If you let your kids watch TV, you have a really big learning curve to deal with. There are SO MANY SHOWS. Just on PBS you’ve got loads and loads. Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, Curious George, Martha Speaks, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, etc. etc. etc.
If you get Netflix Instant Streaming, you not only have all those shows to deal with, you have this huge archive of shows you have never heard of anywhere. Shows from other countries, shows that have long since disappeared, and you never quite know what you’re getting into. So I’m sharing a little bit of what we’ve learned.
Harry the Bunny is a favorite that I’m always happy to let Graham watch. It has short segments, it’s geared towards young children, it addresses simple concepts and the bunny is cute. It’s pretty perfect for 3-year-olds and Graham has taken to repeating it. “Some apples are read and some apples are green!” (It also has him regularly requesting apples and carrots in his lunch. Score.) The makers of Harry also have several other offerings good for the littler folks that still entrance Graham, such as Color Inspirations, Art and Music and Eebee’s Adventures. (The last one is just babies playing. It’s full of great ideas for entertaining babies and toddlers.)
Taratabong: The World of the Meloditties is originally from Italy, and hopefully that explains the unfortunate title. But I find it charming. The characters are all musical instruments who do not talk but play music. It has a single speaking narrator whose voice is not irksome. The stories are short and simple and good for little ones.
Bo on the Go is originally from Canada and it’s basically a better version of Dora. It has all the talk-to-the-tv stuff, but Bo encourages kids to run and jump to give her energy. It’s got fun, fantastic stories but still has enough routine to it that it’s good for the littler set.
Mighty Machines is another Canadian effort, this one from around 1990 or so, by the looks of it. It is not my favorite of this bunch and I can’t label it as “good,” but it’s perfect for kids with car/train/truck/vehicle/tractor/boat/etc. obsessions. There are annoying voices and such, but if you put it on mute it’s literally just vehicles doing stuff. Buses going down streets. Trains going down tracks.
Angelina Ballerina may have inspired Graham’s pink shoe obsession. While I find it just… I don’t know, weird, there’s not a lot out there featuring dancing mice in tutus. So it definitely fills a niche. There are several different episodes available.
One of Graham’s new favorites that makes me kind of insane is Police Patrol, which is originally a Norwegian film. It’s about a talking police car, so of course Graham likes it, but it also has a super annoying otter, a plot that I still can’t really figure out and makes me kind of crazy.
Educational doesn’t equal entertaining. The LeapFrog videos (Graham prefers PhonicsFarm, but there are many more) have horrible voices and while they teach lots of letters and numbers and such, I find their songs to be the opposite of catchy and not terribly helpful. It’s hard to say no to education, but there’s got to be a better way.
The Little Engine That Could appears to be a straight-to-video release, at least I hope it is because I would’ve walked out of the theater if I’d paid for it. It doesn’t have the really terrible animation some of these others have, it’s just run of the mill boring, lazy and ugh.
The Wheels on the Bus defies explanation. We turned it on because it’s Graham’s favorite song. And it appeases him because they sing it in each of the 3 episodes. It has pretty low production values (a story with fairies in the 3rd episode appears to be put on by a local dance class, there are sock puppets, the animation is… well, it’s about what I’d put together and I am not talented). And yet it has Roger Daltrey voicing a giant plush dragon. WHY, ROGER, WHY? I would avoid this one if possible because it is like crack for your children and the songs are undeniably catchy. You do not want to find yourself singing them at all hours.
Fireman Sam was tolerable in its old claymation form. But the new horrifically computer animated ones are beyond the pale. It sounds Welsh, and I’d only recommend it if you enjoy annoying red-haired children, fire trucks and listening to Welsh accents.
I am sad to report the existence of a film called Bratz: Super Babyz. I did not turn this on for Graham the first time. But once someone did it now shows up in our Recently Watched queue and Graham has a bizarre thing for it. HATE HATE HATE HATE.
So, I know a lot of you have strong opinions on kid shows on Netflix and I’m sure there’s stuff I haven’t gotten to yet. Share the good and the bad, please!!