Children’s cable channels aim to entertain teens, preschoolers
New, spin-off networks offer other options [Marion Chronicle Tribune]
By RACHEL KIPP
Kids who think they’re too cool for Barney and Big Bird will be asked to travel the continent with Buster, meet bilingual twins Maya and Miguel and seek out Arthur as part of new programming aimed at young children.
These are among many new offerings cable and broadcast networks are hoping will attract teens, tweens and every age group over, under and in between this fall.
At PBS, programmers listened to suggestions from children ages 5 to 8.
One of their ideas was to move Arthur, an adaptation of Marc Brown’s book series about an 8-year-old aardvark, into a new timeslot.
“Arthur was airing in something they would consider a destination for their younger brothers or their younger sisters,” said Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president for brand management and promotion at PBS. “They wanted a place that seemed dedicated to their interests, their sophistication and their tastes.”
Beginning Oct. 11, from 4-6 p.m. weekdays (check local listings), children can find Arthur and Postcards from Buster, an Arthur spin-off, which drops viewers into diverse environments peppered with new words, new foods and new challenges.
Maya & Miguel is another new, PBS series about the life of 10-year-old twins. They speak English mixed with Spanish expressions as Maya comes up with big ideas and is grudgingly aided by the more practical Miguel. Joining those shows is the math mystery cartoon Cyberchase.
Preschoolers will also find something new on PBS. Beginning this week, the network will air new episodes of Clifford’s Puppy Days and Boohbah. Also new this season, and starting this week, is Thomas & Friends, which was inspired by classic books The Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry.
Here are some other programs scheduled to air on cable and broadcast networks from now until December. Remember, all air dates and times are subject to change:
Nickelodeon’s award-winning Nick News series is back with specials on the 2004 election and one of America’s largest minority groups.
Mi America!: A Celebration of Hispanic Culture (Sept. 26) takes a look at the history, language and diversity of Hispanic-Americans, while Kids Pick the President: The Candidates, the Issues and You (Oct. 17) finds host Linda Ellerbee listening to kids talk about election-year hot topics.
The cable network also will debut several new series. Lazy Town (weekdays at 10:30 a.m.) promotes a healthy lifestyle through the adventures of an 8-year-old. Parents may recognize Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis as the voice of Miss Spider on Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends (weekdays, 10 a.m., starting Tuesday), while The Backyardigans (Oct. 11, check local listings) is a musical series about five preschoolers.
For older kids, the TEENick block will add two series about life in junior high: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (airing Sundays, beginning Sept. 12, at 7 p.m.) and Unfabulous (airing Sundays, beginning Sept. 12, at 8 p.m.)
JETIX, a new block of action/adventure programs, will debut on two cable networks — ABC Family and Toon Disney. It features Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! (Saturdays, beginning Sept. 18, at 9 a.m.) on ABC Family. It’s a sci-fi anime show about a teen transformed into a hero through the help of high-tech robot monkeys.
Meanwhile, the Disney Channel offers Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, (airs Saturdays at 8 p.m.). It’s a buddy comedy featuring a dog and a rabbit traveling in the Amazon rainforest. Kathie Lee Gifford and Sharon Stone are among those lending their voices as guest stars to Higglytown Heroes, (8 a.m. weekdays starting Saturday). It profiles the everyday heroes of a computer generated animated world.
Noggin and The N
New seasons of Oobi (weekdays at 11:30 a.m., beginning Monday) and Connie the Cow (weekdays at 8:30 beginning Sept. 20) will highlight the cable network’s morning programming aimed at preschoolers.
The nighttime programming that goes by The N and is aimed at teenagers introduces new episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation, (weekdays at 8 p.m., beginning Oct. 1). Best Friend’s Date, (beginning Dec. 3 at 9:30 p.m.) is a reality dating series in which teenagers go on blind dates arranged by their best pals.