Good, bad, and purple dinos.

The rise and fall of good shows for preschoolers.
April 16, 2007

Once upon a time there was a brilliant man named Jim Henson, whose idea of children's entertainment was not only educational and wholesome but appealed to parents as well. Had he seen some the preschool aimed shows of today that are more like toy commercials and talked down to kids like they were simple-minded fragile little twerps, he would roll around in his grave.

Let's start with Sesame Street, one of his greatest creations. Long ago, it was a wonderful show with many memorable muppets, such as Big Bird, The Count, and Cookie Monster. It was fun and educational, and it was something parents could enjoy right along with their little ones. But today, many of those lovable puppets are lucky to make even a cameo appearance. Not long after Henson's death, they started showing more and more of Elmo. As cute as he is, does he really need to take up 80% of every show? I mean, he does the same friggin' thing every episode. Elmo is thinking of cake, Elmo learns about cake, Elmo is shown cake by kids, babies, and that damn Mr Noodle, and finally, ELMO SINGS THE CAKE SONG!!!! In my personal opinion, the only purpose of Elmo is to sell millions of pointless toys that you blow 30 bucks on and the following summer it ends up in a yard sale for 50 cents.

Anyways, enough about that. Now let's talk about another thing that happened shortly after Jim died. In 1992, the big dopey creepy purple nightmare that parents have prayed for extinction for over a decade came to be.

Can you guess who? I'll give you a hint: It isn't Bob Saget.

It's BARNEY!!! Yes, that big purple lug whose show features 13 year olds learning about colors, shapes, and lovey dovey. Every episode contains nothing that would interest anyone over 3. Not to mention teaching kids it's okay to cheat as long as it was in a "creative" way. (If you've seen the infamous episode about the kid cheating in a race by putting peanut butter on his spoon, you'll know what I'm talking about.)

There are also shows that are so unbelievably simple-minded, (Teletubbies, anyone?) you wonder if we're trying to educate our kids, or turn their brains into mush. And that's not all. Now we have BoohBah, a freaky show about these scary, dancing, different colored, boob-looking creatures that make Teletubbies seem like the Electric Company.

Then there's Nick.Jr. In the late 80's to mid 90's it was a perfect channel to raise your young-uns on. With wholesome and delightful shows such as Maya the Bee, Eureka's Castle, The Little Koala, and especially David the gnome that cared much more about the fun and education than the merchandise.

There were some good shows in the 90's too. Like Gullah Gullah Island, Allegra's Window, and the first few seasons of Blue's Clues.

But now we get Dora the Explorer who teaches toddlers to speak a little spanish and scream at the top of their lungs. Not to mention excruciating songs that have no end, and the fact that it makes kids think they are talking to Dora right through the TV screen. C'mon. Children are not that stupid. Like Elmo, the main goal is to sell toys.

Another thing that grinds my gears is that they got rid of Face! They replaced him with a stupid possum. Now that justs sucks Tinky Winky's bag.

Now I'll admit, there are a few shows that I think are terrific, that should be on for a long time, like It's a Big Big World and the Wiggles. But the majority of shows for tots are either in it for the money, or are just plain brainless.

Now don't tell me that I should do something else other than watch kiddie shows. I do. But I have young nieces and nephews who watch stuff like this. And it's stuff I wouldn't raise my kids on. (If I ever have any.)

So the bottom line is, do you think it's ironic that all of the crappy kiddie shows came on after the death of a brilliant mind, or is it just me?
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