Kid’s TV from a Parental Perspective

He’s fantastic, he’s amazing… All for one and one for all…Build it up! Dinotrux…Can we fix it?…

Kid's TV
Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

We are parents, hear us whimper into the sofa cushions when we are forced to watch the child’s favourite show for the millionth time. Kid’s TV can bring joy and nostalgia, or it will melt your brain into jelly.

TV for Kids – my observations

The following are the Kid’s TV programs that my son will BEG for when he comes home from nursery. I have given a brief rundown from an adult perspective and rated for adult enjoyability and tolerance. 1 * for diabolical and I want to throw a book through the screen, up to 5 * for I’ll watch this when the child is sleeping

# Bob the Builder – 3***

The UK set stop-motion series set around Bob’s Building yard, his sentient machines and vehicles, his office manager Wendy, and pets.

Bob is perennially uninformed, oblivious and naive. How long can he possibly go without realising that Wendy is desperately in love with him? If Wendy got any more misty-eyed and daydreamy when Bob is around, she wouldn’t be able to see

S1 E Bob is due to enter a line-dancing competition with an unseen character called Mavis. Mavis suffers an injured ankle, and Wendy steps up to help Bob win the contest that same night. Far too much practise, and the convenience of the injury makes me think Wendy has been stalking Mavis with ill-intent.

Lofty the acrophobic crane lorry is perennially indecisive and irritatingly anxious 100% of the time. “Can we fix it? Um, yeah, I think so.”

And don’t get me started on Spud the Scarecrow. Continuously unpleasant, badly behaved and irredeemably insincere when compelled to apologise for his infractions.

# Thomas the Tank Engine (old and new) – 3***

Another British classic narrated initially by Ringo Starr. I watched these as a child (because my cousin was a fan) and as an adult, there are some interesting and slightly dated social themes that don’t sit well, now that I’ve spotted them. Punishment by peer humiliation feels a bit emotionally abusive.

On the other hand, there are timeless themes that still resonate with me now. I even have my favourite engines (and ones I think should be drowned in Brendam Docks). I like Thomas, Edward and, Duck. I think everyone wants to drown Diesel, but I think James should be tarred and feathered.

However, Thomas, the Tank engine has it’s problems. Whenever any of the trains does something naughty or mean or disobedient, they are castigated and disciplined by the Fat Controller, but it is quite clearly stated that doing things like sounding whistles, applying brakes, reducing steam, stopping, etc. all require a driver. Why do we never see the drivers getting a good talking to?

# Danger Mouse – OLD version none of that Netflix remake nonsense – 5*****

I will never apologise for introducing my son to the joys of Danger Mouse. I loved DM as a child, and as an adult, there is just as much to recommend it. It is pure genius, in the way that it marries child-like simplicity with Pythonesque obscurity.

Danger Mouse may appear arrogant and narcissistic, but it just as insecure and sometimes useless as the rest of us. It is all a facade, and I rather like the fact that I see it now.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Penfold is nowhere near as incompetent as he appears, in fact in some episodes I genuinely believe he is playing to the character as opposed to being the useless, cowardly assistant Penfold is made out to be. I’ll even go as far as to say, that it is his feigning of utter ineptitude that has kept him alive through all of their adventures.

#Dinotrux — Netflix – 5*****

We love Dinotrux, and so does our boy. Not only does this fabulous offering combine two of my son’s favourite things, functional vehicles and dinosaurs, but building things too (the boy loves lego and blocks). 

It is a very good showing of things that should matter to us. The primary character, Ty-Rux is “supposed” to be a scary T-Rex imitation, but is as far from the villainous De-Structs character. The “family group” includes representation from rep-tools, tor-tools, T-Trux, crane-osaurs, anchylo-dumps, dozer-saurus (can you spot the naming convention?) all working together utilising common need, common enemy, and individual strengths. 

Not only does it show the benefits of teamwork, acknowledging and embracing differences, and that family can be chosen as well as blood connected, it also maintains some moral dichotomies. “Should we help our enemy who is in mortal danger?” Yes. 

Strategic retreat and alternatives to violence to make a point are also common themes. However, the overall theme of building something great, whether it’s a ‘building’ or a community, despite differences is a fabulous and powerful childhood lesson. 

I’ll be honest, we continue to watch this when the boy has gone to sleep. It’s fun and well-written, with likeable and relatable characters. Who wouldn’t love it?

#Little Baby Bum — Netflix – 1* (only because I can’t give negative scores)

While we love Dinotrux, Little Baby Bum has to be the opposite end of the spectrum. It is an audiovisual soporific. I see the vacant expression on my son’s face when this is on the TV, and I am utterly petrified that his brain is melting. 

In theory, it is just a collection of animated nursery rhymes. In practice, it is a drug that turns brains, child and adult alike, to mush.

I will quite happily allow my son to listen to the entire Pink Fong (of Baby Shark infamy) collection of songs on Alexa, but I cannot bear this travesty because I feel like my ears and eyes are burning and melting.

Kid’s TV at it’s worst!

Special mentions

Here are a few kid’s TV programs that haven’t left me drooling on the carpet in abject hatred yet (but there is still time)

Tom and Jerry is a classic and has little dialogue to underline how often you have watched it. It also has the benefit of being so old that there are HUNDREDS of different episodes.

Dogtanian & The 3 Muskehounds is an old series that I watched as a child. I didn’t read The Three Musketeers until I was in my late teens, and I was surprised how closely the cartoon follows the (slightly infantilised) plot of the book. Obviously, now I’ve read the book I feel the need to point out the discrepancies, as I do with every book adaptation on screen (it’s just how I am).

Duck Tales is a new addition to our viewing, and so far, it’s a big hit. I don’t mind watching it and my son loves it. We’ll see how it goes for repetitious irritation later.

If you have any more kid’s TV that you love or hate, I’d love to hear about it. Especially the ones that you love and why, we are always on the look out to broaden my wee one’s horizons.

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