Roundtable Discussion: Children’s Television
Most of the PorchDrinking staff ranges in the 24-26 years age range. As Fun.’s lead singer Nate Ruess so eloquently put it, we are young. Our roundtable discussion this week bring brings up a very polarizing issue, one that has tremendous implications of national importance. Did our generation grow up in the most prolific era for children’s generation? That run includes TGIF, Nickelodeon when it was good, Disney Original movies (when they were good), Saturday morning cartoons, and PBS. And why does kid’s tv suck today, or are we just too grown up to recognize that they are the same quality?
Tristan: What makes our generation of television the most prolific era of children’s shows is that those sitcoms and original movies stood for something other than just pure entertainment: Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World… TGIF was all about family values. Nickelodeon’s Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Nick News, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Figure it Out, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, and Sesame Street could teach you something. Shows like What Would You Do? Double Dare, and GUTS promoted an active life style. And shows like Animaniacs, Ren and Stimpy, Kablam, Dinosaurs and Pete and Pete were dry, and witty. Not to mention fact that shows were more creative… Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons, Recess, Hey Arnold, Angry Beavers, Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts, and Disney Original Movies. They taught you how to dream big. Where are we today? Kids have stuff like iCarly and Hannah Montana… am I crazy or do these shows have no value? Are we just getting older?
Scott: I’m pretty sure if you find value in shows like iCarly and/or Hannah Montana and you’re over 21, you have some issues.
Best TV memory growing up was the Spiderman/Superman/X-Men/Batman block on Fox in Chicago after school. Best best best best.
Cody: I would agree with tristan. Also I would like to add that all of the shows mentioned have something that the older generation can appreciate as well. Going back and rewatching some of my favorite kid shows (pete and pete, Hey arnold and the avery beavers) I pick up on so many jokes that frankly were not suited for our age at that time.
Mike: Four words: Saved by the Bell. You can tell a lot about a person by the SBTB character they had a crush on. I was a Lisa Turtle man myself, but can’t fault someone for wanting to get in Kelly’s mom-jeans. It also provided a solid social benchmark: no matter who you are, you’re not as cool as Zack Morris. Deal with it.
Drew: Yes, at the time, our shows were the bomb. And I still believe the Stoop Kid episode of Hey Arnold is great television. But looking back, the stuff we had growing up was not that much better in quality than what kids have now.
I submit for your review a clip from All That: [yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7vUae9Qs4k’]
Not even a little bit funny to me. All That was our version of Saturday Night Live growing up (which is why it’s so cool that Kenan Thompson has been successful at the real SNL), but its sketches were just so. Incredibly. Stupid. I laughed. I enjoyed it at the time. But I don’t think it was the pinnacle of TV. I know, it’s heresy to badmouth 90s Nickelodeon, but I think the fact that we were all in elementary school might explain why we’re so convinced it was great.
Scott: I had a Zach Morris phone well into college. And I called it a Zach Morris phone because I’m a badass. Kelly forever.
Vic: With cable TV becoming more popular & a constant stream of new channels appearing, Saturday Morning cartoons and well written Network SitComs are things of the past. Just like how evening talk shows (The Tonight Show for example) have gone the way of the dodo bird. There are so many choices available of shows & channels to watch right now. Did anybody else like those terrible ’70s Hanna Barbera cartoons like JabberJaw? Only me?
Bethany: I fully agree with Tristan. I’m totally from the Family Matters, Boy Meets World, TGIF, Carmen San Diego, Sesame Street, Animaniacs era. And all the shows that I remember watching either had a moral lesson, intellectual lesson, life value lesson, or really creative/funny piece to them. The LITTLE amount of current kids television I have witnessed has lacked all of the above. The shows demonstrate a lot of irreverance and even some disrespect towards authority with kids ruling the roost and being snide/sarcastic towards authority figures. If that’s humor, then I don’t think it’s funny. If I have kids, they’re going to watch re-runs of the good stuff. Maybe I AM getting old! ha.
Chase: Lack of cable TV growing up prevents me from commenting too much on the Nickelodeon classics, and I’ve been a nerd from the beginning so I’ll just throw out a few of my PBS favorites: Reading Rainbow, Magic School Bus, and Wishbone. Obviously, each had a strong educational or literary component, but I don’t even know if I realized that at the time or if I just found them thoroughly entertaining.
Also, I’m with Scott on the issue of the ladies of SBTB. What I would have given to be the future Mr. Kapowski.
Nate: Woah, woah, woah. All That was the beginning of the downfallof Nickelodeon?! Vital Information?! Pierre Escargot?!? Sacrebleu! In many ways All That stands for everything that 90s entertainment represents: kids rule. Whether you look at films (Blank Check, Camp Nowhere, The Mighty Ducks) or television (Wild and Crazy Kids, Salute Your Sports, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, and, yes, motherfucking All That) kids firmly had control in the 90s. All That was a show run by kids! Hell, it was even written by kids! It was SNL for ten year olds! All That ruled.
Hank: I feel like someone should mention Darkwing Duck. And that’s really all the context it needs. Also, Gargoyles.
But there are good shows out there today, too. Avatar was good. The spin-off, which I think just ended, was supposedly good. Sometimes I hear things about Adventure Time, although there seems to be some debate as to whether or not it’s really a kid’s show. My Little Pony is very popular among certain adult males; I’ve never heard a child’s opinion. Star Wars: The Clone Wars gets positive buzz on the streets. And a lot of the super hero stuff seems popular. I doubt any of it is as good as the Batman of my youth, but that’s setting the bar pretty high. I don’t know. I need to go hang out with some 10-year-olds before I can really discuss this issue with authority. If it were later in the year, I could 21 Jump Street an elementary school. I don’t know where to meet kids in the summer.
Drew: Agree to disagree, Nate. Listen, good for those kids for their fame peaking at the age of 9. I’d never seen or heard that they wrote their own sketches, but that would actually make more sense – they honestly just don’t hold up. Sorry, I love sketch comedy dearly, but All That is not a good example of clever comedy.
Also, I have to be the devil’s advocate here. Though there were some wonderful shows, we shouldn’t categorically insist that we were in the golden era of Nickelodeon. Aah Real Monsters. Kablam. My Cousin Skeeter. Hey Dude. As Told By Ginger. Romeo. The Brothers Garcia. The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Jimmy Neutron.
I dare you to sit through one episode of any of those shows. Nickelodeon brought us some great shows. But it also delivered its fair of programming that’s just painful.
Mike: I’m pretty sure I could recite the entire Hey Dude theme song from heart. Please tell me you have it on the good list.
Scott: I re-watched Pete and Pete last year – still so great. The music is seriously still impressive.
And also Alex Mack – God I loved her. Fun fact. Alex Mack is now on Mad Men.
Drew: Hey Arnold makes the good list. Pete and Pete does not. Danny Tamberelli was like a brother I was glad I never had. Maybe I’m associating my distaste for him with my retroactive distaste for All That – he was the replacement after Lori Beth Denberg left. Hey Dude is also on the not-great list; it doesn’t hold a candle to Salute Your Shorts.
Vic: All That was terrible. How about You Can’t Do That On Television? Early 80’s Canadian sketch comedy at it’s finest. I feel it prepared me for enjoying Kids In The Hall later in my teenage years.I will gladly trade Pliny The Elder beers for letting me borrow Batman The Animated Series!!! Wasn’t Mark Hamil(Luke Skywalker) the voice of The Joker? Pete & Pete was so dope… Tristan, Arnie The Strongest Man is in my Top 10 Superheroes list. What was that crappy 80’s cartoon where the guy could turn into a car? Not transformers, it was like some cartoon on USA. It came on after Jem & the Holograms, probably the reason I find girls in rock bands really attractive.
Charlie: Ren and Stimpy. Great show or greatest show? Let’s face it, the cat and chihuahua duo hardly brought any moral lessons to my tv, but damned if I didn’t laugh good and hard at “flying butt pliers”. And how is it possible that Rocko’s Modern life has gone without mention? I don’t know if the dumb shit I used to watch is any better than content today if the gauge measures lessons or morals. But on a measure of pure entertainment, the folks behind powdered toast man take the cake.
Scott: Simpsons still dominates every animated show. Ever. We are all fortunate to have grown up during the greatest years of this show before it completely went off the deep end. Kids now don’t realize how great it once was unless they watch the 50 million repeats available in syndication.
Cat: Oh my there is just so much. I just kept saying ‘YES!’ to every show mentioned. Except All That–DUMB. But I think what we’re not talking about is the difference of the show set up. Cartoons in ‘our day’ were obviously cartoons where as human dramas were pretty much based on realistic situations in the home or camp or whatever, made up, but realistic.
Now human dramas are like cartoons, the actors are obnoxious play ridiculous pranks on each other and use voices that are theatrical. The shows are about kids that live in hotels or are famous musicians trying to live a normal life…THESE ARE NOT REALISTIC!!! But what are their parents watching? Reality TV. -_- If you want to talk about the decline of television you’re opening a can of worms about American society and media influence.
Also…Eurika’s Castle, Fraggle Rock, and Anime on Cartoon Network. And YES to vintage cartoons!! Thunder Cats & Astro Boy
Cody- Who loves orange soda?
Share your thoughts below!