Clowns, bears & vomiting trains (aka I’m not ripping of Charlie Brooker, it’s a more of a sycophantic homage) .

Posted: May 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the last 17 months, I’ve watched a lot of kids TV. It’s been there to on occasion to distract the boy whilst being changed or just general to keep him quiet while me and my wife catch a breather.

Originally there were mutterings of these programmes not being as good as they were in our day, but it took an absurdly long time to realise that these programmes weren’t aimed at me, rather the children.

I also realise that there was a lot of terrible programmes on in my day. Finger mouse springs to mind, it was just some middle aged guy with a piece of paper wrapped around his finger for God’s sake. At least the Tellytubbies put a bit of effort in.

But we did have Dogtanian, Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, MASK and Going Live among other things. So it was pretty good.

So if it’s okay with you I’m going to a poor man’s screen-wipe style look at some of the programmes I’ve seen on the last year and a half.

In the beginning there was nothing. Then there was Disney. Specifically Playhouse Disney and it was colourful and weird. Disney was a good place to start because you know that they’ve been entertaining kids ever since they took over Korea with a bunch of heavily armed animators.

They know their stuff, but you do notice that it’s pretty much all CG. Not even good CG, it looks pretty basic; like someone is using a mouse to drag the arms back and forth and doing their best to try and not makes any wanking gestures. But again, you remember it’s for infants and toddlers and they don’t care if the texture on Special Agents Oso’s fur is correctly lit. They care if he falls over or not in a funny way.

Speaking of Oso, he’s been the biggest hit in this house. Maybe the boy has an appreciation for Sean Astin’s body of work, I’m not sure. Whatever the reason he’s the go-to bear around here. To start I was concerned that Oso was a special agent who forgot nearly everything that he’d been told literally seconds ago. He wouldn’t last two seconds in the real world, he’d be picked off by rival agents and water boarded for information. But he would’ve forgotten everything anyway so he might be alright. Or killed instantly. So to begin with I was dismissive, but then something happened that made me smile. I think it was Oso jumping a bike into a tree. After that it began to grow on me and now I consider it positively Shakespearean in its design. It’s the little things that get you.

Mickey Mouse was a big hit for a while too, the same level of CG and that chirpy voice that will make you develop a nervous twitch every time you hear it. He’s got a club house that looks like someone has chopped him up and planted the dismembered corpse randomly in a field. He’s also got a train that’s vomits its own rail track piece by piece when it moves. What a horrible tortured existence that poor fucker has. He’s in his garage somewhere shying away from daylight begging not to be made to move for fear of losing his mind and whatever he’s eaten for lunch.

The writers in this one are a bit cheeky. I swear they put in innuendo that goes over the kids’ heads. I noticed a few but my wife caught the best one. Minnie Mouse was on the hunt for her missing muffin (the cake, but you can see where this is going). She asked Daisy Duck if she’d eaten it. Yeah they went there, the dirty bastards.

This one made a bit of a comeback due to the hot dog dance they do at the end (I have no idea so don’t ask), and my boys burgeoning dancing skills.

(He’s a right little mover and got a shoulder wiggle that’ll melt your heart.)

There’s also the Imagination Movers. An American kids’ band who work in a TARDIS warehouse and one of them has a TARDIS hat. They’re awesome. I’d love to say something funny about them but they’re the most likeable Americans I’ve ever seen and they’re music is really good. Sometimes a bit Kraftwerk inspired which is a bit weird, it’s a bit like seeing Bob the builder covering NWA.

More recently Cbeebies have been incorporated into the viewing. The BBC has still got it when it comes to entertaining the kids, but it took me a while to notice the quality. I was instantly charmed by Disney and their cheap thrills but the beeb have got class.

They incorporate proper presenters and have great shows to learn with. Stuff like arts and crafts and cooking and gardening and reading.
With Cbeebies one of the biggest and still one of the best for the boy is Alphablocks. It’s still the only thing that he sits there for the entire episode; it’s just a shame that the episodes are only three minutes long.

A happy accident from the recording of Alphablocks overrunning was catching a programme called ‘Something Special’. At first it looked like some random bloke dressed up as a clown called Mr Tumble and falling over, much like those cheap ones you saw in school that would tell you about traffic awareness. But as I watched it showed that it was about taking children with disabilities out on a day they wouldn’t forget. Any snide sarcastic quips I might’ve made were washed away by a double wave of guilt and shame.

One of the elements of the programme is clown dude using sign language and teaches it we the episode progresses. I’ve learnt a fair bit myself. Granted, I should’ve paid more attention to more important words other than “barbeque” but it might come in handy one day.

So in your face Disney, the Beeb are showing equality and tolerance to children from a young age. You don’t see Mickey doing that do you? They’ve got a presenter with a disability as well which shows that Cbeebies have got more balls than nearly all other TV channels put together.

They also have Rastamouse. ‘Nuff said.

The only one I’ve got an issue with is in the night garden. It’s just mental, frankly. There’s a ninky nonk, a plinky plonk and others that defy any logical and grammatical explanation.
I’m just glad they stopped when they did otherwise you’d have splinky wink, a minky mank a tooble tum and one day they’ll maybe show the unaired episode involving the gropy pope.

It seems that kids TV is in good hands. You’ve got the kind of programmes that you can use to catch 5 minutes for yourself and you’ve got the usual BBC quality, the same as it ever was.

Of course, you should probably take them outdoors once in a while as well…


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