A Station Eight Fan Web Site


The Phoenix Gate

Search Ask Greg

Search type:

Displaying 1 record.

Bookmark Link

Laura 'as astra' Sack writes...

And now for something completely different...
You mentioned you wrote a few episodes of Octonauts. My daughter loves that show. (Catchy tune… and who would have thought there was such a thing as a blob fish?) As far as I noticed the credits only list the head writer.

1. Which episodes did you pen?
2. Did they by chance explain what exactly Turnip and kitchen crew are?
3. On a less frivolous note-
I was thinking about shows like Octonauts or Doc McStuffins or Dora or Little Einsteins or etc, the shows aimed young, as opposed to the shows my kids think are on screen for them but are really for Mommy, like the action plot shows, or the crazy clever ones like Phinias and Ferb. Ironically, a lot of the little kid shows are in a way more realistic because they center on smaller things- "3 simple steps to tying your shoe" or being worried how your old and new friends will get along at your first big sleepover party. The fact that a panda is teaching you to tie that shoe, or you are now a princess in a castle and that's why you have old and new friends to invite to the castle is not something that needs particular explanation. And without having to explain those things you can leave the world gentle.

As you get older you require a setting to make the fantastic events explainable. You can cling to a wall? Radioactive spider! You put on a suit and fight crime from the shadows? You're a rich orphan with a mission to protect the world from suffering as you did! You're a giant scary looking flying 'monster' with the soul of a poet wandering around Manhattan? You a magically time lost nearly lone survivor of a horrible betrayal of a near extinct species! (And you can only glide, not fly!) In order to explain why your heroes act as they do, whole worlds are dreamt up in which the hero's action is logical. The fantastical setting makes the actions in them realistic or at least self-consistent. A side effect of that is to introduce a dark element into the world- parental units are murdered, crime or war is at the door, etc

Which leads me to the dilemma: When, in your opinion, do you begin to transition a small child from the world of Octonauts to the world of Young Justice? (Transition isn't the best word, since you can go on watching the old stuff.) It's not a question of comprehension. Kids can understand an awful lot. The question is; when do you make your child's world less gentle? When my eldest saw the TiVo grabbed an episode of Batman she wanted to watch it. With my luck it's the episode with the amnesia girl who turns out to have started out as a piece of Clayface. Great episode. It ends when she rescues Robin and gets reabsorbed. The show explicitly calls it a murder. Then I got to explain how it is murder, what is murder, to a 3 or 4 year old. What fun! I look forward to watching Gargoyles with her, but not it being her introduction to what a massacre is. ("Well it's just like what happened to your great grandparents...") It's not that you plan on sheltering forever, but small children deserve to be sheltered, and sometimes parents are better as the zone of shelter rather than source of disturbing imagery.

Yes, there is another set of cartoons that avoid the dilemma- she loves Tom & Jerry. But frankly, I can say- 'Wow you could really hurt someone if you did that in real life- but isn't it funny when it's fake? Isn't it funny how everyone overreacts!" And then I'm done. Watching Tom getting hit in the face by a rake doesn't make her life less gentle. Explaining why Tye Longfeather left home would.

There are parallels as kids get older. Harry Potter is age appropriate to whatever age Harry is in the book. So you give an 11 year old book 1. If your 11 year old is a reader he or she will want to tear through the series and might be at the last book before turning 12. The last book is appropriate for a 17 year old. Or as my friend complained that it is frustrating to have so many comics she can't share with her 13 year old - it's not that he isn't going to be reading things with mild sexual imagery, (or not so mild; she was considering starting reading Saga), but maybe it's best he not get it directly from mom. She knows he'd love Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but he doesn't want to start the series only to stop before the 4th book with the aerial sex scene.

At least I only have to worry about it once : The younger one will see everything too early over her sister's shoulder :}

I guess this isn't so much a question as a ramble, but I was wondering your thoughts on the matter.

Greg responds...

1. My episodes haven't aired yet.

2. They seem to go out of their way NOT to explain. ;)

3. I may not be the right guy to ask. My kids grew up on Simpsons in utero. I remember watching Dexter with my 15-year-old daughter and realizing what a bad parent I must be. (And yet, I have great, great kids despite this.)

My kids learned at an early age how to figure out murder mysteries on television (hint: casting plays a major role), how to expect and anticipate surprises, etc. (We've evolved a system of high-fives when one of us correctly guesses a surprise revelation in advance.) They're fairly sophisticated television watchers. But that doesn't mean they didn't have their time with Barney and Friends. They did. But they probably graduated earlier than most. And there was a ton of overlap.

I myself had a television in my room literally from infancy - as my mother placed televisions in nearly every room of the house for her sake - with no restrictions on what I could watch. So I've always let my kids tell me (mostly) what was appropriate and inappropriate. NOTE: I'm NOT recommending this approach. Just explaining why I'm unqualified to judge.

But I have always believed that kids can handle/fathom more than is traditionally believed. If YOU feel good about (for example) Young Justice's moral center - than I personally don't think there's anything particularly problematic in the series, and that includes the reason Tye ran away from home. Teachable moments are worthwhile - even necessary (though perhaps that's unfortunate) - at even the youngest age, particularly in the world we live in today.

So I don't think it's too soon for your kids to watch Gargs or SpecSpidey or WITCH or YJ assuming it holds their attention and assuming you watch WITH them. But again, I'm no expert on parenting. So follow my lead at your children's peril.

Response recorded on January 10, 2014