By Regan Baker
30th December, 2013
Let me set the scene for you. It was 8am on Christmas morning and after a two-hour drive I had just arrived at my aunties’ house in Lismore. Needless to say it was early, I was tired and I definitely wasn’t in the mood to put up with my four and six-year-old cousins. However, they insisted that I sit down in front of the laptop with them and watch a couple of their favourite shows that I absolutely HAD to watch. I don’t know what on Earth they were showing me, but WOW am I surprised at how much children’s TV has changed since I was a little kid. So in memorial of the greatest era of children’s television ever, where a cartoon character could not wear pants and still remain on air, I hereby present to you my picks for the greatest children’s TV shows of Gen Y!
#1: Cow and Chicken
I still have absolutely no idea what this show is actually about, but it will always have a special place in my heart for being one of the most outrageous and random shows of my childhood. Whether it be the sheer absurdity of a human couple cross pollinating each other with the DNA of other animals to somehow produce cow and chicken offspring, or the fact that Director David Feiss managed to say things on air that no one else could - I don’t know… But whatever it was, Cow and Chicken managed to produce comic gold week after week.
Most Memorable Moment: Remember the original 7-minute pilot episode where the naked red guy gets chicken to smoke what has to be the largest cigarette ever made? Cause if not, you really should! What follows has to be one of the most scarring moments of my teen years and is probably the reason I have never touched a cigarette in my life!
#2: Freaky Stories
Oh, Canada! The fact that you created this show almost makes up for all of your wrong doings in years since… Like Justin Bieber and Nickelback. Though the episodes were only five or so minutes long, they always left an impact and on several occasions left me shivering in bed unable to sleep. Kind of a silly thought now that I look back on the episodes… What the hell was I scared of?!
Most Memorable Moment: How could anyone forget the whole, “This is a true story. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine!” at the beginning of every. Damn. Episode!
#3: Raggy Dolls
The Raggy Dolls is probably the oldest show to feature in this list as it was pulled from air when I was only two-years-old. Its long-term season of re-runs however, has still had a significant impact on my life. The show is based around the imperfect dolls that are discarded from a toy factory. Though they are labeled as rejects by the factory (metaphor: society), the dolls still manage to live a happy and fulfilling life (Which is kind of a paradox being toys and all. Being a bit of a ‘creative odd ball’ myself, you can see why the show had such an impact on not only my life, but many others like me.
Fun Fact: The Raggy Dolls holds the record for longest running children’s show of its genre and was created, written, starred and composed by one man. Neil Innes.
#4: Round The Twist
Secretly I didn’t really want Round The Twist to make the list because it freaked me the hell out when I was younger, but admittedly I did still spent hours and hours watching it. Besides, who am I to argue with it’s two Logie Awards for Outstanding Children’s Program two years running. The show was most well known for pushing the boundaries of Children’s Television Programming and often came under scrutiny for being too crass for young eyes and ears. Despite the show being based around stories from world famous author Paul Jennings, the Australian Children’s Television Network still struggled to find a distributor for the show and featured a lengthy eight-year gap between seasons two and three. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that Round The Twist is probably one of the greatest television shows that has ever come out of Australia… Though let’s be honest, when you are up against shows like Neighbours and Home and Away that might not really be saying much.
Most Memorable Moment: There’s an episode where a skeleton literally comes to life for all of a minute to put some pants on before going back to resting in peace…. Umm, why???
#5: Art Attack
I am fully aware that many of you are going to judge the living daylights out of me for including this in the list, but for as long as I can remember Neil Buchanan has been my favourite artist. I’m not sure whether it was the creative side of my personality, or the fact that I loved annoying my mother by touching everything physically possible with gluey hands, but Art Attack captured my attention from the very first episode. Buchanan’s constant ability to turn everyday objects into weird and wonderful pieces of art is definitely partly to thank for the creative writer/filmmaker that I am today. Though it never ceased to amaze me what kind of ordinary household objects Neil could turn into art, it was the BIG Art Attack’s that truly amazed me!
Most Memorable Moment: The BIG Art Attack where Buchanan used a thousand or so traffic cones and twenty-something black cars to create a gigantic bicycle in an empty parking lot.
Sidenote: Oh my god, do you remember that ridiculously creepy head-sculpture thing-a-ma-bob that kept talking and trying to do art. WHAT THE?!
#6: Tom and Jerry
I had an argument with a fourteen-year-old the other day about Tom and Jerry and it was fantastic, because ultimately – I won. The little brat kept yelling at me saying that T&J was “Stupid” and a “Rip-off of Itchy and Scratchy.” Even when I proved to the kid that T&J was created in 1940, a whole 50 years before Itchy and Scratchy was invented, I was still a “Stupid-head.” Tom and Jerry ultimately lasted a whopping 65 years with the last episode, Karate Guard, being created in 2005. I am proud to admit I have seen all 167 episodes created in this time span and loved every single one of them. Much like Road Runner outsmarting Wile E. Coyote I could never get enough of Jerry outsmarting his dimwitted rival Tom cat.
Most Memorable Moment: Stupid-head? Really kid? Has school taught you nothing about vocabulary?
#7: The Trap Door
Don’t you open that – Trap doooooooor!
How could anyone forget what is arguably one of the greatest Claymation series to hit Aussie television! While stop motion animations are slightly out of date now, The Trap Door’s characters still have a ruggedly pleasant quality to them that can still be enjoyed in this day and age. The stories were always engaging and kids and adults alike could enjoy Berk’s antics. Not to mention the fact that the talking skull thing was hilarious!
Most Memorable Moment: Seriously, what is under that damn trap door! I’m nearly twenty-two and it still bugs the living daylights out of me that it was never revealed!
#8: Pinky and the Brain
Featuring the greatest children’s TV theme song ever created.
“What do you want to do today Brain?”
“The same thing we do every day; try to take over the world!”
I’ve started to notice a trend in all the shows I’m featuring in the list. Many of them feature at least one relatively intelligent character and one absolute dropkick that seemingly never gets anything right. In this case, I am seriously hoping I’m relating to Brain and that my brother is Pinky, or I’m in deep water. In all seriousness though, I got hours and hours of entertainment out of this show as a young boy and twelve years later I still quote some of the absolute nonsense that came out of Pinky’s mouth.
Most Memorable Moment: Any of the “Are you pondering what I’m pondering, Pinky?” moments; they were all fantastic. Especially – “I think I am Brain, but what if the Hippopotamus won’t wear the Thong?” and, “I think so Brain, but three men in a tub? That just doesn’t sound sanitary!”
#9: The Wild Thornberrys
In every sense this show was just absolutely smashing! (Sorry, I had to do that!). In many ways The Wild Thornberry’s reflects the life I wish I had. As previously mentioned I am a filmmaker currently specializing in documentaries, so the ability to travel the world making films with Eliza’s uncanny ability to talk to animals would be absolutely - again - smashing! The combination of Eliza’s desire for adventure, Darwin’s grandpa-like “Stay safe and don’t have fun” kind of attitude and Donnie’s absurdly wild behaviour were the perfect combination for comedic gold.
Most Memorable Moment: Easily has to be the four-part mini series detailing the origins of Donnie and how he came to be the feral animal-child that he is. It turns out that his parents were trying to protect Orphaned Orangutans in Borneo when poachers killed them. The horrified Orangutan family in turn, raised Donnie as their own son.
#10: Captain Planet
Ahh yes, Captain Planet! Even though it was pulled from air almost eight years ago, I can still remember every single word from the theme song – and I’m certain I’m not the only one! Ask almost anyone born in the 90’s and I can guarantee they will be able to tell you which of the four Planeteer’s is their favourite. (And yes, I said four. Let’s be honest, know one picks poor Ma-Ti and her power of heart.) Captain Planet truly was an impressive, immersive and all round bad-ass kids superhero show that also had one of the greatest messages on television. To this day, The Captain Planet Foundation still exists raising awareness, funds and support for several Environmental campaigns around the world.
Most Memorable Moment: That ridiculously creepy episode where the Planeteers try to save a race of mouse-people that are dying out as a result of too much humping! Literally! The message at the end of the episode was pretty much just “Don’t endanger your own species by overpopulation.” Fat lot of good a bunch of grade three kids are going to be able to do about that!
#10+1: Kim Possible
(Yes this is #10+1… You read the title, and I meant that literally)
While Kim Possible only just qualifies for this list, it is by far my favorite show on it. Ron Stoppable’s stupidity never ceased to leave me in stitches and as a teenage boy I couldn’t help but relate to his awkward-friendzone status with Kim. In fact, ALL the quirky relationships in Kim Possible are most likely to thank for the shows huge success. On top of Ron and Kim, you’ve got Ron’s creepily co-dependent relationship with Rufus, Senor Senior Sr. and Senor Senior Jr’s. weird and wonderful father/son relationship and Dr. Drakken and Sheego’s… umm… love/hate relationship I guess you could call it? No matter - the fact is that Kim Possible is easily one of the greatest children’s shows ever!
Most Memorable Moment: The fact that Ron thought it was a good idea to attach his grappling gun to his pants when firing it.
Sidenote: Anyone who also has Kim’s beeper as their text message tone is immediately my best friend.