Friday, June 8, 2012

What Has Happened To Children's TV?

I'm staying with my family for a few weeks before I make the big move to Dublin  and  I have a young nephew that I take care of and watch television with. Granted, he is five and likes cartoons but he loves to watch a lot of my favourite films too and he is obsessed with witches and the Wizard Of Oz just like me. So in saying that, compared to the darker films and tv series' DVD's I have been showing him that I loved when I was younger (and still do!) I was pretty shocked at how tame, censored and well basicaly un imaginative children's tv is today. 

I know that when I was younger we had pretty tame shows too, mostly the American shows on Nickeloden (Kenan and  Kel, Tucker  etc) and I loved those too  but there was such a mix of more gritty, Un- CGI  and homemade shows around. I have box sets of shows like Sweet Valley High, Are You Afriad Of The Dark? and Sabrina at home but I began to really look back at my favourite shows and wanted to share them with you!

'Are You Afraid Of The Dark?' was one of my favourite shows on Nickelodeon along with millions of others at the time. 'The Midnight Society' would meet in the dark woods every week to throw some sand in the fire (see we didn't see CGI then!) and tell a horror story that would be shown to us. Some of the scariest episodes included ,'The Tale Of The Deadman's Float',' The Tale Of The Queit Librarian', 'The Tale Of The Ghastly Grinner', and 'The Tale Of The Night Shift'. What I loved about this show was that it was geniunley scary, they wanted to scare kids and tell a real horror story. As the years went on and the show was revived for just one year it lost some of its original charm. But this will always be the pinacle of Children's scarytime TV.

Sabrina, Libby, Valerie, Harvey, Salem ... Need I go on? One of the best television shows of all time! Started to fade a little when she went to college but the first four seasons were amazing! 'Pancake Madness' is still one of the funniest episodes ever! ''They say she keeps her belongings in a shopping cart'' , Libby really was a comic genius!

In the 80's and 90's Children's TV here in the UK and Ireland loved to feature a lot of tv shows produced in Australia and New Zealand. 'Round The Twist' was one of the most popular. The show revolved around a family who lived in a lighthouse and strange,creepy and bizarre things happened to them. The show's first two seasons mostly dealt with the ghosts of the family's deceased members. The show ran for four seasons over eleven years (!) and is also available on DVD and YouTube.

In the 90's, one of the best tween shows around was 'Ready Or Not'. Popular girl Amanda and more gawky Busy were best friends and dealt with more cringey and realistic teenager issues than in shows today. From Busy getting her first period to sex issues, boyfriends and arguements with family and friends. This is a show my mom did not like me watching on Saturday mornings and that's always a sign of good tv! 

Back when MTV wasn't all about pre teen girls with babies and Italians getting drunk and eating pickles, there was smart shows that millions of teenagers could relate too. The early 90's had Beavis and Butthead while the latter 90's had Daria. Packed full of stereotypical characters in the best possible way including Daria's sister Quinn and best friend Jane, Daria was clever, funny and best of all had 'Sick Sad World'.

One of the best cartoon television series,Ever was 'Hey Arnold!'. The show was full of loveable characters like Helga, Grandmpa and 'Football Head' himself Arnold. The show also had some serious heart, great storylines and led to a successful film of the same name. 

Another successful Nickelodeon tv show that spawned a film was 'Doug'. The show followed Doug and his friends Skeeter and Patti. The show ran for four years on Nickelodeon before being sold to the Disney Channel which made changes to the show that saw its decline. 

'Rugrats' was and still is one of the most famous children's cartoons. It was also one of the first shows to incorporate enough humour,heart and good storylines to appeal to a mass audience. Along with a succesful tv series the show also spawned three major films.

One of my favourite early 90's teen shows is 'My So Called Life'. Although the show only ran for one season (Claire Danes did not want to continue filming) it has a huge cult status. The show starred both Claire Danes and Jared Leto. Danes played Angela, an awkward teenager who starts to rebel again her usual straight A status. It was 90's grunge, funny and also showcased a gay lead character, a brave move at the time.

'The Wonder Years' was a show that my family and I loved to watch together. Watching these early 90's shows with my family are some of my earliest memories. I just loved waiting for Fred Savage's character to finally pluck up the courage to ask out Winnie. Oh the drama!

Another Saturday night show with the family was 'Blossom'. Blossom lived with her two brothers and father and the show dealt with various problems a teenager faces. Typical 'after school special' stuff but great viewing!

My mom loved watching this with myself and my sister. Not completley old enough to understand everything I do remember getting excited to watch the show and see his neighbour hide behind the fence! I think I also may of had some of my earliest crushes on the sons. Ha!

Often thought of as another 'Afraid Of The Dark' I never found the show as scary. This was probably due to an increase of CGI effects which made things less real. Apart from this the show still had a lot of creepy moments and some great stories that were spawned from the R.L. Stine books. Another show that everyone was discuss the next say at school!

Similar to 'Round The Twist', 'Mirror Mirror' was another popular Aussie import. The first series followed Jo, a young teen who went through her mirror to visit Louisa, a girl from 1919 who originally owned the mirror. By Season two the show revolved around new characters passing through various mirrors.

One of my favourite tween shows was 'The Tribe', the show aired for two seasons and revolved around a group of teenagers living in a shopping mall after the town is evacuated. Silly fun at the time but I was hooked!

Apart from Nickelodeon having some great cartoon series', Cartoon Network also had some great originals that often had some pretty offbeat humour. One of my early favourites was the fantastic 'Beetlejuice' tv series. I just loved Lydia's quirky outfits and the dark tone of the show!

Cartoon Network was also home to my other favourites Dexter's Lab and Cow and Chicken!  (Above)

Art Attack - the show that got be hooked on art and made me mess the living room up dozens of times. And was I the only kid who never had PVA glue?! My life!

'The Magic School Bus' was one of those shows that was always on when I was sick at home from school. It revolved around a teacher, her school class and a magic bus that 'made learning fun'. Not why I watched it but there you go.

'Clueless' the tv show was far less raunchy that the original movie but none the less it was still great fun! This would come on at 7pm and myself and my sister would jump on the couch to watch!

I also used to watch shows from the 60's to 80's either on Saturday mornings or when I would come home from playschool. I loved watching 'Bewitched' and 'I Dream Of Jeannie' with my mom.

My dad introduced me to H.R. Puffinstuff - a show about a little boy that followed a magcial flute to an Island where a bunch of colourful characters lived and a wicked witch who wanted to posses the talking flute!

Every Saturday night I would have a sleepover with my grandmother ( I really was the coolest kid!) and my Uncle who was a teenager at the time would watch loads of films and shows. Every Saturday morning 'Fame' would come on and I just loved it. My favourite episode was their interpretation of 'The Wizard Of Oz'. I was obsessed!

'Dungeons and Dragons' was another show my uncle introduced me to. I just loved the creep intro where the children were at the fair and got carried into a haunted house ride! 

Other shows worth a mention! 

What were your favourite shows? Let me know! Did I miss anything? Then get on YouTube and start watching these gems!


  1. i LOVED this post. namely the bits about are you afraid of the dark, and my so called life <3
    ps - doesnt reyanne from my so called look like willam? watch an episode, this occured to me the other day while watching that cheese fest show. xo m'love

  2. come to think of it i've never seen willam and reyanne in the same place at the same time.... hmm... ;)