Friday, 15 April 2011

TV or not TV... that is the question

We've gone back and forth over the role of TV in our lives - at times, completely shutting it out, and at other times, welcoming it in. For our daughters, we've tried to see TV as something "special" - not a must have, but a treat. 

The last show we watched together was the French election debate between our national leaders in Canada. Before that, it was the English debate the night before. Before that, I can't remember. Probably some show in March break just to take the edge off the holidays (for me - not them!). 

When we don't watch TV, there are many great things that happen. Like this:

a "folding tissues into houses" workshop that Eden led,

handiwork during our 4-month France sabbatical (which included a sabbatical from TV!),

playing school, Peter Pan, travelers to Bali, dog owners, and many other adventures and escapades.

We have had some good TV times, but the videos that we all like are few and far between. I'm not a big fan of Disney animated films for my kids because of the portrayal of the "bad guys." Inevitably, one of them finds the movies too scary, or has a nightmare that night that was directly related to the story.

We've also had some bad TV times - mostly bad because of the behaviour afterward. Poor doesn't even begin to describe it. They just want more, more, and more. When we give a little, they beg for more.

There are some movies that we've watched over and over again. Some of the best experiences have been when we've read a novel together of the same title first. Here's a list of the movies we've come to love:

* Mary Poppins

Product Details* The Sound of Music (just up until the end of the performance at the concert hall)

*Families of the World series: We watched "Families of Canada" and learned about a girl who takes 2 buses and a ferry to school in Nova Scotia!

* Little Travelers: These 2 American girls are right around the age of my girls, and they've lived in several different countries for 3 month stints. My kids love learning about other countries through these movies. I love how their style is kind of home-movie-ish and natural - not over-produced. They've inspired me to edit some of our home movies, particularly ones from our travels.

* Curious George

* Magic School Bus

* Disney's Peter Pan (an exeption to our experience with other Disney animated flicks)

* Rodgers and Hammerstein's/Disney Cinderella (great musical)

So-so movies:

* Wizard of Oz (a bit too scary for us still :)
* High School Musical (love the music, but the teenage angst is a bit much at times)
* Jump In (love the double dutch skipping, but the teenage angst is a bit much at times)
* Charlotte's Web (so, so sad when Charlotte dies)

Adult shows we've enjoyed in recent years: The Office, Glee, and Chuck. Fun, funny, entertaining.

I'm not convinced by the argument that violent TV/video/whatever media doesn't produce violence. I know my own reactions - when I see a suspenseful movie, I go out of the theatre and look twice down every back alley. It influences the way I see the world, at least for a couple of hours until it's out of my system. When I saw Charlie's Angels in the theatre years ago, I came out ready to kick some serious butt, imagining my jumps and kicks being suspended in mid-air for several moments.

What we eat matters, and the media we digest matter too. And so we're picky. And you? What are your favourites? Not so favourites?


  1. Have you seen the Kirikou movies about a pint-sized African boy? They are in French, but at a level your girls could understand. The same producer also did Azur and Asmar, one of Anouck and Charlotte's all-time favourites, set in North Africa with glorious colours. A real feast for the eyes. They are all quite different from mainstream North American children's programmes.
    We, too, are big Mary Poppins fans. Have your girls seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks? One of my favs as a kid :-)

  2. Mara - I'll have to look for those. Never heard of them! We did watch sections from Bedknobs and Broomsticks - skipped the German army/London raid parts. I was thinking of Annie too -that was a musical I LOVED as a kid.

  3. Funny, I must have blocked out the army parts, all I remember is that glorious brass bed bobbing away in the water and how I wished I could be on one too :-)
    You can read about Kirikou and Azur and Asmar on wiki. If you're interested, I could even bring them over in August for you to see because from what I've read, they're hard to find in North America. Apparently, the nudity (the first scene of Azur and Asmar is a mother nursing her son, and you see her nipple. Oh no! Not a nipple!) was an issue for its US release...

  4. I'd LOVE for you to bring them in August. Looks like they would be right up our alley. Yes, us modest North Americans - we need to be more comfortable baring it all like you French :)

  5. Unfortunately our copy of Mary Poppins fell to the floor and broke. I have been looking at thrift stores for a replacement. Would love to see Kirikou movies. Erik would feel most at home with the nursing "Bah, Bah's". Do you own the Little Travelers? Rent from the library? I would love to get my hands on a copy. Megan 'travels' all over the globe with her maps to see volcanoes. I am sure she would love these films. The TV debate is ongoing in our house. Having only one channel helps. It is really only a vehicle for video watching. It can be a great tool on crazy days!

  6. Shauna, I got the Little Travelers DVDs at the Waterloo Public Library (main branch). We went to get them again a couple of months ago and they're not out on the racks like they used to be. But if you ask at the children's desk, they'll go and get them from some back room. I'm sure Megan would love them. We especially loved the Bali one. Our house was Bali for many months after that. I know you'd love them too! I think they have 4 or 5 countries. Made me want to make my own little documentaries, traveling around the world with my 2 girls! Maybe someday...