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Kids’ TV These Days…

I was at home over the weekend and I had the grave misfortune to witness what passes for children’s entertainment these days as my little sister forced us to endure the Disney channel. What we got were a series of ridiculously condescending ‘comedies’ revolving around spoilt tweenagers who can’t act. These were followed by reality “so-you-think-you-can-sing” family gameshows themed around Miley bloody Cyrus. And my sister seemed to love it. Maybe I’m just getting old, but when did children’s entertainment become so brain dead?

Who can see this ending badly?

Who can see this ending badly?

Sure, I did watch my share of primetime entertainment as part of the family (in the same way my sister will watch House or Lost with us on a weekend evening), but the television shows I used to watch as a child were really good. And I don’t mean wholesome or moral or any of that crap (though even I find the materialism in most tween offerings disturbing), I mean genuinely good. I still find stuff in the Looney Tunes that crack me up, just as I occasionally find some that move me. I’m ordering the Golden Collection DVD sets so I might rewatch some of the classics with my better half, but I don’t think my little sister will join us.

I’ll concede that the era I grew up in (late eighties/early nineties) had its share of duds, but I would gladly take Sabrina the Teenage Witch over the trash that is on to day. But only barely. I will admit that productions such as Captain Planet, James Bond Jnr. and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were pure kitsch, but they at least had some hint of soul buried underneath that merchandising. The shows weren’t loaded with a phony condescention and superiority that seems to be becoming more and more apparent when childhood is getting shorter and shorter.

I hope he brought his Bat Lightening Repellent, those cowl ears must look like pretty good conductors...

I hope he brought his Bat Lightening Repellent, those cowl ears must look like pretty good conductors...

And if the Suite Live of Zack and Cody or Hannah Montana can’t compete with the trash that was on telly when I was younger, how can they hold a candle to the truly classic stuff that was airing? I speak, of course, of the Warner Brothers family. From Tiny Toons to Animaniacs to the criminally underrated Freakazoid (whose theme song I still randomly hum – “Du du du du du dudu! Freakazoid! Chimpanzee!”), it’s amazing that the comedy still holds up – if you’re willing to role with it. And that’s not even jumping into their DC Animated Universe. Batman: The Animated Series was so good that the networks even aired it in a primetime slot in the evenings hoping to attract adults to it – it rightly picked up a Primetime Emmy for the accomplishment. These series gave us perhaps the closest approximation of comic book storytelling outside the printed page. I still occasionally flick on a DCAU DVD if I want something light and easy to watch.

Not for one second will I attempt to argue that the children’s entertainment I grew up with is more wholesome than what my sister watches. Kids go to school to get an education. They read books to get an education. They watch television to be entertained. And – I may be showing my age here, but I don’t care – I don’t see anything entertaining about these shows.

2 Responses

  1. that Batman cartoon was essential viewing on Network 2 or whatever RTE2 was called then
    great animation and great voices
    better than most of the movies

  2. Actually children’s entertainment is doing nicely. It’s just Disney Channel is awful.

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