I think we have all been there. Parents I am pretty sure we get there multiple times of day. Sometimes you just need a little TV time to occupy the little ones. TV time feels bad, it almost feels like mind control. With the power of the TV. I can have the little ones kicking and screaming to totally occupied in a matter of moments. And of course, everything in moderation, we try to limit it in the Hays household as much as we can. It’s only a matter of time before we can’t. My Mom didn’t worry so much about screen time as much as she did genuine concern I could spend 12 hours a day not eating or moving if left to my own devices. And honestly? What is up with that? No one checks in on my screen time now! I spend nine hours at work looking at a screen, and then I go home, play videogames, watch TV, and write on my computer! ANYWAYS~ I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching Disney Junior and I have developed quite the discerning taste when it comes to these shows. I am here to help you whenever you need a little time to occupy a three year old.
I just want to make it clear before we go any further, we are ranking these on entertainment value for YOU…and your kid! Kids will watch dang near about anything. They will watch videos of kids playing with toys they ALREADY own for several hours. Kids don’t need a guide there is an unlimited amount of content out there for them you pretty much can’t screw that up. But what are we going to do as adults to keep our self sane? Ask Hannah, sometimes I just absolutely hit my limit with some of this garbage and I sort of just snap. “Okay kids turn the TV off lets go do something.” Which I suppose is a win-win for all parties involved. But occasionally I find myself surprised, some of these shows get it absolutely right!
Chicken Squad: 3/10
Does not get it right. I find the aesthetic and theming around Chicken Squad to be both annoying and tiresome. Not only are the voices of all three characters somewhat annoying, the “personality” traits are constantly hammered over our heads as well. The smart one, the strong one, the cool one are constantly reminding us if which trope they belong to, which I find exhausting. This is a new show with only one season, and I hope it is the last season. I find Chicken Squad not so much offensively bad as I do incredibly unnoteworthy, it doesn’t do anything particularly well. The “cool” young chicken acts exactly how I would prefer my child not to. Plus the only thing more annoying that wheels on the bus for the 18th time is listening to those dang chickens go “BUCKBAGAW!!”
Puppy Dog Pals: 7/10
Puppy Dog Pals has been going on long enough (4 seasons is a lot for kids shows) that is bordering on classic. The pups are enjoyable and diverse, with a wide range of episode themes all throughout. From a heist to runaway houseboat to a sports match, episodes are diverse enough to bring something new every time. I liken it to a modern day Rugrats, puppies “get in trouble” to make it all work out in the end. There are a few jokes from time to time that only an adult will catch, and a wide array of dog characters that are surprisingly fun. Lastly, there is a music number in every episode, which is often terrible news, but in this case…. is not. PDG has really solid musical numbers that will often be stuck in your head for hours after you listen. (I’m not sure if that is good news either)
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: 4/10
I might get a little bit of hate for this one, but the whole gang of Mickey characters have unbearably annoying voices. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy give me nails on the chalkboard vibes the moment I start hearing their banter. And just when it couldn’t get any worse they invented space characters with the same voices but worse and somehow outdid themselves yet again when they gave Toodles a face and voice as well. I do like shows that ask the kids to interact, mostly because when my children respond to prompts it makes me feel a little bit better that they haven’t completely become zombies yet. And the fact that most episodes involve using tools and critical thinking to fix a situation is nice too. I think this show is solid for your kids and just rubs me the wrong way, but it might be because I am pretty sure it’s been on for like a decade now. And there is only so many “OH BOYS” I can take. I have to admit I am biased here but I think we can do better than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
Dino Ranch: 6/10
Firstly Dinosaurs are cool so a show about dinosaurs is pretty cool too. Next Dino Ranch constantly plays on the Western motif in clever ways (including the wise-old-narrator) that an adult like me can appreciate even if it goes over the head my three year old. Next the characters are voice acted in a way I can tolerate and most often the lesson they try to teach is one even Dom Toretto can appreciate: Family. It does suffer from the animations style making action sequences look really, really, lame. But they can’t all be Anime level Dino chases. I’ve got no qualms with Dino Ranch.
Minnie’s Bow Toons and other Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Spinoffs: 1/10
If the original is grinding my gears than the obviously inferior spinoffs are just the worst. Firstly as astutely pointed out by my wife, they have turned Daisy Duck into quite possibly the stupidest character in TV history. Which is even harder to stomach as she started off as the tomboy do-it-all girl who could even put up with Donald. (She was actually cool.) Pair that with the tweety-bird with the New York accent that just doesn’t work in terms of fit and it only gets worse. Lastly I can’t help but feel Disney is (smartly) pushing the Disney brand onto us just so my kids want to come to Disney and buy Disney toys. Like we can admit it is inferior product of TV but we don’t care cause if we flash this Disney World infographic its a win for the brand the moment the kiddos ask to go “vacwation”.
This regurgitated Youtube garbage and if you can make it longer then 3 minutes without losing total faith in humanity I salute you.
Pikwik Pack: 5/10
I like Pikwik pack but mostly because I find the art style to be sort of cool. Bright colors without crossing into the realm of ridiculousness is a nice change of pace. Sookie, Axel, Hazel and Tebor are also really cool names for our main group of dudes. I want to like Pikwik Pack more than I actually do. Great theme song, great idea (delivery service), great art style. But ultimately a forgettable show that won’t do much to hold your attention.
TOTS is a great show through and through. I’m not comfortable giving it a 9 or 10 because it is still a kid show. I am not telling you turn off your regular television to turn TOTS on instead. But it definitely is top tier kids TV. Pip and Freddy are a penguin and flamingo trying to make it in the stork business of delivering animal babies. What a clever premise, and with a fully functioning lore around the whole world, a cleverly cast group of animals, and a new baby animal to learn about every episode, and you’ve got a
run on sentence really solid show. Freddy is particularly funny, and also voiced by an actual child- which is amazing. And I can only tell this because Freddy is clearly going through puberty season 4, this is how acquainted I am with the characters people. And lastly the music steals the show, hands down the best music in the genre right now and it isn’t even close. Starting with their signature “bringing this baby home” which naturally remixes to the situation they are in, to the low-key bangers Kasey the Koala is CONSTANTLY cranking out. If you aren’t playing bringing this baby home on the way home from the hospital with your newborn you are missing out on a GOLDEN opportunity.
P.J. Masks: 6.5/10
Theme song is 10/10 and everything else about this show is a 6/10. PJ Masks does kid super heroes in the most bland way possible. I understand that it is a show for three year old’s but if that is the case maybe we shouldn’t even touch on the topic of crime fighting. The heroes are boring but they do a solid job with interesting villains, and shows vary enough to keep it semi-entertaining. PJ Masks is chronically average but at the end of the show you’ll be reminiscing about how bed time really is the right to fight crime. I am somewhat convinced this show is entirely held up by it’s theme song and yet somehow I am totally fine with it.
Mira Royal Detective: 7.5/10
Speaking of theme songs sure to save a show, Mira is a golden example of this. I enjoy this show quite a bit, from getting to see a small glimpse into Indian culture, to the Sherlock Holmes-eque type episodes. Mira offers solid TV entertainment through and through. Scooby-Doo proved you can make sub par TV and mix a little who-done-it intrigue and I will be here for it. The animation is nice looking with the exception of when the characters run or move, which is rarer than you might think. And yet, I enjoy the surprising amount of dance numbers… they are fun to watch in their own janky sort of way. I think Mira is in the process of getting put on the back burner at Disney and I understand that as well, this show might be the least entertaining for the children. Call it cliché but I do enjoy seeing a dark haired, dark skinned, female protagonist as well.
Peppa Pig: 5.5/10
I find this one to be the hardest to rate accurately. I think Peppa does a lot of things really well. In terms of both entertainment for you and your child. A smart portrayal of family at times lands on an endearing spot in my heart. But then by the very same token, the stupid little brother will make a snorting sound or Peppa will do something snotty and I was suddenly be inspired to put a hole in my TV. Peppa is a good TV show completely PLAGUED by things that make adults hate it. Even the sloppily drawn beard hairs on the dad’s chin make me uncomfortable. In general Peppa makes me mad and simultaneously makes me feel bad for doing so. I don’t care if I gave it a 5.5 it is giving me 3/10 vibes now. Screw you Peppa Pig.
Muppet Babies: 7/10
I rate Muppet Babies a solid 7 (same as Puppy Dog Pals). I have never enjoyed Muppets as kid or adult (Muppet Vision 3D was pretty good) but this show is pretty solid. Way less pure goofing around and way more “valuable lesson” type of content. Missy Piggy who traditionally rivals Daisy for worse character ever has been significantly toned down to bearable levels of bat-crap insane. Kermit is a genuinely good protagonists for most episodes with him at the center the cast can shine. Episodes in which he takes a backseat are generally weaker, especially Fozzy who can be critically annoying in large doses. He is often suppose to be the comedic relief but obviously me and the 5 year olds have a different kind of taste. I do like that every episode is based on the power or imagination even if that fact might be lost on the toddler.
I have created an entire blog post just so I could have this moment. Bluey is genuinely the best kid show I have ever seen and is seriously some great TV. Firstly the show is about two young girls and their parents (they happen to be Australian Blue Heeler dogs but the dog bit is sort of irrelevant). The Dad is one of the GOAT dads of TV, portrayed both realistically and hilariously, he often sets a solid benchmark for me in terms of how to play with your kids. The show can be absolutely goofy: dealing with a fairy infestation. To shockingly poignant: the kids are reenacting a traumatic event of discovering a wounded bird they couldn’t save and try to change the results of the day, so to speak. To just spot on accurate: Dad takes the kiddos to the movies. The youngest one can’t still and spends zero time watching, while the older one critically overthinks the entire thing and gets in her head about the whole meaning of it. Remember when I said don’t turn off your regular programming for a show? This is the one that should be regularly programmed. I leave almost every episode genuinely tickled, the ones which I don’t, are usually filled with tears. Bluey tugs on the heart strings of Family and Friendship, creates positive examples for siblings and parents alike, all while being both entertaining for both child and adult. I can recall Lennox and I both laughing genuinely at certain parts together and that is something I am shocked I get to experience so soon. I think the most shocking part is how relatable the topic of parenthood feels while watching. How spot on they portray the daily life of living with two young children. Both the ups and the downs, but yet subtly remind you how beautiful and perfect this little stage of life really is. Genuinely awesome show. I can’t say enough about it. If you get a chance and see it in on TV, maybe say a prayer for Hannah and I.