It seems to me that most of our generation agrees that child and pre-teen television programming these days just isn’t as good as it used to be. If that strikes you as a random topic to be writing about, it probably is, but ask around and I suspect you’ll find awareness of it to be more widespread than one might suspect. The quality has simply gone down.
Gone are the days of whipped cream to the face and benignly non-toxic green slime. No more are the theme songs we remember, from humbly unpretentious whistling to guitar riffs that melted the faces off of 8-year-olds across the country and around the globe. Anthropomorphic animals remain a constant, but Brian the dog and Patrick the starfish are no replacement for Porkchop and the Thundercats (sounds like a burgeoning indie garage band), from my purely objective standpoint.
Sure, it’d be easy to chalk it all up to nostalgia. The past few years of VH1’s daytime lineup have illustrated quite clearly that even the most pointless or ludicrous aspects of one’s childhood can be remembered with the same fondness as snow days and summer vacation.
Even so, and even in spite of the fact that I’d have to admit watching children’s programming to say so, I’m convinced that the decline of kid’s television goes deeper than simply what’s old or what’s new. I could pick any kid’s show from a decade ago, compare it to the show in its same time slot today, and probably say that the old stuff is empirically better. It seems like this is especially true of the new versions of old shows — I’ll leave out the examples.
If nothing else, the theme songs aren’t as good as they used to be, which I suppose says something about the music tastes of the upcoming generation (all due apologies to my little sister). Of course, some channels do produce absolute gems on occasion, but the instant shows like Justice League Unlimited go off the air, we’re back to square one.
To be fair, I really don’t watch as much children’s television as I used to, for obvious reasons. But it seeems that every time I surf past Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, there’s some new promo showing for yet another sitcom vehicle for yet another aspiring preteen idol. What happened? No more kid-oriented game shows for elementary-schoolers to dream about appearing on (and scream at the contestants, in the meantime)? No more bordering-on-existential philosophical voiceovers? No more sketch comedy a la Saturday Night Live for Youngsters?
It just doesn’t seem fair to those born of the new millennium, and especially so for us grown-ups aching for a taste of the familiar and classic. I guess there’s always YouTube…
Still, I suppose it’s with some degree of irony that many the people responsible for television today were raised on the television of yesteryear. Does that mean that we who were raised on high-quality television are those responsible for television that isn’t? I guess that means we owe more than a few people an apology. Oops.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really should be going. Clarissa’s about to explain to Doug and the Rugrats how to properly assemble the silver monkey, and the Power Rangers are about to have a three-way grudge match with Voltron and the SWAT Kats.