If you include “items on DVD” as shows–we did not and still don’t get cable TV–then there were a few we all enjoyed. Also, using a DVD was a way to exert some form of parental control over what he was watching.
My kid is now 16, that should clarify the era these are from.
Max and Ruby. I think it was Canadian; the world seen through the eyes of two little kids who were, in this case, bunny rabbits.
The Wiggles. Of course this is the musical Australian show, which we watched a few episodes of on DVD. Catchy stuff.
Some (but not all) Disney. We liked Fantasia, the 1940 version also the Y2K version. We skipped all the ones featuring princesses.
Wallace and Gromit. I’ve got a set of these on DVD.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and other shorts) by Eric Carle. These are really hypnotic. The music is by the same composer who did Wallace and Gromit, Julian Nott, and it is utterly fantastic. Years later, I still pop in the DVD just to hear the music.
Misc. animated movies such as Charlotte’s Web were good. He could watch these over and over.
Well, obviously I liked to see the ones that were still going from when I was a kid, Mister Rogers and Sesame Street. Pee Wee’s Playhouse, great.
For the newer stuff, (“newer”, because my kids are all grown up now), Big Comfy Couch was pretty tolerable. It had the Clock Stretch and Ten-Second Tidy segments which were good things for us all to do together while watching TV.
We also got a bang out of The Amanda Show, especially the Hillbilly Moment, which was a recurring skit featuring two hillbillies turning the regular knock-knock joke setup into an excuse for hitting each other with improbable objects. In my house, I could always get the kids laughing by picking up some random thing (such as the cat) and saying “Knawck knawck!”
Maisy Mouse. Strong primary colors and simple motions. None of the characters actually talk. It’s directed a really little kids, like, toddler age. Very basic lessons, a bit like Sesame Street but all animated.
Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro was fantastic. Even in Japanese, it was so understandable to a little kid, and felt comfy / safe. “Scary” parts like the wind suddenly blowing and debris being blown up and over the rooftop were not so scary as to be unmanageable. I’d say Totoro may be a rare exception, as most Miyazaki is pretty intense. Spirited Away should be left for a kid who is a bit older, maybe 8+, as the whole thing is a bit scary at times.
Also, we avoided some stuff:
Teletubbies. We didn’t let him watch stuff when he was too young, and so Teletubbies missed the cut.
Thomas the Tank Engine. I liked these but he didn’t for some reason. I guess too much realistic “action” including the occasional crash upset him.
Then there’s some stuff we had but we tried to hide from him, but he still managed to watch on his own, such as Futurama.
Sesame Street, I loved the musical numbers with guests…the usual suspects: Thomas the Tank Engine, Rocky & Bullwinkle (re-runs), Warner Brothers cartoons (Bugs Bunny, etc.) We were late to Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but loved what we saw. Later, Pokemon cartoons, I myself fell down that rabbit hole.
did you know horror master RL Stine pretty much created EC and made a few other kid shows before he wrote goosebumps? which makes me wonder why he didn’t have a bigger hand in keeping the goosebumps tv show from being the squeezy cheese-fest they are …
We didn’t have any suitable live TV options (my son was raised in Egypt and Indonesia) but I had some Winnie the Pooh DVDs that I actually preferred, in terms of sharing stories with very young children, to the rather stuffy and abstruse A.A. Milne book. I’m not criticizing the book exactly, just saying that it didn’t resonate with a five-year-old, whereas the Disney - I think they were Disney - DVDs were great fun and promoted kindness and sensitivity.
I loved Rocky and Bullwinkel, which I started watching in 1959, when I was 20 and had no children. It was adult TV in a children’s time slot. Like Pogo in the newspapers, it contained humor that no child could grasp.
My kids like Bluey. It seems likeable enough. Like an animated family sitcom for little kids.
I like Peppa Pig as well.
Right now, our kids are really into a show called “Masha and the Bear” about a precocious Russian peasant girl, the hapless bear that takes care of her, and their various friends (including a pair of wolves who live in an old UAZ ambulance who often have to provide medical aid due to Masha’s antics).
I’ve been surprised that a lot of parents are really against Peppa and Masha, citing the characters are “bad role models” (ie a cheeky pig or hyper-mischievous little girl) and that the shows are “too violent”.
Then again, I was raised on shows about cats and mice and other animal pairings trying to blow each other up with TNT sticks or drop anvils on each other’s heads.