Thursday, 28 February 2008

Top 5 Current Kids Television

Last year I did my Top 5 TV shows I liked as a kid so to prove I'm not entirely wallowing in nostalgia, and that there are still good shows being made, I thought I'd do my current kids television favourites. My sons pretty much control what's on the telly in the daylight hours (how does that work I'm sure I only ever got to watch what my Dad wanted on when I was little!) but this just gives me a good excuse to watch cartoons.

1. Ben 10 (Cartoon Network) - Current house favourite which I often find I'm watching when I probably should be getting on with something else. Ben Tennyson is a boy who discovers a watch like device called the Omintrix. This attaches itself permanently to his wrist and gives him the ability to transform into a variety of alien life forms. Each alien has it's own set of super powers that allow Ben to do battle with a variety of baddies. Typical super powered hero adventure cartoon maybe, but well devised all the same. It's also got a pretty cool theme tune courtesy of ex-Jellyfish drummer and vocalist Andy Sturmer.

2. Bamzooki (BBC CBBC) - Teams of kids build a selection of computer generated creatures (Zooks) which then compete in a variety of events against each other. You can download the application and try and build your own at home. It's easy to use and pretty good fun, though experience has shown it's pretty difficult to get something just able to walk roughly in the direction you want it to go, let alone something capable of winning a race. Somehow the kids on the show often come up with really competitive designs, but it's just as much fun seeing those that fall at (or more likely don't even reach) the first hurdle.

3. Raven (BBC CBBC) - An adventure game show that sets the children involved (warriors) a set of physical and mental challenges over three week long competitions. Warriors are elimated until there are only two left at the end of the week. These two go through to a forth and final week to compete against the winners of the other two heats. It's a bit like the Krypton factor for kids set in a mystical Celtic past. The Way Of The Warrior is the final challenge used on each day to give the warrior in last place a slim chance of avoiding elimination. It's deliberately hard but adds a level of expectation that someone might just make it through in one piece and live to fight another day. In seven series of the show only four warriors have successfully completed the challenge.

4. Young Dracula (BBC CBBC) - Young Vladimir Dracula, son and heir to the 600 year old vampire Count Dracula, attempts to life a normal life and avoid his inevitable fate. Lots of vampire related humour particularly involving Vlad's elder sister, who is much more keen to follow the vampire path yet regularly overlooked by their father, and Vlad's best friend Robin who, although a normal human, is also a vampire-geek and thus much more interested in all the stuff Vlad is expected to do. School time has the added complication of Vlad's woodwork teacher, Mr Eric Van Helsing, who is an incompetent vampire slayer. Really well written show with some great humour throughout.

5. Charlie & Lola (BBC Cbeebies) - A pretty straight adaptation of the Lauren Child picture books. The stories are acutely observed glimpses of children and how they talk and think. Charlie is seven, his sister Lola is 4 and the interplay between them is spot on. This animated cartoon successfully combines the collage style illustration of the books with the voices of children to perfectly capture the humour of the original books.

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