When I watch television nowadays, I cringe. I hate reality tv (people being famous for being stupid, as far as I’m concerned). I wrinkle my nose at game shows (ugh to clapping your hands about buying a vowel), and soap operas just make me feel dirty. But I save my biggest freak-out for kids’ television.
Seriously? What the hell is “Slugterra”? Or “Pair of Kings”? “Kick Buttowski”? And don’t even get me started on that Hannah Montana bullshit. The plain fact of the matter is that there is television for pre-schoolers (“Dora The Explorer” and “The Backyardigans” ranked as a couple of my faves), and television for tweens and teens, like “Good Luck Charlie” or any kind of comic book cartoon. But what if you’re seven? “Sophia The First” gets you teased at school, and the humour in “Ultimate Spider-Man” goes over your head. So what to watch?
I like what we watched when we were kids. There was appropriate stuff for whatever age you happened to be, and I watched them all over the years. Now, I liked “The Flintstones”, that 1960s “Batman” with Adam West, and “My Favourite Martian”, but those shows weren’t really of my time, if that makes any sense. I think the shows below reflected what was going on during the 1980s/early 1990s (no age jokes, please), and I, for one, think they need a comeback…
“The A-Team” doesn’t really have an equal on television currently. There is action, humour, and no one ever dies, although shit blows up. There is a somewhat diverse cast of characters (a mentally ill pilot, a narcissistic playboy, the token black guy, and a card-carrying member of the AARP), and all the problems were solved with a happy ending in 60 minutes. Audiences loved it. Try and find that nowadays.
I freakin’ loved this show! Cool music, a neat case, and it made me think. I don’t know if they ever caught Carmen, but I rooted for her to get away every time. A geography lesson wrapped in a fun package. And just try and get that theme song out of your head.
Oh, come on. It’s campy and fun. “The Dukes of Hazzard” gave us laughs, taught us lessons (the Dukes were always honest, never racist, and always scrapped for the little guy”), and introduced us to the fashion icon, Daisy Duke. Kids were riveted, and parents not offended. And you know Uncle Jesse could spin a down-home end-of-show life lesson.
Oh, my God — I learned almost everything I needed to know about being a teenager from Mrs. Garrett and the girls. “The Facts of Life” was topical, giggly, and really got what was going through a young woman’s head. It’s serious episodes were touching and real, but the dream episode where Blair kills everyone because they buy their shoes at the supermarket still makes me laugh.
Sesame Street. Before Elmo. Before rumours that Bert and Ernie were a gay couple. There was Mr. Hooper, and Maria and Luis. I learned soooo much! (“Onetwothree four five sixseveneightnine ten eleven twelve…”). It incorporated some French into it, even, and was really, really engaging for kids. It actually even took place with a full cast on Sesame Street. Love it. I’d still watch it today.
Jim Henson could do no wrong. “Fraggle Rock” may not have been as popular as “The Muppet Show” or Sesame Street”, but really. It was still awesome. There was a talking compost pile, Doozers that construct buildings that taste like radishes and are constantly getting eaten, and it was just plain smile-inducing. Henson was three for three.
Best. Theme song. Ever. The best guest stars who were at the top of their game at the time came in every week, and I plotzed every time. The two old guys in the balcony just killed me (their names are actually Statler and Waldorf, by the way — write that down) with their sarcastic wit, and “Pigs In Space” was a riot. I double-dog dare you not to love this long-running favourite.
“Jem and The Holograms”. Okay, okay, okay. So Rio was pretty much cheating on Jerrica with Jem, but seeing as how Jem and Jerrica were the same person, it doesn’t really count. Table that for a minute, and dig the wild ’80s fashion and hair, the boss synth songs, and (again) the neatly wrapped up “AfterSchool Special” endings for each episode. Out-RAY-geous!!
Bill Cosby starred in this classic that broke colour barriers and pushed the limits of sitcom television. The black female lead was raising a large family while being a full-time attorney, and Mr. Cosby was a OB/GYN who worked out of his home and was hands-on with his kids. The Cosby kids and their friends, although not like anyone I knew in my lower middle class, white upbringing, were super entertaining, and the themes are timeless. This just could not be left off my list.
“Thunder! Thunder! ThunderCats. Ho!” It featured a battle between good and evil that is essentially bloodless and oddly never really ends. Although there was a resurgence a few years ago, it was decidedly darker and had more mature themes. Meh. Give me a light-hearted parable any day.