Reviewing childrens’ TV from an adult perspective

Like anyone with a toddler at home, our TV is permanently glued to the children’s TV channel.  Treehouse TV.

I watch a lot of these children’s TV series these days.  Enough to form opinions of them.

Big and Small

I like it.  I often wonder why Big doesn’t kick Small’s self-centered ass to the curb.  But it’s funny, with that straight-man/funny-man comic duo thing happening.  And the songs are often surprisingly good.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Somewhat formulaic, but apparently classic.  All the real train lingo appeals to the latent trainspotter in me.  I kinda prefer the earlier ones shot with physical models over the later CGI ones.  They’re primitive, but they have charm.  But even the CGI ones play it pretty realistic, unlike…

Chuggington

An obvious rip-off of Thomas.  I find it very distracting how the CGI trains bounce and flail around all the time.  I just don’t think a 70 ton locomotive should bounce around like a caffeinated chihuahua.

Franklin

This is actually quite watchable.  Not too formulaic.

4 Square

Episodes are very short, just filler really.  Each episode is one of the four different segments.  I will review each of them separately.

I’ve got a rhythm, gonna review it with ya

Moronic.

Review what the doo-wahs review

Moronic.

Poem

Moronic.

Ronaldo, review the segment.  Hup!

Mind-numbingly moronic.  Metito, wipe that ridiculous #$%^%# smile off your face.  Hup!

In the Night Garden

This is apparently the new Teletubbies.  Kinda trippy.  About 15 seconds of story, stretched out to 30 minutes, but can be fun if you’re in the right frame of mind.

The birds… I mean, “tittifers”… are disturbing.  They look like real birds, but they move like they’ve been hollowed out and their innards replaced with jerky robotics.  Way down near the bottom of the uncanny valley.

Waybuloo

WTF is this shit?  Crystals, yoga, chanting, meditation, levitating CGI creatures?  It’s a steaming pile of New Agey spiritual mumbo-jumbo.  It’s downright creepy.  The poor human kids that appear in this thing… I expect they’ll be permanently damaged by the experience.

Roll-Play

Ron shakes his fist at the irritating show.  Shake your fist!

One of the kids reminds me of a bully I knew in public school.  I dislike it for that reason alone.  But it’s also really stupid.

Wonder Pets

Lame-o.  Mega lame-o.  Painful to watch.  Why do they have to keep singing the same damn song over and over?  Why don’t they use some of that teamwork to whip up some new songs?

3rd and Bird

Not very interesting, not very lame.  Just boring.

Backyardigans

Sometimes manages to draw me in, somehow.  I like how the stories explore different parts of the world, different periods in history, different genres.

Manon

Weird-looking animation.  3D CG animation but rendered to look like 2D cel animation.  It doesn’t work for me.  And why does she have those four big thick black hairs, in addition to her regular hair?

Guess with Jess

I think this is supposed to teach kids the scientific method or something.  But they never really answer the question themselves.  The cow always hands them the answer.  In real science, there’s no talking cow to give you the answer.

Toopy and Binoo

Seriously trippy.  The people who make this show are getting some really good shit.

Max and Ruby

Pretty formulaic, but can be funny.  Max has some great toys, like the Screaming Blue Alien Gorilla, and the wind-up clockwork lobster that chases him around.

The Wot Wots

I like this one.  I like their crazy steam-punk spaceship.  Somehow I wasn’t surprised when I noticed that Weta is involved.  Probably the same guys that make this stuff.

5 Responses to “Reviewing childrens’ TV from an adult perspective”


  • Hey, I _LIKE_ The Wonder Pets. They’re not too big and they’re not to tough but when they work together, they’ve got the right stuff.

    I haven’t even seen half of these shows — even after 2 kids but it’s probably just a difference in what time of day the TV goes on. Sometimes, I wish they wouldn’t show the same thing at the same time every day. Mix it up!

    Clara agrees that Chuggington and Waybuloo are crap. She’ll have none of that.

    We haven’t seen much of it but Yo Gabba Gabba is pretty strange, bro.

    Ni Hao Kai Lan: tolerable but fairly weak show that attempts to teach a few Chinese words to kids. Between Kai Lan, Dora, my sister, and the odd bit of French we’ve taught her, Clara has had exposure to a good number of languages. At some point, she knew words for colours in English, Greek, Spanish, French and Chinese. That’s pretty cool.

    Wow Wow Wubbzy: I’m not even really sure what these characters are but they’ve had some cool gadgets. It got tiresome pretty quickly.

    Dora: Hated it for a long time though somehow it became more tolerable over time. Maybe it was the continuous exposure therapy. Clara now hates Dora and for that I am grateful but Quinn likes it. At least we get to reuse Clara’s Dora merchandise. It’s the ultimate in formulaic. It’s the ultimate in marketing engines — her face is on everything except the obituaries page where it belongs.

    Word World: This is a series on TVO and most of the objects & characters are made from 3D representations of the letters that spell their name. Pretty clever at times and quite watchable despite the obvious educational aspect. Clara and Quinn both like it and I like that the episodes are really short (good for the “okay, but you can only see one short thing” moments).

    Mister Maker: We all like this craft show. Clara LOVES crafts. It’s kinda like the old “Art Attack” show which totally rocked but lacks the super-cool large-scale “what is he making” art-with-common-objects-as-seen-from-above segment. Art Attack, surprisingly, continues today with the very same host but it is just a shadow of its former self.

    The Mole Sisters, Little Bear: Snore. Spare me.

    Dragon: Slow and repetitive yet oddly compelling. I have no idea why I like it but I do. Claymation can be cool.

  • Haha. Very entertaing read! I have a 3 year old son and can totally relate. The worst is when one of the songs is stuck in your head. The wonder pets song or Barney always gets stuck in my head…drives me crazy! What about the Australian show the wiggles? What do you think of that?
    My son used to like in the night garden but now I think it creeps him out as it doesn’t make any sense!
    I’m actually lucky as he’s switching over to the cartoon network and watch classic like scooby doo now.
    Interestingly at work I helped clear goods for one of the guys on the waybuloo show. He didn’t think I would know it. Lol.

  • Too funny! I think every parent who needs a break has used the idiot box baby sitter.
    I haven’t seen any of the newer shows…my son is eight now and I’m (gladly) out of the loop. We also discontinued our cable subscription after I installed an antenna on the roof- something I highly recommend- and since YTV is cable only, he no longer can watch it. He has, however, discovered that you can watch cartoons on the computer!
    Yo,Gabba Gabba, (which I still keep calling Gabba, Gabba,Hey!)is Teletubbies for hipster parents. It does have its moments, though. I almost fell over the first time I saw this Two Tone inspired piece
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZtzR8rSH_s&feature=related
    I’m a ska fan from way back…

    My wife and I also made up alternative, off-colour lyrics to the various program’s theme songs as a way to keep from going crazy. When we discovered another set of parents had their own versions, we nearly split our guts reciting them to each other!
    This is a tame one;
    “Dora, Dora, Dora, reads the Torah; Boots who’s super cool jumps the menorah. Grab your skullcap, OK! Stop kvetching, Oy vey! You can lead the way…”

    Great post…
    I actually came to your blog to see what you’ve been up to, kegerator wise. (Had bad luck, I see…Yikes!)
    Cheers.

    • Yo Gabba Gabba… I didn’t review that one because it’s in a timeslot that we never catch. But I have seen it once or twice.

      Giant red dildo.

      Enough said about that.

  • What is Tv teaching kids nothing get them to read a books not watch tv.

    trust me much better for the brain you can use me as an example if you must ( the example of the harmful effects of tv on kids lol).

    Thanks

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