Children’s Television Programming

While we were at Misty’s dad’s house, we had access to Noggin, a television channel for preschoolers. I got to see children’s programming that I normally wouldn’t see, like Oobi.

Let me tell you about Oobi. This is Oobi:

Oobi and friends

Technically this is Oobi and his friends and family. Oobi is at the center left. Grampu is at the top. You can tell he’s old because he has either a moustache or a wrinkled upper lip.

Oobi and his cohort speak in short, declarative sentences. They don’t use pronouns, since young children have trouble figuring out pronouns’ antecedents. They teach life lessons and help educate toddlers and I totally don’t care because Oobi freaks me out. I finally figured out why Oobi disturbs me so much. It’s as if someone had flayed all of the skin off of puppets and then forced them to go on camera anyway. I don’t care that the show is innovative and intelligent and helps children learn. I care that I’m watching puppet skeletons and their lidless, staring eyes.

We also saw Pinky Dinky Doo, in which a seven-year-old uses her imagination to think her way out of trouble. I’m all for thinking, but when Pinky thinks big, her head swells to the point that it is larger than her body. Do we really want an encephalitic child instructing the youth of today?

It is possible that I’ve seen too many children’s shows lately. We were watching the Oobi credits when I shouted out, “Hey, there’s Stephanie D’Abruzzo! From Sesame Street!” The other thing I’ve noticed from watching the credits is that children’s shows are the only ones where you’re required to have a Ph.D. on staff. This isn’t a good idea. The “P” in Ph.D. does not stand for “practical”. We’re good for coming up with grand theories and grant proposals. You don’t want us planning your dinner, let alone planning how to educate your child.

Of late Congress has been looking to cut funding to PBS. Among the arguments for doing so are that shows like Sesame Street won’t go away, and besides, the market is providing plenty of Sesame Street replacements. Those who argue this position often point to channels like Noggin as proof. As far as educational shows goes, that argument ignores the true damage of cutting government funding of PBS: the poor will lose access to these educational shows. Sesame Street and other popular kids’ shows won’t go away, but the stations that carry them in poor and rural parts of America likely will. PBS stations in poor states are chronically short of funds, and a portion of the federal funding helps them keep their doors open. If that funding is removed, those stations will fold. Right now I can see Sesame Street by buying a cheap TV at a pawn shop and putting up an aerial, for a cost of around $40. To get Noggin, I have to sign up for digital cable or DirecTV at some $50 a month, excluding installation costs. The market’s alternatives to PBS stations for educational programs are not free, and certainly not cheap. Thankfully these funding cuts aren’t getting a lot of traction.

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10 Comments

  1. katre
    on July 5, 2006 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Man, so that freaky-hand-thing is called Oobi? Good to know.

    Zameen’s pediatrician’s waiting room has a TV that shows all Noggin, all the time. While waiting for shots we’ve seen Oobi, some weird show featuring a pink-haired girl, and many, many, episodes of Dora.

    Sadly, we are usually unable to hear Dora, which recently led us to ask a four-year old cousin, “So, what’s Dora’s monkey friend’s name, anyway?” To which the response was, “Duh! He’s Boots! Boots the Monkey!”

    It’s true, we don’t have any culture.

  2. Limax
    on July 5, 2006 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    The pink-haired girl show is called ‘Lazy Town’ and it’s produced out of Iceland. It’s also shown on Nickelodeon in the morning. My kids really love Oobi, and I have to say that my wife and I find it amusing as well.

  3. Joyous
    on July 5, 2006 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Ok, I find Oobi totallly cool and fascinating, but then it’s a well-known fact that I am somewhat weird on the subject of puppets. (Yes, yes, other subjects too, but right now we’re talking about puppets.)

  4. duchess
    on July 5, 2006 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I love Noggin, and used to watch it almost all day at my parents’ home since they have a satellite dish. I sometimes feel tempted to get a satellite dish just for Noggin, to see Oobi, and Lazy Town, and other kid shows, but just one channel…you know?

  5. Kat
    on July 5, 2006 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I have seriously got to quit reading your website at work. I nearly suffocated trying to choke down the laughter this afternoon.

  6. on July 6, 2006 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I nearly suffocated trying to choke down the laughter this afternoon.

    My work here is done.

  7. on July 6, 2006 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    As for hitting the point on the poor re: PBS: EXACTLY. We don’t all live in the suburbs with 350 channels and four TiVos.

  8. Christina
    on July 14, 2006 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    My daughter loves Lazy Town. I enjoy it also. The girl who plays Stephanie(the girl with the pink hair) is so talented. She was on the Tony Danza show and used to perform on Broadway. I like the songs and it promotes children to exercise and to eat healthy.

  9. Arthur R.
    on March 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Apparently you grew up to fast as do many others these past two generations. Oh yea we have terrific kids who walk around with there ipods,cell phones,etc.Only coming together for raves and such. Kids killing other kids at school’s yea you grown ups have missed out on the reality of the un real, a child hood filled with all the sillyness,fun,and love from a parent who helps there child to be young. What are you all so afraid of that you might be politically incorrect,speak with an impediment? The comment about the swollen head puts insult to those parents who have had to raise children with such unfortunate dissabilities and love them all the more. Maybe you need to love yourself before you are capable to love your child who will go to any extent to find the sillyness of the Oobi show. Most likely because the child see’s the adults who strive to be adult and fall short of the joy of laughter and sillyness which we all grave at the early stages of life. I find that your concepts of depriving a child good shows that teach and use the sillyness factor solely placed on what a PHD is required to produce. It seems your community is wound up tight and your humor past you by for your PHD.Hell what do I know I’ve been a professional circus clown over 40 years,my PHD is in theater. Well I can wipe my arse with my doctorate while I watch kids laughing at Oobis antics and laugh all the way to the bank.

  10. Debbie
    on August 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I saw Oobi for the first time today because my toddler got up exceptionally early, much to my dismay. I found myself sitting in front of Nick Jr. at 6am, barely able to open my eyes, much less take in these disturbing hand puppet things. I finally got enough caffeine in me to be able to focus and take in what I was seeing and the look of confusion mixed with horror just about sums up the expression on my face. I checked my son’s reaction to make sure he wasn’t being traumatized and even though I think I am probably going to have nightmares, my son actually seemed to enjoy watching them, which makes me wonder how many Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd concerts these producers went to in order to come up with this crazy sh*t.