I was in Atlanta over the weekend and picked up a copy of their alternative weekly, Creative Loafing. Inside was an interesting article on something I haven’t thought much about as I don’t have any kids yet. Kids entertainment usually commits many of the following sins:
It was a revelation to me that even innocuous, insipid shows on PBS Kids might not all be equal, particularly when I compared “Clifford the Big Red Dog” with “Dragon Tales.” At first I preferred “Clifford,” because I liked the books when I was young, and the late John Ritter voiced the pachyderm-size pooch. More shrill and saccharine is “Dragon Tales,” the maddeningly inane adventures of human kids in candy-color Dragonland, featuring guests such as Princess Kidoodle of the Doodle Fairies.
It slowly dawned on me, however, that a high proportion of the “Clifford” stories involved characters behaving foolishly and receiving correction, while “Dragon Tales” emphasized working together to overcome phobia or accomplish a goal. “Clifford” seems more interested in shame as a motivation, while “Dragon Tales” rewarded achievement. Sometimes banality has a purpose, so it’s back to Dragonland for us.