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Makes Me Want To Wag My Tail

This is not for the moms who spend time with their young kids in the organic garden, picking herbs for the homemade soup they’re going to make for tonight’s dinner. This is not for the moms whose kids make origami cranes while they knit their children’s fall wardrobe. This is not for moms whose children make all of the Christmas wrapping paper using homemade raw-potato stampers. If that’s how you and your little kids spend your time, I salute you. I bow in your general direction. See ya later.

I’m talking to the moms who, desperate to get something done, park the kids in front of Nick Jr. for an hour (ok, two). The minute it starts, you know what’s going to happen in today’s Dragon Tales, you know which is your favorite Backyardigans, you can hum along to Little Bear, because you know every lovely classical riff in their arsenal. If you’re like me, you know the audio track of every show, but you rarely actually look at them. But sometimes…it’s worth it.

This is my list of the hottest guys in pre-school programming. The disclaimer goes like this: I haven’t watched everything out there, so I haven’t seen every guy. In our house we gravitate toward Nick Jr. (the gold standard, for me), Playhouse Disney, and PBS Kids. And it’s just my taste, so your mileage may vary. But I have to give props to the guys who brighten my morning in a way that I just can’t explain to the kids.

4. The Kratt Brothers, Zaboomafoo. Twice as much fun for me than any other show, Zaboomafoo features Chris and Martin Kratt. The Kratt Brothers. They are a welcome burst of friendly testosterone in my day. Good-looking and dressed in t-shirts and khaki shorts, they jump, leap, run and climb with their live-action animal friends. Sometimes they get wet. Completely unafraid to make fools of themselves, they are all the more endearing. And, you know, sometimes they get wet. Really wet. As you might expect from extremely active nature-lovin’ guys, they are in very, very good shape. I’d like to help them find their maximum heart rates.

3. Steve Burns, Blues Clues. Yes, Joe’s cute. I like Joe. I have no problem with Joe, but I’m a Steve girl myself. For years, Steve Burns was the host, and only human, on Blue’s Clues. Not conventionally handsome, he was the Jon Stewart of preschool TV. Way smarter than his material, his wit could not be contained by a striped green polo. Steve was brilliant in the way he delivered his lines --- so that the funny and sophisticated would come through. I always felt like he was playing to his very short audience, but winking at me. (Yes, just me.) One thing I loved about Steve was that he was 100% committed to his character. He played it completely real. Not as a goofy caricature, but an actual Steve in this actual world. Subtle, sly, smart, adorable. He was the thinking mom’s TV crush.

2. Magnus Scheving as Sportacus, Lazytown. I mean, come on. Have you seen this guy? Built like a god (a god, I tell you), skin-tight sporty-blue superhero suit, cute/not-too-devilish smile. He could lift you and your baby-weight over his head like you were Sasha Cohen. Champion of good nutrition, fresh air, and general moving around, he teaches great habits to your kids in between back-flips, split jumps and one-armed handstands. Sportacus is strong and incredibly graceful. My favorite scene is always the teaser (aptly named here) where he shows off his incredible gymnastic abilities: flipping, twisting, balancing, for the purpose of, let’s say, making a healthy breakfast. It’s a blast. And he’s actually a great character: masculine, but benign --- heart in just the right place. Plus, a delicious accent. Sportacus is always smiling and upbeat, but don’t you wish you could, you know, wipe that smile off his face?

1. Michael E. Rodgers, Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Now, to beat Sportacus, who is, like, perfect, you have to have some mojo, and this guy does. TATMJ is a seriously flawed film, with a plot so convoluted that its cute little characters are forced to chugga-chugg all over the movie spouting adorable exposition just so you can keep up. And you still can’t, until you’ve seen it about 43 times. (Which I have.) Rodgers plays Junior, the rakishly handsome cousin of Mr. Conductor, played with just the right tone by Alec Baldwin. Junior is a bad boy. A sparkling-sweet, affable hedonist whose friends just happen to be talking trains. If Colin Farrell lived on the Island of Sodor, he would be this guy. He has a charming, gorgeous face that employs real features, fantastic highlighted post-coital hair, and what seems to be a very nice body trapped under way too many brass-buttoned clothes. He has a great voice, which is a huge plus for those of us facing the kitchen sink instead of the TV. Soft but manly, it’s a purr of a voice with a beautiful Scottish accent. My favorite scene is the one where he’s goofing around, gets a playful shove from Baldwin, and lands on his back on some sacks of grain. I just like to see him horizontal.

Best of all, these guys fly right under a husband’s radar. Back in the day when I had one, my husband would see me cuddling up with the kids, watching Thomas again. I’m sure he was thinking it was nice of me to sit through that movie for the thousandth time, just cause the kids like it. Yup, I’m really somethin’.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC)
Oh My God. I literally had a conversation with my best friend tonight about Steve from Blues Clues. She doesn't have kids but found herself strangely drawn to the show when he was on it. I have to admit, there was something about him.

And we saw a commercial for Lazytown and it looks a little scary.
Sep. 17th, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
The big problem with Lazytown is the weird puppets that interact with the actors. It kind of takes the show to a more annoying place. The three actors who play "real" people are quite good, especially the guy who plays the villain.
Sep. 17th, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)
It's I Love Mary night---Mary, I love you.

This is great.

I'm totally with you on the Kratt brothers--love their muscular legs, and their willingnesss to mud wrestle. Oh, and their closet. Boys after my own heart.

Lazytown just creeps me out, as does the guy you mentioned.

Blues Clues...I have to admit you make me want to go back for a second look. BC was never G's favorite, so I feel like I didn't pay enough attention to Steve. I did miss him when he left though. Did you ever see him in the episode of Homicide he did? My sis said it was weird to see him as an acotr in a grown up show.

TATMR, hee. G. has been obsessed with trains for almost 7 years now. What a terrible, wonderful movie. I love your description of Junior. Love his accent. He's quite compelling, which adds an odd note to his wisking away of Lily....

I read a scathing review of the movie once that called it Ulee's Railroad. Hee. Do you get the sense that Peter Fonda and Alec Baldwin are looking at each other in those final scenes and saying, "WTF did we get ourselves into?"

Love your whole piece, esp. your description of knowing every nuance of the soundtrack....
Sep. 17th, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)

As I said to gatz, I really don't like the weird puppet characters on Lazytown --- they're so annoying. But I do like the three actors who play the "real" people. Especially the villain, who I think is really talented. I do have a thing for guys who can move well, so he had me from the one-armed handstand. :)

Yeah, "seriously flawed" was meant to be a polite description of TATMR. And yet, like you, I've seen it MANY times. :) Peter Fonda, OMG. He's catatonic! And poor little Mara Wilson...so bad. Didi Conn? I mean, even without the awful script and the awfuller sets, it would be bad. (Especially ironic because the sets on the Thomas videos/DVDs are so brilliantly done.) But I thought Baldwin and Rodgers were wonderful. Baldwin plays his character with conviction, but with bit of lightness and silliness that makes it just right. And Rodgers, on top of the hotness, does a perfect job, even opposite Mara Wilson. (I didn't get any creepiness there, I thought he was just a friendly presence with her.)

I never saw Steve Burns on Homicide, but I read about it. I saw him recently on the little "retrospective" they did for the anniversary of the show, and you would NEVER recognize him. Bald, goatee --- totally not-Steve, which I'm sure suits him just fine. :)
Sep. 17th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
Steve was brilliant in the way he delivered his lines --- so that the funny and sophisticated would come through.
There's a moment in one "Blue's Clues" where the unseen kids are trying to tell Steve that they see a clue, and he "mishears" them and starts listing words that begin with C. One of the C words he lists? Cabo Bianco. :-)
Sep. 17th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC)
Right, I remember that too. Another one that comes to mind is where someone suggests a parade and he says, "I......love a parade." He sings the first word, like he's going into the song. No kid gets that. But I love how he doesn't play to the parents. There's no winking at the camera, he's committed to the role, but you can just see the wheels turning and hear the smart and funny for yourself.
Sep. 17th, 2006 12:16 pm (UTC)
Next time Dot's in the US having massive insomnia, she's gonna turn on PBS Kids and Disneychannel instead of watching Sex and the city ;-)
Sep. 17th, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC)
Wow, nice icon, miss d! Have I not seen that before?

You're probably better off with SATC or something. You have to watch a LOT of kids' programming to find attractive men. A lot.
Sep. 17th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, the Kratt brothers. Mmm. I'm kind of a Chris girl, myself, but every now and then, Martin has a day. It's hard to decide.

I never saw too much of Steve--but you're right, there is something about him. Kind of that geeky-hot thing. I think I still prefer Joe, though, but that may be because he reminds me of my super-nice stepbrother.

Sportacus? I think I'm with edgy...that show kind of creeps me out too. I can kind of see the attraction--but you'd have to get him out of that costume.

I finally saw TATMR just the other day.....could that movie be any worse? I can't imagine what they had to do to bribe the talent in that. But yeah---couldn't take my eyes off Junior. Yum.my.

...then there's my monsters. Sure, they're not human, but they're still kind of sexy, in a furry purple way. ;)
Sep. 17th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
TATMR: I know! So bad. See my reply to edgy, above, on my LJ. It's funny, my kids aren't used to me actually watching their shows with them. I remember one time when one of my favorite Junior scenes came on (yes, I have a list) and I stopped to watch, spatula in hand. It was probably the last scene before he disappears, where he cranks up the rakishly to 11. My daughter looked at me, puzzled. "Mom. You like this movie?" Yeah, honey. Mommy likes this one. :)

Speaking of getting Sportacus out of his costume, I was on nickjr.com once and saw a head-shot of the guy, out of costume, and he's very attractive. Dark blondish, no skinny moustache. Cute.

You're funny about the Kratt brothers. I don't have a favorite. I watch and watch and I just can't decide. Could I have both?

I suppose a monster with a lot of brains and charisma could make me see past the fur. Hard to say. :)
Sep. 17th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
HEE! Ok, I can see most of this! Though I am totally unfamiliar with the Katz brothers... aparently I'm missing out! But Sportacus... yeah I can see that.

I never actually saw T&TMR, my brothers being WAY too old for that when it came out. Thomas was big in our house when Ringo Starr was still Mr. Conductor (and how cool was that!)

And as for Steve... :-) I was in college when Blue's Clues got big. One of the girls on my floor totally fell in love with him! She, her roomate, and my rommate would all get together to watch the show. They'd sing all the songs and do all the dances. I was never sure if they were cute or disturbing!
Sep. 18th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)
What? You mean The West Wing isn't considered children's programming? *crushed*

Hey, she'll only know it was age-inappropriate if someone else tells her, right?

No? Oh, well. Thanks for the list, honey. Now I'll know what is acceptable for viewing pleasure and what is not....
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )