Hello and happy Wednesday!
Today, I’m taking another little trip down memory lane (see my previous post about my favorite childhood books, here). Will you join me?
Just as all the many, many books I read as a kid shaped me, there were a few kid shows that my siblings and I used to watch together that also influenced me. Though I didn’t realize it at the time of course, now I look back and see where I’ve drawn inspiration and writing techniques from all of my favorite old shows.
The humor, the dialogue, the range of characters, the story formats…funny how the things we take in as children stick with us. Which is one reason I’m very blessed that my parents monitored our screen time, and the things we watched. Rather than the ‘new’ and popular cartoons on TV, my siblings and I were shown some of the ‘classics’. To this day, I still know older shows far better than any of the ones that were most popular when I was a kid.
And I like it that way. Though we never watched too many shows, the ones we did watch hold many good memories for me. Just hearing one of the theme songs, or being reminded of a familiar plotline brings a wave of nostalgia that’s bittersweet.
So today, I thought I’d dash back in the past for a little bit and share what were some of my favorite cartoons/kids shows growing up. I hope you enjoy the glimpse at some of my old favorites, and I’d love to hear about yours as well!
Garfield and Friends
You know, the one with episodes of Garfield, and then episodes with all the farm animals? I still have very fond memories, and enjoy watching those every once in a while. Garfield’s humor has always amused me (although I’ll admit that it’s sometimes horrified laughter) in any of those older shows with him. His common sarcasm and dry wit fits my family’s sense of humor very well, and we often quote his lines.
From a writer’s perspective, anything with episodes is a good exercise in learning how to develop concise and effective plotlines, and Garfield and Friends had numerous short stories in each episode (for Garfield and for the farm animals). At the time, I remember wondering how the writers came up with all their ideas. And then there’s just the matter of the humor – sarcastic, witty, and slapstick. And no matter how awful Garfield is sometimes, I just can’t help but like him anyway, haha. I can be glad he’s not my cat for sure, but I still like him.
Another older show that I have many fond memories of! I especially liked the depth in story plots for this one – both in each individual episode and in the entire show as a whole. The variety of characters and their personalities, and the way they were all forced to work together to get through obstacles was neat to watch, and I enjoyed the humor and uniqueness of the stories (albeit unrealistic, but since when can bears talk anyway?).
Honestly, the worldbuilding was one of my favorite parts of the show. It wasn’t a new planet or anything, but the world they lived in, and the kingdoms, races, magic system, agriculture, etc…it all fascinated me. It was probably more impressive to me as a kid than it would be to me now, but I still think of that show when I’m starting to worldbuild for my own stories.
This is one of the very first shows I ever watched, and as I’ve re-watched them with my little siblings recently, I’ve been newly impressed by the depth of teaching material used. As a kid, I just remember thinking ‘the gang’ (Annie, Leo, Quincy, June, and Rocket) would be fun to hang out with, and that getting to travel the world would be awesome, and enjoying the music while I was engrossed in their adventures.
Now that I’m older and am viewing it more objectively, I appreciate the show even more. The beautiful classical music, all the music terms, the art and artists responsible for it, the locations from all over the world…I learned a lot from the show without realizing it. And that’s something hard to do, especially for a kids show. Too educational and it’s boring to little ones. But too ‘entertaining’ and it’s just fluff. Little Einsteins was somehow the right balance of both for young me.
The Magic School Bus
Another educational show I enjoyed! This one, however, had far less of a focus on music and far more of a focus on science. Health, nature, cultural science…the range of ‘field trips’ the class from the show went on taught them a lot about many different aspects of life. And as a kid watching them, I got to go right along and learn the same things.
I remember finding Ms. Frizzle amusing, intimidating, and kind of crazy (and still do…), but her dynamic personality kept me interested in the show long enough to get engrossed in the actual educational material. Looking back, I appreciate the balance found in Magic School Bus too. There was plenty of humor and entertaining adventure to the episodes, but it was impossible to watch them without also learning at least something. I also enjoyed the variety of topics covered.
Tom and Jerry
Ah, good old Tom and Jerry… I grew up watching this cat and mouse ‘fight’, and still won’t object to watching an episode or two with my siblings. Their antics as they try to live with each other (or preferably get rid of the other, in Tom’s case), never failed to amuse me. The more outlandish their plot, the better. And the slapstick and witty humor often made me laugh. Remember Tom trying to keep himself awake with toothpicks propping up his eyelids? Ouch – but I’ve always chuckled at that.
For me, part of the charm of this show is that there’s very little dialogue. Only a select few of the characters talk, and when they do, it’s not usually for long. Most the screen time is filled with Tom and Jerry scheming against one another and carrying out their flawed plans to hilarious effects – which helped my attention span as a youngster. Another thing I’ve grown to appreciate are the sound effects for each episode. Somehow the production team managed to find the perfect, snappy sounds for ordinary (or not so ordinary when concerning falling pianos) events – that complement the story – and make it even funnier.
Cartoons…not always just for kids, haha. I’m not afraid to admit that there are still many animated ‘kids’ shows that I enjoy – especially ones with witty humor. Fortunately for me, my little siblings are more than willing to snuggle and let me watch with them.
What about you? Are there any ‘kids’ shows that you still enjoy watching? If so, which ones? Let me know in the comments below!