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This ain't child's play

A while ago, I started thinking about the kid's shows I'd loved when I was growing up. And I startedt thinking about what sorts of things have been passed off as kid's "entertainment." And I started wondering about the most appallingly BAD kid's shows ever made.

My criteria were harsh. The shows in question had to not only be just bad, but in some way bad for the kids. Something about these shows had to make me say aloud "dear god, who in hell thought this would be GOOD for kids?"

I came up with three, which I'm stuffing in the extended section. But I'm inviting others to add their own nominations, with or without looking at mine.

Have at it, folks!

3) Barney & Friends. A marketing ploy disguised as a condescending, treacly load of tripe. I want to hurl whenever I stumble across ANYTHING to do with Barney.

The sole redeeming factor: the tremendous number of violent parodies it has inspired, from "Death To Smoochy" to the Animaniacs' "Baloney & Friends" to "I hate you/You hate me/Let's hang Barney from a tree" to countless more.

2) Captain Planet & The Planeteers. It wasn't just that this was environmentalist/save the earth propaganda aimed at kids, but that it was BAD environmentalist/save the earth propaganda aimed at kids. The bad guys were, more often than not, capitalists who were poisoning the earth simply for the pure satisfaction of being bad. Thank you, Ted Turner.

1) Highlander. I have NO idea what sort of drugs the executive was on when he said "Hey, here's an idea! We have a successful franchise going that revolves around people cutting off each other's heads! Let's make a kid's cartoon out of it!", but I want some.

Comments (35)

Hey, as vomitrocious as "Ba... (Below threshold)

Hey, as vomitrocious as "Barney" was, it was a great show for 2-4 year olds.

I have no argument with your other two.

I HATE "Fairly Odd Parents" because of the way the parents are depicted. The satire, I think, is too strong for kids who are still so literal.

Captain Planet had a nice i... (Below threshold)

Captain Planet had a nice intention -- "Don't pollute, save the earth," but trying to squish environmental and economic policy into a Saturday morning cartoon is difficult.

However, it would have been fun to see Captain Planet talk about market externalities.

Personally, I miss Thundarr the Barbarian. No moral messages. No educational value. No political correctness. Just a dude with his buds and his magic sword wandering around post-apocalyptic Earth and kicking some serious ass.


Don't forget Pokemon, the k... (Below threshold)
Brian the Adequate:

Don't forget Pokemon, the kids show that actually cause physical harm to kids by inducing epileptic seizures.

Also the Tele-Tubbies are worse than Barney. All of the sappiness along with a clear agenda to promote more TV watching and piss poor pronunciation aimed at an audience that was just learning to talk.

I LOVE fairly odd parents! ... (Below threshold)

I LOVE fairly odd parents! Ren & Stimpy, however, sucked for a kid's show. Better suited for MTV.

Violence?What abou... (Below threshold)


What about the wholesale indoctrination and downright brainwashing of our kids with loads of PC crapola?

The Doodlebops and Boohbah ... (Below threshold)

The Doodlebops and Boohbah are absolutely without value. I'm sure there are more but those two have to be on the top of the list.

JTI can't argue with... (Below threshold)

I can't argue with what you have to say about Barney, but I think you have missed the point as to his popularity amongst 2-4 year olds and the forbearance and patience of otherwise intelligent and discerning adults who can put up with him.
For example, if I had some very important task to be done at home that required total concentration and no interruptions from the kids I just popped in a Barney tape or tuned into the show. Voila! The trance induced, I get my hour of work done and the kids are happy and not in the way. This is the inherent value of Barney.

Now, I loved Power Rangers ... (Below threshold)

Now, I loved Power Rangers when I was a kid, but honestly it has to be one of the worst kids' shows ever. Poorly made "martial arts" plus horrible acting and plot is not that educational unless you want to teach 6-year-old boys how to accidentally kill siblings with the moves they saw on TV.

As for anyone who thinks B'... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

As for anyone who thinks B'harnii and Fiends is in anyway good for children...



How about TV Wrestling? It... (Below threshold)

How about TV Wrestling? It wasn't great for kids when we were kids (at least it was more 'cartoonish', was mostly sex-free, and actually had positive 'characters' fighting clearly 'evil' ones...c'mon, Hulk Hogan beating down the Iron Sheik? Good triumphs over evil and then good didn't go out and join the Iron Sheik in ambushing Superfly because good wasn't fun - yes, I used to watch, but I couldn't name a single person involved now, although I think McMahon is still embarrassing himself, isn't he?), but now, when it's even more targeted towards kids, it appears to be nothing but Cinemax-level-of-raunch sex, insults, boorishness, and, again, showing young boys how to accidentally (or not so accidentally) kill their friends and family members.

1> Sponge Bob Square Pants<... (Below threshold)

1> Sponge Bob Square Pants

2> Ren and Stimpy

3> Boobooh, Tele-Tubbies

I guess I'll reveal my age ... (Below threshold)

I guess I'll reveal my age here, but Captain Kangaroo was our daily morning show. And Bozo the Clown. Saturday morning cartoons were Rocky & Bullwinkle and still my favorite to this very day Foghorn Leghorn! When we got our first color TV we turned the three color dials until Bullwinkle was green and that was the highlight of the day.

I'd have to nominate Big Fo... (Below threshold)

I'd have to nominate Big Foot and Wild Boy. Here you got this kid running around in a loincloth with no adult supervision at all. Unless you count Sasquatch. And we know what a bad role model he is, because he ALWAYS responds with violence when pranksters mess with him. And for some reason, criminal gangs were always up to nefarious plots - in the middle of nowhere! Why would 5 master criminals plan to rob a bank that contains at most $113.47? And does Wild Boy ever think of calling the cops? Oh, no - he brings in the wild beast and they jump fences and throw big rocks at the criminals. And why does Bigfoot jumping sound just like the Bionic Man jumping? Is Bigfoot bionic? Does Steve Austin have transplanted Sasquatch tendons in his knees? I say we track Bigfoot down with the help of Joe from Run Joe Run and the A-Team (RIP-OFF!), only this time let's make sure when someone gets shot by a .50 cal that it actually hurts.

I occasionally make my kids... (Below threshold)

I occasionally make my kids watch "Boomerang" television so they can see how much our generation had to suffer on Saturday mornings. The awful animation, the condescending messages, the hideous dialogue; it was unbearable. No wonder we used to get up early so we could watch the Road Runner cartoons of our parent's generation.

I nominate Superfriends. After watching the Justice League, turn to an old episode of Superfriends and try not to vomit. It won't be easy.

A related topic: The Barbie movies are quite simply wonderful. The plots are good, the animation is original and visually stunning, and Barbie herself is a great role model for young girls; she is kind, caring, and courageous, and always saves the day. I think my favorite is "Swan Lake," but "Rapunzel" is also top notch. If you've avoided them so far, I'd say give them a try.

Hello? Ren & Stimpy a kids'... (Below threshold)

Hello? Ren & Stimpy a kids' show? In what universe? It was always aimed at adults.

I hate Ed, Edd, & Eddy with a passion. It's just so stupid. And there's a LOT of crappy kids' programming over this side of the pond - I feel like I must apologise for the Teletubbies.

Since I was a tot, my favourite cartoons have always been Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry and The Pink Panther and I imagine they'll be my favourites till the day I die. I just can't see anything bettering the classics!

H.R. PufnStuf. I l... (Below threshold)

H.R. PufnStuf.

I loved it as a kid, but looking back, man, that was some blatant pro-drug propaganda.

Actually, I would nominate just about any show by the Krofts.

Oyster, I too watched Capta... (Below threshold)

Oyster, I too watched Captain Kangaroo and Bozo the Clown! (and Romper Room). Remember Mr. Greenjeans? And that grandfather clock with the talking face? That always scared me a bit. :)

Power Ranges has to be up t... (Below threshold)

Power Ranges has to be up there as a bad show. I had friends whose kids saw 1 episode and the next day at school went around karate chopping all the other kids at school. That's a great example for a kids cartoon to set.

Hello? Ren & Stimpy a ki... (Below threshold)

Hello? Ren & Stimpy a kids' show? In what universe?

As I recall, debuted on Nickelodeon in 1991. In this universe.

That's probably what made R... (Below threshold)

That's probably what made Ren&Stimpy fail at first was because it was attempting to be aimed at kids. I remember watching it >.

You're forgetting Peewee's playhouse. I remember bits and pieces, but he was the most annoying character on TV.

Power Rangers...well I'm sure teaching kids that hitting someone on their stomach would make them disappear somehow works?

Don't ever include a Jim Henson masterpiece here, the muppets were always a part of very successful shows.

I also grew up with Captain Planet, while as a kid I did enjoy the show (it was a cartoon with a VERY catchy theme song), I remember recognizing it eventually as greenpeace propaganda. I never understood why people would pollute for the sake of polluting, it seemed like the weirdest bad guy motive around (that "evil" laugh when it comes to dumping radioactive waste?)

I may get hit in the mouth ... (Below threshold)

I may get hit in the mouth for this, but I always found Mr. Rogers to be completely creepy. The costume changes, McFeely (for gawdz sake!). He tries for avuncular, but that trolley is a pederast's dream prop: "Hey, little Johnny--want to see my magic trolley?"

I remember liking Kimba, so I don't know why I hate the Lion King (granted not yet a show). Penelope Pitstop & the Wacky Racers always got to me more than the Japanese illusion of Speed Racer.

Nothing will ever be funnier than Kill the Wabbit or the original Michigan J. Frog--Chuck Jones is just GOD!!!

As a parent of a 3-year old... (Below threshold)

As a parent of a 3-year old, I have seen more than my fair share of current cartoons. As a nerd, I have seen a lot of cartoons on Nickelodeon and Boomerang and Cartoon Network.

The ones on Cartoon Network are almost all not appropriate for children.

The worst new show out is "The Upside Down Show" which is painfully bad (I squirm with embarassment for the 2 losers on the show). My daughter looks at it with a look that says: "Is this supposed to be funny?"

I like most of what is on the no-commercial channels - Sprout and Noggin, but some of the cartoons feature incredibly wimpy protagonists who are hyper-sensitive and whiny: Angelina Ballerina and Franklin are super-wusses.

Fortunately, the kid likes Tom & Jerry, Roadrunner, and other classics.

I vaguely remember watching... (Below threshold)

I vaguely remember watching Peewee's Playhouse - I was awfully little when that was on. The only thing I learned from that show was how to ride a bike with my feet on the handlebars yelling "La la la la, connect the dots!" That, and the weird one-eyed, one-legged monster thing - think about what that might stand for...

I still say Looney Toons are the best, and they aren't even from my generation! As a kid I also loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fraggle Rock, Batman (90s series), anything involving the Muppets, and Winnie the Pooh. There was also a show called the Wuzzles, but it didn't last very long.

The new Scoobie Doo is my 3... (Below threshold)

The new Scoobie Doo is my 3 year old daughter's fav. The Doodlebops are atrocious. My fav as a kid was Jonnie Quest.

Land of the Lost scared the... (Below threshold)

Land of the Lost scared the crap out of me as a kid...I don't know who ever thought that having kids trapped away from home and constantly being chased by creatures was a good thing.

I loved Jonnie Quest! The ... (Below threshold)

I loved Jonnie Quest! The death count in the opening credits alone was huge. Race Bannon never took anyone away in handcuffs; he killed them.

The best show for kids of school age on tv right now is "Neds Declassified School Files" on Nick. Great writing, great comedy, and a wacky sort of surreal "Scrubs" attitude that makes you laugh out loud.

Anyone else here old enough... (Below threshold)

Anyone else here old enough to remember those "marionette" sci-fi shows we used to watch on Saturday mornings? I can remember

Fireball XL-5

I think there were one or two others. They were so lame, but I watched them every week.

Do you remember CAPTAIN KAN... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:


As much as I enjoyed it at ... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

As much as I enjoyed it at the time for it's humor, the early 90's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles led a lot of boys at the day care center I worked at to jump off of things toward each other while throwing phantom punches. For bad current shows I vote for Courage the Cowardly Dog (I can't imagine not having nightmares from that) and Ed, Edd, and Eddy. The Three Stooges pulled off that stuff much better.

"Mr Rogers" as a BAD show ?... (Below threshold)

"Mr Rogers" as a BAD show ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I really don't understand how one could find it creepy, at least in the 1970s.

The first show that came to mind as BAD (even though i admit to looking forward to it) was the HRPufnStuf

(another vote for GOOD to the 1970's version of Sesame Street)

Davey and Goliath.Si... (Below threshold)

Davey and Goliath.
Simply. Horrible!

Caillou is abolutely cringe... (Below threshold)
Turbo Auntie:

Caillou is abolutely cringe-inducing. That kid is a high-maintenance whiner....and what's with the creepy Charlie Brown head? (shudder)

I'd say Ed, Edd, & Eddy and... (Below threshold)

I'd say Ed, Edd, & Eddy and Billy & Mandy are about the worst. Power Rangers is pretty sad, and it is ALWAYS on some channel somewhere. Some of the anime shows we don't even turn on, since they are all battles and fighting (although I did get somewhat addicted to Naruto).

I enjoy The Tick cartoon, but my son doesn't understand why I laugh at it.

Barney, the Doodlebops, and other similar "fluff" shows are at least entertaining for young kids and not anti-social.

The old shows I remember wa... (Below threshold)

The old shows I remember watching , Sky King, Rin Tin Tin, and Lassie, were kids shows, but not cartoons. The OLD original Disney shows were a weekly must. But Ed Sullivan, not a kids show, but a show a kid loved to watch. Topo Gigo, Senor Wenchez [sp] ? and I believe my favorite pianist, Victor Borge, were all folks I saw first on that show.

As far as the worst goes, The Three Stooges had to be what my parents were sure would ultimately corrupt me forever. And I believe they did.

Whoop Whoop Whoop Whoooop!

As far as old cartoons, I ... (Below threshold)

As far as old cartoons, I loved R&B, Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny.

You can have Popeye and Please, Please please erase all the Romper Room Do Bee and Don't Bee lines!

Captain K was the gentleman. I never got Mr Rogers - I thought he was creepy too.

All in all, I spent way too much time watching TV then.






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