Brought to you by the letter H

Little kids sure have a lot more TV options these days.

Back when I was toddler, all we basically had were Big Bird and Cookie Monster. In other words, we learned our basic life lessons from a tall, yellow, sexually ambiguous fowl and a blue, furry, sweet-toothed freak with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. So, yeah, I blame PBS for the way my generation turned out.

I never really took to “Sesame Street.” I couldn’t relate. A typical episode would be set in a New York City slum, where a multiracial cast would gather ‘round as a special guest — Stevie Wonder, for example — would sing moral lessons to Oscar the Grouch. I grew up in small western Colorado mountain towns in the ‘70s. Safe to say there weren’t a lot of guys with afros singing to garbage cans.

I also never understood why “Sesame Street” didn’t have any commercials. The Saturday morning cartoons I’d watch were always sponsored by the sugary breakfast cereals, i.e. crack for kids.

An episode of “Sesame Street,” however, would be “brought to you by the letter H.” How did the letter H come up with the advertising budget to underwrite a nationally televised production?

Did they have to outbid L for prime-time slots? Either way, it was a brilliant marketing move on their part. Brand-awareness studies consistently show that the letter H has far greater name recognition than both Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. (It still trails Geico.)

Nowadays, of course, there’s a wide array of quality children’s programming available. That’s because most people have dependable, reliable and affordable cable TV. I, on the other hand, have Bresnan.

Almost every morning since birth, I’ve plopped my daughter down in front of the boob tube for a show called “Baby Genius.”

Unfortunately, it turns out my baby-sitting by TV is bad parenting. I just read where child psychologists recommend infants under the age of 1 not watch any television. This means I’ve been doing it wrong. It also means that child psychologists don’t have any children themselves. Otherwise they would recommend kids watch, oh, say 23 hours of TV a day. Personally, I don’t know why you would listen to a child psychologist. I only trust psychologists who are full-grown adults.

So like I said, Marilee and I watch this “Baby Genius” freak show each morning. I’m not sure who created the program, but hopefully they will be out of detox soon.

There are five main cartoon characters in the show, including Vinko the “dancing bear.” He’s friends with DJ the “singing dinosaur,” who looks, sounds and acts a lot like the famous cartoon dinosaur “Barney.” So much so that I fear DJ “the singing dinosaur” and Vinko “the dancing bear” will soon meet Joel “the litigious copyright infringement attorney.”

In some episodes they’ll use real-life footage of a guy dressed in a Vinko costume participating in themed activities while a cutesy-type song plays in the background. “The Muffin Man” song immediately comes to mind, seeing as how I’ve heard this song every single morning for the past 314 days. It’s to the point where I’m ready to scream at the TV: “NO! For the last time, I do NOT know the muffin man! OK? Just drop it already.”

Anyway, in this episode, a guy in the Vinko costume visits a commercial kitchen, where he watches a real-life baker make the muffins.

The baker must have got suckered into the deal by his boss or something, because he doesn’t appear to be as enthusiastic as Vinko. He’s a good sport about it, but the baker looks exactly like you would look if a man in a bear suit and a full camera crew came to your job to watch you work.

But cheesy shows like that are the problem when you rely on basic cable, which is why we’re going to buck up and get our baby some high-quality, expensive children’s DVDs. I’m going to pay for them by selling advertising space in this column to major corporations.

I’ll start by contacting the letter H.


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