After I admitted that I generally overuse electronic distractions to keep my kids quiet and civil, I thought maybe I should share what exactly they're watching. This post will specifically dive into the shows of Nick Jr. I will have to do a Disney Junior one and a miscellaneous one, too, I guess. But hey, why not? I'll mostly talk about the shows we watch often, though I may lump together any others that I have a comment on...so here we go! Oh, and I know I should dress this up with pictures and all that, but I just can't be bothered to worry about copyright crap like that.
What I Like: Cute, harmless, Canadian, varied plots
What I Don't: Unrealistic, not particularly educational
General Thoughts: Both kids will watch this show, so that is a big win in our house. The kids love the pups, especially Chase. I will say that it can get repetitive with the same songs, catch phrases, and characters, but I do feel like they're kept the stories varied enough that it's not painful. Different pups help out on different missions, and unless you're watching a bunch in a row, I think there are enough characters to go around. I do wish that Rocky got more missions, as he seems a little left out, and while I understand it, I still think it's a little odd that the new pup, Everest, lives somewhere else and doesn't get full Paw Patrol credit. At least she's in part of the scenes in the new season's theme song sequence. I like how it focuses on the jobs little boys are fascinated by (rescue heroes, trucks, construction equipment), and that the pups are all unique and cute. However, my biggest complaint is that the concept seems to reside in reality, but is totally unrealistic. I mean, I know that most kids shows do this (Sesame Street started it all, I suppose), but talking, driving dogs take this to a whole new level. The town doesn't seem to have any real fire or police department, so it's fortunate everything has been able to be managed by a few puppies and a kid. Speaking of which, I've read in a couple places that Ryder is young...like 10 years old. Given the amount of technology he has available, and that he seems to be living alone with multiple dogs, that seems odd to me. I think it's just that so many elements are so impossible, but yet it's set within such a typical setting and the contrast is strange for me. But if I can suspend reality a bit, it's a cute show. I also feel like it's lacking a bit in educational value, but I get that the point of it is mostly just problem solving so I'll give that part a free pass. I just wish they had more new episodes.
What I Like: Practical school-style learning, real people, enthusiastic
What I Don't: [There is something, but I can't describe it, exactly]
General Thoughts: This may be Carter's favorite these days, but Jacob will always make fun of it...yet still ends up sitting down to watch it more often than not, so whatever. I like that it teaches math and patterns, and I like how Geo gets creative with his shapes. The animation is cute, and I like how they often integrate real people into the stories...even if those real people aren't the best actors. It just brings in a different element than shows that are all animation. But the use of shapes, counting, colors, patterns, and even things like measuring and adding/subtracting on a very simple level, makes the show stand out to me from most of the rest. I think I got that sort of learning from Sesame Street, so I like that he can get that here. The adventures are all very different and imaginative, which in this case is fine, for some reason. Maybe I just like the thought of a few little helpers running around a city and then venturing off into imaginary lands? I also like how excited the characters get about learning, but there is something about their excitement that makes the show walk a fine line between cute and annoying. For example, Milli's voice grated on me initially. There's something sort of strange about its squeakiness. BUT...then we saw an episode from the first season where she was voiced by a different actress, and it didn't have the same pizzazz or excitement. So I hated it a little less after that. I totally don't understand the "Crazy Shake" song at the end. Why are we celebrating by shaking? That just seems like a concussion waiting to happen. And their little songs before they use a power, like "Super Shapes!", "Milli Measure!", and "Pattern Power" can get on my nerves on an off day. But Carter loves the show and I hope he's learning in the process!
What I Like: Adorable animation, catchy music, in-show definitions
What I Don't: Not much!
General Thoughts: We didn't start watching this until more recently, and it's still not one of our DVR regulars. But when it's on and we catch it, we watch it, and sometimes I'll look through the episodes over the next week and pick a couple to record. But I think the show is so stinkin' cute. The animation is adorable. The characters are cute, from the main characters to the fish to the adorable little lobsters. I sort of like that thee characters are more 3-D, while their face just sort of looks added on, like it's a separate layer or a different sort of animation. It's just cute. It took me a while to pick up that it uses a variety show structure, as it jumps from the running storyline to side skits to running jokes, like the weird thing in Nonny's lunch every day. Speaking of Nonny, I'm intrigued by him. He almost never smiles. He's super smart, though, and I like that everyone includes him even though his energy level is different than theirs. The music is fun (seriously, the Outside song I linked to yesterday is so catchy) and with the cute animation it's just a really fun show. Sometimes I wish there were a few more direct learning opportunities, but the way Nonny rattles off definitions of big words or other explanations in the middle of a conversation, I do like what's there. It just makes me smile.
Blaze and the Monster Machines
What I Like: Carter likes trucks
What I Don't: Not as much regular life application, annoying "villain", monster trucks
General Thoughts: When I first saw the promos for this show, I got excited. But then I realized it was monster trucks and I had visions of having to go to monster truck shows if Carter got really into it. So we only watch it sparingly. And at first I had high hopes, but the more I watched it, the less I liked it. The "bad guy" monster truck is really annoying, and he seems to be a problem most of the time. I don't understand why Blaze is the only truck with a driver. I also feel like the learning opportunities aren't as applicable to normal life. They're more on the mechanical, scientific side, and I think they'll make more sense to older kids. Carter is probably at least a year or two away from understanding those concepts, but I think the trucks still appeal to younger kids. I just think it's weird when Blaze is telling the kids to say "fulcrum" to make something happen. Just a bit much, I think. Maybe it'll grow on me.
We've somehow generally managed to avoid the rest of the Nick Jr. shows. Jacob seems really interested in Mutt and Stuff, but that might be because he really wants a dog right now and they have live ones on the show. However, we're never home when it's on and I've never bothered to DVR it. I'll admit that while I don't often get to see them, I like catching Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom and Peppa Pig, just because I like listening to their little British accents. They remind me of the little kids from Love Actually ("We hate Uncle Jamie!" "Are you carol singers? Oh, please sir!"), which cracks me up. I have no comment on the quality of the shows beyond that, though. I think we got to skip Dora because Jacob and Carter are boys and it never appealed to them. Diego must not be around much, because he's never been a factor. Part of me always wanted to get into Yo Gabba Gabba, but when it was extra popular I think I was worried it would make Jacob's fantastical stories sound even crazier. When Jacob was little I loved Blue's Clues (she's just so cute, and the hosts were both perky in a good way), and we also had a short Backyardigans phase. We sometimes caught Wonder Pets back then, too, as Jacob's cousins loved them. But all of those, while still on the website, are pretty hard to find these days. Oh, and we've actively avoided Max and Ruby, as parent bloggers have been quite vocal about the weird lack of parents and Max's whining. It hasn't been hard, as I think the only time I ever came across it was last year when I was off work.
For all the ones we don't watch, we sure get enough of the ones we do! Stay tuned for my take on Disney Junior!