Due to a complicated set of circumstances, I watch roughly three hours per day of children's television. The result? This blog post.
There exists a formula for children's show success. I don't know that it's a successful formula, but it obviously exists. Here it is: Get something that normally shouldn't speak, such as animals, inanimate objects, vehicles, or the British, and make a show based around it. Examples:
Choo Choo Express: Talking animals, Vehicle
Pooh and Friends: Talking animals, British
Lola and Charlie: British
Handy Manny: Talking tools
Dinosaur Train: Talking animals, Vehicle
Jungle Junction: British talking animals that are also vehicles (not even kidding)
A few shows of note:
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Clubhouse is one of Disney's many Pimp-The-Franchise shows, where they make a show just because the characters are already famous. (Pooh and Friends is another such crime.) Probably only ten minutes of every 30 minute episode is original material; they rehash the same animated songs and dances every time. But is it educational? Let's put it this way--any show where every episode's climax is something called "the Hot Dog dance" isn't gonna bump your kid's IQ.
Of all the children's shows I've seen, this is probably the most educational one. It's also the only show whose DVDs were recalled because they're "not actually educational." This is a show where every episode features a classical composer or artist. For Halloween, they trick-or-treated in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles. Disney sticks this show next to regular brain stimulants like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and then goes out on a limb and calls the show "educational." Apparently, when they tested Little Einstein watchers against non-TV-watching children, the Little Einsteiners weren't smarter. Well, duh. What do they expect non-TV-watchers to do when they're not watching TV? Tag buildings? Sell drugs? So while cinematic masterpieces like Dinosaur Train and Handy Manny run and sell like mad (all while insulting your kid's intelligence), shows that feature guest stars such as Mozart and Tchaikovsky get their wrists slapped. I mean, a recall? Really? Aren't those usually reserved for cases like when your faulty tires will lead to potentially fatal accidents?
This is one of those creepy kid shows where all the characters are adults. If you were to take the Wiggles and All-Americanize them, you'd get the Imagination Movers. They're a band of warehouse workers (band in both the musical sense as well as the camaraderie one) who solve incidental problems within fifteen minutes, finding excuses to play original music along the way. In short: some garage band tried to make it big, didn't, and opted instead to do a children's show. The result is an eerie sense of pedophilia:
I don't think any parent really wants Mr. Goatee prancing around in front of their children every day. But apparently, they do.