“We’re going on a trip, in our favorite rocket ship; zooming through the sky! Little Einsteins!” It’s a theme song that will forever remain in my head, even years after I watched the show. Although the song may vary, I’m sure we all have a TV series that accompanied us throughout childhood, one that we will never forget. Nothing makes me feel old like reminiscing about nostalgic TV shows, but at the same time, it’s extremely fun to do so. After all, our cherished childhood shows are amazing!... right? Not so. Recently, I began to question the soundness of that claim. Have our opinions been formed based on juvenile, foggy memories? I mean, it’s not like we watch The Little Einsteins now. That’s why I made it my duty to re-watch seven selected programmes and answer the question: are kids TV shows actually any good?
If you’ve ever wondered why babies cry, I guarantee you, it’s because of The Teletubbies. What used to be a cute TV show now seems like a horror movie. The Teletubbies are enormous creatures with TV stomachs and faces made of plastic, and I was only able to get through two episodes before I was scarred for life. First of all, the show makes absolutely no sense. I watched an episode in season one called Making Chocolate, where I spent ten excruciating minutes watching the teletubbies eat “tubbie custard”, whatever that is. In another episode I had to sit through fifteen minutes of the tubbies greeting each other; imagine “Hello, Tinky Winky!” for half an episode. It was agonizingly slow and made me want to punch Tinky Winky in the face. The point of the show is to help toddlers develop emotional and cognitive skills. It may be true for some episodes, but call me crazy, I don’t know why a toddler would need to know how to make chocolate. And did I mention the sun is a literal baby? Granted, very young children might enjoy the playfulness of the series, but while some shows appeal to older audiences, this one does not. You would be bored (not to mention terrified) within minutes.
Do you know who the Kratt brothers are? To quote my sister, “they’re like the Property Brothers who have quit being realtors and became animal nerds.” The show follows Chris and Martin Kratt as they travel to various continents and learn about different creatures. Each episode starts in live-action, with the brothers showing us actual clips of amazing animals. After a few minutes, Chris and Martin turn into animated (and significantly younger looking) versions of themselves. As a kid, The Wild Kratts was basically the only thing I watched, and for good reason; the show has tons of fascinating facts about animals and their habitats. Each episode, they have to defeat chefs, designers, and other villains that want to hunt endangered animals. Somehow, the Kratts are able to track their enemies' precise location from all the way around the world (if you’re ever trying to stalk somebody, you now know who to call). But in the end, Wild Kratts is a great show to teach kids about wildlife conservancy and the importance of protecting animals.
As you already know, the Little Einsteins theme song is one that will forever live rent-free in my head. I’m happy to say that the actual content is just as good as the opening credits. First of all, the show is mixed-media, adding dimension and elevating the animation. Within the plot, you learn how to appreciate music and art in a unique and accessible way. The four main characters are kids, which makes the show relatable and relevant to young viewers. They go on adventures within pieces of art, meaning they actually enter the paintings. I feel like that’s a great way to experience the culture surrounding artists and their work. On another note, I have no idea what sort of universe the show takes place in; from what I’ve gathered, the preschoolers live by themselves, have no parents, and their sole caretaker is a taciturn rocket ship. On a more eerie note, they are also the only humans ever shown throughout all 67 episodes. It appears that their world is run by robots and other artificial intelligence, and their only enemy is a Russian MiG. What happened to everyone? Why are they the only humans alive? Does this show take place in a post-apocalyptic world? I guess we’ll never know.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
“Meeska, Mooska, Mickey Mouse!” If those words make any sense to you, then Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was definitely prominent in your childhood. The show features the classic Mickey Mouse ensemble in a playful and whimsical environment. Each episode, the characters go on various wacky adventures. I found that the character’s personalities are very muddled - none of them are relatable or exceptionally engaging. To be honest, some of the characters are just plain weird. In one episode I watched, Mickey gives Goofy a worn out shoe, to which Goofy replies, “best gift ever! I love stinky shoes!” Also, I had trouble understanding what the characters were saying without subtitles since Donald Duck sounds like a dying sea cucumber, and Mickey sounds like a drunk fairy. Whoever hired the voice actors needs to be fired. Mickey also seems like a very vain mouse: He does ‘mousekercise’. He uses ‘mousekertools’. He eats ‘mouskerfood’. Everything revolves around him, and he’s essentially the almighty leader of his self proclaimed universe. I mean, his house is literally a giant statue of himself! Although this show is not terrible, (it’s an acceptable way to teach kids about problem solving), there are definitely components that need to be improved before I can consider it good.
Dora the Explorer
If someone asked me to name a kid’s TV show, Dora the Explorer would be my go-to answer. Lots of shows are educational, and lots of shows are entertaining; Dora manages to be both. Even though the episodes are only twenty minutes, they are full of opportunities for kids to learn about fundamental skills such as counting, reading, and communication. It’s slightly troubling that Dora’s parents allow their seven year old daughter to run through a wild jungle by herself, but who am I to judge? Because the show is for younger kids, I was not at all stimulated. Not to brag, but since I already know how to count to ten, I was very bored while watching Dora teach those painstakingly easy lessons. I even increased the playback speed so the episode would be over quicker. I don’t recommend watching this series at all. I do have to say, however, that it’s a great tool for teaching kids another language. If I watched more Dora as a child, maybe I wouldn’t be failing my Spanish class.
I had very high expectations for this series. It still influences me years after I watched it: every time someone asks me what time it is, I automatically sing the “It’s Time For Lunch” song. A show that spreads such an agreeable message is sure to hold up… right? Honestly, no. It’s not that the series was bad, it just wasn’t as amazing as I remember it. The show follows mermaids and mermen going to school and learning with each other. They usually break out into song at least once an episode, however, the songs sound like they would be sung by Dove Cameron in a fourth Descendants movie (that’s not a compliment). It seemed like a desperate attempt to make learning engaging. After the impromptu musical number, the guppies go outside for a recess, where they dive into various sketches designed to implement the show’s theme. Sometimes this sketch is short, and sometimes it takes up the whole episode. In my opinion, none of them are particularly interesting; although, to be fair, I only had the chance to watch three. But, I do have to give props to the character design, since each character is instantly recognizable and likable (and I’m ashamed to admit that my eight-year-old self used to have a crush on Nonny). But that simply isn’t enough to compensate for a pretty unremarkable show.
After 25 years, the final season of Arthur has just been released. Not only is Arthur a TV show, it’s also a bestselling book and soon-to-be movie. If that’s not enough to convince you it’s a great show, allow me to do so. After venturing into this fantastical world, I was truly immersed in the stories and scenarios incorporated within each episode. Although Arthur is the protagonist, his troop of friends each have relatable and lively personalities. Even though I only watched three episodes, it felt like I had known each character for much longer than an hour. Unlike other kid’s shows, this one focuses less on academic lessons and more on real life knowledge. The writers definitely thought about their audience: defying the norms of popular shows, they featured progressed ideas that the industry lacked. Regardless, each character is a different species of animal, which is a great source of confusion to many viewers (AKA me). Apparently, Arthur is an aardvark, although he looks more like a weasel. And why is every couple in the show the same species? That seems like a very big coincidence. Binky is apparently a dog, but in the show, dogs are also domesticated house pets - so what’s the difference between them? I may just be nitpicking a flawless series. In any case, Arthur is a nostalgic show treasured by kids, teens, and even adults.
Everybody has a favorite childhood show. Everyone has a theme song perpetually stuck in their head, a character they will never forget, or an episode they will always love. But, as this article has ultimately proved, cherished kids TV series do not always hold up to our fond memories we have of them. I found that many shows I loved did not hold up, while some other shows surprised me with their soundness! I implore you to rewatch your cherished childhood series, to formulate your own opinions and relieve your own nostalgia. Because if I learned anything from The Little Einsteins, it’s this: you’re never too old to watch preschoolers interact with dead musicians and artists. Oh yeah, and something about staying curious or whatever. Good luck with the beginning of your amazing venture into kids TV!a