(This poat contains affiliate links) Netflix. Hmmm….. Now I know as a modern, responsible parent that wants only the best for my child, that feeds my kids only the best ‘Non GMO’, 100% Organic, gluten-free everything (including cheese, just in case!) 😉 , I SHOULD NOT BE so reliant on my Netflix account, but I am… I know, I know… terrible! But that being said, kids TV, much like grown ups TV, has at least gotten a lot better over the years, and it is now possible to find some quality stuff if you know where to look. Here are my top 20 picks from Netflix
20. Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Original Run: 2011-Present
Creator: Roberts Gannaway
Stars: Colin Ford, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Corey Burton, Madison Pettis and David Arquette
Original Network: Disney Junior
This is kind of a Peter Pan spin-off, and many-a-child’s favorite, but it might drive parents a little crazy since the same thing happens in basically every episode. Captain Hook tries to take something from Jake and ‘his crew’. He fails. Jake and his pals Cubby and Izzie are nice to Captain Hook—always rescuing him and helping him out. But the recurring theme centered on being nice to everyone (even those who aren’t so nice to you) is a not a bad one for kids to be watching.The guest appearances by Tinkerbell and Peter Pan are the icing on the cake for many a fan.
19. Word Girl
Original Run: 2007 – present
Creator: Dorothea Gillim
Stars: Dannah Feinglass Phirman, Tom Kenny, Maria Bamford
Original Network: PBS
WordGirl originally appeared as short interludes during episodes of fellow PBS program Maya & Miguel ,but proved so engaging to young audiences the show executives decided to spin it out into its own series. This show follows the adventures of superhero “Word Girl’ as she battles bad guys in Fair City.A few new words are introduced during each episode,sneakily helping youngsters expand their vocabulary.The use of writers with backgrounds working on shows like SNL and Daria make this one of the funniest kids shows around!
18. Signing time
Original Run: 2006-present
Creator: Rachel de Azevedo Coleman and Emilie de Azevedo Brown
Stars: Rachel de Azevedo Coleman, Leah Coleman, Alex Brown
Original Network: PBS
Inspired by the plight of her children (one was born deaf, the other with cerebral palsy) and seeing how her daughters were communicating on a much more advanced level than their peers by using signing, Rachel de Azevedo Coleman conceived of this program to teach kids—and often their parents—American Sign Language. The show succeeds by introducing only a few new words or phrases at a time, and cementing them in the minds of viewers through repetition, song, and the bubbly spirit of Coleman and her children.
17. The Aquabats
Original Run: 2012 – 2014
Creator: Christian Jacobs, Scott Schultz
Stars: The Aquabats
Original Network: Hub Network
Fans of Southern California’s punk and surf rock scenes will recognize The Aquabats from the band’s high energy live performances. But for kids, these blue suited dudes are some of the coolest superheroes around. Created by two of the men responsible for Yo Gabba Gabba!, this campy and wickedly funny series follows the adventures of The Aquabats as they defend the world from all manner of weird and wonderful aliens and villains. Fans of the 60s Batman series and the strange world of Japanesetokusatsu should welcome this magical, musical show into their lives immediately!
16. Dinosaur train
Original Run: 2009-present
Creator: Craig Bartlett
Stars: Philip Corlett, Claire Corlett, Erika-Shaye Gair
Original Network: PBS
Though the story line of this show is rather far-fetched, it’s no reason to dismiss the delights found within each episode.The train passing through time-traveling tunnels is pure magic! Created as a way to teach kids about the diverse kinds of dinosaurs that used to roam our planet, the CGI series is anchored by the cute, friendly dino family that is the focus of each episode and the occasional appearance by a bona fide paleontologist who helps bring some real science into this otherwise light-hearted fare.
15. The Ultimate Spiderman
Original Run: 2012-present
Creator: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Stars: Drake Bell, Ogie Banks, Clark Gregg, Tom Kenny, J.K. Simmons
Original Network: Disney XD
With Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009, the media giant has seen plenty of opportunities to expand the universe that was started by the comic book company. One step was the creation of a whole mess of series featuring their iconic characters including this animated series. As they did with Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the show places Peter Parker in his teen years, but like the comic book series that spawned it, puts his alter ego under the direction of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. The result is fast-paced, features marvelous animation work, and some great voice acting by Drake Bell (as Spidey) and ringers like Clark Gregg and J.K. Simmons, reprising their film roles as Agent Coulson and J. Jonah Jameson.
14. Ninja Turtles : Next Mutation
Original Run: 1997-1998
Creator: Haim Saban
Stars: Michael Dobson, Kirby Morrow, Jason Gray-Stanford
Original Network: FOX
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a part of the pop culture landscape since their first appearance in comic book form way back in 1984, and show no signs of disappearing any time soon. But for a while, the TMNTs went quiet, following the cancellation of this series that aired for one season in the late ‘90s. The live-action show was seen as a continuation of the original animated series, but also attempted to expand on the brand by excising characters (like Casey Jones and April) and introducing new ones (like a female ninja turtle named Venus de Milo). Though it was successful, it didn’t last beyond 26 episodes, and kept the TMNTs off the air until their animated reboot in 2003
13. PeeWee’s Playhouse
Original Run: 1986-1990
Creator: Paul Reubens
Stars: Pee-Wee Herman, Laurence Fishburne, Phil Hartman, Lynne Marie Stewart, John Paragon
Original Network: CBS
For the last half of the ‘80s, Pee-Wee Herman was an unavoidable presence in the pop culture landscape thanks, at first, to his Tim Burton-directed feature film (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) and then via this entirely family-friendly show he developed for CBS. The half-hour paid homage to kids’ shows from creator Paul Reubens’ youth, like Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo, while adding his own brand of anarchic energy and completely respecting the intelligence of its young viewers. Add to it a surrealist playhouse set where every object was given a face and a voice, as well as occasional visits from equally silly friends like Cowboy Curtis (post-Apocalypse Now/pre-Matrix Laurence Fishburne) and Captain Carl (the late Phil Hartman), and you had the makings of one of the most unique programs to ever get screened on Saturday morning network TV.
12. Pokemon Black ans White
Original Run: 2011-2013
Creator: Satoshi Tajiri
Stars: Sarah Natochenny (Ash Ketchum), Ikue Ohtani (Pikachu)
Original Network: TV Tokyo
Between the 850 episodes, eighteen movies, and dozens of spin-offs and specials, the series has amassed a scripted fortress impervious to quality. Pokémon the show, though once wildly popular, never dominated (here in the states) quite like the games on which they’re based. The animation is unremarkable, reproducible (by staff and fans). It doesn’t play by any sense of logic, apparent or self-made (the humans are ageless, while the Pokémon are not, for instance). Moreover, that game-then-show relationship can stump parents: these hundreds of hours are marketing. The brand preaches goodness, unity, brotherhood of species. It creates a sort of violence all its own, where danger is never sensed, to which there is both fairy tale charm and irresponsibility. Comradery is ethos, and evil is only as evil as evil can be when it rhymes;. But it is still a brand. Black & White is, at times, a beat for beat remake of the original seasons (ironically, since the corresponding games are among the main series’s most idiosyncratic). This is the Game Freak way. Brand resistance is a noble thing. But when your seven-year-old lays eyes on his or her first Charizard, or Pikachu, or, now, Oshawott, and those eyes glass over with love, you’ll recognize that sort of adoration, and then you’ll have to choose between two stances: reluctance, and acquiescence.
11. Sid the science kid
Original Run: 2008-2013
Creator: The Jim Henson Company
Stars: Drew Massey, Julianne Buescher, Victor Yerrid
Original Network: PBS
The idea of introducing scientific concepts like inertia and simple machines to kids made this show worthy enough to make this list. But what separates it from similarly minded shows like Magic School Bus is its unique animation style. Using motion capture, the CGI-created series builds its characters to move like actual kids would, and renders them as if they were made of molding clay. This gives the series a quaintly homespun feel, but also allows you a bit of dazzle while you’re swallowing sometimes heady lessons about physics and ecosystems. Lots of fun!
10. Curious George
Original Run: 2006-present
Creator: Based on the books of Margret and H.A. Rey,
Stars: William H. Macy (narrator), Rino Romano (narrator), Jeff Bennett, and Frank Welker
Original Network: PBS Kids
We all know the story of the very curious monkey and his friend, the Man with the Yellow Hat. This gentle series charmingly narrated by William H. Macy and Rino Romano, brings George to life while teaching children about being responsible and playing well with others, and instilling basic math, science concepts and deductive reasoning concepts. Often, George tries to be helpful to disastrous and funny consequences. Interspersed with the cartoon are real life vignettes with children that mirror the themes of the episode. Curiosity, as all parents know, is a great thing and any show that encourages this idea is always going to be a favorite.
9. Power Puff Girls
Creator: Craig McCracken
Stars: Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong, E.G. Daily, Tom Kenny
Original Network: Cartoon Network
While Cartoon Network was already a going concern by the time the first episode of Powerpuff Girls aired in November 1998, this fast-paced explosion of bright colors, female forward energy, anime-inspired graphics, and pop culture savvy put the network on the map. And while it never reached the surreal levels of its spiritual cousin Adventure Time, it drew in a multi-generational audience week after week to delight in Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles’ manic adventures protecting the denizens of Townsville from all manner of baddies.
8. Rasta Mouse
Original Run: 1994-1997
Creator: Michael De Souza, Genevieve Webster
Stars: Reggie Yates, Cornell John, Sharon Duncan Brewster, William Vanderpuye
Original Network: Cbeebies, BBC
Many of the shows on this list will be familiar to most, but you have to search deep into the Netflix Kids section to find a few hidden gems—and this is one of the greatest! This British animated stop motion series centers on beloved, rastafarian Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew, who fight crime and solve mysteries in their Mouseland neighborhood (and also have a reggae band, and skateboard everywhere). Although not spoken entirely in Caribbean patois, the language and accents of these wonderful characters are just accurate enough that American viewers will bend their ears a bit, and learn a few key phrases like, “Dat is dread!”, “Irie, man,” as well as the critical importance of ginger beer on a hot summer day (nah worry, it’s non-alcoholic). With these crimefighters on de case, children will be exposed to a culture that has been hugely influential on American music and style. Also, it should go without saying that the reggae theme song is top notch.
7. Star Wars: Clone Wars
Creator: George Lucas
Stars: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane
Original Network: Cartoon Network/Netflix
Acting as a bridge between Attack of the Clonesand Revenge of the Sith, the show finds Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with new character Ahsoka Tano, battling against the forces of Dooku and General Grievous. What started as a series full of fun, exciting space battles, however, soon grew into a much deeper and richer story that explored the complications and brutality of war. Moreover, The Clone Wars did more to set the stage for Anakin’s inevitable turn to the Dark Side than any moment in the films. While the show’s brand of photo-realistic animation may not be for everyone, there are few who will deny that the sophisticated storytelling on display would not have been greatly welcome in the traditional Star Wars movie universe.
6. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Original Run: 2012-Present
Creator: Angela Santomero
Stars: Jake Beale, Addison Holley, Tommy Lioutas
Original Network: PBS Kids
Whether you watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a child or not, you’ll love and appreciate this animated series. Four-year-old Daniel Tiger is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from Mister Roger’s. His best friends are O the Owl (the nephew of Uncle X), Katerina Kittycat (the daughter of Henrietta Pussycat), Prince Wednesday (the son of King Friday) and Miss Elaina (the daughter of Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan). Each episode of this fantastic program deftly tackles an issue important to preschoolers—sharing, coping with frustration, jealousy, toilet training and, most recently, the arrival of a new sibling. The series is totally engrossing, while providing children with catchy refrains that resonate with them. At least a few times a week, I’ll invoke Daniel Tiger’s name. If my daughter doesn’t want to eat something, I’ll ask her innocently what Daniel Tiger would say about trying new foods. I’ll promptly get the response, “You’ve got to try a new food, because it might taste good.” Daniel Tiger is every parent’s best friend. Seriously.
5. Figaro Pho
Original Run: 2012
Creator: Luke Jurevicius
Stars: Luke Jurevicius, Craig Behenna, Charlotte Hamlyn, Stavroula Mountzouris, Aletheia Burney
Original Network: ABC
For all of the great, sugary sweet kids’ shows out there, there’s always the occasional oddball series that children and adults can’t help falling in love with. This series is centered on the adorably creepy-looking Figaro, who suffers from just about every phobia imaginable (and unimaginable). Each episode is titled after said phobias, giving us gems like “Fear of Unfamiliar Toilets (Novuslatrinaphobia) / Fear of Duplication (Clonophobia) / Fear of Hiccups (Myoclunusdiagphragmaphobia).” And when the constant chatter and sing-songiness of some of these other shows gets to be a bit much, the silence (save for some great music and hilarious sound effects) of Figaro Pho is refreshing, while the incredible animation is captivating.
4. Phineas and Ferb
Original Run: 2007-2011
Creator: Jeff Marsh, Dan Povenmire
Stars: Vincent Martella, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ashley Tisdale, Dan Povenmire, Caroline Rhea, and Alyson Stoner
Original Network: The Disney Channel
Tucked among The Disney Channel’s horrific lineup was an 11-minute show packed with intersecting plot lines, adventure in suburbia, intrigue and a pet platypus doubling as a super agent. With a wonderfully manic ska theme song that ends with their sister Candace complaining, “Mom, Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence,” each show captures Phineas’ latest ambitious plan to pass the summer days—whether it’s building a giant tree house that transforms into a giant robot, or filming a movie, or creating a time machine. And even though the stepbrothers’ grand plans escape the attention of their parents and drive Candace nuts, Phineas and Ferb remain completely guileless, telling their disbelieving mom and dad what they’ve accomplished and always looking out for Candace. Refreshingly, the siblings have a deep-seated affection for one another and for their parents. And the secondary plot of each episode—Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz’ dastardly schemes involving awesomely designated devices of pure evil (the the Ugly-Inator, Age-Acclerator-Inator) are thwarted by super agent, Perry the Platypus. The subtleties of the relationship are pitch-perfect. When Perry busts in on Doofenshmirtz when his blind date is about to arrive, Perry accommodates his rival by pretending to be his pet (“She doesn’t know I have a nemesis”). Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh met while working on The Simpsons. Povenmire later worked on Family Guy, and the cleverness of both shows—and particularly the pacing of Family Guy—has worn off on both, making it one of the smartest shows on TV for people of any age.
3. My Little Pony
Original Run: 2010-2013
Creator: Lauren Faust, Bonnie Zacherle
Stars: Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver
Original Network: The Hub
When Lena Hall accepted her 2014 Tony Award for her performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, she boldly and tearfully declared to the world at the end of her speech, “Friendship is magic.” Of course, this is just one small, example of the incredibly (almost terrifyingly) far-reaching effects of this little show about a unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle, and her adventures in Ponyville, Equestria. There are many great shows on this list that have permeated the pop culture sphere, and have the devotion of adults and children—but with brony culture, countless critical essays and analyses, and that ridiculous Bob’s Burger’s episode (oh, “The Equestranauts”), none can claim quite the impact as this one.
2. Sesame Street
Original Run: 1969-Present
Creator: Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett
Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney, Steve Whitmire, Kevin Clash,
Original Network: PBS
Anyone born after 1969 can certainly tell you how to get to Sesame Street. This compilation of sketches from 1969-2012 features all the fan favorites including Elmo, Grover, Ernie and Bert and the Count. Part of the success of this show can be attribute to the many characters who represent certain traits common in young children. There’s the child who only wants desserts (Cookie Monster). The one who can’t stop asking questions (Big Bird). And the lovable, cranky kid (hello, Oscar the Grouch). There’s a reason the 47-year-old series is the country’s longest running children’s program. Sesame Street knows how to talk to kids without talking down to them. By treating the pre-school set like the actual people that they are, the show educates while entertaining. Little ones walk away not only knowing the alphabet and their numbers, but also key important social skills like sharing, taking turns and getting along with others.
Original Run: 1996-present
Creator: Based on the books by Marc Brown
Stars: Michael Yarmush, Daniel Brochu, and Robert Naylor
Original Network: PBS Kids
Based on the series of books by Marc Brown and aimed at school-aged children, eight-year-old Arthur the aardvark loves to explore the world around him. The show dives deep into themes of friendship and the importance of getting along with everyone, even (or, especially) those who are different from you. The series deftly takes on the emotional and social issues that come with grade school in a way that children will respond to. Episodes deal with topics such as friends who tease you, being embarrassed, falling behind on your school work, and eternally-frustrating family dynamics. But what makes Arthur unique among all these great shows are the many, many episodes that took on even bigger issues—like dyslexia, cancer, religion, cultural differences, transnational adoption, and Asperger’s syndrome—in a child-friendly way. Throw in that unforgettable theme song, “”Believe in Yourself(performed by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers), and a slew of fantastic celebrity guest vocals from over the years (including Art Garfunkel, Alex Trebek, Michelle Kwan, Joan Rivers, Matt Damon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Alan Cumming), and you have what is just about the perfect kids TV show—something we loved watching as kids, and love introducing to the next generation.
Of course, kids need more stimulation than only television, so why not head on over to Amazon for some other great options. (affiliate links*)
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