Being born in the USA and then dividing my time between the UK and America, I have very divided memories about my television experiences as a child. Living in England usually meant school and studying, whereas spending time in America was always family-time, holiday-time and relaxation-time. Hence, as a kid, I watched a lot more American TV than British. As an adult, I’ve never been able to have the reminiscent chats with friends about our favourite childhood shows – because it turns out that the UK was totally deprived of some of the so-terrible-it-was-incredible shows that I indulged in as a child in the States.
Guys, you have no idea what you were missing.
1) Elmo’s World
Everybody knows Sesame Street worldwide but who gives a damn about Big Bird when you can have a whole twenty minutes of Elmo? Elmo’s World was some other kind of special altogether and I’m sure most kids suffered through the rest of the programme just to hear that squeaky little voice sing his theme tune. Almost twenty years later and I still know all the words to that song. I kid you not. That show was everything because it made absolutely no sense. A real goldfish in a crayon world? Moving TV sets? An entire 2D set with doors that still opened? It was not right, not right at all, but that’s what made it oh so child friendly.
2) Dragon Tales
This is another show I was addicted to mostly because of the theme tune. Those words will stay with me forever. This show was about a brother and sister who only had to rub their magic dragon scale to be transported to this bright and colourful land with friendly dragons where they went on all sorts of crazy adventures. The dragons made the whole deal – it was like junior Pokemon. I was so overly attached to Cassie it was ridiculous. Obviously, being a kids’ show, the series taught you all sorts of great lessons like learning to share and not to say mean things about each other but I’m sure I was addicted to the bright colours and loud music like some kind of terrible TV drug.
Arthur managed to make some kind of headway in the UK but it never had quite the influence that it did in the States. You graduated to watching Arthur once you felt a bit too old for Caillou and Bear in the Big Blue House but before you felt like coming to terms with the real world. The most amazing thing about this show is that the majority of kids don’t even register that the characters in the show are animals until it’s pointed out to them. That’s how real the characters seem to kids. Okay, so Buster has very evident bunny ears, but that doesn’t make him any less of a person, right? That show was addictive and, for the first time, we were all allowed to have a favourite. I liked Francine. Plus, do I even need to mention that theme tune? Hey! What a wonderful time today.
Dinosaurs might be a bit of a cult TV show because even American friends of mine don’t seem to know it, which is bizarre because it is one of my earliest childhood memories as my brother was addicted. He had all the dolls and used to dress me up to match and sit me amongst them and then see if our mother could find me. Hilarious, I know. There was something a bit Family Guy-esque to Dinosaurs, like a slightly dodgy comedy masquerading as a kids’ show, with hidden messages just for adults. The puppets were downright scary in my opinion but it’s the kind of humour that keeps you watching for years, from kid to teenager. You know there’s a joke you’re not quite picking up but then, one year, you get it and life suddenly makes sense again. This one goes out to my brother, you devious smart ass you.
5) Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood
If you were privileged enough to watch this show as a kid, even if it was only reruns, you were probably left feeling like you’d just shared in a part of true American history. As corny as it was and as poor as the props were, this show was a staple of being an American child. It was kind hearted, sweet, morally right about absolutely everything and managed to simultaneously make you feel calm and guilty at the same time. We all should have grown up to be like Mister Rogers because he was an angel. The Neighbourhood of Make-Believe became some kind of weird and terrible metaphor for real life, but I’m sure it’s a lesson we’ve all forgotten over the years. Well, guys, when you’re feeling like it’s all a bit too much in the adult world, never forget that your Neighbourhood of Make-Believe is just around the corner. And may Mister Rogers be forever there, singing his song. Yes, he sang too.
All photos from IMDB.