Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: The Cartoon Wars

So, yeah we let the kid watch a little TV; even before he was two. I know that may make some of you shudder, but if you know me then you know you’re wasting a perfectly good shudder. For those without kids I will tell you that it’s hard to pick up a parenting book, read an article in a parenting type magazine or see a post on parenting type blogs, that doesn’t condemn letting the little tyke watch the flat screen before the age of two.

Frank was watching the golf channel when he was barley 6 months old.  That wasn’t by choice obviously, it was just my preferred background noise whilst I was choring.  Of course now that he has a choice he would rather hit golf balls than watch it on TV.  Ah they grow so quick.  If he chooses to watch TV, his choices have become more age appropriate I guess.  I mean golf is any age appropriate in my opinion, but what do I know.  I do know that I have learned a lot about kids cartoons in the last two plus years.  Here are a few of the shows Frank watches and my opinion/review of them.

Baby Einsteins was the first non-golf show he ever watched. Not too bad.  If I had to watch it over and over it wouldn’t make go on a killing spree or anything, but not my first choice for mindless entertainment.  The show has a lot of animals and music, a good combo for any long car trip.

He then graduated to the Little Einsteins.  This gets 2 thumbs up from me.  It’s really for older kids, 3 years and up I think, but Frank was digging it when he was around 18 months old.  Four little kids using classical music to solve issues ranging from lost animals to putting the rings back around Saturn, it’s must see TV.  They even have a rocket ship named Rocket, of course.  The little band of merry sleuths ask for help in getting Rocket’s engines started and helping him go super fast.  Again all this is done using the basics of music.  Pretty cool concept.

Special Agent OSO.  This is a tubby bear special agent who goes by the name OSO, as in “He’s O SO Special” as his theme song happily sings.  Get it?  Well I’m here to tell you Special Agent OSO is not So Special.  He’s a dope.  Apparently he’s also deaf.  The show’s bid to get kid interaction revolves around OSO being told his mission and then immediately turing to the camera and saying, “I forget, which way was I supposed to go?”

Special Agent No-So

This goes on the entire show.  He can’t remember a freaking thing.  He’s told to zip up his wet suit before diving in the ocean to swim to the beach.  What does mister Special do, swims to the beach unzipped and then can’t understand why his clothes are wet.  Then the other characters in the show tell him the right way AGAIN, and then he finally gets it right.  The only thing he’s teaching kids is that they don’t have to pay attention the first time because someone will be there to tell them again.  Not so special bro, not so special.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Ok show, great music.  Three kids in a pirate crew battling Captain Hook.  This is an offshoot of Peter Pan, who makes frequent cameos.  I warmed to this show; didn’t like it at first but they use a lot of rock style music at the close of the show and Frank always runs to get his golf club/guitar to play along.

Thomas the Tank Engine.  Pure awesome.  Hands down the best merchandised cartoon outside of Disney.  The difference: we took Frank to a remote town in North Carolina to ride the actual Thomas Train and it cost about 100 bucks total, including gas.  The town was all decked out in Thomas stuff, there was a big tent with train tables, a huge Lego Thomas.  We got Thomas tattoos.  Took Frank into one of the many Thomas stores there and he walked out with a Thomas whistle, that’s it.  Bummer.  Let’s buy some stuff man.  He’s not at the “I want everything” stage yet.  I should be thankful.

It was great as much as it was a disaster, and it was a disaster.  The full story is in the book, coming soon, so save your pennies.

Chuggington.  Trains again, a mild rip off of Thomas, Chuggington is a city run by trains.  Three trains are in training (no pun) to be Chuggers, full fledged members of Chuggington.  It’s really the vanilla wafer of the train cartoons.  I’ll eat a whole box in one sitting, but I probably won’t like it.

Handy Manny.  Big bummer here.  I really like Handy Manny but Frank never took to it.  Manny is a hispanic living in milquetoast America.  The town is called Sheetrock Hills and is possibly the whitest place on the planet.  But Manny does repair work for the good people of Sheetrock Hills as he is the only competent worker in the town and the only person with tools.

Too cool for tools.

And the tools are what’s cool.  They talk, with spanish accents.  Every tool has a different personality type.  Manny will always use a spanish word and then give the english translation.  Very catchy theme song too; which I find myself signing a lot.  I wanted to get Frank the tools and tool box for Christmas but he really doesn’t watch the show much.  I was bummed again.


Of course Disney gets a segment all alone.

The Disney Channel is the greatest invention since the airplane.  Sorry Tony.  Most of the aforementioned shows can be seen on the channel.  Micky Mouse Club is a great show as well.  Like Thomas, the Mouse needs no explanation.  All I’ll say is I can get most of the house cleaned, or laundry done, or bills paid, or dinner made with a little Disney Marathon.  But the House of the Mouse does not come without some pitfalls.

No Disney Movie is appropriate for kids.  Frank and I were both a little sick one day and we snuggled into the barco-lounger to watch Finding Nemo, airing on Disney Channel.  I had never seen the movie, but heard everyone raving about it when it came out.  It’s fish, in the ocean, swimming and singing.  Everyone in the commercial looks like they’re having a good time.  They have that great song, Under the Sea, sung by a cute little crustacean.  Should be great.

Bad move.  Should have pre-screened it.  Holy crap, in the first 20 minutes of the movie we see Nemo’s family, including his mother, being savagely murdered by a school of piranha.  Only Nemo and his father survive.  Damn you Mickey the Mouse!

The action is mostly implied of course.  Trust me, kids can read facial expressions, and the expression on Nemo’s father’s face screamed bad things.  His expression after the bloodletting was over screamed very sad things. Turns out every Disney movie is structured that way.  An endearing character goes through unspeakable tragedy and then triumphs in the end.  Who knew.  That never happens on Golf Channel. Thank God the back button on the remote took us to the Evian Masters repeat, a replay of the LPGA women’s Masters.  So yeah, no Disney movies.  Hopefully Anne Marie will benefit from the emotional scars Frank is taking for the team.

Since Disney is so fond of morals to the story, I’ll give you one.  If the little tyke is watching something you’re not sure about, switch to the Golf Channel, where the scariest thing he’ll see is a professional golfer miss a four foot putt costing him millions of dollars.

14 comments on “Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: The Cartoon Wars

  1. Yep, we let the little ones watch tv too. Sometimes you need to for sanity purposes.
    So where’d you find the Thomas town? My kids would love it!

  2. Ashley says:

    We are big, BIG, fans of Curious George round here… as in our 18 month old claps her hands when he comes on…good thiing we didn’t read the book about 2 year old tube time. I’m going to go sit in a corner and feel guilty.

    • fmlinardo says:

      Well I was handed about every article and publication on parenting known to man when we found out Frank was on the way. I wouldn’t worry too much.

  3. tracye1 says:

    We let all of our kids watch TV way before 2 years old and so far so good. (what can I say, it really IS a good babysitter!) In fact, fast-forward several years and now @ 14,12,10 and 8 yo we cut our cable about 6 months ago and went straight to ROKU (internet TV) and get this….ONE television. We just realized NO one was watching it!!! CRAZAY!!! So now, when we are in the mood we sit and watch (often as a family) Cake Boss, Survivorman, Man VS Food with no commercials. It’s working for us.

    • fmlinardo says:

      I’m with you. I get a ton of stuff done during Mickey Mouse club. Still if given the choice Frank will go outside vs sitting down in front the TV. So I figure he’s OK.

  4. Debra says:

    OMGosh, you let your child watch TV???? Um, yep. Only educational TV in this house – Bob the Builder, Word World (not to be confused with Word Girl), America’s Funniest Home Videos, football (the only TV that Mommy demands. I can completely ignore any and all whining and crying when football is on and it’s funny, Seth knows that I mean it when I say “it’s my turn”). Word World is actually pretty funny and I think has helped Seth’s interest in spelling. They built a very cool tree house on Bob the Builder this a.m. I dropped several hints to Chris that a tree house like that would be great for the kids, but he managed to ignore every one of them.

    • fmlinardo says:

      Hard to say what is educational anymore. All of them add to his vocabulary. Fortunately he digs golf, basketball, and hockey as much as the either shows, so not much argument when we watched the tournament. We’ve not caught on to Bob the Builder yet. Hey may like that better than he did Handy Manny.

  5. Tony says:

    Not sure what is funnier, how my name always comes up in a certain circle of friends whenever Disney is mentioned, or how I always take the bait like a bass to a surface popper. Anyway,when Frank turns 18, send him over to my place (probably a secure cabin in the woods by that time), I’ll dig the chip out of his back, swab it with alchohol, and explain how Disney purified and whore-ified every childrens tale, commercialized vacations instead of people spending time together seeing actual sights, then bought out Google to take over the world with one commercialized government, making us all members of the MMC whether we like it or not. ( I mean, they do call it “Disney World”) I’m not paranoid, just saying.
    Tony

    • fmlinardo says:

      Not meant to be bait, but a heartfelt apology to assuage your disappointment. But if it yields gems like “I’ll…..explain how Disney purified and whore-ified every children’s tale” then it was bait well spent.

    • Chris says:

      I shall forever regret allowing Hupp to accompany me to the promised (note: small “p”) land in Orlando several years back. Something happened there that brought out an unusually large taste of bitterness…unusual for Hupp, that is.

      Should’ve bought him that MM balloon he asked for…might’ve helped.

  6. Marc says:

    I totally AGREE about OSO… I like to say O SO Stupid. There are new shows too that are cool. Doc McStufffins is great.

  7. […] I think I admitted a while back that I let the kid, Frank, watch TV well before the age of two.  It was more like I aimed his baby swing at the TV with the golf channel on while I did laundry, vacuumed, made beds, etc…  So I didn’t really let him, I guess I kind of forced him.  Anyway from that and watching movies in the car on frequent trips to Lexington to see Grammy, Frank settled into some regular cartoons, detailed here: Cartoon Wars I. […]

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