Diary of a SAHD: Cartoon Wars II – The Doc is in.

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.

Well the kid is four now so while he woulds still rather go outside to play with the kids in the hood, there are times when the TV has allowed me to get some things done.  To that end I think it’s time update his viewing proclivities.

It’s interesting to see the evolution of this.  Old friends have been replaced, shows he shunned from he beginning have become favorites now.

Following are the shows of the day and my unapologetic opinion/review of them.

You take Tri-care Prime Remote Doc?

You take Tri-care Prime Remote Doc?

Doc McStuffins

He did not like this show at all when it first came out.  Now, he doesn’t miss it.  Doc McStuffins is a girl who can talk to the animals, the stuffed animals.  She’s a toy doctor.  She boasts she’s the best in the business and has never lost a toy.  Hard to dispute, since to my knowledge she is the only toy doctor in my HMO network.  Plus even toys have HIPPA rights I guess, so really no way to know how their treatment went.   No matter.  Good show, good music. Although Lenny may not think so.  His gender was changed because of this show.  Read here: Lenny goes to Finland.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Big favorite when it came out, still a big favorite.  So much so, that we added some pirate ship accouterments to his play-set.  The music is good, and they’ve even dropped some new tunes.  In case you were unaware this is the summer of Pirates and Princess’ on Disney Junior.  So Jake has been running in conjunction with Sophia the First, a little girl whose mom marries into the royal family.  Isn’t that always the way.  Anyhow, Sophia has, by the strong lead in from Jake and his crew, made it to the viewing list.

American dog in Paris

American dog in Paris

Gaspard and Lisa

This has replaced Agent Oso as the dumbest cartoon in the history of televised cartoons. Gaspard and Lisa are dogs who live in Paris, France.  They are the only dogs in France capable of speech.  They go to a school where they are the only dogs.  They are the only dogs living in a high-rise apartment a stones throw from the Eiffel Tower.  They are the only friggen dogs wlaking on two feet in this stupid cartoon and the human characters are demonstrably dumber than the dogs.  No one seems to mind though.  They just go about their business interacting with the dogs as if a full grown Yorkie, Gaspard’s father, who makes his living as an investment baker in Paris is just normal.  I won’t even mention the issue of Gaspard and Lisa actually watching a dog in one episode.  The comedy is forced, the tag lines are forced, it’s all just ridiculous, or should I say re-dog-ulous.  I’m here all week folks, try the veal and tip your servers.

Rolie Polie Olie

Don’t get it, never will.  But he likes it so much it has replaced Little Einsteins.  That’s huge.  Olie, as are all the characters in the show, is comprised of various geometric shapes.  They are immune, impervious, unaffected by forces, natural and supernatural.  They can got into space without equipment but somehow can’t hit a 7 iron to a green 100yds away.  30 wonderfully nonsensical minutes wasted watching Olie’s father hack away at a golf ball.  I mean he had just returned from a day trip to a newly discovered planet completely made up of ice-cream for goodness sake.  My gut tells me this might be a little below Frank’s brain pan, but he digs enough for me to get 3 loads of laundry done, so there’s that.

Mickey who?

Mickey who?

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie and his buds in the 100 acre wood have not displaced Mickey and his band of socialists in the “club house” (read collective) completely, but they have cut deeply into the mouse’s viewing time. 90 minute movies about each character in Christopher Robin’s world was genius.  The Piglet movie is currently getting the most play.

Of course all these cartoons appear on the Disney Jr. channel so Mickey wins in the end, as it appears, he always will.


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.