Being an only child of a single, working-while-going-to-school mother, I spent a lot of time in front of the television. TV was, you could say, a second parent to me. A parent who molded me in such a way that only television could. There were a few shows, or key moments from television that made me who I am today.He-Man
I guess you could call He-Man my first role model. Living on the planet Eternia, Prince Adam was the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena. Upon his 18th birthday, Adam received the ability to hold aloft his magic sword and say (all together, now) “BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL. I HAVE THE POWERRRR!!!” (Sorry, got carried away), which would transform him into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.
Now He-Man was not only powerful, but a very good and kind person. Always giving morals at the end of the show, never permanently hurting the bad guys, not to mention, he always encouraged Orko (the bumbling wizard) to keep trying because, “practice makes perfect.” Plus, what child wouldn’t want to ride around on Battle Cat?Lesson learned:
Being tough doesn’t mean you can’t be kind.Sesame Street
Actually, there was only one episode of Sesame Street that had a molding effect on me. That was the scene where the adults explained Mr. Hooper’s death to Big Bird. The first time I saw this I believe I was about 4-6 (A repeat – I was 2 when it first aired in 1983). I had been watching Sesame Street on CBC for as long as I could remember and, since they were reruns, Mr. Hooper had been one of my favorite adults on the show (after Maria and Gordon.) I had never experienced any aspect of death at that point so when the adults explained death to Big Bird, it was like they explained it in such a way that a child could understand.
Mr. Hooper (Will Lee) had died of a heart attack in 1982. The Sesame Street producers decided to create this episode to both teach children about death and explain the absence of such a prominent character.
After I watched this episode, I become very fascinated with every aspect of death and what happens, both to the person and the people near the departed (not thought of so eloquently as a child).
I recently watched this clip again (http://youtube.com/watch?v=awNfD6yewAA) and I can tell you one thing – it’s just as powerful today as it ever was. The picture that Big Bird drew of Mr. Hooper is STILL above his nest.Lesson learned:
No actual lesson to speak of, just the beginning of an exploration about death.
Yes… I was (and still am) a nerd. Square One was a show on PBS whose focus was mathematics, both basic and advanced. It had a series of sketches, many of which were recurring. Some sketches I remember are:Mathman
– a Pac-Man type character designed like a football helmet. His goal was to eat numbers or polygons that correctly fit the announcer’s given category (like “Multiples of 5”) and win a “Free Game”. If he got it wrong, then Mr. Glitch, a tornado shaped adversary, would eat him. Mathnet
– “The names are made up, but the problems are real.” A parody of Dragnet in which Kate Monday (later, Pat Tuesday) and George Frankly would solve crimes using the power of math. This sketch was very amusing, mostly because of the use of calculators instead of guns and celebrity guest stars.Weird Al’s video for “Patterns”
– I’ve loved Weird Al’s music since I first heard the song “Eat It.” This one video (plus his guest spot on Mathnet) made this show even better for me. (http://www.al-oholicsanonymous.com/alvideo.html - look for “Patterns!”Lesson learned:
Math skillsBatman the Animated Series
Batman was a man that used both brawn AND brain to capture his villains. He had tons of gadgets to aid him as well. Until this point animation was, in my opinion, fairly basic. Batman brought something new to the world of cartoons – good story and a style that has yet to be matched. Paul Dini had created a vision of Gotham City that is the definitive version in my books. I also found it interesting that this was the only cartoon that I watched that didn’t have the show’s title anywhere in the opening sequence.
I remember coming home for lunch from school and watching Batman while eating my sandwich or soup and then going back to school eager to learn new things so that I could stop super villains with superior intellect. I’ve never come across any super villains, but since this cartoon, Batman has been my favorite hero and a sort of role model, which took the place of He-Man. I always felt proud of myself when I was able to solve The Riddler’s puzzles when Batman did.Lesson learned:
You don’t need Super Powers to be a hero.
I had enjoyed watching many other shows as well – Teddy Ruxpin, Astro Boy, Ninja Turtles, and Carmen Sandiego to name a few. While these shows will live on in my memories, it was the previously mentioned ones that actually molded me into the person that I am today. I have begun showing them to my children (DVD sets of He-Man and Batman, and video clips of Square One and classic Sesame Street) in hopes that they too will take something away with them.