Archive for Friday, June 8, 2007

Kids’ show pure torture for adults

June 8, 2007


I tend to give kids' programming the benefit of the doubt, but with "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" (7 p.m., Nickelodeon), I have to make an exception. It is one of the most condescending and cloying, loud and aggressively annoying programs I've seen in some time.

Ned (Devon Werkheiser) offers an insider's guide to the pleasures and pitfalls of middle school. He has a nerdy pal who thinks he's a superhero and appears to have modeled himself on Urkel. Unlike most junior high school students in the real world, Ned has two beautiful girls, Moze (Lindsey Shaw) and Suzie (Christian Serratos), who want to date him. True to adolescent life, the girls appear to be 12 going on 34, while Ned and his cohorts look and act like 9-year-olds.

What sets "Ned" apart from most shows about 'tween-age hijinx is its tone, or rather its complete absence of narrative rhythm or pacing. Clearly intended to resemble animated entertainment, "Ned" lacks even the most simplistic cartoon's sense of modulation.

Every scene - and I do mean every scene - involves frantically shouted dialogue, over-the-top situations, purposefully campy acting and unsubtle winks at the audience. Memorable cartoons, from "Bugs Bunny" to "The Simpsons," unfold like jazz improvisation, mixing moments of calm and even silence with excited passages of chaos and calamity. "Ned" proceeds at full blast at all times. It's relentless. And it's torture. In comparison, "That's So Raven" seems like a model of restraint. "SpongeBob" is a master of subtlety. "Hannah Montana" has the gravity of Chekhov.

"Ned" is both exhausting and deeply disturbing. The show exudes contempt for its young audience and appears to operate on the assumption that its viewers are in a constant state of sugar shock and will change the channel if they are not being screamed at or subjected to hyperactivity at all times.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ A woman's pregnancy disturbs a poltergeist with multiple personalities on "Ghost Whisperer" (7 p.m., CBS).

¢ Alistair McGowan stars in the quirky, stylish series "The Gil Mayo Mysteries" (7 p.m., BBC America).

¢ Terri and Bindi Irwin, the wife and daughter of Steve Irwin, host the special "My Daddy the Croc Hunter" (8 p.m., Animal Planet).

¢ "It's All Geek to Me" (7 p.m., Science) explores methods of data backup.

¢ A PTA rivalry leads to homicide on "Close to Home" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ An immigrant's murder may stem from racism or an "honor" killing on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ The team wakes up the Wraith Queen on "Stargate Atlantis" (8 p.m., Sci FI). And boy is she cranky.

¢ A serial killer targets pedophiles on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ The focus of a tabloid news show about predators ends up dead on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): a minister's son and a prom-related murder; Tina Brown discusses her book on Princess Diana; the controversy surrounding the man behind the Heimlich maneuver.


Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

Some of those old, old shows are hard to get anymore, Ragingbear.

When ABC Family first started, it was called CBN, and had shows like George Burns and Gracie Allen, My Little Margie, and I Married Joan. I sure would like to see those again. Maybe someday TV Land will get them.

I myself am pretty disgusted with stuff like Mr. Meaty...what the hell is all that trash supposed to mean, anyway?

Double Dare was pretty much a family show, and they even had a Family Double Dare for awhile.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

Nickelodean has really gone downhill over the years. I remember when it first started (oh gods, I'm sounding like an old person again). It had shows like "Double Dare" and "You can't do that on television." which were slapstick laced and had elements of stupidity. However, within that was knowledge and lessons about life and reality. The parents on "You can't do that" were imperfect, dysfunctional, did not keep a perfect house and would generally act like... well... real people.

Many people recall such awesome shows like "Mr.Wizard's World" and other science and nature type shows. Many popular stars got their start on this channel. For example, Melissa Joan Hart, and Alanis Morissette. Over time, I have seen things go from being something that was decent on the whole, to something that is over the top, undermine authority, is completely unrealistic, usually involve wasting food in mass quantities in every scene, usually has no moral compass and encourages bizzare and even deviant behavior.

The Nick at Night channel generally rocks. I just wish they would show more of the true oldschool stuff like the original "Outer Limits" and "Car 54". Lots of good programming out there in history, many people haven't seen these old shows. Many others would like to see them again.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

I think your confused. I get CBN where I live. It's a cruddy little channel that goes into paid programming mode from 8pm to 10am. It then shows some older shows like Alice, Maude and Amen. Then it plays a few more paid adverts, then shows a few reruns of what you had on that morning.

Those old shows I mentioned were part of the old Nick at Night lineup. I remember watching Car 54 regularly. I remember laughing so hard at Grandpa and Herman Munster playing these offbeat cops without much of a clue.

Many places have worked to preserve and restore those old works. I am quite sure I can get certain series on DVD in their entirety. How hard would it be to plug it into an editor and put commercials in the pauses originally intended for such a purpose? I am quite sure that the producers of the boxed set would be more than willing to sell licensing to Nick Studios.

As for Meaty Meat.... I remember watching Ren and Stimpy on that channel, as well as some other cartoons that were definitely not appropriate for children. This includes Rocko's Modern Life. They still got them around, but they edited a bunch of scenes.

Confrontation 10 years, 10 months ago

"Over time, I have seen things go from being something that was decent on the whole, to something that is over the top, undermine authority, is completely unrealistic, usually involve wasting food in mass quantities in every scene, usually has no moral compass and encourages bizzare and even deviant behavior."

I completely agree. Unfortunately, this change in programming reflects the change in young kids. Lazy and ignorant parents sit their kids in front of violent video games and allow them to receive their educations from TV channels. Parents buy their kids adult-oriented music and let them post pics of R. Kelly or Paris Hilton on their walls. Kids get unlimited access to the internet and can talk to all the pervs they want on MySpace. After all of this parental neglect, Nickelodeon would seem quite boring if they had child-appropriate television shows.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

CBN was Christian Broadcast Network, and was started by Pat Robertson. Though they showed a lot of the old TV shows later at night, the main thrust of the network was The 700 Club. Back then, it was broadcast several times a day.

It was bought out by ABC a long time ago, and then when Disney bought that, it became ABC Family. Though later at night, The 700 Club still runs on it. And they don't start the infomercials until 3 AM.

We've had this same channel on our cable lineup from the beginning, so yes, I'm sure it's the same one. I've been watching the varying incarnations of it for years.

And yeah, some of Nickelodeon's shows are trash. Not fit for human consumption, let alone kids.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

I really hate some of the "Role models" they show kids as well. Like that one that has this teen kid that was a skateboarder or something. He starts going on about "The first thing I do when I get a new video game is get online and look up all the cheat codes so I can beat it faster...". THAT IS NOT WINNING. That is what us adults call CHEATING. You just took a game that cost $50 and made it totally worthless in 10 minutes. Teach kids that there is always an easy way to do things, so why actually put effort in to do anything? Ticked me off when I saw that.

imastinker 10 years, 10 months ago

The best thing I ever did was turn off the TV.We are clueless when friends talk about TV shows, but my daughter will get to see only what I want her to. They are growing up too fast anyway.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

Kids shows not made for adults? Really?

Think back on all those old Warner Brothers cartoons...Bugs Bunny and everyone were always making references to things that kids would have no way of knowing about.

They do this so that the whole family will watch, instead of just the kids. Though the shows may be primary geared toward children, they don't want the parents to be totally bored and turn to another channel.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Loony Toons bunch still rock on to this day.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, but I didn't get all those references when I was a kid, Ragingbear...I do now, and it makes them funnier than ever.

OfficeGirl 10 years, 10 months ago

and at the other end of the children's shows spectrum are shows like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Barney and the Teletubbies. It's too bad they can't find some middle ground. I agree that many shows labeled as children's shows have a lot of innuendo that only the grownups will understand but that is so that everyone sits down and watches together. Remember the things Pee Wee Herman used to say on Pee Wee's Playhouse about the Beautiful Lady? Ren and Stimpy was a hoot but not when you were eating. I am really surprised at the language that is used on network TV in the evenings when children are up. None of it bothers me but I might be a bit uncomfortable watching it with kids. I know I can change the channel or turn it off, but still. I am also reminded of Roadrunner and The 3 Stooges and the violence they all did to one another and it never made me want to kill anyone or try any of the stuff out at home for myself the way some claim now after listening to music, playing a video game or watching the hokey wrestling on TV and then going and doing something stupid.

coolmarv 10 years, 10 months ago

It was the same for our parents. What they thought was stupid or inappropriate we thought was funny and cool. Same goes for today. I do agree that TV is just crap. My kids pretty much don't watch TV after 7PM unless it is the aforementioned Nick. or Disney. I remember being P.O.'d when my dad would turn off the tube because of content, you know MASH, All in the Family. I guess when my kids (9 and 11) are a little older they will begin to question me flipping the channel due to content. I was going to be a cool parent, you know. Now I'm the prude.

acg 10 years, 10 months ago

Every generation comes along with new and annoying pop culture, entertainment and fads. The old folks piss and moan and talk about how it's all a bunch of trash and how great things were when they were kids and the kids look at the old folks like they're from a different planet. Coolmarv, I also told myself I was going to be a cool parent, but I'm not at all. The other day, my kid was watching something called Ed, Edd and Eddie. I have no idea what it was all supposed to mean but it was too weird and I made him turn it off and go outside and play, at which he gave me the aforementioned "from a diff. planet look" and grumbled about how unfair life was. I looked at my hubby and I was like "whatever happened to scooby doo? the smurfs or the flintstones?". Then I flashed back to an argument I had with my mom when I was young. She caught me watching Yo Mtv Raps! and she freaked out made me turn it off. I was furious and yelled and she grounded me for a week for my "snarky mouth". And, now its our turn to be the grumpy old folks and I don't know whether or not to be amused by the circle of life, or horrified that its happening to me.

OfficeGirl 10 years, 10 months ago

acg--it's inevitable. Kids must rebel and do something to show that they are different from their parents. We can take turns being both amused and horrified. Just don't lose your sense of humor when dealing with your kids. My girls remember to this day being horrified at my wearing of blue eye shadow and Patchouli oil. Now they wear the eye shadow and act like it's a new fashion trend. The best was when hip huggers and bell bottoms came back in style along with platform heels. Some of the sandals I see for sale today are exactly like ones I had as a teenager and young adult. I gave several pairs of my hip hugger bell bottoms to my daughter who could fit into them. A-she couldn't believe mom ever wore a size 5 and B-how could her totally uncool mom have had such cool jeans--hand patched and embroidered too. (it was a 70s thing) My son always said when he smelled patchouli oil that "it smells like mom." I took it as a compliment. I remember hating the heavy metal my kids used to have to listen to at top volume. You couldn't understand the words, it just sounded like loud screaming. Now I don't listen to their stuff but they all occasionally listen to classic rock that they heard growing up so I guess I wasn't too bad or uncool.

OfficeGirl 10 years, 10 months ago

PS: the girls like the patchouli oil now and always say that they always know when the babies have been to grandma's house as their blankets and clothes smell like me.

WWoftheW 10 years, 10 months ago

roger_o_thornhill Does anyone call you Cary ever?

Julie Jacob 10 years, 10 months ago

How about when your 8 (or whatever) year old asks what DVD's you liked to watch when you were their age. And the astounded look they get when you tell them that DVD's didn't exist then!

denak 10 years, 10 months ago

There is a lot of junk on t.v. today but there is a lot of good stuff also if people look. Most of it is on cable though. You're not going to find it on regular t.v.

Personally, the age group that I think has the worst t.v (and toys). marketed towards them is pre-teen girls. Bratz, Chettah Girls, these groups have no redeming value. The bratz dolls look like streetwalkers.

There is a lot of good literature out there for pre-teen girls (Junie B Junie, Amelia Bedelia) but on t.v., there isn't much that is good for them.


Kookamooka 10 years, 10 months ago

I can't believe this article. That guy just doesn't get it. Ned's is one of the BEST shows on Nick. It's hysterical BECAUSE it's over the top. It's supposed to by campy. It's been on for a few years now and if he didn't catch the first two seasons, he isn't going to appreciate the current season. No. I'm a grown up and I'll tune in to Sponge Bob and Neds even when my kids aren't home. They are both great.

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