March 24, 2007

Children's DVDs

I really liked the suggestion some of you made about getting a DVD player for the trip I'll be going on, the one where I will be trying to contain a toddler for hours and hours and hours and hours. I'd had it in my head that the only way to have a DVD player in the car was to buy a car with a DVD player already installed. Then, when you guys mentioned purchasing the DVD player sans vehicle, I looked into it and found that hey! you can BUY these things! Furthermore, my dad thinks he might be able to rig his portable DVD player somehow, and he has made it his mission to make something work. So--thanks! I don't mind telling you I'm a big fan of television, especially in its child-muzzling capacity.

Anyway, this got me thinking about children's DVDs, and what I could stand to be trapped in a car with. There are certain children's shows that would motivate me to fling myself out of the moving car, thanking the gods of momentum and gravity for the privilege. The first few notes of Barney, for example, make me run for the remote yelling "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA" to keep any sound from entering my brain. I don't care if he does have the best clean-up song ever, he's horrible, and so are those child actors. Someone must be holding those children's parents at knifepoint right in front of them to elicit such strained and vigorously cheerful performances.

And Caillou. I don't think I have ever heard such irritating whining. And Maya and Miguel, with their whole "He thinks with his brain! She thinks with her heart and with her sparkly twirling ponytail! Because she's a silly girl!" And the newly-formatted Sesame Street, with "Journey to Ernie" and "Elmo's World" taking over all the good stuff.

Well. I enjoy anything that gives me an excuse to buy things I've been wanting to buy anyway, and I was thinking this trip would be a good excuse to buy those "old school" Sesame Street episodes that have started coming out on DVD. I might also buy some Blue's Clues. Do I have to specify that they'd be the ones with Steve? Of course they'd be the ones with Steve. We have a bunch of Blue's Clues episodes on videotapes that are totally legal, legitimately purchased, not at all taped off the TV--but we have nothing on DVD. I wish there were more than just a couple of episodes per DVD, though. If someone were to tape onto their own videotapes, for example, they might get more like 15 episodes per tape. I'm just saying if.

Successful and non-irritating DVDs we already own are:

1) Baby Bach, Baby Mozart, and Baby Beethoven from the some-good-some-bad Baby Einstein series. These are good because the background sound is mostly just classical music, rather than hyper piping voices or "the FISH song! Fish-fish-fish! fish-fish-fish! fish-fish-fish-fish-fish!" And I can look away from the screen when Little Miss "I Think of Myself as a Hand Model" is on, or when they're doing the not-exactly-Jim-Henson-quality puppetry.

2) Schoolhouse Rock! I never saw these as a child, but Paul did, and I've really been enjoying the 30th Anniversary Edition he insisted we buy. It has all the songs, and you can watch them by category (grammar, government, etc.) or you can put it on shuffle mode so it plays them in random order. I've never been so close to understanding how our government, circulatory, and banking systems work. It's way too old for a 2-year-old, but our resident nearly-2-year-olds don't seem bothered by that--they like the animation and the music.

3) They Might Be Giants have a kid DVD called Here Come the ABCs, and it is great. We bought the DVD/CD combo pack so we can listen to the music in the car and watch the DVD at home. The kids like it, we like it, everyone's happy.

Okay, spill: tell me the children's shows you hate, and the ones you love. My credit card is itching for action, and I have such a good excuse for using it.


I know you can hear me... said...

The Backyardigans is fairly popular with the tiny tot set, and they're not too horrible to listen to...and they have several DVDs that each have a few episodes a piece on them.

We also love The Wonderpets, but I don't think that their DVD is coming out until April.

And of course Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go are popular choices for when we're in the car or need the two year old to be reasonably quiet.

That's right...we're in love with Nick Jr.

Good Luck!

Jana said...

Hi....I've been lurking for a while, but just had to comment on this one.

My 3 year old loves Little Einsteins and I have to say as far as kid shows go, I find this one to be the least annoying and one of the most educational. I've never seen a Baby Einstein video, but I think this show is supposed to be the pre-school version of those videos.

By the way, LOVE your blog!

Anonymous said...


somehow stumbeled over your blog and read the the last entries - why not use a Laptop with DVD drive? If you have none, you might be able to borrow one from a friend - it's just a three day trip. The problem might be charging it, but there should adapters available.

Enjoy your trip,

Blueberry and the Bean said...

we like little einsteins too. we also enjoy jo jo's circus, mickey mouse club house, and handy manny. hmmm, yes it seems we are addicted to the disney channel. oh but i CAN'T do the doodle bops- their music is fine but i can't stand looking at them!!!
my sister bought the old school sesame street and we got a kick out of it. did you know that oscar was ORANGE in the first episode and that big bird had a tiny head?!?

Trena said...

May Barney or Dora never darken the doorstep of my house.
I also love Blue's Clues (how sad is it that I would willingly watch Blue's Clues before I even had children?)and I totally agree that they must be Steve episodes. Joe is...well, I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but he just bugs me. Especially the chiclet teeth.
Another show my sister-in-law & I totally love (I'm not sure if it is available on DVD or not) is Peep. I think it's on TLC? Totally cute and the duck character is SO funny. Joan Cusak does the narration too.

jen said...

I'm not into hating kids' shows. I feel like some people make fun of them because they think it's funny to do so (not that I'm saying anyone here does, but I just can't muster up enough contempt for anything at the moment) Sure, there's some of them that I don't feel offer anything useful so I won't let them watch. Well not that I wont' LET them but I do try to steer them to others. Shows I like are blue (steve OR joe hehe), dora, diego, backyardigans, bear in the big house, wonderpets, sesame street, and, well, barney. We have a barney cd and I actually find some of the sounds cute. I really can't think of any kids' show that irritates me other than the Mr Noodle character on sesame street but hey the kids like him.

I like TMBG's NO! a whole lot better than Here Come the ABC's, and both my kids will actually protest if I put the latter on, but the former is a favorite. My daughter loves the videos, but my son hasn't seen them yet.

Devan said...

d loves all the baby einstein stuff, even though I'm less of a fan.
We like Disney movies for long trips. They last longer. lol
We have The Wild, and Shark Tales to name a few. I could name more, but I'd have to go out to the car and that would require more effort than I have right now.
We have some Sesame Street ones, some Elmo ones (I don't recommend - since you're not a fan. They're rather annoying...)
I'm not big on most TV shows really, but Backyardigans is cute.

Swistle said...

Jen-- It IS funny. It's COMEDY GOLD, baby! I'll put _No_ on my list--that one sounds good, too.

Blueberry and the Bean-- Oscar was orange? That is even more old-school than I realized! I'm hoping they'll release a second set soon: a second or even third set will be more the time period I'm used to.

Julia said...

I'm reading to get ideas!! lol!! I haven't step outside of the world of Baby Einstein! Just because I don't mind the music! (I'm very picky about this!)

I'm with terna- may barney or dora never darken our doorstep!!

Erica said...

My daughter's not old enough to watch tv yet, but does that stop me from commenting? No, it doesn't.

First of all, let's address Sesame Street. In my not so humble opinion, SS was waaaay better before it's Elmofication. Why doesn't he use pronouns? SS used to teach kids things and now their most popular character doesn't even speak proper english. Sheesh. So, I'm totally on board with the early years.

Have you ever seen Boobah? A coworker told me I had to see it because the main characters look like uncircumsised penises and they fart when they fly. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. It's from the people that did Teletubbies and this time, they were on crack.

Mimi said...

Don't forget about The Wiggles! Their songs are surprisingly catchy and my hubby and I always find ourselves singing along. They will keep a toddler occupies for hours!!!

Omaha Mama said...

The Wonderpets have been especially popular at our house recently, but we've had no luck finding a DVD of them. Dora and Diego were huge when Brenna was two, now we have a collection of the DVDs that don't get watched. Lately it's all about the full-length animated features. Curious George, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan (in all of its culturally inappropriate glory), Sleeping Beauty, Robots, Madagascar, Ice Age II, Shrek - yes, these are what get big-time play at our house lately.

Our girl likes the girly cartoons -Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Ponies.

I actually do not allow Boo-bah (sp?) or Teletubbies in my home. Brenna has never watched them. They frighten me. Sorry if I've offended any fans. That's just how it is.

Good luck and happy shopping!

nowheymama said...

You can get Mr. Rogers DVDs now - two episodes related to a certain topic on one DVD (Adventures in Friendship, A Day at the Circus, Going to School) And some of them even come with a cute little wooden trolley, Speedy Delivery truck, or school bus. Very entertaining.

Also, The Best of Clifford: The Big Red Dog was just released on DVD. 5 discs, 472 minutes! The episodes are 15 minutes a piece, though, so it's easy to turn it off when you want to.

Hi, we're the PBS family.

Erin said...

Curious Buddies from Nickalodean will drive you crazy, but only after about 3 times through the half hour dvd. Otherwise it's okay. And holy moly, it keeps a toddler's attention.

In fact, that's the one and only thing my 15-month-old will watch on tv. Everything else is not worth his time, I suppose. I wish I knew how to program that special Walt Disney addiction into his little brain because it would make trips to visit out-of-town grandparents SO much easier.

Jennifer said...

I have made it no secret how much I love Blues Clues and Steve, so I totally agree there!

You might be able to rent DVD's from your library. That way if they suck, it doesn't matter!

And as far as suggestions....what everyone else has said is my suggestion.

Jen said...

Don't forget to check your local library. Why buy when you can rent for free? Plus you can get fun National Geographics. Not that I actually approve of watching DVDs in the car. We listen to books on tape/CD. It actually prevents one of my kids from becoming car sick.

Devan said...

I totally forgot to mention Veggietales. We love them. :)
Also, Boobah is creepy. Seriously.

aoife said...

We do Thomas the Tank Engine a lot. Mostly cute and funny with some sort of moral about not being a pain in the ass to your friends. And singing!

We are in with the PBS crowd-- if we had to buy anything, it would be Clifford or Curious George or Caillou... I sort of like Caillou... I can't tell if its true like or sort of a self flagellation-like. *shrug*

I have contemplated, on more than one occasion, combining Boobah with a hallucinogenic drug and seeing what happens.

I wish I could hate barney as much as I used to... after having to quietly eradicate the likes of Shrek from my home because my child was starting to sound like a sarcastic teenage (he's 3 for goodness sake)... Barney is nice, kind, and doesn't sass his mother.

Good luck... here's a tip: find a theme song you like that won't make you consider suicide when it plays in your head reapeatedly.

JMH said...

I understand your Elmo aversion. However, we have an Sesame Street DVD called "All-Star Alphabet" and we all (whole family) enjoy it. There are songs on it by The Dixie Chicks, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, etc. Also, it has enough "adult humor" to keep my husband and I engaged too. AND, it is 50 minutes long! Great to have in the car!

Colleen said...

We bought a portable dvd player for our last trip. It was a lifesaver!!! It kept Zoe completely silent during our flight. If you do get one to use in the car... they have the car plug in adaptor for charging. We also found a storage bag for the player that can be attached to the back of the front seat headrest so Zoe could watch it on a car ride but not be able to touch it. (When she can reach it... she pushes the buttons and gets upset if it turns off)

As for favorite dvds... we're hooked on Charlie and Lola. Zoe is mesmerized by them. She likes the Backyardigans because they are constantly singing and dancing. She also loves Sesame Street (Elmopalooza, 25th Birthday: A Musical Celebration, and Sesame does Karaoke). Zoe is kept pretty happy with anything with music and singing.

4andcounting said...

Little Einsteins is excllent. You can buy several DVDs now with 2-3 episodes on them I think. Each episdoe features one piece of music and some kind of art. The characters go on missions to help animals find home, or reach a special destination, or something along those lines. They use music along the way. Definitely a family favorite for us (5, 4, 3, and 18 months old).
Also, Scholastic makes DVDs with stories on them. They take common children books (and some not so common) and animate the drawings somewhat and they are narrated. So, it is the actual story from a book. The DVDs usually have 5 stories or so on them, so they are a good 45 minutes long. They are usually grouped by a theme, like classic folk tales, or bedtime stories, or counting stories. Our library has a ton of them, so I would look at your library first. Good luck!

Jodi said...

I like little einsteins and mickey mouse clubhouse, and I have heard good things about wonder pets but have never seen it. I am totally with you on Barney, and I hate the wiggles.

carrie said...

LOVE the Giants! We also have the Laurie Berkner DVD - her stuff is fun, although it makes me want to get up and dance...not quite appropriate for the car!

My girls have been stuck on Nemo and Curious George in the car lately. But they are a little older (4 & 18 mos.) and kinda zone out to movies, so actual movies seem to work out ok.

Kelsey said...

We are also a PBS family and their Curious George cartoon is more toddler-appropraite than the movie, although Harper likes that as well. Amazon just released a DVD with about eight of the PBS Curious George episodes on it. I called my sister and demanded she buy it for Harper for Easter. (I know, Easter presents? I'm sure it won't last long, but Harper is the only grandchild on both sides of the family and apparently people are dying to buy her stuff, so I at least want it to be stuff we'll use/like.)

I find Curious George not even remotely irritating. I cannot stand Barney, but I do seem to have a high tolerance for Caillou and Elmo, more than most anyway. But seriously, the monkey is a lot of fun. Hehehe.