Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013 Worst Kids' Show Ever Tournament

UPDATE: The voting is closed. I haven't had time to write a second post yet, but I hope to at some point. 

In my years as a parent, I've been exposed to children's television programming like a hooker is exposed to syphilis. Over time, you begin to notice that nearly all these shows are truly awful, and like syphilis, they will eventually eat your brain and make you insane.

There is one kids' show I'm rather fond of - Phineas and Ferb is fantastic, and I will punch you in the face if you disagree with me because I like to solve disagreements peacefully.



The other night, while my kids were watching Bipsy the Climate-Changing Tank Jet or some shit, I started to wonder which show was truly the worst. I put out a call on Facebook for which shows my fellow parents hated, and they did not disappoint.

And I realized there's only one way to solve this.

A 16-show single elimination Worst Kids' Show Tournament! Two brackets of eight shows each. The Cartoon bracket and the Live-Action bracket. There are so many crappy shows that not all could make it, so I focused on the truly awful.





ANALYSIS: Thomas didn't just back his way into the No. 1 seed of the Cartoon bracket. We're two, we're four, we're six, we've gone completely batshit crazy! When I first became a dad, I was quickly drawn into Thomas-verse. Trains! What's not to like? And then I saw the show and the creepy anthropomorphic trains with their weird faces and a huge transportation infrastructure far in excess of what Sodor actually needs and I felt dirty inside. Also, is there any doubt that there's a dark corner of the island of Sodor where Sir Topham Hatt tortures trains? CAN YOU HEAR THEM SCREAMING?

In the other corner, upstart Lalaloopsy, the surprise winner of the Mind-Blowingly Stupid Shows Targeted at Girls between the Ages of Four and Six Division. I've tried watching this show twice, but each time, I've woken up in the backyard covered in vomit and cuddling a rabid raccoon.

FAVORITE: I predict a long choo-choo ride for Thomas the Tank Engine in this tournament.




ANALYSIS: Don't turn your back on Special Agent Oso, not for a second. As I Facebook-commented  a couple weeks ago, not only is he a completely incompetent intelligence operative, the show appears to implicitly support the use of surveillance drones via the cute little ladybug nanobot that spies on the children inside their home. Also, the driving theme for the day was that mediocrity and failing to learn from our mistakes is A-OK!

Sid and his three friends appear to be the only students in an elementary school designed to house at least five hundred kids. Where are the other kids? Is this post-apocalyptic vision a commentary on the American educational system?

FAVORITE: Oso is a legitimate title contender. Breathtaking in its crappiness.




ANALYSIS: SpongeBob pulled some heavy support for Worst Show on my Facebook call. This is a show that you feel like you should like. Sort of like the quinoa of children's television programming. It's quirky, it's about the ocean. All good stuff. But then you watch a handful of episodes and it's like your television screen is a 1/2-inch thick glass shell separating you from a underwater grave like in the movie Leviathan. Also, quinoa tastes burnt pistachio shell.

Curious George, the dean of children's cartoon characters. Themes: Lack of personal responsibility. Ethnic cleansing. Man exploiting the natural world for his own amusement. Hints of racism. What is going on here?

FAVORITE: Slight edge to Curious George, which is probably better (worse) than its No. 6 seed suggests.  Experience counts in this tournament.




ANALYSIS: Toughest 1st-round matchup of the Cartoon bracket. Little Einsteins features the cloyingly self-assured Leo, who almost makes you root for schoolyard bullies, and his conveniently diverse group of friends. June might as well be wearing a sign warning other little boys that she's going to screw with their heads after they all hit puberty. There's a magic wand and a self-aware rocket ship and cars and musical instruments and animals and just where the hell are their parents anyway? And that song. Christ.

Caillou is a bit of a dark horse in this competition. The classic definition of a complete team, it bears no no one truly awful feature. It's just consistently bad from top to bottom. From the title to the animation to the writing to the difficult childhood problems solved in less time than it takes me to break out my trusty combination of scotch and Ambien, it's got it all. If the Little Einsteins are off on their game, Caillou will make them pay, and pay dearly.

FAVORITE: Toss-up.





ANALYSIS: All parties involved in the production of Pair of Kings should be executed a la Game of Thrones-style beheadings. The show revolves around two teenage boys who appear to be co-monarchs of a small island. They might be brothers. It took me three episodes to distill that much information. The show is a catastrophe of historic proportions.

Good Luck Charlie follows the exploits of the sprawling Duncan clan. Dad's an exterminator who works about two hours a week, Mom's an on-again, off-again registered nurse, and they live in a house that must be worth about $2 million. Right, Bob. Pest control. You're the Tony Soprano of Disney Junior.

FAVORITE: With all due respect to Good Luck Charlie's crappiness, Pair of Kings is the kind of show that comes along once in a generation. It's championship or bust for POK!



7. H20

ANALYSIS: If you're wizard, are you going to be running a sandwich shop in Greenwich Village? Yeah, I didn't think so.  Papa Russo is turning his back on his wizard heritage, and for what? Instead of trying to break the long-standing Family Wizard tradition, they just accept it. NICE LESSON, WAVERLY PLACE. Mainstream! Conform! Mediocrity!

H20 bears the tough burden of working with the most difficult premise of any of our 16 title hopefuls. Three teenage girls get cursed with mermaidism. Any time they touch water, they turn into mermaids, something they're trying to hide. I guess they turn back to normal when they dry off completely. Whatever. Trying to accept the premise is like trying to swallow a mermaid, tail first.

FAVORITE: Wizards. It's hard to take down a giant like Selena Gomez.




ANALYSIS: Austin is a super-famous pop star who no one ever seems to recognize. Ally is his meek songwriter. They first met when he stole the lyrics to her song and passed it off as his own, which quite frankly is about as unforgivable a sin as there is in the arts. But he smiles his million-watt smile and they make up and become besties and I'm not really sure where the show is going except to tell me that you can get away with just about anything if you are as handsome as Austin and if your name is Austin. Naturally, Austin and Ally each have their own quirky sidekicks.

Dog with a Blog is pretty much what it sounds like. A dog writes a blog.

FAVORITE: The fact that Dog with a Blog is almost as realistic as Austin & Ally should really tell you something.  




ANALYSIS: Two girls living the dream in Chicago as backup dancers on a local teenage dance show called Shake it Up. An actress named Zendaya plays Rocky, the bubbly sidekick. Seventeen years old and she's already rocking the single name? Watching this show for entertainment purposes is on par with someone starving to death trying to fill up on cotton candy. 

Jessie appears on the Disney channel (where shows seem to premiere every hour on the hour with little or no human involvement) and follows the story of a young girl from Texas who moves to New York and becomes nanny to a rich Manhattan family. Wait for it, wait for it ... HIJINKS ENSUE!! Small-town girl trying to make it in the big city! I bet you could substitute the scripts for Mr. Belvidere into this show, and it wouldn't miss a beat. 

FAVORITE: Toss up. 

OK, that's our 16 shows. A number of truly crappy shows didn't make the cut, such as Yo Gabba Gabba, Hannah Montana, and Strawberry Shortcake. I guess they'll just have to be happy with being pretty crappy.

Now please vote. Or not. Whatever. (Note - when you vote, you'll be taken to the PollCode site, which tabulates the results. You can click back to come back and vote on the other matchups. I wish it tabulated it there on my blog, but that's what I get for using a free polling site). 

1 comment:

  1. Hi David! Thank you for stopping by my blog! I'll update my post to reference you. You have a great sense of humor, so happy to be able to share it!