As the parent of a toddler it’s safe to say the amount of time I spend watching children’s television has significantly increased over the last 18 months. It’s been a long time since I have had such regular exposure to children’s shows and I’m not sure whether I’ve just forgotten about what children’s TV used to be like or whether I’m just getting old, but have children’s television producers all suddenly started taking crack?
I’ve just finished watching a show called “Small Potatoes”. For those without children the basic premise of this show is as follows; 4 animated potatoes sing songs that teach children life lessons. What. The. Fried potato is that all about. Can you imagine the pitch meeting for that. “Kids like chips right? How about chips that teach them it’s ok to be different”.
Yo Gabba Gabba is about a man dressed in orange lycra and a fluffy hat who carries around 5 characters in a boom box case. The characters come to life when he puts them in front a cardboard set. They explore experiences like “appropriate behaviour in a restaurant” and are responsible for the catchy tune (and by catchy I mean worst tune ever) called “You break it, you buy it” about what happens when things get broken in the super market sung by Anne Heche and the creepy boom box people. This gem was on at 5.30am for a while and can I tell you it’s confusing and confronting before I’ve had coffee.
The other issue I now have as an adult watching children’s shows is the lack of context or “pilot” episode to explain some of the glaringly obvious plot gaps, like the one in Little Roy. This show is about a regular non cartoon/non animated family who have a cartoon son called Roy. I am not joking when I say I actually spent 25 minutes trying to google if there is an episode that explains if Roy was born that way, are they supposed to be his biological parents or is he adopted, why does no one question that he is a cartoon who can change shapes and looks like a walking scribble on piece of paper? I’m ok with the paper kid, I’m not ok with the lack of explanation for those of us who might want to know a little more about the situation.
Other weird shows that Hugh loves includes Baby Jake (show about a baby called Jake who lives in a windmill), Bing show about a rabbit who has other animal friends who all have no parents but live with these odd soft toy looking Nannies that teach them things like what to do when your blankey falls in the toilet), and In the Night Garden. Don’t even get me started on that show and the crazy drug induced stuff that goes on there with the Ninky Nonk, the Pinky Ponk, the Ponty Pines, Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle. No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, to be honest I don’t either and I’ve watched the damn show.
Fortunately Hugh’s favourite shows also include Thomas the Tank Engine and the Wiggles. I know trains don’t really talk and people don’t really wear the one coloured skivvy every day regardless of the situation, but for some reason I just feel like these shows are more grounded and don’t make me wonder about the sobriety of their creators. While they may not provide me with intellectual stimulation (and I have to put up with Tim raving about how rife the issue of nepotism is throughout every wiggles episode) at least I don’t have to imagine how much money some stoner has made off these ideas while I struggle to understand what’s happening on my TV.
Thank goodness they’ve changed the ABC programming lately so Curious George is in the 5.30am slot. A show about a monkey who lives with a man in a yellow hat is much easier to take before coffee than orange Lycra and Anne Heche.