One problem I had most with the new additions was that I felt they weren't done correctly, and I expressed my qualms in-depth. However, I have begun to realize that if a show were to continuously add characters, it never bothered me. They didn't just randomly show up but was something that normally happened. Also, it wasn't just one new character but rather a whole mass of new characters. I think my problem too was how just one new character was included, thus messing up the whole dynamic of the show. If new characters are always going to be included in every episode, then it is not much of a shock. And plus, sometimes these new characters aren't in every episode. They just show up when needed, thus serving actual purposes. Unlike the other random new characters, they aren't regarded as part of the main cast as if they were always there in the first place. They are a supporting cast who don't try to outshine the originals, and are thus enjoyable to watch.
|The cast of "Arthur" (There are plenty more where this came from)|
Then again, I don't necessarily dislike her either because she is apart of D.W.'s group of friends just like Arthur has his own gang. Also, she is D.W.'s counterpart just like Alberto, her thirteen-year-old brother, is Arthur's counterpart and mentor, so it's all good because it's evened out.
|The "Cyber Squad": Jackie, Inez, Matt, and Digit|
This all being said, in every episode the "Cyber Squad," which consists of human kids who are virtually transported to "Cyberspace" from their homes on Earth, or "earthlings" as Digit often refers to them as, Matt, Jackie, and Inez, and Digit, a "cyboid," run into new characters on different sites in "Cyberspace." These characters are each associated with some kind of branch in mathematics pertaining to the theme of the episode and sometimes return in other episodes.
Here is a perfect example of a decent cast. You have the central cast, but then you have the additional supporting cast who doesn't necessarily invade the turf of the original cast and yet serves a purpose.
When we first meet Slider, he actually has his own storyline! His father has disappeared because he is on the run from The Hacker, the series villain, and Slider's goal is to find him one day. Unlike other PBS Kids storylines, Slider's story continues throughout the episodes so it is an impressive tactic to use to keep the audience's interest in the series.
He is also somebody to commend when it comes to gender equality, this time for the MALES. Before Slider's appearance, Matt was outnumbered two to one in the Cyber Squad. Now I know Digit is a male but he doesn't connect to any demographic and isn't human like the other characters, so therefore he doesn't necessarily count. He's more like their sidekick creature friend. Just consider him the "Pikachu" of the group. With Slider around, however, genders even out but also gives Matt some kind of competition when it comes to being the "man of the house," thus creating tension and making the storyline interesting enough to follow. Also, both female humans Jackie and Inez develop crushes on Slider, which is something to which girls their age can relate.
Sometimes you need a character to shake things up a bit and Slider is that character. Also, he does well staying in the sidelines, not outshining the main cast, so he is always a treat when he actually appears in an episode.
Now I am going to talk about a new character that I wish the producers incorporated into the main cast. This is a rarity, so obviously the character must be pretty special. Of course, I am talking about Kyle, the wheelchair kid from "The Puzzle Place." Don't remember him? That's not a surprise. From what I can remember he was only in two episodes and should've been in more.
|The cast of "The Puzzle Place." I'm sorry but this is the only photo of Kyle I can find. Kyle is the boy dressed in orange in a wheelchair to the far right.|
Let me give you a brief background of this show before I go on, because it is no longer on the air. Talk about gender equality and connecting with different demographics! You do not get more diverse than this! This show had everything! They discussed individual culture, bullying, racism, sexism (That's right, SEXISM!) and so much more!
Let me also break down the cast for you just to show you how much diversity this show covered. You couldn't get more gender even than the cast: 3 boys, 3 girls, a male dog, a female cat, 3 male Peace Police, 3 female Peace Police. The boys consisted of an African American (Leon), a NATIVE AMERICAN (Seriously, how often do you see that?) (Skye), and a Norwegian (Another uncommon demographic) (Ben). For the girls, you have a Jew (Jody), a Mexican (who also served as the resident bilingual character) (KiKi), and a Chinese (Julie).
All that was left to cover was a child with disabilities, and that's where Kyle comes in. Kyle shows up as Skye's friend in a wheelchair and his presence helps Ben learn more about what people in wheelchairs experience. He is a great character to connect with a whole demographic of disabled children. However, like I said, he didn't stick around for more episodes when he should have.
Plus, another reason why he should've been included in the main cast is that he was a puppet like the rest of them, which kind of makes him apart of their group. The other friendships the Puzzle Place kids formed were with actual human children, so therefore puppet kids were a minority, but still the lead characters. I just find it interesting how the producers went out of their way to create an additional puppet character, who would most likely be a lead because he is a puppet like the rest of the main cast and serves a purpose to connect with and represent a demographic just like the rest of the Puzzle Place kids do, and yet they don't use him as often. What was the point then? I understand their reasons for creating him, but if you are going to create him and he does a good job, let him stay. There was actually a reason for him to be there unlike other PBS Kids characters nowadays and yet he wasn't incorporated well.
But then you may say that if he was incorporated into the main cast, the boys will then outnumber the girls four to three. In this case, I say who cares? As opposed to other new characters, Kyle actually does something and is just as important as the main cast.
Well, there you have it. The counter-argument consisting of PBS Kids shows that include new characters and actually do it right. As long as the character does something to contribute to the show, you don't have to question why he or she is there, and he or she doesn't ruin the original feel of the show, it should be alright.
Can you think of other characters that I didn't mention in either post but you think fit the same descriptions? If so, who?