As a work-from-home dad, I spent a lot of time with my kiddos, especially during the summer time. While I’d love to tell you we fill those days with discussions about the differences between Manet and Monet, it’s far more likely that they’re watching YouTube videos of kids and adults playing with toys. While I’m still undecided on how much damage that will do to their little psyches, I did have a great time watching a few different shows and movies with them in 2018!
I’m still super proud of the fact that I got the kids into Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, which I wrote about in more detail here. In 2018, I also managed to get them both into another series I dug as a kid, Beast Wars! If you’re unfamiliar, this is a Transformers series wherein the Maximals and Predacons assume animal forms on (spoiler) an ancient Earth.
I wish I could remember how I pitched this one to them to get them interested, but it worked! For a time at least. Though The Boy got way more into it than The Girl, they seemed to have fun with the adventures, though the continuity got a little confusing at times, but mainly for me. See, they’d ask me all these questions and I’d have to remember what all was going on. Still, it was a lot of fun and they weren’t put off by the old school CGI, to my surprise.
I have the DVD set from back in my ToyFare days and we made our way through a few discs, which inadvertently lead to us not watching the series anymore. At some point, between seasons I believe, a lot changes, including the looks of many characters. The Boy didn’t like when some of the Pee-Wee puppets changed between the first two seasons and he decided to stop before the ‘Formers changed, ironically. Hopefully we’ll get back to it, though I might have to read the Wiki to remind myself what happened!
We didn’t spend the whole year with me making the children watch my old favorites. In fact, I found myself falling pretty hard for the ones they wanted to watch too, including Cartoon Network’s Craig Of The Creek. In a scenario that feels a lot more of my childhood than my kids’, Craig and his pals Kelsey and J.P. as they navigate The Creek, a huge wooded area in their town where all sorts of different kids have carved out little realms for themselves.
In a lot of ways, Craig builds on what I loved about Clarence, but then builds on it by going more in the geeky direction instead of the weird one. The world feels huge and amazing and I want to spend as much time as these kids do just hanging out. Maybe I’d go visit the teen elders who hang out under a huge rock or the paintball kids. I think I’d steer clear of the girls who pretend to be horses, but it’s cool that they have their own place to prance. The kids both dig this series, but I find myself being the one who reminds them that we should check for new episodes!
On a completely different note, we also got pretty into Brainchild. My wife and I are always on the look for some actual science shows to balance out everything else our kids put in their brains. So, when this show, hosted by the delightful Sahana Srinivasan, popped up on Netflix and promised episodes about Superheroes, Space, Emotions, Creativity and beyond, we were stoked.
The Girl was more interested in this one at first — The Boy tends not to like shows with “real people” — but they both got into this fantastic presentation of science coming from Srinivasan and Alie Ward talking directly to them, sketches, animation and other presentations that captured their imaginations. As a fun added bonus, I used to listen to Ward’s podcast Slumber Party With Allie & Georgia!
It didn’t take much to get the youngins interested in the new Muppet Babies series on Disney Junior. They’re both big fans of the Muppets-John Denver Christmas album as well as the newer movies. It definitely helped that my wife and I talked it up big time as we were both fans in our own younger days.
This one skews younger, dealing with the usual problems of sharing, being honest and playing fair. Sure, it’s saccharine, but that’s the point. Also, not for nothing, but both The Girl and The Boy can use some refresher courses in these simple lessons.
The most surprising family fave of the year has to be Nailed It on Netflix. Once again, The Girl pushed for this one. I was on board, but wasn’t exactly sure how kid-friendly it’d be. I’m a fan of host Nicole Byers from her appearances on How Did This Get Made? and the hosts on that show talked about how great this show was. There are a few bawdy jokes here and there as normal bakers try to recreate incredible confectionery creations and failing, but they all flew way high over our kids’ heads. Mostly it’s just fun to watch these folks do their best, fail and keep on trying. Right now there are three seasons, the first two and then a holiday themed one that just came out a month or two back.
Gang, I saved the best for last. And the best animated series of the year — and one of my favorite all-around TV programs for 2018 (even though it debuted in 2017) — is none other than the new DuckTales from Disney. Yes, I was a huge fan of the original version of this show and its NES video game, but this show puts in the extra effort to surpass the beloved favorite.
First off, it’s got the best cast on TV: David Tennant, Bobby Moynihan, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, Kate Micucci, Tony Anselmo, Beck Bennett, Catherine Tate, Jim Rash, Margo Martindale, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Allison Janney and so many more! Second, I’m hard-pressed to think of a show with such a perfect mix of action, adventure, heart and comedy.
Finally, it’s a pure delight for longtime Disney fans of a certain age. I spent a lot of my childhood watching Disney Channel back when it was a pay channel and also the 90s afternoon line-up. This new series comes absolutely packed with nods and references both small and large to the past while also building its own mythology. For instance, the episode “From the Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22!” features a villain trying to use Gummi Berry juice from Adventures Of The Gummi Bears! Oh, and Donald wears the black shirt he wore throughout the classic Duck comics and, when they flash back to him as a kid, he sounds like his nephews did in the original series because Russi Taylor returned to play him! I could go on and on and on. Of all the shows we watched last year, this is the one I’m most excited to get back to when it returns, but Nailed It is a pretty close second!