Last weekend I visited my cousin, Chris, his wife, and young son in Maryland. It was an extremely fun trip. My cousin’s son Hudson is almost 3 years old so he’s full of energy and loves to play. He’s talking pretty well now too so you can hold conversations with him. When I first arrived, my cousin’s wife, Marci, updated me on some new happenings in Hudson’s life, one of which was the brand new Nickelodeon TV show Blaze and the Monster Machines. It’s Hudson’s new favorite show and while I was there I caught an episode, or two, or three (we watched it a few times).
That show got me thinking this past week about all the TV shows I used to watch on Nick Jr. and even some on Playhouse Disney. When you’re really small these channels are the first ones you become exposed to. You get your first favorite TV shows from them. Of course when I was younger we had shows like Barney, Lambchop’s Play Along, Sesame Street, and Reading Rainbow, which were on other channels. It seems like since the 90’s Disney and Nickelodeon have made a market for early childhood TV. Usually the shows on these networks have some form of learning involved and engage children into solving puzzles or problems. When Marci first mentioned Blaze and the Monster Machines, she told me the show is about a monster truck named Blaze, his driver AJ, and his fellow monster truck friends who have adventures and use physics to solve the problems they encounter along the way. I was initially kind of shocked by this because from the shows I knew, many, if not any, use physics. Marci speculated it might be because of math and science scores being down in the U.S. which makes sense. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty cool for a show to go outside the norm on what they’re teaching kids.
Back in the 90’s when I started watching Nick Jr. my favorites were Eureeka’s Castle, Allegra’s Window, Rupert, Little Bear, The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies, The Busy World of Richard Scary, and my all time favorite Gullah Gullah Island (I could easily still sing the theme song). I also watched my fair share of Cartoon Network at the time and Nickelodeon cartoons for older kids, but those shows were my morning programs, especially in the summer when I was home from school. I can’t remember well enough if the shows had the type of learning puzzles that modern early childhood shows have, but I do remember enjoying them regardless (they probably did have learning, but I was just too young to remember).
I do remember learning a life lesson from Allegra’s Window when I was about 5 or 6 years old. One of my best friends had broken his arm and around the time I found out, there was an episode of Allegra’s Window on TV where a character from the show had also broken his or her arm. All the other characters on the show felt bad for this particular character so they wrapped up their arms with bandages too so the character who broke his or her arm wouldn’t feel as bad. I believe it was either the day that episode aired or the day after that I was going to see my friend because we were going to check out this Dinosaur exhibit in our area. I decided after watching the episode that I was going to do what they did on the show and put bandages on my arm for my friend (pretty sure it was only one bandage but I thought it was a genius idea). I really don’t think it affected my friend either way since he was 3 at the time, but I felt like I did something right and a TV show taught me that.
From the shows that I watched to shows like Blue’s Clues, Little Bill, Franklin, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer and now to shows like Hudson watches like Paw Patrol and Blaze and the Monster Machines, Nick Jr. has been an influence on all of us (unless of course you were just a Disney kid…but seriously you had to flip channels). Maybe someday Hudson will reminisce from time to time with his friends about how great all these shows were. I know I do. I was just talking about Gullah Gullah Island about 2 weeks ago. Even though we go on to enjoy plenty of other television shows we can’t forget where we got our start and what we learned from it. I’m sure most of us don’t. Oh and I forgot to mention Blaze is a pretty great show. Hudson’s watching some good stuff. But on that note, we’ll end this properly like they do on Hud’s new favorite show when they’re ready to roll. Let’s blaze!