Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Great TV Shows for Kids

Two things. 

1. "TV shows" is used in the sense that the shows were created for tv.  Chances are you will have to watch most of these on dvd, netflix or online at this point.  Most of them are available at the library. 
2.  I am firmly in the camp that very young kids (under 2 or so) should not watch tv at all so I don't have any suggestions for tv shows for babies or even toddlers.  All of these suggestions are aimed at kids older than 3.

With that out of the way...

Here are some good tv shows that you might not know about but that your kids will thank you for finding for them.  By the way when I list the age recommendations, I have no real idea what I am talking about, I am just guessing based on how old my kids (or me in some cases!) were when they started to enjoy and appreciate them. 

1.  Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (1994 - 1998).  A great show based on the computer game that follows two kids on the hunt for Carmen Sandiego who is a trench coat wearing villain.  The hunt takes them all over the world and kids can learn about different countries as they follow along on the adventure.  This show doesn't seem to be available (legally) in any format other than dvds but they are worth the money. Best for kids 6 and up. 

2.  Little House on the Prairie (2005).  Yeah, you read that right, 2005.  They made a mini series based on two of the books, Little House on the Prairie and Little House in the Big Woods and it aired as part of the Wonderful World of Disney series.  I actually liked it better than the original show. For starters, Pa has a beard as he damn well should.   The original show is fine too, especially the earlier seasons but once Albert comes along it goes downhill fast.  Personally I think Albert is the spawn of Satan but I must admit I have no hard and fast proof of this.  Oh hey, interesting tidbit about Little House on the Prairie, Almonzo Wilder is one of the few people who is (much) better looking than the Hollywood actor who played him.    Best for kids 7 and up I would guess. 

 3.  Magic School Bus (1994-1998)  The show is based on a series of books (also good!) by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan and follows Ms. Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin) and her class on their many adventures.  The go everywhere, the ocean, space, inside Ralphie, you name it.   It is fun and educational.  It does tend to move quite quickly though so kids will miss some things on first viewing.  Luckily kids like watching them over and over again!  There are also lots of resources available online to tie in with the episodes in one of the topics peeks your kid's interest.  This is great for kids in grades K-4 or 5.

4.  The Amanda Show (1999-2002).  Amanda Bynes is, sadly, a mess at the moment but back in the day she was a charming and funny young actor.  This show is a variety type show with skits and sketches that really show Amanda Bynes talent for comedy.  There is nothing educational about this show, it is just a lot of fun.  Probably best for tweens.

5.  Merlin (2008 - present)  A reworking of the King Arthur and Merlin story.  By reworking, I mean it is about a wizard named Merlin and guy named Arthur who will be king.  Beyond that, there isn't a ton of similarity to the most well known source material.  Still, fun and the actors are quite charming.  The costumes are fun in a Ren Faire kind of way.  Once in a while there is a scene that is a bit scary and there is the occassional kiss which can make some kids squirm but nothing too risque.  This is one you might like too, so you can watch it all together.   It is still on so check your local listings for times and days for the current season.  For ages 8 and up. 

Here are three that my kids inexplicably like and hey who knows, maybe your kids will too.

The Joy of Painting (1983 - ) Is it the hair?  The happy little trees?  The soothing voice?  The fact that he paints the same thing every time?  I have no idea, but my daughter loves to sit and watch this show with her dad.  Worth a shot!

The Price is Right (dawn of time - end of time).  My daughter saw this in the waiting room at the x-ray clinic and she was completely riveted.  I know I spent many a sick day home from school watching the show too so there is definitely something in it that appeals to kids.  It is pretty exciting with all the jumping up and down and the "Come on Down!" etc.

The Lawrence Welk Show (1951 - ?) One Sunday night,  I turned on the tv to check the weather for the next day and it happened to be on PBS and the Lawrence Welk Show was on.  Much to my surprise my step-daughter was entranced by the show and watched it for the whole hour.  After that she was hooked and would watch it every Sunday night.  I have no idea what the fascination was but she definitely thought it was wunnerful, wunnerful. 

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