When my kids were kids, we had Sesame Street. I thought it was great. The video segments appealed to kids, but also had something for adults. When troubled by the reality that we are different, we can remember what Kermit had to say when he sang “it’s not easy being green”. What four-year-old understands that message?
I just read that Sesame Street is going to 30 minute rather than 60-minute episodes and will now be “shared” by HBO. How will mothers (and perhaps fathers) have enough free time to make dinner? How will those families who need Sesame Street be able to afford HBO?
Sesame Street issues aside, my grandkids seem more fascinated with Thomas and Friends. I was worried for a while about this strange fascination with model trains, but I am beginning to understand. The Thomas and Friend series tells stories based on the exploits of the trains that operate on the island of Sodor. For the experience to make sense, I imagine the island somewhere off the coast of England.
The television series seems to have a formulaic model. Each engine appears to have a personality flaw that consistently gets the engine in trouble. Thomas, kind of the hero, is described as being the “cheeky” one. I still have not figured out exactly what cheeky means (maybe pretentious) and the kids have no idea. The kids do know the names of all of the characters on sight. Despite their flaws and misadventures, the engines always seem to recover and are then regarded as “useful”. I guess this is the message – be a good person and you will be useful.
While new in my awareness, Thomas has been around for some time and was originally conceptualized by clergyman William Awdry as a character in books for children. Television stardom came later.
After watching numerous episodes of Thomas and after investing in not one, but two train tables for Thomas and his friends (actually my wife made these purchases), I finally was able to take a ride on Thomas. Evidently, Thomas is now touring. The ticket to ride on and photograph Thomas was expensive, but I suppose so was the cost of shipping Thomas from Sodor to Duluth.
One thing I will say about the ride was that it was short. You can get away with that when you have a large fan base.