This blogging thing is getting addictive. I think it was that movie, ‘Julie and Julia’ that did it. She blogged every day, and then she got a book deal. Maybe part of my brain thinks the same thing will happen to me, and so now I’m writing every evening. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather blog than sit, zoned out in front of, ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ (reality TV show where the groom gets 12,000 Euro and has to organise his whole wedding with no input from the bride) or ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ (reality TV show about the weddings of travellers – people like that character Brad Pitt plays in “Snatch”, I think… though I’m not sure. Don’t quote me. Its a while since I saw the film. And don’t get insulted if you are a traveller and I’ve just completely trashed your culture). Yes, I would prefer to blog than watching any of those things. Though, I am often blogging in front of the TV anyway. (I’m not tonight. In case you were wondering).
ANYWAY. I have been meaning to write an entry about children’s TV for a while and never got around to it. You get to watch a lot of children’s TV as an au pair. I don’t suppose that surprises anyone. A lot of it is really lovely, charming, intelligent and well put together. Some of it, like the Rugrats, or Max & Ruby, I remember from when I was a kid, and that is strange and creepy but also oddly comforting (it makes me feel not very old). But, then, there are the shows that are just plain weird, and after that are the shows that I think were made by people who weren’t ever successful at making adult entertainment, and so they thought they’d just move sideways into children’s entertainment, because that would be WAY easier as kids will just watch any old shit.
I’ve been tossing up which shows I think are the worst. To begin with, I thought I really disliked Peppa Pig (see video). Peppa’s giggle irritated me. Daddy pig’s incredibly low voice irritated me. The song irritated me. Peppa’s little brother George, who only ever said ‘Dinosaur’, irritated me. But, I’ve been converted. George eventually learns new words, like ‘No’, and that was a strangely satisfying experience, almost like a real baby learning new words. I’ve decided Daddy Pig’s voice is probably supplied by a chain-smoking, alcoholic actor, which amuses me to think of whenever watching the cartoon, because its trying so hard to be so darn wholesome. And Peppa’s voice keeps changing, as does her giggle, and I like to come up with horribly morbid tales about what they did to the last Peppa. They probably were getting sick of her giggle as well…
So, then I thought it was Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom that was the worst. It was so sugary sweet, and had stupid gender stereoptypes (or so I thought), with all the girls being fairies and all the boys being elves. Plus, all the spells were stupid. And Nanny Plum sounded like she should be on EastEnders and not in a friggin’ magic kingdom. But, then, I realised some girls were elves and some boys were fairies (ha!), but, mostly because my eldest girl showed me the following excerpt of the show in Spanish, and I was totally won over. This video puts me in hysterics. I don’t know why. Rinki-dinki-dee…
Team Umi Zoomi were the front runners for worst show for a while, because they were so bloody full on and loud and chirpy and JUST DAMN IRRITATING. But they’re educational and interactive, so I forgave them eventually. I also went through a short period of hating Dora the Explorer, as my eldest charge likes to yell out, ‘Adios Amigos’ in a horrible mocking tone before slamming the door in her sister’s face, which inevitably leads to tears and screaming and arguments. I still prefer ‘Ni Hao Kai Lan’, though, which is a Chinese cartoon doing a similar thing to Dora. But, for a while, its been a close call between the cartoon version of ‘Sylvanian Families’ and a Nick Jr. cartoon called ‘Bubble Guppies’. Sylvanian Families is truly horrendous. There are no words to describe it. It tries to come across wholesome and quaint and old-worldly, but it just so slightly misses the mark by cranking up the gloss and the sugar in the wrong places. It leaves such a bad taste in your mouth, like those cheap lollies you buy at the service station that have the wrong mix of sweeteners and artificial flavourings But, its also like watching disaster footage – extremely hideous, but at the same time, utterly fascinating, so you can’t tear yourself away. I’ve attached a video, which is, unfortunately in Japanese with subtitles, and that makes it sound kind of cute. In English its just a completely flabbergasting and horrifying experience, made all the more horrifying by how much my eldest charge likes it. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.
But, I decided in the end to chalk up the weirdness of Sylvanian Families to cultural misunderstandings, and mistranslations, and instead, the Jenny Award for the Worst, Most Grating and Blatantly Money-Grubbing Children’s TV show goes to Bubble Guppies. So. This is a show about mermaids. Or, mer-people. And their fish friends. The cartoon drawings look clumsy and the colour scheme is ugly. The songs sound like they were written in 5 minutes by someone who is only half-concentrating on the project at hand, and are about the most inane topics, even as far as children’s TV go (please see video of the ‘Build Me a Building song as an example).
But, the thing that really really gets me about this show are the inconsistencies. Ok, I know, its children’s TV, and there’s a certain element of fantasy and a licence for stretching the truth. But, in ‘Bubble Guppies’, it doesn’t seem like this stretching of the truth has been done for amusement or entertainment value, but just out of laziness (I really don’t like this show. And I’ve had to sit through it a lot. Hence why I’ve begun to view the producers of said show as evil, malicious bald-headed men, sitting on piles of money made from their crap children’s TV show empire, putting their fingers together and laughing evilly at the thought of making more crap, cheap, children’s TV to fry children’s brains and irritate parents. Now that I think about it, I don’t know that you can actually become a millionaire from a crap children’s TV empire….). So, anyway, the bubble guppies go camping. The all have rucksacks. They have a stupid song about what you could find in your rucksack. And then they all float over logs around a campfire, toasting marshmallows. They’re merpeople and FISHES. AND THEY ARE SITTING AROUND A CAMPFIRE. Now, how, how, how does this work? Either, they’re on land, which is why they have a fire, and the merpeople are all about to suffocate, or they’re under water, and the fire is some kind of magic, waterproof fire. This made me grumpy enough. But, then, the next day, the Bubble Guppies visited the moon. And they wore space suits. But swam around the moon as if they were under water. So, is the moon under water? In which case, why the space suits? Surely, as mer-people, they can breathe under water? And, if it is the normal moon, ie, the one in the sky, how come they are swimming? Oh, and another question, what about the space suits? Are they full of seawater instead of air? These details were not included in the cartoon. And then, yesterday’s cartoon. Yesterday’s cartoon made me want to punch the TV. So, the bubble guppies were learning about transport or cities or some such crap. So, all of the bubble guppies were sitting around in the city, dressed up like policemen and firemen and eating their lunches. But, then, two of the bubble guppies became archaeologists and were exploring ancient ruins or graves or something. And then a pretzel dragon came to eat them (???? if its a pretzel dragon surely it eats pretzels????) and they had to go underground to the ANCIENT UNDERGROUND TUBE SYSTEM. Why? Why? If you wanted to teach the children about underground trains, why not set it in a modern day city??? That’s where you started the bloody episode! Why confuse matters so that when these children grow up and go and visit Pompeii or Macchu Picchu or some such, they won’t be getting out their Oyster cards and asking passing locals which is the best way to get back to Piccadilly Circus? Stupid show. STUPID STUPID SHOW.
Last video is of the hated Bubble Guppies in the moon episode. Notice they have taken off their space helmets but kept on their space suits, and there are bubbles surrounding them still. WHERE EXACTLY ARE THEY MEANT TO BE????
PS There are some lovely children’s shows out there too. One is Humf (see video). I don’t know what he’s meant to be, but he’s cute. The other, probably my favourite, is ‘Charlie and Lola.’ Because of this show, I want a little girl called Lola, even if it means she sounds like a 1930’s stripper.