The Questions Around Arthur

ArthurI like to think of myself as a connoisseur around a few highly important topics.

Certain books and authors, sure. The Beatles, definitely. Classic jazz, I’ve taken the classes. Nerd films like Star Wars? I have three lightsabers in my house, thank you very much.

But here is the thing- over the last few years I feel like I’ve added a new one to my list.

PBS Kids.

Yes, I am now an expert on PBS Kids and I feel I have the power (nah, not just the power, but the knowledge) to back it up, to say what is working and what is not on the lineup of shows PBS gives to our little ones.

There are the shows I love (Wild Kratts [which I wrote an entire post about here], The Odd Squad, Word Girl, and Daniel Tiger [a post here]); there are shows I like (Curious George, Peep and the Big Wide World); there are shows I think that need a lot of help (Sesame Street, I’ve written a few posts about them, but I would like the writers to stop and consider this: parodies don’t work when the audience doesn’t know the reference; all you are doing is negatively impacted their future enjoyment of the work being parodied- mind blown, eh?); and finally shows I think are awful (Clifford and Caillou). I’ve seen them all. I’ve been to the mountain, climbed it and returned with my tale.

Yet, there is one show I truly cannot put my finger on. My opinion changes every time I watch it. Sometimes I feel love for it (real love), and others I shake my head wondering what the writers were thinking.

It’s like leftover night for dinner, when sometimes things taste great and other times you just wish you ordered pizza.

I’m talking about Arthur, based on the books by Marc Brown, one of the great mainstays of PBS Kids, airing now for over 20 years. A show that has grown so vast since it started—with characters, subplots, etc.—that an encyclopedia around the world would not be unheard of. That is the show Arthur, and honestly, I have no idea how I feel about the residents of Elwood City.

Yes, It is my television broccoli. Continue reading

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Dealing With Children Television…

Daniel Tiger's NeighborhoodThere are times I wish I could really turn my critiquing mind off. Put it aside until later or when I am reading a book or watching something more sophisticated.

I can’t.

It’s a curse, and I feel it as a curse each time I sit down to watch TV or a movie with my kids. And while I may have no problem sitting with my kids on the couch, pretending to laugh at the obvious joke, a part of me is screaming to nitpick… nitpick everything!

And many times they deserve it! Come on, The Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot is just asking for it! It’s like those blasted bears are just teasing me!

Which makes this blog a godsend in many way. For here, without my kids knowing, I can take on the things that they love with abandonment. Here I am free.

I’ve written a few times on this site about different kid shows. Many times my focus is on PBS Kids or shows that attempt to educate. While I’m all for education on TV, sometimes odd choices are made under the guise of education, sneaking in what I consider lazy writing under the idea of a lesson. (Yes, I am talking to you the makers of Sid The Science Kid).

Here are six links (and new thoughts) to some of my old (and fun) kid entertainment television articles that you may have missed. Continue reading

Dear Wild Kratts, You Guys Are Awesome

PBS Kids has always been a good idea in theory. It’s the follow through where things get a bit muddled.

Each of the shows seem to have their own agendas (besides the obvious of keeping the production company working), and many times I wonder if they do involve educating my children. Even Sesame Street has problems with its obsession around showcasing celebrities (that, let’s be honest, children don’t care about) and in the end only seems to teach kids the importance of pop culture. Wonderful. Thanks.

And who knows what Arthur teaches except how not to get along with your sister.

I’ve written about my issues with the shows before (I wrote about Thomas the tank Engine and Sesame Street for a parenting site), so I really don’t need to continue my rant here. There is just so much ranting you can do about kid shows until you come off sounding a bit, well… odd; even to your understanding family.

I don’t want to be that guy. No one wants to be that guy.

Which brings me to what I consider one of the highlights of the PBS Kids lineup, the stellar Wild Kratts.

Why do I like this show above all of the other ones on TV today? Simply, my four-year old son learns from the show and that is just wonderfully awesome. Continue reading

Episode Four: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 4 of

Time Out Of Mind,

the sequel to

The Dante Experience

“Michael Has a Date”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of Heaven

MICHAEL: (Flying in) Hello, hello. Sir. I received your page. What’s going on is something wrong? What is that you have there?

SOUND: Paper rustling.

MICHAEL: For me? Ok, let me just read this note and… Ok, you really didn’t need the swear words! All you had to do was ask? I’ll tell you what is going on? No problem. I’ll just boot up the system here and as I do, I will tell you…

SOUND: Computer booting up.

MICHAEL: Ok, there we go… In the year 3020, genetic engineers on earth have developed the capability to create dragons. And these creatures, as I’ve been told by those damn future watchers, were used to for sport at amusement parks. See, mankind has always had a fascination with dragons- from bad movies to bad… well, frankly a lot of bad things, probably one of the reasons that the dragons are upset right there. Anyway, these futuristic dragons would be created, raised for a week then killed for sport by a knight… Now where the problem took place is that they kept recreating the same dragons! You see what I am getting at?… No? Ok, well, these dragons hate being brought to life and being killed over and over again, so one of the smart ones, Smaug is his name, decided to seek revenge. So him and his fellow dragons broke out of the lab early and stole a time traveling device in the hope of destroying mankind in the past where he doesn’t have the tools to fight back… Of course what they don’t realize is if they destroy man in the past, they will be erased from existence…

SOUND: Of computer beeping.

MICHAEL: And if they go back too far, maybe wipe all of us out of existence… Not you, of course, but for us it is sticky situation.  Right now, the only people that can save the day are the group from the Dante Experience since they were given the weapon from the knight. And, as luck would have it, they have already killed one of the five in revolutionary Paris and…

KELLII: (chewing gum) What is this place? What is that smell? It smells like incense. Continue reading