Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Our New Hero, Bob the Builder

Aside from our own childhood memories of Sesame Street, we're novices at the children's television game. I ran through all four commentaries on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Extended Edition in those early days while I was nursing Q day and night, but as he got more alert and distracted by the flickering screen, I left it off. SwingDaddy and Q bonded over Monday Night Football last autumn, but that had been mostly it for TV.

More recently, we've found a PBS channel called Sprout that features very, very short programs tailored for my (oops, Q's) attention span. It's perfect, because sometimes we'd like to distract him or have him settle down, and a 5 minute program will do just that, without being stuck in a longer TV session.

There are some clear winners and losers on the programming front. We're fond of Pingu, a claymation Penguin who speaks in honks and wheezes. We can't understand half the stories, as they were targeted for a Japanese audience, but we love Pingu all the same. He has a little fuzzy sibling who hasn't developed grown-up penguin plumage yet, and they get into all kinds of animated trouble.

In contrast, I don't think I've ever seen a more pedantic storyline than for The Berenstain Bears. I think that "teaching the lesson with a sledgehammer" would be too mild. "Bank vault dropped on the head" or "crushed by a Panzer tank division" would be closer to the feeling.

When Brother Bear is too impatient to learn the basic skills of drawing, he complains in what feels like thirty-five individual scenes. His parents get him to coach a wannabe athlete who is too impatient to learn basic skills of baseball in another twenty complaints, and when the light bulb goes off, it feels like you've watched Edison first invent glass and wire before working on electricity. Maybe kids like it. I don't think I'll ever find out, since I'll cut power to the TV before Q watches another episode.

My current favorite is Bob the Builder. Bob, his business partner Wendy, and their good hearted machines (Dizzy the cement mixer, Lofty the crane, Scoop the backhoe loader, etc) solve construction problems. They enjoy working together as a team, they're cheerful and non-whiny. Plus it makes my Industrial Engineering heart glad when I see Bob call Wendy on the mobile phone to keep her appraised of their status and what other character should be sent to the build site. No "Gift of the Magi" communications disasters for this team!


lara said...

i totally agree about the berenstain bears - they're very heavy-handed about their lessons. dylan and jb used to love them, though, so i've seen more episodes than i'd care to admit (though not as many as i've seen of scooby-doo in its various incarnations). my least favorite part of the bears: the stupid rhymes at the beginning of each episode. blech. hooray for bob the builder!

Anonymous said...

Good to know what the children programs are nowadays.
Or what to bone up on to
associate with that generation.
Ding Dong

Mary P. said...

Given that I care for tots all day long, you'd think I'd be more up on what's on. I have yet to watch an entire episode of Bob the Builder, though dozens of little boys and a few girls tell me he's wonderful.

I've read enough B. Bears to know I wouldn't want to watch them. If I need to be preached at, I can go to church for age-appropriate sermons.

And then there are the Doodlebops. One of my tots is crazy for them, so I googled to find out. EEEewww.

Pingu? I love Pingu. My kids did, too, when they were small. I would tape half-a-dozen episode on video, and then I could buy myself five, or ten, or fifteen minutes to get one job or another finished. Great show.

Lady M said...

Kari - You're a braver person than I to have survived the Bears.

DD - Q will get to learn about the cat cartoon from you.

Mary P - I looked up the Doodlebops, and I think it's just as well I haven't seen any of their programs. EEEeee indeed!

Mom101 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mom101 said...

Ooh, more tv to drop the kid in front of! Stop, you're getting me all excited and it's too late for that.

Thank you so much for the nice comment over at my place and for showing me the way back here. One can never have too many ballroom dance troupe directors in one's life.