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THE LEARNING CURVE

Children's Tv, Dad's Mystery

September 01, 2008|Houston Mitchell | Times Staff Writer

School is almost here, which means I will get to sleep in while my 7-year-old daughter, Hannah, learns whatever you learn in second grade nowadays (I believe it's how to build your own Web page and the economics of texting).

But as her return to school nears, I find myself saddened, not only because as a night-shift worker I will soon be spending less time with her, but also because my TV viewing habits will probably change. PBS Kids, the Disney Channel and the plethora of Nickelodeon stations won't get as much airtime on the Jumbotron in our living room. And, as the summer months went by, I figured out that Hannah and I each learned and wondered different things while watching her favorite shows. And now I may never get the answer to these questions. I've gathered together a list of the shows and my questions and was hoping somebody could help me out with the answers.

--

"Hannah Montana"

(Disney Channel)

What Hannah learned: That girls can do anything boys can do. That you should never give up on your dreams.

What I wondered: If I ever want Hannah to go unrecognized, apparently all I have to do is put a wig on her. No one will know it's her. Also, where are the paparazzi? They can't figure out that Hannah Montana has a secret double life? Does TMZ not know about this?

--

"Caillou"

(PBS Kids)

What Hannah learned: The importance of following rules and being respectful. The importance of sharing with your family.

What I wondered: Why does this 5-year-old child have no hair and his 2-year-old sister has a head full of hair? And why does she have red hair when neither the parents nor grandparents have red hair (but the mailman, strangely, has red hair). And why are the parents happy all the time? Can I have whatever it is they are taking?

--

"Dora the Explorer"

(Nickelodeon)

What Hannah learned: How to read a map. How to follow directions.

What I wondered: What kind of parents let their young daughter explore the countryside unsupervised? With a monkey, no less? Also, if someone tries to mug you on the street, all you have to do is say, "Swiper, no swiping!" three times fast and the mugger will run away.

--

"Clifford the Big Red Dog"

(PBS Kids)

What Hannah learned: The importance of loving your pets.

What I wondered: Who has to clean up after Clifford?

--

"Reading Rainbow"

(PBS Kids)

What Hannah learned: Books can expand your imagination.

What I wondered: What's the guy from "Star Trek" doing here?

--

"Blue's Clues"

(Nickelodeon)

What Hannah learned: How to solve problems.

What I wondered: What kind of demonic dog hides things from his owner and then leaves clues for him to find them? And why is Joe putting up with this? Why doesn't he take him back to the pound and get a new dog? And did Steve really go to "college," or did the sneaky Blue do away with him?

--

"Max and Ruby"

(Nickelodeon)

What Hannah learned: How to get along with her sisters.

What I wondered: Does no one notice what a brat Max is? And how he always gets his way because of it? And how these two small rabbits are left alone all day? Where is the supervision?

--

"The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"

(Disney)

What Hannah learned: I'm not sure exactly.

What I wondered: When is the mom going to send these two little monsters back to their father? And was being twins the only quality they looked for when casting the roles of Zack and Cody?

I could go on and on. I now realize I'm not exhausted from being up all morning and working all night, I'm worn out from trying to understand Hannah's TV world.

--

houston.mitchell @latimes.com

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