Watched all our recommendations for films you can watch with the nippers? Good – and don’t worry, there’s a load more coming (and we’re getting a teeny bit more out there next time). However in the meantime, settle back with the sprogs and the gogglebox with this selection of kids TV shows we think you’ll actually want to watch with your kids rather than start to regret that ‘No phones’ rule. We’ve even included some shows we’d watch WITHOUT them, they’re that ace. Any idea where the remote is?
Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed!
Yeah, yeah, of course we were going to include this baby. Our most famous character has been totally rebooted for 2018 in Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed! In the modern CG style kids love but with lashings of loving detail (we know – we paid for it), you’ll recognise all your Beanotown favourites – an adorable Pieface, a hilarious Walter, a flea-bitten Gnasher etc – plus a few new faces in JJ and Rubi. Still at Bash Street School, still breaking all the rules, but now with a Vaccines soundtrack here is where the past meets the future gloriously. And we’re not just paid to say that. Well, not much. Oh, and sorry for the flea jokes. Watch it and you’ll know what we mean…
For those of us who found history lessons at school horrible, the prospect of watching an ‘educational’ TV show with our kids is not exactly the happiest of thoughts. But Horrible Histories brings it all to life in the goriest of ways which makes it (sshhh) dead entertaining to watch. Here is half an hour when you can peel off your parent mask for a bit and indulge in some disgusting, funny fun – see Stupid Deaths with Simon ‘Paddington 2’ Farnaby or those amazing song pastiches (Adam and the Ants! The one that lists all the kings and queens!). If this show had been around when we were kids, we’d have done SO much better in our exams without trying… Oh, and do try Bill – the Horrible Histories film that got slightly lost for some reason but crops up on Amazon Prime.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Hands up if you watched Doogie Howser MD as a kid? The teenage doctor (and how did anyone ever think that was a good idea?!) played by Neil Patrick Harris has grown up to be the most terrifying of TV villains, the impossibly cruel and LOLable Count Olaf. As per Lemony ‘Daniel Handler’ Snicket’s series of books, every episode features Olaf in disguise, trying increasingly elaborate ways to swindle the Baudelaire orphans, Klaus, Violet and Sunny, out of their fortune. It’s pretty dark stuff tbh as well as visually – think Tim Burton meets Wes Anderson – but it’s also hilarious and very knowing. Better than the Jim Carrey film? Oh yes.
Little Witch Academia
Wizards and witchcraft are eternally fascinating to proto-goth kids, and – if we’re honest – we quite like it too. If your lot have done Harry Potter to death (note: not a spoiler) then it’s time to try something new. Some critics of Potter claim the story bears more than a passing resemblance to Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch, and you could say the same about Little Witch Academia. But this anime series has enough bizarro Japanese elements about it to really blow your kid’s tiny mind, while they wish on everything that they might end up at witch school one day. Us too (not really).
If you grew up slouched on a coach watching early Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants or Ren and Stimpy, you’ll will love love love Adventure Time. Those classics all share the same kid-friendly animation, brilliant characters and top quality writing, as does Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time. Following the post-apocalyptic adventures of last-human-standing Finn and his dog Jake (who can change shape at will) through a mad world of characters, including Princess Bubblegum (a sentient piece of gum obvs), BMO (a video-game console robot), Ice King (a menacing but misunderstood wizard) and Marceline (a rock music-loving vampire). But the main thing you’ll love about Adventure Time is how much is in there for adults. Now finishing up as a TV series but with a movie and spin-offs to come, watch this slice of genius now. Mathematical!
Almost Naked Animals
Picked as one of People Magazine’s top children’s shows, Almost Naked Animals does exactly what it says on the tin. Really. Imagine an animated world, a tropical resort called the Banana Cabana (steady) if you will, populated entirely by funny animals who have shaved off their fur and wear only underclothes. The manager of the Banana Cabana (and leader of a misfit crew) is a dog named Howie. And, tbh, that’s all you need for gaffs. This is a charming and ridiculous cartoon whose central premise – the animals are almost naked! Laugh loudly! – never gets old but neither do the jokes.
Are your lot inexplicably obsessed with Halloween and all things spooooooky? Then they will love this as will you. Written by Giles Pilbrow (one of the original Horrible Histories team), you can expect chuckles-a-plenty on Scream Street. Central character Luke has shown werewolf tendencies, meaning his family must relocate to Scream Street where their neighbours include zombies, mummies and vampires. The rest of Luke’s family aren’t werewolves, however, and are not exactly happy about their new address. The slick stop-motion animation is a joy to watch while the jokes will have you grinning like Pennywise on helium the whole way through.
Teen Titans Go!
Based on the DC Comics superhero sidekick team, Teen Titans Go! follows the adventures of the young Titans, who live in Jump City when they are not saving the world – and there’s the hook. The team lives together! As teenagers! Alone! Without adults who intrude! This fact alone makes the series complete and utter catnip for kids, but combined with the show’s general nihilistic madness you’re looking at a winning combo. Being so immersed in the DC world means endless in-jokes to listen out for, along with cameos from some of your favourite superhero characters plus loads of cute easter eggs for the nerdy dads (and dadettes) out there. If you enjoy the TV series, the full-length film Teen Titans Go! To The Movies! is out this July which, if the new trailer is anything to go by, will be funnier than anything DC have ever released. Even Green Lantern.
Now where to start with Squid Girl? She’s a squid (you can tell by the tentacle hair) who emerges from the sea with an evil plan to take over Earth from the humans, as revenge for polluting the ocean. But Squid Girl doesn’t realise how many humans she’s going to have to destroy. While debating this with a family who own a beach cafe, she spots a mosquito and swats it with a tentacle, knocking a hole through the cafe wall. To pay for the damage, Squid Girl ends up working as a waitress in the cafe, learning about what makes humans tick while hurling up squid ink over plates of spaghetti. That’s just the first episode of this cult manga adaptation – and if that doesn’t make you and your Pokémon-obsessed child want to watch this amazing anime, nothing will.
The Mr Peabody & Sherman Show
This cult US cartoon began life back in the 1960s as Peabody’s Improbable History, aired as part of Jay Ward’s classic cartoon compilation The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends. It then morphed into a 2014 film (Mr. Peabody & Sherman) before arriving at its final destination in 2015. The TV series showcases Hector Peabody: business magnate, inventor, scientist, Nobel laureate, gourmand, and two-time Olympic medalist. Oh, and dog (of curse). Mr Peabody adopts human son, Sherman, and together they present a variety show with historical characters as guests. And why not? Classic comedy for all to enjoy (and scratch their heads about).