her friends, Hamilton Hog and The Ferocious Beast, live in Nowhere Land and do interesting things. Hamilton likes to cook. Maggie is curious and levelheaded. The Beast has spots. Likeable.

Little Bill: Animated. (like that's a shock) Created by Bill Cosby. Story of Little Bill and his family, who live in a brownstone in a big city (probably NYC). I like Little Bill. My kids couldn't care less. Diverse characters, interesting animation. Not cloying. I can watch this on my own. Why the hell don't my kids like this show? I suspect a plot to slowly drive me crazy, that would be foiled if we watched Little Bill instead of Dora.

The Wiggles: On Disney Channel. Sorry, Teri, I think this show is horrible. Not necessarily horrible for kids, just horrible for adults in the same room. At least if the adults in the same room are me. Little is interesting, just loud with bad songs and irritating characters. Basically, the only good thing is that the 4 Wiggles have Aussie accents. Grown-ups dressed in costumes in a frantic land; sort of a cross between H. R. Pufnstuf and Pee-wee's Playhouse, without the drug references of the former, or the over-the-top imagination of the latter. "Spooy" but not in the good sense of the word. (*snicker.* Sorry, I couldn't resist. Don't hate me.)

Rolie Polie Olie: Also Disney. This, I love. A mechanized, happy world of round robot people and their living household appliances, furniture, and celestial bodies. Little 'bot, Olie, and his family live next door to his square-shaped best friend, Billy, and his square-shaped, slightly beatnik family. Animation like Robots, which was also created by William Joyce, who wrote several great kids' books.

So there we have it. My personal rundown of some kids' shows. What's that you say? No purple dinosaur? What purple dinosaur? I know not of which you speak. No purple dinosaur shows in MY universe. Now, don't say I never did you any favors or that this blog is lacking in nutritional value. Hey, even Cap'n Crunch has something like 9 essential vitamins and minerals, right? Makes a complete breakfast when accompanied by milk, juice, eggs, 3 bran muffins, and a super-multi-vitamin pill.



Blogger Jamie said...

I'll be signing autographs outside. ;-)

12:59 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

I know all about the kiddie shows from the niece and neph and my ex-psycho-roomie's kids.

I will NOT admit to watching Jakers--The Adventures of Piggley Wink's on occasion. No sir.

I will say that Trash watches it, too, though.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Way to go Jamie!

Here's the link. Grover is Bitter Quite possibly not work-safe.

My kids watch the evil, glowing mind-control box, errrr, I mean t.v. too. some days more than others as well. AND they like the computer games based on the shows. What, you got a problem with me needing 15 minutes of peace and quite once in a while? No t.v. or computer games on school nights, though. Only weekends.

We have a couple of the Rolie Polie Olie books at home, and original editions of the Little Bear books from when C was a wee boy. And LOTs of the Franklin books. We like Franklin.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so very glad that I am no longer an "active"parent, just a goofy grandpere. How does one ever keep more than Misterogers straight?

Goofy Ole RF-er

1:22 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

The purple dinosaur is the anti-Christ. Just so you're all aware.

I have found myself flipping through channels and watching Sesame Street occasionally. I admit it. Because, as we all know, occasionally I am five. Elmo is the most annoying creature ever. I like Cookie Monster. Cookie Monster has the best policy ever. "See cookie. Eat cookie."

Does anyone else remember The Electric Company? Or Sigmund the Sea Monster? Or The Bugaloos (which was completely annoying)?

2:21 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Jamie- There is sure to be a line.

Babs- Denial is a beautiful thing, isn't it? Blame it on Trash.

Teri- I knew you'd come through! That "Grover is Bitter" site is brilliant. My kids like the computer games, too. We have much Arthur, which is a bit similar to Franklin.

Dad- I guess I am just sad that I do keep these shows straight.

Dana- You know, I always suspected that about the Evil One. Yes, I remember The Electric Company. I even remember Romper Room, for Pete's sake. Sigmund is familiar but not the Bugaloos. I think I am thankful for that.

2:52 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Oh, Diana, you take me back! I know many of those shows- Allie was especially fond of "rolly-poly Olie" she loved that show. But, she moved on, and no longer watches such "babyish" shows. "Babyish" is Allie's term for anything she thinks she's grown out of- for instance, the clothing I suggest for her are "babyish"- She moved on to "Lizzie McGuire"- complete devotion to that show for a couple of years, and we needed all things Lizzie, the books, the clothes, the accessories...Lizzie is gone, but has been replaced by Raven, of the Disney show "That's SO Raven"- my husband hates it, but I think its harmless and cute. She also loves "Phil of the Future"- which is actually not half bad, but not nearly so good as "Fairly Oddparents" (cartoon) and "Jimmy Neutron" also a good cartoon.

4:09 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

This is quite the list of children's shows! I am impressed. I think I've heard of one and that is "Dora the Explorer" and most of my knowledge of the show comes from your previous post. Wow.

I remember Electric Company and Seasame Street from when I was a child. The only other thing I watched and enjoyed was "Scooby-Doo". You've given me a new understanding of children's television.

4:31 PM  
Blogger listmaker said...

Oh; I had no idea there were so many of them. We didn't have cable when the kids were little, so it was PBS or PBS. They watched Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. There was another one they watched when they got older, but I can't remember the name of it. And, thank goodness we were victims of that stupid purple dinosaur for only a few months. Other than Sesame Street, I can't say I miss children's shows.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Gack! My head is spinning!

If only we could get Rusty the Cat to watch these shows while we are trying to work instead of pussyfooting all over the desk and knocking stuff over and just being a general pest.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

You are so funny, you should be outside with Jamie signing autographs too. Arthur, Franklin and Little Bear rock in our house. (for the moment anyways) We have a joke that Ellie needs eyedrops when she watches TV-she is so addicted, she barely blinks.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I love your TV show descriptions, and I love that you can openly admit you allow your kids to watch some TV. I asked this woman once if her kid was familiar with a particular show and her reply was, "We don't let her watch much TV." A simple "no" would have been sufficient, lady. No need to assume that's all my kids do all day is watch TV and that you are the superior parent!!

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I have to agree with you about Steve vs. Joe. Steve is the best, no doubt. Maybe Joe is trying too hard to be like Steve. I have the first three episodes when Joe first came in the DVR. My three year old loves them. She now talks about wanting to go to college and which toys she'll bring...we won't burst her bubble about that just yet! My husband hated Blues Clues until our daughter started talking about going to college. Blues Clues now officially has redeeming value, according to my husband! I agree with you about many of the shows with one exception...The Wiggles. First, they have many videos out which are much better than the Disney TV show. Also, until you've seen them in concert (for FREE, courtesy of my husband's company), you really can't judge them. I like two things about them: 1. They write most of the songs they perform (i.e. we're not hearing the same old nursery rhymes we're sick of) and 2. They let kids be kids on their show---no cheesy lines for them to memorize like they do on that show about the purple dinosaur. You probably think I'm a freak now, but I had to say my peace about the highest paid Aussie entertainers.

In summary, Steve Rocks, as do The Wiggles, and I am not a freak! I'll stop now before you start blocking me from commenting.

Adios! (I, too, have learned mucho Spanish from Dora)

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

Colleen- You are insane! The Wiggles are right up there to that irritating purple dinosaur! How many times do I have to tell you how gross they are? Just look at the yellow guys sweaty armpits! Let's not even go into their name! UGH!
Diana...Sorry to "banter" on your blog. I can call Colleen insane and tease her, she is one of my best friends. :)She also did not mention they bought a red van that her daughter thinks is the Wiggles big red car!! The poor child. teeheehee

11:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Stace- I shudder to think of the future: Bratz Dolls and Lizzie McGuire. We like Jimmy Neutron and Fairly Oddparents. Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh have also gained a foothold in Colin's preference.

Beth- We are Scooby-Doo devotees, the original 3 years, where all the mysteries were found to have a human villian behind the works, not the later ones, especially with that horrible Scrappy-Doo.

Listmaker- The explosion of shows, actually channels of shows, is sort of mind-blowing, especially with all the tie-in marketing, which we have not shunned, obviously. Suckers!

Rozanne- Now there's the next craze! TV for pets. I think there was something on that in the Bill Murray movie, "Scrooged". Opiate of the masses.

Kate- I know what you mean. You wonder if some sort of mind control is going on; that they are seeing or hearing something we aren't.

Colleen- Bah! to that mom. Hate that superior shit. I figure we are all trying our best. I shall fantasize that she secretly feeds her kids Twinkies for breakfast, telling the neighbors they are organic grain bars. I love the whole "college" thing with Blues Clues (my snobbish bias rears it's head). That they write their own stuff is certainly a plus for the Wiggles, but I still can't stand their show (as an adult, of course). Comment all you want, and if I think you are a freak, it is only because I am an enormous one, myself, and think we freaks are lovely. So there!

Kate- Banter away on my blog. It makes me giggle. It is sort of like a party where I didn't have to clean or stress over the menu. She has a Wiggles car! That's great! Your auto should amuse your kids, if possible, for soon it will embarass them. A friend of mine just sold his horrible purple van, of course named "Barney".

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

Diana--Freaks of the Universe: Unite! Yahoo! Great party, by the way. I need the recipe for that dip you made! hee hee hee! Going for a ride in The Big Red car is always such fun for my daughter--flash forward 9 years or so to me pulling up to her middle school, asking her friends if they'd like to go for a ride in our Big Red Car. Don't think she'll be loving it (or me) then!!
Kate--You call it "banter", I call it, well, I don't know what to call it. Why don't you quit teasing my daughter and get back to me when your SHOWER is in working order!? HAHAHAHA

9:34 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Oh I know NONE of this! But look, go here and forage around in the comments a bit and you'll know what I grew up with.

I cannot believe you do NOT have Dr. Snuggles (daft name but he was Dr. Sparkles in Port.), though it's a blessing you have escaped DRAGONBALL ZZZ, gahhh shoot me! Or The Limbo Traveller or something, which my Univ. little colleagues still rave abt.

Growing up, we had loads of Eastern European animation shows and they were bloody brilliant, I still remember them. Kids nowadays seem to have more choice- and sophistication-wise - and actually do - but I pity them not knowing Maya The Bee, Heidi, Tom Sawyer, D'artadog,

7:05 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Johnny!- You surfaced! Horrible bones, interrupting your blogging. We miss you. Thanks for the Noorster link. I will go peruse, perhaps over lunch. I am interested.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Parents said...


WHY? has Hamilton Hocks never released a cook book, we are inundated with real life chef's selling their wares but Hamiltons food looks so much more inviting!

Does Maggies mum not wonder where she is? She is left minding triplets that she takes to see a ferocious animal (has her mum not seen this programme!)

Rudy the mouse with the hat and shoes that cannot be removed, WHAT cartoon would be so cruel (our daughter won't wear hats or shoes incase they can't be removed!)

Nedley-The rhyming rabbit has a terrible habbit.Everything sounds in rhyme,time after time after time

The Moo Sisters, have they not released a recording of their beautiful voices? I guess not!

The big duck ... it's just a big duck.

Sidestep the crab... why is he there ? cool name for a crab though !

The Jelly Beans
arnt there tooooo many ? not in Hamiltons Recipe book then ?

Turkey Town ... Who feeds the turkey's?

Last but not least ... The Ferocious Beast, how much does he bring to one childs life, our 2 year old daughter loves him, his humour, his antics and his ability to rise above anything. Above all it is cool to have spots (try telling her that when she is 15)

As you can tell these characters have been imposed on our daily routine by a 2 and a half year old, who DOES run this house?

I would challenge anybody to sit and watch an episode without falling in love with these characters and all that they hold.

Yours Great Googly Moogly from nowhere land!

Ian and Sarah (our first blog)

7:21 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Ian and Sarah- Welcome! It IS a lovely show, isn't it? The thought of Hamilton's pumpkin muffins is making my mouth water at this minute. (It is nearly breakfast time.)

8:49 AM  
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