I started watching the old Voltron cartoon with my kids the other week. We watch an episode or two every couple of days, usually just before bed time. When we started watching the first episode, the kids attention waned pretty quickly, and they busied themselves with other small activities while the show played as background noise. By the third episode, however, they were hooked. It had been a very long time since I had last watched the show, so I had forgotten a great deal, both of the story and of the feel presented in each episode. The story-telling, the characters, the action – it’s all from a different era of cartoons, and to my eyes dramatically different from today’s cartoons.
The kids are enjoying the show, though, and particularly like Pidge and the Princess (as well as the Space Mice in the castle). It’s entertaining to me to watch the kids watch the show. It’s interesting to see how they respond to this kind of story telling, as well as how well the characters and stories stand up so many years later.
I bought for Carina the first season of The Muppet Show, and we started watching it with the kids the other night. I never cease to be amazed at just how sophisticated that show was, and how much of a subtle influence it had on me and my generation. It’s a real treat to watch the characters and sketches with adult eyes, while simultaneously sharing in the kids delight and wonder. For example, my kids don’t much care for Statler and Waldorf, the old curmudgeons who complain and heckle the muppet performers. As a kid, I hated these two old guys, and never thought they were particularly funny. As an adult, I fully appreciate the irony and sarcasm they bring to the show, and I look forward to their interjections.
The very first episode of The Muppet Show opens with Mahna Mahna, which is a perfect taste of what’s to come from the show. Although we don’t recognize some of the guest stars from that first season, it’s still extremely easy to enjoy the show, and makes for a really great “family evening” that we can all enjoy. I fully expect that we’ll purchase season two before too long.
I also have season one of the Transformers, and I’m excited to share that with the kids, though I suspect they’ll be less interested in that show – even after they both enjoyed the Michael Bay movie adaptation. I think Transformers may be too much of a “boy’s cartoon” for my girls to really get into it. I’m hopeful that won’t be the case, but I won’t be very disappointed if it is: after all, I can still watch the show!
Finally, I showed to the kids the first episode of the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. This above all others was my absolute favorite cartoon as a kid, and I watched it religiously every Saturday morning. I wasn’t much of a stickler for the rules in my own forays into D&D at that time in my life, so I never really questioned what I now see as flagrant violations of the core rules that were exhibited in the cartoon. During the first episode I exclaimed, mostly to myself, “A first-level barbarian isn’t going to take on Tiamat!” This made Carina giggle uncontrollably for a while. Thankfully the kids were oblivious to my outburst. I’m not sure what the kids will take away from the D&D cartoon. Certainly they think Uni is cute, and they’ve already cottoned onto the fact that Eric is a pompous jerk. I think it’s probably too early to tell, yet, what they’ll make of the show. As a kid, I reveled in what – for me at the time – was creative story telling, interesting locations, and monsters!
Tayler remarked about halfway through the episode “It’s so fast!” I realized with a start that she was absolutely correct: the exposition of the episode was extremely fast paced. I don’t think I ever picked up on that as a kid: I just wanted to see more spell casting and more monsters. Tayler’s observation was mostly just that: an observation and not a strong complaint. As with Transformers, I’m not sure that the kids will be as interested in the D&D cartoon as I was. After all, I owned all of the D&D gaming material I could get, and the cartoon served as inspiration for my own nascent world-building attempts. Maybe – just maybe – the cartoon can serve as a bridge to get my kids into exploring role playing games with me…