Genuinely Good Children’s Television (Non-Cartoon Category)

It’s harsh truth time: we all have to admit to ourselves that not every show we watched as children were masterpieces; in fact, under the age of about eight we would watch any piece of fluoro-coloured crap that danced around on a screen in front of us. I was faced with this brutal reality after re-watching the first Power Rangers film, something I remember watching a bajillion times with my cousins and loving it. No surprise, it was a poo-poo platter of badness, and it made me feel sad for my tiny toddler brain.

Some shows and films should be left alone to stay a foggy but delightful memory of our childhoods, but I believe that a handful of shows we did watch aren’t just good for nostalgias sake, but good for their overall brilliance as television shows.

So here’s a short list of shows you should definitely not regret watching, and which I would recommend watching even now…

Round the Twist (1989-2001)
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This show was some sort of beautiful gift, from our childhood lord and saviour Paul Jennings, a genius with kid’s stories. His writing translated well onto the screen, producing tales of suspense, mystery, and utter craziness without scaring its young audience. But what I loved most was the true blue Aussie-ness of it all, from the accents and lingo down to the rugged beachside landscapes – something that stuck out in front of the other American programming during that time. And I’m gonna go ahead and give it extra points for a hella-catchy theme song.

Art Attack (1990-2007)
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Art Attack was a seamless integration of entertainment, education and creativity. There were so many things to love about it: Neil’s art space filled with over-sized paintbrushes, the funny ‘Head’ character with his silly accent, and of course the art itself was incredibly absorbing. The big birds-eye pictures Neil made out of different objects baffles me even now, and coupled with the really rad 90’s music it made it even more exciting. With this show both adults and children were entertained – and not solely for the allocated twenty minutes. I can’t even imagine the kind of devil child who wouldn’t want to ‘try it at home’ after watching this show, so the amusement dragged on way beyond the show itself. But apart from all that, Neil was a great host, and definitely deserves a round of applause – Because he wasn’t just a man who loved PVA glue, but one who loved to teach.

Tidbit: Neil went on to perform lead guitar in a British heavy metal band called Marseille.

Goosebumps (1995-1998)
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I feel like this show doesn’t even need a write-up. It was scary, very scary, so scary I still have nightmares marked with big, green, gooey G’s. What Goosebumps did was get their already horrifying stories, make them come to life on a screen and provide it to children who otherwise would not be allowed to watch horror films – which I think is a great thing. Everybody likes a good scare, especially children, and I for one don’t think they get scared enough. Shows like this serve as an avenue for a love of the horror genre and a transition into reading – But most of all it had living dummies and phantoms and monster blood that were poop-your-pants frightening, but at the same time harmless fun. It does warn you beforehand: “Viewer, beware, you’re in for a scare!”

Tidbit: Ryan Gosling starred in the episode Say Cheese and Die.

The Muppet Show (1976-1981)
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There’s just something about frantically shaking a frog puppet thats hilarious, and muppets had that down-pact. I always thought of this show as a children’s style SNL, or maybe a muppets style SNL? I’m actually still pretty confused about this show, because I could never tell if it was made primarily for adults or children, but either way I enjoyed watching it. When I talk to other people my age about it they show a certain disinterest, which I totally understand. It wouldn’t be the first pick on a rainy sunday afternoon, but solely based on its simple slapstick humour, cute and creepily-made hand puppets, and pun humour, I think Jim Henson did a damn fine job.

The Amanda Show (1999-2002)
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This was never one of my favourites, but when it was on and nothing else was I watched it anyway. But watching a few episodes now I’ve realised that ten year old me was an idiot – It is so fucking funny. Sure there are some regular segments that fall flat, but most of it was outrageously hilarious, and it poked fun at adults and teenagers alike. I think people tend to forget pre-drugs Amanda Bynes, which is a damn shame, because she had the acting abilities, facial expressions and accents of a great comedy actor.

 – by Josefina Huq

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