Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Kiddie TV Reviews, Disney Junior Edition

It's time for another round of TV reviews, this time looking at Disney Junior.  There are a ton we have never seen, and a ton we have.  Like last time, I'll go over our go-to shows and then mention a few "honorable mentions". 

PJ Masks
What I Like: Kid superheroes, very obvious lesson
What I Don't: Repetitive stories, irrational and bratty behavior
General Thoughts: I had really high hopes for this show.  I liked the thought of kid superheroes because they seem a bit easier to aspire to than Superman or Batman.  It's a cute concept, but this show has slowly moved near the top of my annoying list.  Every storyline is the same--something goes missing, one of three villains stole it, the superheroes go out at night and find them, but one of the heroes has a selfish, bratty moment that puts the whole mission in jeopardy.  After a couple mishaps, the rogue superhero comes to his or her senses, decides "it's time to be a hero," and they work together to defeat the villain.  Every. Single. Time.  Sigh.  The bratty, irrational moments are so exaggerated and I sort of just want to smack them for their attitude in that moment.  I really don't want my kids picking up on that attitude, honestly.  "I want it for myself!"  "I'm going to get back at him!"  Eeesh.  The good news is that I think it makes it obvious to even little kids when one of them is being selfish.  I hope that means they also see the eventual lesson that working together makes everything go better.  The villians are all so whiny and bratty, too.  I want to like this show, but I just don't.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
What I Like: Classic characters, varied story lines
What I Don't: Getting sick of the catchphrases and songs
General Thoughts: This show was one of the first that Jacob got into watching when he was little and it has stuck around.  I like that it gets back to the Disney roots with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, because really, they should never go out of style.  Their adventures seem different enough, and the variations on the Mouseketools keeps the problem solving fresh.  I suppose sometimes the tools seem a little too random, but it's fine.  But after about six years, I am getting a little tired of hearing, "Oh, Toodles!"  I even liked the Hot Dog Dance when I first heard it, and now I'm getting a little tired of that, too.  It's not usually Carter's top choice of shows, but he will watch it, and that's fine.

The Lion Guard
What I Like: Animals, nature education
What I Don't: Apparently not enough episodes right now
General Thoughts: I am actually not sure I've ever seen The Lion King all the way through.  I did see the musical in Toronto, which was amazing, so I know the story.  And I understand where this series picks up after it.  We have Simba's kid and a bunch of other animals banding together to protect the Pride Lands.  And I think that's cool, because it seems rare to find a show with realistic (enough) animals in their habitat.  Carter likes animals, and there are some unique ones here.  Once in a while there's a handy little bit of nature learning (we learned about dung beetles last week!), which is rare in the shows we watch.  I suppose my only complaint is that I feel like we keep seeing the same episodes, probably because it's new and there aren't that many out there.

Miles from Tomorrowland
What I Like: The family
What I Don't: Not much--maybe the space theme doesn't allow for much variance?
General Thoughts: When I first saw this show, I didn't really love it, for no apparent reason.  Now it's probably one of my favorites.  If I had to put one reason on it, I think it's because of the family dynamic.  The parents are cool and encouraging, the kids get along, and they're all just really smart.  I like how they problem-solve, and often do it together.  Perhaps because we're lacking that sibling love and family togetherness in our house, I sort of want to be adopted into their family for a bit.  They just seem like they'd be cool to hang out with.  Plus they have a robot ostrich as a pet, which is awesome.  I was initially a little freaked out by the two-headed admirals (Watson and Crick...get it?  The guys who figured out DNA?), but I've even grown to like them.  The space theme seems a little limited sometimes, even though they can go to any bizarre planet anywhere, but I guess I'm sort of waiting to see a "special event" where they go to earth!

Doc McStuffins
What I Like: Stuffed animals, new story line
What I Don't: Lots of pink, Doc's office
General Thoughts: We haven't watched a lot of this lately, but I'll be honest--their new story line has us hooked.  We saw promos leading up to Doc's family adopting a new baby, and even Jacob wants to watch it.  And I'll admit, I like the concept as a whole.  Stuffed animals are pretty big in our house, so it's a cute concept that a lot of families can relate to.  I've always been a bit bothered by the size and fanciness of Doc's office (a fish tank?!), but all I can figure is maybe that's just in her imagination?  I also think it's a little weird that even her parents call her Doc...like when Jacob wanted to be called "Batman", only to an extreme.  The only bummer as my boys get older is that there's a lot of pink floating around that show, and with no boy main characters outside of the toys, I think it's inevitable that they won't find it as appealing.  After writing this earlier today I remembered to have Carter pull out his hand-me-down doctor kit and got him started doing checkups on his animals!  It was so cute!

Sofia the First
What I Like: Guest stars, encouraging lessons
What I Don't: Princess stuff, too girl-focused
General Thoughts: Jacob enjoyed Sofia when he was younger, but it's rare we watch it now.  We did very much enjoy the episode with Olaf from Frozen, though!  I think the biggest challenge with this show is that, again, the main character is a girl.  She has a brother and not all of the problems are girl-focused, but the princess thing doesn't scream "boy".  But I think a lot of what they talk about involves normal kid issues, so I like the concept.  The plots have been nicely varied, too.  We'll definitely keep an eye out for any other special episodes, even if it's not in our regular rotation.

Those are the main ones.  We sometimes watch Goldie and Bear, which is newer.  I like the allusions to fairy tales, and the stories seem sweet so far.  Once in a while we catch Jake and the Neverland Pirates--oh, wait--I mean, Captain Jake.  I was so confused the first time I saw that name change, because we totally missed that special episode.  We just don't catch it as much as we used to, but both boys will watch it.  Not a lot of educational substance, or even life lessons, since the whole object of the story is to beat Captain Hook, but it's fine.  Once in a while we happen to catch Sheriff Callie's Wild West, but it has never grown on me.  I like the little cactus, but that's about it.  Carter likes Chuggington when we happen to catch it, but it's not on at convenient times.  He's always liked trains, and the lessons are good.  And that theme song is so catchy!  We watched Henry Hugglemonster when Jacob was younger, but that didn't really stick.  And when Carter was younger we watched Little Einsteins a bit, mostly because I hoped that the classical music would be a little better for a developing mind, but again, we never really got into it. 

As a whole I like the Disney shows a lot.  They're a little light on school-ish learning in favor of more learn-by-example stories, but most of the characters are pleasant and I'm less worried about running into characters that aren't kid-friendly when it's under the Disney Junior umbrella.  Less commercials, too, I think. 

So, we have one more post to go, this time with a couple miscellaneous shows from other channels.  These two posts have covered the favorites, but there are a few more of note.  More to come soon...

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