80’s Children’s TV Shows Versus Todays
As a child of the 80’s, I can clarify that there was some amazing stuff on TV for us to watch. Now that my two are developing an interest in TV (well, namely a cbeebies addiction strongly rivalling their one to dummies,) it is interesting to compare the TV shows around now, to the ones from an age where kids TV was nothing less than amazeballs. It is with relief that I can tell you that it is much easier to curb their TV addiction, than the godforsaken dummies (can you tell I’ve made zero progress with dummy rehab?) I’m going to pitch similar shows from the 80’s and today, against each other, and give my (mainly biased to the 80’s, I will admit,) opinion on the emerging champion!
Denver The Last Dinosaur V Dinopaws
Ah Denver. The Green, guitar wielding, shades sporting, skate boarding dinosaur of this 80’s show that will probably be best remembered for its theme tune… And very little else. It’s one of those shows that you are likely to hear the theme tune and whoop/yell, have flash backs to your immense childhood, and how watching this show defined it, then watch it as an adult and feel more disappointed than posting your hilarious Facebook status update, leaving it for an hour, and coming back to find nobody has liked it. Denver (a corythosaurus apparently,) hatches from an egg which has amazingly survived the extinction of all other dinosaurs, with the inexplicable ability to speak fluent English. The bunch of children who find him, imaginatively name him Denver after a passing bus. This show, with no real concept, and rampant Bill and Ted style surfer dude clichés (Mario and Shades being the worst of the stereotypical douche bags,) is definitely not worth Netflixing to see if your littlies want to relive your childhood with you.
Dinopaws has a similarly catchy theme tune, just as likely to stick in your head until Twirlywoos comes on, and replaces it. This show is slightly Friends-like. They have certainly managed to capture the essence of Friends show titles! Friends always had ‘The One Where Big Ugly Naked Guy Dies/Where Joey Speaks French, and Dinopaws endearingly emulates this with titles like ‘The Things That Went Somewhere’ and ‘The Thing That Wasn’t There.’ Plus Gwen could easily be Phoebe, Bob could be Ross, and Tony an amazing Joey. As with Denver, the dinosaurs aren’t historically accurate. Gwen is more bird than dinosaur, Bob is big and blue, and I didn’t realise Tony was supposed to be a baby T-Rex (I just thought he was crazy.) The other Dinopaws clearly aren’t worried about Tony growing to full size and eating them. I’m not sure what this show will do for my children’s grasp of English language (‘you are the bestimost, wondermost, thinky thing….’) to quote some of Gwen’s take on English that definitely won’t be found in the dictionary. But I will admit to this show being a favourite of mine, with the catchphrases ‘oh! I know I know I know’ and ‘NYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’ often thrown around in our house!
Winner: Most definitely Dinopaws!!!
Button Moon V In The Night Garden
I think you will struggle to find a child of the 80’s who didn’t watch Button Moon. In a world where everyone is made of kitchen utensils (??) the hero, Mr Spoon, appears very anxious to leave his planet, wife, and child behind, to mission off to the moon in a homemade rocket. He possibly suspects infidelity from his wife, or has paranoid delusions, because once he reaches his moon, made out of, erm, a button, all he wants to do is spy on people back on his planet. The budget for this show must’ve been less than that of Teacup Travels (more about that later.) In fact, scrap that, there was clearly no budget, it must’ve been made by unpaid work experience kids, it was so bad. But so bad it had a cult following. This is probably because the theme tune hypnotised children into watching the show in its entirety, which in turn sent out subliminal messages for them to keep on watching the rest of the god awfulness at the same time, every day, for ever. Luckily for parents of the day, the shows induced hypnotic state would cause children to sit absent mindedly playing with kitchen paraphernalia with a glazed expression, singing ‘we’re off to Button Moooooooooon…….’ for hours afterwards. This must’ve been handy considering the lack of cbeebies entertainment to occupy children once it had finished.
In The Night Garden… Where the hell do you start? I find the bulk of this show truly terrifying, and when it comes on, I have to work hard to stop being a little bit sick in my mouth. The creators of this show were clearly taking more acid than the Beatles when they were writing Revolver. So they clearly had a good time making it. Maybe they were trying to emulate the trippy kids TV of the 70’s and 80’s, who knows. What we are left with is Derek Jacobi narrating the mind blowing goings on in some strange creatures dream, as he floats off to sleep. His ultimate fantasy is clearly the Marilyn Munroe wannabe, Upsy Daisy, who seems to want to spend the bulk of her screen time with her skirt blowing up, or falling flat on her back, with her skirt up. There’s a whole host of other characters with stupid names like The Ninky Nonk, The Haahoos, and The Tittifers (again, ????) who seem unfazed by things in their world constantly changing size, and constantly turning down picnic invitations. It’s all kinds of messed up. But at least there’s the OCD Makka Pakka, bringing obsession and hoarding problems to the mainstream, and introducing children to these genuine mental health problems early.
Winner: Lordy, it’s got to be a draw I think… They’re both too terrible.
T-Bag V Teacup Travels
I haven’t met that many children from the 80’s who’ve seen T-Bag. I’m hoping some of you will know this show. I’ve included it because it was my absolute favourite childhood programme of all time, I can’t tell you how much I loved it! It was awesomeness personified. The main protagonist, Tallulah Bag, (later replaced by her sister, Tabatha Bag,) gains magical powers by drinking, ahem, herbal tea… (anyone else noticing a disturbing running theme here??!) She is incapable of brewing the tea herself, so has a long suffering child slave minion called T-Shirt doing it for her. The entire, addictive premise of the show, was T-Bag trying to further her powers by time travelling to pick up historical artefacts, which are the only things which can fuel them. Episode titles were also hilarious, including gems such as ‘T-Bag and the revenge of the tea set’. It’s ingeniously like Indiana Jones meets Dr Who for kids. Our heroine, the afro red haired Debbie, was my ultimate childhood idol. I wanted the iconic phrase ‘let’s see what Deborah’s up to,’ to be said about me. There are hundreds of fan forums on the internet for this show, and I will admit to looking through them, salivating with excitement, like the adult company deprived, nostalgia geek nerd that I am.
Teacup Travels… Well… I’m embarrassed to say that my children like this show. The majority of the budget evidently went on filming at the beautiful house where Aunt Lizzie lives. The rest is just a crappy array of terrible CGI sets, which look like they were thrown together by a reception class designing the nativity backdrop for the school play. Basically, one of the children arrives at Aunt Lizzie’s house, choose a teacup from her vast collection (she’s clearly in hoarding cahoots with Makka Pakka, either that or they’re both raging cleptomaniacs) and she tells the story behind the cup. Thus begins a laborious journey, in the child’s imagination, where the graphics are so bad, It’s amazing even children can believe in it. The only word to sum this rubbish up, is pants.
Winner: Need I even say it?! T-Bag of course!
I had one more in mind, but realise I’ve rambled on more than I should! I was going to pitch Mister Maker against Hartbeat. Clearly Hartbeat would’ve been the winner, mainly because Mister Maker loses credibility by having those dancing, two stepping shapes. What I really want to do is knock the first one over, and see them all fall like dominoes, just for my own entertainment!
So, 80’s TV rocked! Other favourites I would’ve loved to talk about, include Thundercats (awesome,) Gummi Bears, Count Duckula, and other classics…. I’m off to weep for better childhood TV shows for my children….
Thanks for reading!
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