Let The Show Begin!

By: Abby Plambeck

Television. It’s a blessed curse for parents of young children. When we had one child, we used the TV sparingly and tried to do all sorts of mind-enriching activities instead. Now that we have a 4 year old and 2-year-old twins, who wreak havoc all through our house, we use it frequently out of desperation. Our home is less Norman Rockwell and more war zone these days, and I’ve come to realize that there’s less chance of brain trauma occurring in a child by watching TV than by getting hit over the head with a toy shopping cart.

It’s amazing how quickly the chaos becomes calm when Daddy or I announce, “Time for a show!” and our Trio line up in their little toddler chairs, attentive and quiet. Really, who wouldn’t want to repeat that at least a dozen times a day? The price for this peace, of course, is that the grownups have to watch, or at least hear, the shows too. The following are some of the favorites in our house, along with a grownup annoyance rating scale. If you’re a parent newly embarking on this kid-show adventure, it’s only fair that you know what you’re getting into. If you’re in the midst of it with us, then our misery has good company. If you’re past it and into shows like iCarly and Phineas and Ferb, then maybe you could write a blog so us up-n-comers know what we’re in for!

Dora The Explorer

Parent Annoyance Rating: Minimal for accessibility, moderate for songs and merchandising.

Of course, everyone’s favorite explorer tops the list. In our house, it’s hard to be critical of a show with the same family dynamic of a big sister and little brother/sister twins. (We have yet to discover if our twins are Super Babies, unless their powers are in making messes.) I made the mistake of setting our DVR to record all Dora shows, and we had about 50 within a week. Dora is by far the most interactive show here. The kids sing along with the songs, they answer Dora’s questions, they learn Spanish. Two-year-old Miss Twin suddenly counted from 1-10 in Spanish the other day, and today she lifted her pillow and said, “Arriba!” I had to ask Big Sister to translate, and learned that “arriba” means “up.” There, even grownups can learn from Dora!

Go, Diego, Go!

Parent Annoyance Rating: Minimal

Diego is Dora’s cousin and an animal rescuer. The boy is an extreme sports junkie and can do things suspected to be impossible for an 8 year old, which he claims to be, but we can suspend belief with kid shows just as with grownup shows. The songs are easier on adult ears than Dora’s because of the lower male voice range, and there’s always something interesting to learn. I can now tell oxpeckers (birds that perch on the backs of large animals, like rhinoceroses) from chinchillas (small rodents, similar to squirrels), thanks to Diego.


Parent Annoyance Rating: Moderate to Severe, depending on how many episodes in a day.

Dear Caillou. We survived early toddlerhood with all three kids because of him. He’s a 4 year old who lives with his parents and little sister, Rosie. His voice is annoying, the songs are annoying, but the stories are fantastic for everyday living with young children. In hair-raising situations with my kids, I often say, “Remember when Caillou had to…or went to…or did that?” There’s an episode for every challenging situation we’ve experienced with our kids, even when Big Sister woke up one morning to find Miss Twin wearing one of her favorite shirts, which she had outgrown. We watched that Caillou episode again, and both learned a lesson!

Sesame Street

Parent Annoyance Rating: Who could be annoyed by everyone’s old favorite??

Sesame Street rocks. (This week, literally, since the episodes are all about rocks.) This one bridges generations, since a lot of us parents grew up on it too. It’s a little more politically correct, since Cookie Monster now eats fruits and vegetables, but the muppets and cast are as awesome as ever. There’s more adult humor these days (I especially like the “True Mud” bits, which are a spinoff of True Blood), or maybe the adult humor just went over my head back in the 1970s. For a really fun blast from the past, watch Sesame Street Old School, with episodes from the first 10 years of the show (http://tinyurl.com/3lh5dft). (Volume 1: 1969-1974, volume 2: 1974-1979.) But don’t invite your kids. There’s a disclaimer that the early shows are no longer appropriate for today’s preschoolers!

Come back next week for more of our good, bad, and ugly shows, including the absolutely, incomparably, undeniably worst show we’ve ever seen. Until then, post a comment with the Parent Annoyance Ratings in your house!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jcnierad
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 14:32:09

    Thanks for the heads-up, Abby. I really like that you included the adult annoyance ranking. Today, I caught myself making a very annoyed face while singing the required “wheels on the bus” song during swim class (again).


  2. Char
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 14:59:24

    Dude, Caillou…who knew it could get worse than Barney?


  3. jrm
    Sep 23, 2011 @ 00:15:56

    The Ferb is quality entertainment. It surely beats C-SPAN or overnight poker at 3am. It is simple and silly enough for the kiddies but yet smart enough for us old folks too- as smart as Family Guy and South Park, but instead very G-Rated. There are many running gags/jokes in the show and it is fascinating to see how each one gets incorporated into each new episode’s story (the P and F version of the 12 Days of Christmas for instance- hilarious but only if you know the show). Granted, there are alot of musical numbers, but nothing so grating that one can’t draw to them.

    On the other hand, I would rather watch bread mold grow (and actually have ehw) than watch the iCarly. Long story short, on the PAR system, very annoying, and somewhat unrealistic. Yes, cartoons are unrealistic, but cartoons are not live action. I mean who has a web-casting studio in a swank Seattle apartment where the little sister gets to live with her goofy adult brother? Also, it does rain in Seattle. I digress- like alot of the tweenager targeted shows on the Disney that last 3 years before the kids grow too old to do tweenager shows, iCarly can be extremely addictive and irresistable for the kiddies. With any luck, since they run these shows to death every day, they may just get tired of the episodes over and over, and go to better stuff.


  4. Margo Dill
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 19:43:23

    In our house, my 10-year-old stepson LOVES to watch TV. If he could, that’s all he would do. I try to limit him, but with a 11-month-old baby too, we often say, “DEAR SON, while I am bathing baby/feeding baby/changing baby, etc, why don’t you watch TV?” And talk about annoyance rating–wait utnil your kids are old enough to watch Pokemon or Dragonball Z. 🙂


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