Some of you may be aware that I recently accepted a new nannying position. I am not going to talk a lot about it just at this moment, although I will say that things are going well, and the kids and I get along swimmingly. However, among the many changes in parenting style I am getting adjusted to (and there are many in every household) is the whole hour of television the children are allowed to watch per day. As a result, I am becoming more thoroughly acquainted with the current batch of children’s television programs here in America. Posted here for your edification are my preliminary conclusions.
1. Nickelodeon Jr. and Playhouse Disney differ primarily in that the former offers Dora the Explorer, while the latter provides Handy Mandy. Handy Mandy wins, though, because it gets to be politically correct Hispanic program and Bob der Baumeister in one. Plus, it is less irritating.
2. My Friends Tiger and Pooh is incredibly annoying. (What, did someone have a problem with Christopher Robin?)
3. I miss hand-drawn animation.
One of the other programs that the kids seem to like watching, Little Einsteins, initially struck me as being horribly pretentious. Given the name, I concluded, without even watching the show, that it was primarily targeted toward parents who wanted to make sure that their children would be smarter than everyone else’s by giving them television programs into which classical music and famous pieces of art had been not-so-inconspicuously integrated. I had to shift my opinion slightly upon the discovery that the kids actually liked the show, and having seen a few episodes I concede that it isn’t all that bad. The theme song is particularly catchy. I still think it’s pretentious, though. I you want your kids to be exposed to classical music, you can just as effectively give them Looney Tunes.
I sometimes wonder what type of personality it takes for someone to be a live star in one of these kids programs. Shows such as The Wiggles and Imagination Movers strike me as particularly baffling. I imagine it would be hard enough to act foolish on your own, but doing it with a group of four other guys? You’d have to be either incredibly comfortable with yourself, or else completely the opposite. That being said, kudos to the four guys who do Imagination Movers. Children’s shows routinely try to break the forth wall in an attempt to stimulate some form of interaction on the child’s part. Usually this involves some sort of physical movement (waving, clapping, ect.) or else a vocal response. It amuses me to watch these attempts fall flat in most scenarios, but for some reason, the kids do actually dance to the songs in Imagination Movers… at least, every once and a while.
Oh, and the fourth wall reminded me of Steve Burns, former host of Blues Clues, who of course did that very thing all the time. I heard someone tell me once that he committed suicide, which is why he is no longer on the show, and that made me very sad. Today, I actually looked it up to see if it was true. Turns out Steve is alive and doing very well. According to Wikipedia, he left the show because didn’t want to go bald on children’s TV. He is currently the guitarist/vocalist for his own indie/alternative rock band, and isn’t half bad. Way to go, Steve.