Wednesday, September 1, 2010
That Cartoon Guy
Why didn't all of my friends with kids tell me about the terrific "Phineas & Ferb" cartoon? An egregious dereliction of duty, you guys. -- From my Twitter Feed, August 22.
As the father of a six-year-old, I've watched a fair amount of animated television over the past few years.
Like most parents, Mrs. Bootleg and I had grand plans for limiting Jalen's TV intake when he was younger. We thought there were other, better ways to (1) stimulate his mind; (2) nurture his creativity and (3) pass along social skills he'd need as he grew older.
Unfortunately, (1) three-year-old Jalen had no patience for those kiddie jigsaw puzzles; (2) four-year-old Jalen only wanted to draw baseball diamonds, ballplayers or his 22-year-old babysitter and (3) five-year-old Jalen was either inconsolable if he lost at a board game or insufferable if he won.
Today, Jalen gets more television that we'd originally intended. In our defense, though, he also watches several hours of Oakland A's baseball each week…which hurts both our hearts. Over the years, these are the animated programs that have brought more pleasure than pain.
Phineas & Ferb -- I only discovered this show about a month ago. Jalen was immersed within an especially blog-worthy medical emergency and home from school. During a half-hearted round of "remote roulette", we came across two boys who spend their summer vacation hatching outlandish ideas while inadvertently tormenting their older sister. Throw in a secret agent platypus, a stereotypically evil mad scientist and…well, you'll just have to trust me on this: it works. All of it.
Little Bill -- When I was Jalen's age, cartoons with predominantly African-American characters weren't uncommon. We had superheroes, fallen angels, kung-fu fighters and Fat Albert. NBC's A Different World pretty much ruined the two-dimensional black caricature concept during the early '90s, before Bill Cosby brought it back with Little Bill. It's ridiculously preachy and PC, but Jalen's breathless exclamation ("He looks like me!") during our first viewing kept this one in DVR rotation for awhile.
Curious George -- This was the first cartoon that Jalen was way into. It was the theme for his third birthday party and we still have random licensed merchandise (bubble machine, fleece blanket and a bazillion bedtime books) scattered around Stately Bootleg Manor. The mischievous monkey also created a brief family controversy when Mrs. Bootleg excitedly suggested our son dress up as Curious George for Halloween. I don't exercise my "paternal veto power" all that much, but when your African-American wife wants to put a monkey face on your African-American son…no.
Can You Teach My Alligator Manners? -- These shorts air between feature cartoons on the Playhouse Disney channel. It's listed here solely for its opening sequence. Y'see, it's become increasingly evident that Jalen will NOT be inheriting his mother's exemplary dancing genes. Watching him imitate the dancing at the beginning of the above clip nearly brings Mrs. Bootleg to tears.