Kids TV – No, you’re not the only one.

The eloquent and witty SAHDandProud has vented his spleen about the TV he and his kids watch.  He wonders if he’s the only one to loathe and despise the majority of the edutainment out there.

You’re not alone.  Oh, trust me, you’re not alone!

SAHD, you’re only scratching the surface!

The Bad.

In the Night Garden.  Really, who dreamed this stuff up?  And what sort of a contract do they have Sir Derek Jacobi under?  Are they holding his nearest and dearest hostage?  None of the characters can actually speak.  If they can speak, it’s little more than their name.  And there’s the issue of scale.  Let’s get this straight.  In the real world, some things are bigger than others and some things are smaller.  This does not change from one second to the next unless mind-altering chemicals are involved.  But this happens all the time …in the Night Garden.  As an aside, this is the reason behind the shopkeepers in League of Gentlemen.  When the show started on the radio, the character of the shopkeeper changed height frequently for the purposes of whatever joke was involved at the time.  This just wasn’t practical for TV and so the legends were born.

Postman Pat.  If ever anything celebrated the incompetence and general cack-handedness of an individual, it’s this.  For years now, Pat has been delivering the mail …with hilarious consequences.  A typical episode will involve him having a single expensive item to deliver to a certain location by a certain time.  Does your postman do this?  Nope, didn’t think so.  In the course of the episode said item will be dropped, carried away by farm animals, mis-delivered to one or more wrong addresses before finally arriving (miraculously safe and sound) at it’s destination in the nick of time.  And that goes double for Special Delivery Service.  Who thought it was a good idea to trust Pat and his smegging cat with a helicopter, anyway?  It really does put the “special” into special delivery.

The Fimbles.  If ever there was cause for a Doom mod, it’s the Fimbles.

One common thread running through a lot of these programs is that if your name is in the title, you’re going to win.  No matter how stupid it seems, no matter how forced or contrived the victory, you’re the named individual and you’re going to succeed.  Bob the Builder has never had a contract fail despite the best efforts of his machines to screw things up.  Pat has never apologised for losing a parcel.  The Real World (capital R, capital W, if you’re taking notes) DOES NOT WORK LIKE THIS.  If you behave like this in the Real World you will experience life as the Unemployable.

Other things that annoy me.

  • Badly-done CGI updates of puppet/claymation shows.  Bob the Builder.  Thomas the Tank Engine.  You don’t need CGI!  Leave them the hell alone!
  • Things that don’t speak properly.  You’re trying to teach kids to speak, not make noises that are almost but not quite speech.
  • Repetition.
  • Have you got your squiggle sticks ready?  They’re CRAYONS you moron!
  • Tweenies.  Tellytubbies.
  • Repetition.
  • Changing the schedules.  Okay, so this has to be done from time to time, but some of us time our exit from the house based on when a certain show starts/finishes.
  • Repetition.  I know we’re not meant to have the TV on through the whole day, and I don’t!  But if I switch on in the morning and see a particular Show Me, Show Me, why should it have to be the same one again if I happen to switch the TV on again in the afternoon?

The Good.

There is some good stuff out there.  The Dr Who Retirement Home that is Tree-Fu Tom, The Octonauts.  Timmy Time & Shaun the Sheep.  Yes, Tom’s on my hit list as “individual named in the title and therefore can do no wrong” but the animation is well above average.  Peppa Pig – leaving aside the fact that Satan appears to be voicing the elephant, the humour in this is clearly aimed at the grown-ups watching along with their kids.  And that’s the key to making it work for me.  The humour.

If it’s pitched right, the humour will hit both the kids and the adults.  Programs like The Shiny Show, Peppa Pig, Octonauts and their kind have managed this.  And these are the ones we love.

Making it More Bearable

Sometimes you just have to sit down and watch with the smalls.  It’s expected.  So, to keep your mind active, try and link shows together.  There’s a small set of voice actors providing the voices for the majority of the CBeebies shows.  The voice of Scoop on Bob the Builder also crops up in Octonauts.  If you’re not paying close attention, it can get confusing.  I was in another room when Andy Hamilton first appeared on Peppa Pig and wondered why the kids were listening to Old Harry’s Game.  So see how many times a particular voice actor crops up during your viewing time.  It gets even weirder when they crop up in proper TV – Pete vs. Life, for instance…

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