Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kids' Shows

I watched a lot of public television growing up because A) we didn't have cable and B) it made me hecka smart. So I grew up with such classics Barney, Sesame Street, Puzzle Place, and Arthur.

Who knew that when I grew up (read: when my body had partially caught up with old spirit) I would be getting paid to watch PBS? I currently have a job at BYU Broadcasting (which will one day get me an ins with the BBC and then I can meet Claire Foy and all my dreams will come true) as a canary in the mine. I sit there, eyes glued to the screen(s), and the minute something goes wrong, I tell someone else to fix it via email or by hollering at my supervisors. Sometimes I have the resources to fix it myself, but these are rare occasions.

Anyway, the shifts I have this semester are for KBYU during the day. Which means six solid hours of kids' shows. Guess what I've begun doing? Yep, that's right. Analyzing TV shows written for (by?) children.

It's not all that bad, actually. There are some pretty solid shows out there. Arthur, Word Girl, and Martha Speaks are generally pretty enjoyable. However, I end up thinking about things way too much.

Like Super Why!, a show that airs when I'm not working but I saw plenty the last nine months. As far as teaching kids letters and values at the same time, it's not too shabby. But I have one major complaint.

Okay, count the (comparatively) human main characters with me.

From left to right, Wonder Red, Super Why, and Princess Presto. Three. Three out of the four main characters are humans. Which character got the catchphrase of "Let's give ourselves a big thumbs up!"?

That's right, good ol' Alpha Pig, who's got little trotters. The writers had three choices when it came to divvying out that catchphrase, and they gave it to the pig. *sigh*

Next on my agenda is Clifford the Big Red Dog. Who didn't think that a huge dog would be the coolest thing ever when they were younger? Hey, maybe you think that now. I'm not hatin'. But as you get older you start thinking things like "Holy Hannah, how do they FEED that monstrosity? Don't the Howards own an antique shop or something like that? How can they afford that sort of budget strain? Do they feed him criminals from the mainland?" and "Okay, maybe Emily Elizabeth chose Clifford because he was the step-headed red child runt of his litter and she felt bad for him, but maybe her parents were on board with the whole dog thing because he was so small. And then--irony!--they ended up with the biggest dog in the whole world. Man, they must be hating life." and "Yep. Cleaning up after him would suck. I don't understand how Emily Elizabeth can still love him."

But the thing that gets me every time is this image in the theme song.

At first you think "Lolz, a dog with his head sticking out of a building!" And then as you watch it day after day after day after day you think, "Hold on. The tail thing I can fathom. His tail is probably small enough to stick out one of those generic windows. But there is no way his head could fit through one of those. According to the theme song, he grew at a freakish rate, so maybe he stuck his head out the window to smell some of the fetid stenches that accompany city life and BAM! Enormous Clifford head! But I'm erring on the side of more gradual growth. So...what? The Howards, upon realizing that they'd been scammed by that puppy vendor, made Clifford stick his head out the window until he reached his peak size? How did they even get him out of there to move to Birdwell Island?"

Don't even get me started on Curious George. Sometimes I have to turn the volume down on that show because it makes me so anxious.

"Be a good little monkey!" The man in the yellow hat says. "And make sure to have Einstein's theory of relativity debunked by the time I get home!" He might as well add.

George hoots something incomprehensible then proceeds to *SPOILER ALERT* get into all sorts of trouble. I'm not going to dwell on that, however, or this post is going to become more of a manifesto.

What really bothers me is how he only has to say "Ooh ooh ah!" and maybe make some vague gesture and everyone knows what he's saying.

"Oh, you think that the British monarchy is a tired old tradition that ought to give way to the ministry?" says the man in the yellow hat, stroking his chin.

George chatters excitedly at being understood so perfectly. He then turns to Bill, one of the dumbest smart characters on the show, and hoots something while standing on his hands.

"You want to build a raft made entirely from pineapples?" says Bill, who for some reason thinks that all people who live in the city are monkeys and calls George "City Kid."

George screeches "Ahhh!" and gets his stash of pineapples out from under his bed.

And George never suffers the consequences of his actions. Someone always comes along and bails him out, therefore enabling him to continue with his ridiculous antics. I'm still waiting for the episode where George is curious as to why he can't dry his fur while in the tub. Where is your man in the yellow hat now, electrocuted monkey?

But then I realize that I could be watching Teletubbies or Boo Bah, and I shut my brain off and enjoy the relative coherency.

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