A daughter who finds quality kids’ TV | Mann Overboard

Bill Mann
Posted 3/24/21

Being a grandparent can keep you young. It can also introduce you to some delightful TV during the pandemic.  

Which is what we experienced recently after being fully vaccinated and …

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A daughter who finds quality kids’ TV | Mann Overboard


Being a grandparent can keep you young. It can also introduce you to some delightful TV during the pandemic. 

Which is what we experienced recently after being fully vaccinated and visiting our daughter and our two grandkids in Oregon. 

My daughter Dawn was raised by her television-critic father to eschew kids’ advertising disguised as cartoons. And to avoid (the horror!) of just about anything Disney. Wall Street Journal writer James Stewart once famously wrote that Disney “monetized childhood.” 

Dawn learned at any early age how her newspaper-TV-critic Dad hated and avoided most commercials. That’s not a bad legacy. And it’s paying dividends. 

On our recent trip, we were exposed to some delightful children’s programs by her that both entertain and enrich kids. And if you’re going to use TV as an occasional babysitter — and what well-meaning parent doesn’t? — you want to do it wisely, which my daughter and her husband assuredly do. 

But it has its downside. Like ear worms. I still can’t get those damned singing watermelons in Raffi’s “Down By the Bay” (on YouTube) outta my head. Caveat emptor. 

There are charming kids’ shows on broadcast like PBS’ “Nature Cat,” which uses traditional animation, and every episode teaches kids about matters environmental. 

And, of course, there’s “SpongeBob,” on Nick, which is just as entertaining for us adults as it is for kids. (Add in the silly ukelele soundtrack, and it’s especially fun for stoners, posits this former smoker.) More on SpongeBob later. 

But it’s computer animation and streaming that has produced so many quality educational and entertaining shows for kids.  

Here’s a clip-and-save guide to worthy kids’ shows for grandparents, parents, and kids alike, courtesy of my vigilant, perceptive daughter: 

YOU TUBE: “Super Simple Songs,” which includes those watermelons, will get stuck in your head. Other recommendations from my daughter: “Miniscule”: Short videos about animated bugs in real settings; “Sara and Duck”: A nice quiet British show about a girl and her pet duck; “Sunny Bunnies”: Colorful, fuzzy critters and their adventures. No spoken dialog.

NETFLIX: “StoryBots”: This show comes in two flavors, ‘Ask the StoryBots’ and ‘Super Songs.’ All well done with catchy songs. (Some “StoryBots” videos are also available on YouTube, but it’s a Netflix series.) “Trash Truck”: A sweet, mostly quiet show that’s quite beautiful. (I agree; I’ve seen this) “Go, Dog, Go!”: Based on the classic kids’ book. “Numberblocks”: A great BBC kids show that teaches basic math and counting. Its counterpart “Alphablocks,” which teaches reading, is good, too.” (I just watched this, too); “Emily’s Wonder Lab”: Fun show with simple science experiments for kids. “Molang”: A super cute show (think Hello Kitty) about a bunny and his friend, a yellow chick. They speak in gibberish but, oddly, the show has subtitles that explain what they’re saying. “Archibald’s Next Big Thing”: A quirky show about a chicken and his adventures. Surprisingly entertaining for grownups. 

AMAZON PRIME: “The Stinky & Dirty Show”: Cute show about a dump truck and an excavator;  “Bubble Guppies”: Underwater critters learn about a single topic per episode. “SpongeBob”: The old standby;  “UmiZoomi”: Teaches basic math concepts to kids.; “Rainbow Horse”: Colorful show for babies. “Peppa Pig”: A British show that’s actually surprisingly entertaining if you can get over the terrible art style. 

— True related story: Years ago, jittery comic Bobcat Goldthwait arrived in San Francisco from Syracuse, N.Y., along with his high-school buddy Tom Kenny. 

Bobcat, you probably know, went on to fame and fortune as a performer in/director of movies. I often guested on a San Francisco radio show with Goldthwait and Kenny. 

But Kenny’s stand-up comedian career stalled, so he went to L.A., where stand-up also went nowhere.

So Kenny decided to try cartoon voiceover work. 

Jackpot. He’s made millions — he’s the voice of SpongeBob. 

— Aqua Vitae: The long wait is over! After a year, The Mountain View Pool finally opened this week. Thanks to all those who made it happen. I hope things go swimmingly. 

(PT aquatic-minded humorist Bill Mann tries not to go off the deep end ... too often. Newsmann9@gmail.com.)