Lesser-known kids' shows that I love:
1) Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: This is a Canadian show. You can tell by the way the characters say "about." It ran frequently on Nick Jr. last summer and we amassed quite a collection of them in our DVR. Sadly, we lost them all in a recording accident and I was as sad as my three-year-old was. This show is imaginative, sweet and adorable. Maggie, a little girl, plays in "Nowhere Land" with a pig named Hamilton and a yellow and red polka-dotted Ferocious Beast. It's loads of fun, and I hope Nick Jr. airs it again soon. I also really love the way my 3-year-old says "ferocious." To her, it's "Maggie and 'Ingrocious' Beast."
2) Wow, Wow, Wubbzy: I never hear anyone talk about this one and I don't know why, because it's awesome. It's educational, particularly about social subjects, such as helping your friends when they're down, meeting new people and being tolerant of differences. It's also very funny and witty, and the music kicks ass. To support this statement, I give you the Robot Dance:
3) Dinosaur Train: This one is on PBS. It's very educational and entertaining. I've learned a lot that I didn't know about dinosaurs from watching it. Each show consists of two segments, where cartoon dinosaurs go about their dinosaur business, showing kids what they did, how they lived, what they ate. Between each segment, a paleontologist explains in further detail all the scientific goodness in the preceding segment. It's one of my 3-year-old's favorites.
4) The Upside Down Show: I normally find children's shows that star grown men highly creepy (The Wiggles are a great example... creep-creepity-CREEPY!). These guys somehow manage not to be creepy. The show was made several years ago and airs every evening on Nick Jr. My kids love it. It's very imaginative and creative and shows kids that they can make their own fun anytime, anywhere, without expensive toys.
5) Peppa Pig: This is a newer show that airs Saturday mornings on Nick Jr. Peppa Pig and her family of adorable pigs with British accents have all sorts of hilarious adventures like jumping in muddy puddles and having barbecues (which is a little disconcerting since like, they're pigs, so what are they barbecuing?!). It is very witty and has made me laugh out loud many times. I hope this show is around for a long time.
Lesser-known kids' shows that I love to hate:
1) The Fresh Beat Band: This is a live-action musical kids' show on Nick Jr. It's a newer show, and I am hoping it isn't around long because it's awful. The music is the worst... they call it "hip hop" on the show, but it's saccharine, insipid and clueless, as if Lawrence Welk had created it. I want my kids to appreciate music, so I play real music for them, not this garbage. Also, the cast is way too cheerful in a "Stepford Wives" sort of way. I find their forced smiles terrifying... they might just be undead.
2) Oobi: This is one that you'll catch on Nick Jr. when you're up really late with a sick kid. It's on around midnight. In this show, human hands with googly eyes glued onto them act out various scenarios.
The hand-characters are voiced by grown adults, using falsetto voices. This is bad enough, but one of the actors has really, really hairy arms, which makes it all that much more threatening. And what exactly is going on in this scene?
3) Miss Spider's Sunny Patch: Spiders are scary as it is. They are made even worse by this show's animation style.
4) Bubble Guppies: This is a new Nick Jr. show that I find desperately boring and unimaginative. It's supposed to be educational, but I can't tell what it's trying to teach. Math? Vocabulary? I'm not sure. The lifeless CG-animation and Fresh Beat Band-quality awful music put this one on my "hate" list.
5) Franklin: Franklin is an older show, produced about a decade ago. It airs Saturday mornings on Nick Jr., often after Peppa Pig. Franklin never gets to have any fun. Every episode is about some ponderous, heavy topic like lying, theft, cheating or death. That's right, death. One morning my husband couldn't switch the channel fast enough to prevent our 3-year-old from seeing the episode where Franklin's grandma dies. There was no warning that this was about to be a "very special episode." They just started rolling with it without letting parents know what was about to happen.
I hope you've enjoyed my list of great and awful lesser-known kids' shows so you know which ones to watch and which ones to avoid like the plague next time you're stuck home with sick kids for a week.