Kids’ TV: Decoded

Every once in a while, I let my kids watch TV. Not too much, mind you, just long enough to let me have (at least) one glass of wine, run a load of laundry and take an uninterrupted phone call. I usually turn it off once they glaze over. To help guide you through the plethora of kids’ programming, I’ve included some of our house favorites, broken down into basic plot structure.

Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder: As I understand it, his team is assigned a task, they bungle it up, then rally together and fix it as a team. I know the takeaway is supposed to be working together to solve problems, but I can’t help but feel that they’re costing that fictitious city a fortune (the resounding answer to “Can we fix it?” should be “We don’t know!”) It should also be noted that no one is surprised by talking construction machines.

In the Night Garden
In the Night Garden

In The Night Garden: Every night, strange creatures straight outta Pink Floyd’s The Wall whisk you away to a “garden in the night.” Activities include, but are not restricted to: riding in a pinky-ponk, zipping along in a ninky-nonk, and dancing to weird, character-driven incantations. And people wonder why kids resist bedtime.

PJ Masks
PJ Masks

PJ Masks: In keeping with the nighttime theme, three kids dress up in pyjama costumes at night, become endowed with super powers and fight crime (or their pyjamas become costumes? I’m a bit fuzzy on details.) I get it – working together as a team, blah blah blah. It sets the bar pretty high for my kid, whose current superpowers include surviving on air and picking his nose until it bleeds. Thematically, the parent in me is concerned that three small children roam the streets at night looking for trouble. But that’s me.

Curious George
Curious George

Curious George: I never liked this story: A baby monkey, whose only crime is curiosity, is kidnapped from his jungle home and made to live in a Manhattan apartment with his monochromatic captor, known only as the Man in the Yellow Hat. Mayhem ensues, because it turns out that little George, who by now has Stockholm Syndrome, is less “curious” and more ”monkey on a rampage”. Further implausible is the fact that no one in the community has checked city by-laws to see if the man can actually keep an exotic pet, even if it’s clearly a surrogate child-figure.

Handy Manny
Handy Manny

Handy Manny: This show is no longer on the air, but it’s a cult fave in our house. Manny, who lives in Sheetrock Hills, fixes the town and solves problems with his anthropomorphized tools, all while never taking so much as a penny in salary. I’ve learned more Spanish watching this show than in all my years watching Sesame Street. Unlike Bob the Bozo, Manny can actually fix things right the first time. I’ve always surmised that Manny was unstable and that the tools couldn’t talk at all, but everyone pretended otherwise to keep poor Manny from going over the edge. My husband says I’ve lost my inner child.

 

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