Saturday, July 30, 2016

16 Great Television Shows for Kids: Introduction

For the honor of love!

No, this won't be some ponderous list of Traditionalist Catholic approved, Very-Holy-and-Very-Good-for-You efforts.

Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Rather, the operative word here is fun.

And I certainly don't think any of them are objectionable.

Yes, you don't want to go to Mass dressed like She-Ra. You probably don't want to go anywhere dressed like She-Ra. But this is reality and She-Ra is fantasy. She's a beautiful princess who fights evil, and (in my opinion) it's okay to do that without being encumbered by too many loose clothes, especially if the context (for children, at least) involves zero sexuality. Also, it's an 80's thing. 

Like many parents, my wife and I believe that much of contemporary culture and entertainment is either too "adult" or in and of itself pernicious, especially for children. Naturally we want to protect our two 2-year-olds and two 5-year-olds from it.

At this point that's not very difficult. Our older children are being home schooled and our friends - who might be hosting our kids for a play date or whatever - generally have similar values or attitudes when it comes to these things. 

But we do watch a fair amount of television, both together as a family and as something the kids do on their own. Since we live in a quasi-open loft and the kids still haven't learned how to operate the four remotes that control our byzantine-like structure of connected devices, "on their own" does not mean "unsupervised."

I don't think television or television watching is in and of itself a bad thing. Of course it's bad if one is watching something bad, or it might be bad to the extent that it takes time away from doing other valuable things - such as reading or engaging in imaginative play. But I'm not anti-TV by any stretch, and the DVD and streaming revolutions make it a lot easier to expose kids to "quality" or at least non-brain-numbing fare. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that television is another way for kids to learn - and I'm not referring merely to "educational" programs.

On just what might be good or bad to watch, one way that I might differ a bit with some parents is that I don't think violence per se is something that must be censored or kept away from kids. I feel like I didn't put that last sentence quite right, so let me try again. Obviously gory violence is bad, as is anything that either implicitly glorifies violence as some sort of end in itself or continually portrays it in an amoral fashion. And of course you don't want your kids having nightmares, or at least you don't want to be causing them. But I actually think that kids seeing good guys fighting bad guys (or ghosts or monsters or whatever) can be positive moral reinforcement, though I don't want to put too much stress on that. Stimulating their imagination - whether it's contemplating cowboys (which my kids have never seemed to be that interested in), space pilots or girl detectives - is even more important.

And, as mentioned above, there's that other important element: Fun.

So I've put together a list of sixteen television shows that I like and that my children have liked. Obviously, some of them were initially "proposed" by me to my kids because I liked them as a child - Lost in Space and Star Trek. Others were shows that I missed for one reason or another but that I discovered as an adult (with my kids in mind) - She-Ra and Jonny Quest. And still others were basically discovered by my kids - Octonauts and Thomas the Train.

But whatever their provenance, all of them have been greatly enjoyed by Oliver, Lydia, Edmund and Crispin.

I'm going to divide the shows among four posts. I hope they resonate with some of you. And if you haven't seen some of them (or haven't had your kids see them), I hope I "turn you on" to a few. But that doesn't mean, obviously, that I'm some super authority. And of course, what you want or allow your kids to watch should and will be always up to you.

It will be in alphabetical order and the commentary will start with the next post. Not to be too much of a tease but the first four are:

Dungeons & Dragons
Jonny Quest
Lost in Space

As the song goes at the end of each She-Ra episode:

For the honor of love
We have the power
So can you!

It's not one of the Ten Commandments, exactly, and it doesn't mention God. But "for the honor of love" isn't a bad start. And in its way, I think it works.

Every young girl should have a sword. At least in her imagination.

Cross posted at Mahound's Paradise.