Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby TV

Four months from now, I will be on the doorstep of fatherhood - if not already there with our little bundle of joy. That thought is finally starting to sink in, that I am going to be raising a little person. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Oh yes!

One of the things I have given a little bit of thought is the question of TV. How much should she watch? What should she watch? (I realize this blog has started off on a more serious note, but I promise you it will get sillier the further down you read.) Let's face it. There's not a lot on TV that I would consider good family television - many shows consist of liars, cheaters, and criminals. But enough about CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN primetime television. What is my little girl going to watch? What can I watch with her that will be entertaining and educational?

Thankfully, I've had plenty of time to watch and review said shows. 26 years in fact. From my own childhood shows to those my cousins would watch, I have seen a number of programs. So I thought I would give a list of my top five favorite childhood/educational shows.

Now before I get to my list, I have to say that I excluded most cartoons, because, well, I don't really know any value a small child can take away from "Rugrats" (Nyla will probably be able to escape from her playpen on her own) or "Doug" (as awesome as that cartoon was) or "Looney Tunes" (I'd prefer for Nyla to keep away from anvils and cliffs). The shows have to have some form of educational value. Let's begin with some honorable mentions:

--Sesame Street: Blasphemy, I know. I like the silly songs and skits that teach letters and numbers. "Here is Your Life" with Guy Smiley is awesome. And Kermit on location for fairy tales is hilarious. But I don't recall being all that into the lives of the Sesame Street residents.

--Muppet Babies: Unfortunately, the lack of education (not to mention the mystery of who "Nanny" is) makes this honorable mention. This was still one of my favorite shows to watch.

--Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?: A great game show for kids? Check. Learning about geography? Check. Yes, I am a nerd. And yes, I would have thoroughly dominated on this show.

Now on to the top five childhood edutainment (educational + entertainment) shows in my not-so-humble opinion:

#5 - Reading Rainbow: "Butterfly in the sky..." I can sing this song almost verbatim still. Who didn't like Geordi La Forge LeVar Burton showing us the world that books and a little imagination can reveal? Some of my favorite "episodes" include the pizza-making day and sports show, but you don't have to take my word for it.

#4 - The Backyardigans: I've only in the past year come to find this show, thanks to babysitting for the little man "F". Five little friends use their imagination outside in their communal backyard. The results? Tales of knighthood, racing around the world, and, my personal favorite, adopting a dinosaur puppy. The songs and dances during the show are funny and get the kid dancing, and the dialogue is that great humor parents will find hilarious, while the kids are just watching the story unfold. Oh yeah, Pablo is my favorite character. (Picture above in the middle.)

#3 - Arthur: Another show with excellent lessons for the kids as well as clever dialogue that adults laugh at. Yes, the kids may never get out of the 3rd grade, and Baby Kate hasn't walked yet despite being around for years, but the show still teaches excellent lessons about friendship, responsibility, and being good people. Hey, what a wonderful kind of day!

#2 - Square One TV: I will readily admit to my complete and total math nerd-ness, but I really do not care. This show was awesome! Created in the late 80s to help America's perceived "math crisis," Square One had many short features throughout the show relating to math - MathMan, Dirk Niblick of the Math Brigade, and many more. What stands out the most for me, however, is MathNet - the Dragnet spoof with George Frankly and Kate Monday then Pat Tuesday (in later seasons). Each episode through the week would build the story, culminating with the conclusion on Friday. Square One was 30 minutes well-spent, and maybe I can find these somewhere on DVD.

#1 - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: I confess that during high school, if I was home sick, I would somehow find myself watching this show. Even in college, if I was home, there was a chance I would be watching this show. Not only did you travel to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, you got to see how crayons, rocking horses, and tricycles were manufactured - plus many more. I was partial to Daniel Striped Tiger, because a) he was a tiger; and b) we had similar personalities. I was so fond of the show that my mom actually got me a book of Mr. Rogers' quotes for my birthday... only a few years ago. If I had one show and one show only that Nyla could watch, it would be this one. Mr. Rogers was everybody's neighbor, and the world was a better place for it.

What TV shows did you watch as a child? What TV shows did you want to watch but weren't allowed?


  1. I used to love Arthur and Reading Rainbow! And I also loved Wishbone. Did you ever watch that? It's about a dog who reenacts literary classics all in 30 minutes. Classic.

  2. I did watch Wishbone, but I never really got into it. I guess I'm more of a math/science person vs. reading... at least I was in school, so Wishbone wasn't as exciting to me.

  3. may i also recommend miss spider and the sunny patch kids. its about a family of spiders and how they learn to work together, love each other, and help others in their community. i love the themes that run throughout the show. i only let my dauhter watch little bear, miss spider and backyardigans, oh... go back to the 90's steve green's hide em in your heart is awesome too!!! thanks for joining to follow my blog

  4. Well I am half a century old this year so as a child I remember loving Mighty Mouse (cartoon) and secretly watched Sesame Street in 4th grade..prob beyond the target audience. Love the Count and Cookie Monster and so many jingles. I think I can still remember some. Hated when spanish started. When my boys were young, I loved watching Gilbert; the boys Mario Brothers. When my daughter came along a decade later...nothing better than Little Bear. And she adored Blues Clues. I loved it while Steve Burns was on. None of my kids were big fans of Mister Rogers'(curses!) but as old as I am I watched it some around the same time as my Sesame Street days. Just when did he start TV?? I remember being fascinated by a crayola episode. Didn't like make believe part. OH!!!And my all time favorite to this day that started when boys were kids is Fraggle Rock...a show that didn't get recognition deserved. Think maybe began on HBO..a Henson original.

  5. Did you know Mr. Rogers' middle name is McFeely????