Pious pirates and recycling pups
Sure, in an ideal world we’d all be out with our kids making forts and staring in wonder at butterflies. But sometimes you’re sick of forts and even pre-schoolers want to watch television.
And, kids’ shows, honestly, are not that awful. Odd, maybe, but not awful.
Take Jake and the Neverland Pirates (6.35am, weekdays, TV2 and 8.25am, daily, Disney Junior), a show aimed at pre-schoolers and loosely inspired by Peter Pan.
And by loosely, I mean hardly at all.
A trio of young cartoon pirates are in charge of their own galleon and spend their time playing about on tropical islands. Their parents, who are presumably bankrolling these adventures, are notably absent – that’s often the way.
Despite this, Jake and his pals are surprisingly nice and kind.
The focus here is on friendship and team work, with the odd bit of maths thrown in, as viewers are urged to count the gold doubloons they collect for ‘‘solving pirate problems’’.
Their jolly adventures are always interrupted by the selfish and bumbling Captain Hook. But the pirates take it in their stride, responding in the thoughtful and sharing ways that pre-schoolers are so often urged to adapt. Honestly, Jake comes across as a little pious, but it’s hard to object to the moral tone here.
Likewise, with that other preschooler favourite, Paw Patrol (6.40am, daily, Nick Junior). Here, a young boy, Ryder, and his pack of pups live in what looks like a disused control tower near some sort of mountain range in the town of Adventure Bay. Again, there are no parents about, but Ryan and the pups are always helping out other adults in the town with problems.
And they’re well placed to do so. The pups each have a particular skill – some of which seem rather arbitrary, like Rocky the Recycling Pup. But there’s also Marshall who drives a fire truck, Rubble who operates a digger and Skye, who flies a helicopter. She’s the only girl pup in the pack and her helicopter is decked out in pink. Yep, that may look a little like gender stereotyping, but can’t she just really like pink?
Each episode involves some sort of problem where Ryder has to assign the pups with the right skills for that particular situation. Think of it as a sort of preschooler course in efficient project management. The problems can be surprisingly complex. In one of them there is an offshore oil spill threatening local marine life – it’s soon cleaned up with a boom made of old towels, thanks to Rocky the recycling pup. I bet BP are kicking themselves for not trying that at the Deepwater Horizon site. Or perhaps they did.
Anyway, if I sound slightly jaded about these shows, that’s because I’m a tired adult. All that boundless enthusiasm and niceness leaves me slightly nauseated.
But, as a kid I watched cartoon animals inflict hideous violence on each other with anvils and dynamite. Now it’s all about team work, friendship and being considerate. I think that’s a good thing.
As a kid, I watched cartoon animals inflict hideous violence on each other with anvils and dynamite. Now, it’s all about team work, friendship and being considerate.
Their parents, who are presumably bankrolling these adventures, are notably absent from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.