Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PBS Kids TV Shows and their Unexplained

My gigantic PBS Kids analytical essays are back again, this time not to poke fun at useless new characters, but to discuss details of the shows that are often left unexplained. These are details that I have come across and wondered about.

PBS Kids does everything from academic lessons to moral lessons, but there are some aspects of PBS Kids that seem to miss the mark.

For example...

What exactly do the hordes/hoards (spelling?) look like in "Dragon Tales"? 

In "Dragon Tales" the dragons have these pouches on their abdomens called "hordes" and they treat them like kangaroo pouches. The dragons store random objects in them. It's like their version of backpacks, only it's built in.

However, there is something I always wondered about these things. How big are they? What is the depth of these hordes? I know this is a cartoon, but these hordes have infinite space in there. The dragons constantly and often conveniently pull out random objects from these hordes, objects that look like they wouldn't fit in them. I keep recalling Ord taking a 7-foot sandwich out of his horde in one episode. Where did he store it? How did it fit? In another episode, Zak tells Wheezie that her side of the horde is messy. Do two-headed dragons have two separate compartments in their hordes?

How much stuff can they fit in there? What do they look like inside?

The Ghost Town Universe in "Sid the Science Kid"

First of all, I really want to commend "Sid the Science Kid" for getting kids excited about learning science. It's very rare that you see a show do that. The last time we saw this on PBS Kids was "Bill Nye the Science Guy", which is oddly enough a similar title.

"Sid the Science Kid" is about a biracial little boy named Sid that is fascinated by science. Every episode he has a different science related question which is answered later on because coincidentally it is what he and his classmates end up learning about in that very episode.

Maybe perhaps one of these episodes can discuss the lack of life forms in the show.

The next time you watch "Sid The Science Kid", see if you take notice of this. The only people viewers see are the main characters. Oh, and there was also a dog in one episode. But you never see any other random people walking on the sidewalk or cars out and about. It looks like they are the only inhabitants in their town. You know how in "Arthur" even though they aren't important characters you still see random civilians around? That's not the case in "Sid". It's actually kind of scary. Almost post-apocalyptic. I guess we can say that this is because "Arthur" takes place in all different settings whereas the "Sid" setting is limited, but it is still very eerie.

The show also makes it look like there are only four kids (Sid, Gerald, Gabriela, and May) and one teacher (Teacher Susie) in the entire school because you never see anybody else on the playground or in the building. One explanation for this that I've seen people state is that perhaps Sid attends a special education school. This makes sense because special education schools often consist of smaller class sizes. We also never meet any of the other kids' parents.

But there are even episodes where Teacher Susie takes the kids on a field trip to the local science center. Guess what? You don't see anybody else in these places either.

This is a public place! Where is everybody? It often looks like the place is closed and Teacher Susie and the kids just broke in.

Wait a minute. I just found this on Wikipedia.

Well there goes that.

There's a picture of this character on Google, but I've never seen her before. She must be new. Maybe they're starting to add new characters now.

But still, she's only one character. The rest of the atmosphere is still very empty.

Additional Puzzlement: The only thing these kids learn in school is science and no other subjects. I know that the show is dedicated to science, but yeah, just wanted to point this out.

Talking Dogs in Various PBS Kids Shows: Why Dog from "Word World" was Cheated

"Word World" is an interesting show with an interesting concept. Everything in Word World is built from the letters that spell the word. For example, the character of "Dog" takes the shape of the letters D-O-G. The characters consist of animals (and objects) shaped in this way and they all speak English (and probably other human languages as well depending on where the show airs and what languages it provides).

"Dog" from "Word World"
That is, except for Dog. Even though Dog is living in a universe where there are no humans and animals can talk, Dog is the only character that acts like an everyday dog and is treated as such whereas the other animals in this universe don't act like regular everyday animals. The other "Word World" characters are personified. They speak with words and walk on their hind legs, especially characters like Sheep, Bear, and Pig. They are almost equivalent to human beings in their world yet Dog barks, walks on all fours, and is sometimes treated like a pet rather than one of them. Why is this? Why isn't he (or she) considered equal to them? See, I don't even know what gender this dog is because he or she never speaks to help me determine this, but I'm pretty sure Dog is often referred to as a "he."

When compared to other PBS Kids shows that involve talking dogs, this makes even less sense. First, let's look at the show that makes the most sense, which is "Clifford the Big Red Dog". Imagine that. A cartoon series about a red dog the size of a house being the most realistic. Well it is when it comes to talking animals. To the humans in "Clifford", Clifford and the rest of the dogs are normal pets that bark. The only time these dogs speak English is when they speak to each other, and when the dogs speak English, the only thing the humans hear is barking.

Then there is "Arthur". Recently Pal and the other pets of the series, like Francine's cat Nemo (I just found out that this is the correct spelling. This whole time I thought it was spelled "Mimo".) and Alberto's dog Amigo (Get it? Pal? Amigo? Ha! Clever!) are all of a sudden speaking English to each other like the dogs in "Clifford". However, the only difference in this show is that they are taking it a step further and the animals are also able to communicate with Baby Kate, Arthur's toddler little sister. Yes, Kate is now speaking perfect English as well, to the animals at least. This is fine I guess because normally dogs and younger children have this sort of connection in fiction.

The worst and most offensive comparison is "Martha Speaks". Ha! This is the actual title of this series, which is about a dog that walks on all fours and is able to speak English and communicate with her human peers. It is explained in the opening theme that Martha can do this because she ate alphabet soup and instead of it going to her stomach the soup took a wrong turn and traveled to her brain instead...

I'm not kidding! See for yourself! This is seriously what supposedly happened!

Hey, it's PBS Kids, people!

But here's what's so offensive about it. So you're telling me that Martha, from eating alphabet soup and having a weird digestive tract, is able to talk fluently with humans in a human run everyday world like our own? Where dogs normally don't speak and she actually lives with another normal barking non-speaking dog, Skits? But Dog can't speak in a non-human world, a place only populated by animals, where animals much like himself can but only HE cannot?

What a slap in the face! He's like the one dog on PBS Kids that doesn't speak and should considering the world in which he lives and that the rest of his peers do. Dog should totally take this up with his creator and sue PBS for this injustice!

Additional Puzzlement: Not only do Pal and Nemo speak English, they also have English accents. How did that happen? Amigo has a Latin accent because he lives with a Latin family, but the other two don't live with British families, so what influenced their British accents?

"Daniel the Tiger's Neighborhood": Daniel No Longer Lives in the Clock Factory

When I saw this "Daniel the Tiger's Neighborhood" for the first time, I found so many things wrong with it, so much that I was planning on dedicating an entire blog post to it. I originally thought that the people creating the show got everything wrong, especially names, and were failing at being loyal to the original "Mister Rogers" franchise, making things up and just changing things out of nowhere.

Then after awhile I got my explanation. It turns out that this show is much like a "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: The Next Generation" type of show with Daniel getting his own spinoff starring the descendents of the original characters. Daniel hangs out with X the Owl's nephew O the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat's kitten Katerina Kittycat, King Friday's son and Prince Tuesday's younger brother Prince Wednesday, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde's daughter, Miss Elaina. Now that this is all explained, it is all well and good. But, there is one detail that still doesn't sit right with me.

Remember how back in the days of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" Daniel lived in a clock tower and any time the human characters wanted to talk with him, they simply walked over to the Clock Factory and he would pop up.

This isn't the case anymore. Now the Tiger family lives in a hut and Daniel's father simply works at the Clock Factory. Why was this changed? This is an unnecessary change because Lady Elaine Fairchilde and her family still live in the Museum-Go-Round like she originally did, so why doesn't he and his family still live in the Clock Factory? Unless I only thought that he lived there...

I just found this on Wikipedia. See, I'm not crazy! He did actually live there!

But this suggests that the original Daniel the Tiger from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" is the father of lead character Daniel from "Daniel the Tiger's Neighborhood". But I don't recall the original Daniel being called "Daniel the Striped Tiger".

Wait. From "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" Wikipedia:

Unless they edited this Wikipedia page to make it match the "Daniel the Tiger's Neighborhood" Wikipedia page, but probably not.

I had to look this up to confirm because I was starting to remember. Apparently this was his name. The fact that his kid's name is Daniel as well threw me off. I thought the lead character of the spinoff series was the original Daniel. This does explain a bit why Daniel from the next generation hangs out with Prince Wednesday and not Prince Tuesday, giving a little insight into why Prince Wednesday was created. The original Daniel used to be the same age as Prince Tuesday so they had to create a younger prince to hang out with the original Daniel's son. That is, if that is their intention here and I am guessing the characters right.

Well, perhaps Daniel felt that living in a clock factory was no place to raise a family so he moved out of his bachelor pad into the hut with his family. It does make sense why Daniel still works there. He still wants to be connected to the old days. I'm just glad that he's not totally removed from the Clock Factory.

Whew! PBS Kids TV shows weren't this complex when I was a kid...


  1. I love your PBS analysis essays, they're so in-depth!! :D It's interesting to see how shows create there own worlds while the characters act accordingly to each world's "laws." I have a fascination with kid shows, especially ones that I grew up with. Maybe it's the nostalgic factor, but I also like to see what new shows are airing these days, and if they live up to their expectations. That really is strange that Dog from Word World is the only "animal" animal 0_o It's kind of creepy actually lol. Why would he be the only one that can't speak and acts like a pet? I remember the books for Martha Speaks when I was in elementary school. I always liked the idea. It makes sense that she talks because there's a reason behind it. For Sid the Science Kid's "ghost town" I blame either budget restraints or the writers feeling it unnecessary to include side characters. But they could have at least shown crowds of people or show some people walking, like just the outlines of them. I didn't know they made a new show based off Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I thought that wouldn't be possible since he passed away. I never liked Dragon Tales, I always found it annoying and inconsistent. I guess it's because I think of most dragons as evil creatures. But if you continue to write about PBS kids, please write a book on it!! I think it would be very informative, and I'd definitely buy it!! :))

  2. Great blog post. It’s useful information. There are a lot of good resources here. I am sure I will visit this place again soon. I think it may be help all of us. Thanks.

    1. Thank you very much! :D

      Of course, these are mainly my own personal observations. :)

      -Stef :)