From Dora to Kai-Lan – what’s up with kids’ television?

Doo—ora, doo-oora, doo-ra, it’s Dora Dora Dora the explorer! As much as it is way to young for me, I have to admit – It is kinda catchy. Anyways, being stuck in the house most of the time watching over my sister and her ‘husband’, Children’s television is something that’s definitely going to come up as a request from these little bundles of annoying/joy (Teehee). It seems that it’s going to be fun to make fun of some kids’ shows considering most of it doesn’t make sense or have any common sense or is very repetitive. But I’ll try to get some non-criticism in there. Also, I don’t know all of the kids’ shows so I can only do a review and/or commentary on those I kinda know.

Dora the Explorer

The huge one – Probably no doubt the largest money maker in merchandising from any kids’ show in Nickelodeon –  Every time you visit your local department store – Dora toys, dolls, markers, costumes, backpacks, Swimwear, blankets, diapers and even band-aids. Just like how Hannah Montana is with tiny to medium size girls in pink/purple t-shirts everywhere – Dora is a world-wide icon -and she’s Spanish too.

Speaking of rainbow...

What makes her and the show so lovable? Well who wouldn’t love a small heroine, filled with rainbow-fulls of positivity – along with her talking backpack, talking map (optional cape), and her companion Boots the monkey. There is no doubt that show is reptitive ; having to repeat specific landmarks on the way to their destination (RIVER-CAVE-YELLOW VALLEY ).

Bridge-Lake-Sunny Mountain!Bridge-Lake-Sunny MOUUUTTAAINN!

Notice how most of the talking objects always say their names repetitively so that kids watching can remember them? I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP I’M THE MMAAAPP. and Backpack too – always having to singing a song with their names repeated at least 4 times – and then onto the ‘helping Dora by providing objects/directions as to where she needs to go’ Dora and Boots also fall into the same routine over and over – “DO YOU SEE THE (insert Swiper/landmark here)?”-“Ah!There it is!”-“We need your help to do (this action)”-“Louder!”-“Yay you did it!” I personally don’t mind it – but if you get  an overdose of this show because of a younger sibling – It certainly deserves a STFU – or for you to throw the TV out the window – whichever is more convenient for you.

What most kids fail to realize is that if the random computer mouse wasn’t there, Dora wouldn’t have made any progress in any of those adventures and ultimately fail. The mouse usually come in on the screen to click on places and objects in plain sight that somehow Dora and Boots can’t see (The need glasses) – well probably because they’re talking to you and looking at the camera.

Random Computer Mouse - would we do without you

And of course – every children’s story needs a villain – in this case, it’s a sneaky fox with a black eye-mask (Wow, such a complicated disguise). What’s different with Swiper the fox is that he’s a villain with an conscience and probably a pushover/lacking assertiveness and aggressiveness considering that all Boots and Dora, well and you too, have to say is “Swiper no swiping” and boom – he says “Oh man” and gives up on his pathetic attempt to steal something from a 8 year old and a monkey in red boots. See, these kind of criminals are what we need in society – that way the world would be so much better – talk to them and they’ll actually put a nice halt to their crime sprees and take up knitting or donate blood to the Red Cross association.

Go Diego Go!


This show is about the cousin of Dora, Diego, who loves animals and loves to save animals, and his adventures to save animals. Same system/structure as Dora the Explorer, especially with the landmarks and the Spanish learning – only difference being that it appeals more to little boys than girls.

Ni-hao, Kai-Lan


Basically, a show about a Chinese girl and her friends/family that helps you learn Chinese. This makes sense considering a great deal of global power has shifted to the hands of China – no longer an underdeveloped country many years ago but a conjunction of countless booming metropolises of economic activity, culture and lotsa other stuff. Also because there are a lot or at least some Chinese people around the world, me being one of them, and being in Canada this fact is well proven. As much asians on the streets as there are water bottles around soccer fields.

Onto the show – a girl named Kai-Lan filled with positivity and energy – her talking animal friends – all very similar to Dora the explorer in a lot of ways – but this show has no villian – the conflicts they encounter are usually about problems in friendship, comprimise, etc. So you can cut out all that map and backpack stuff. What’s funny is that some of the names of the characters/talking animals in the show are the chinese translation for their classification according to Kai-Lan. Therefore – the grandfather’s name is YeYe – which is grandpa in chinese – and her monkey friend is name HoHo (hahaha. reminds me of Tiger Woods Joke) which means, you guessed it, monkey in Chinese.

According to Wikipedia, Kai-Lan is apparently the birth chinese name of the show’s creator – Karen Chau, who grew up in a chinese-american environment – and so the show is based on her childhood memories. She must have had a lot of imaginary friends to create such *airquote*vivid*airquote* characters.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse


It’s the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Come inside, there’s fun inside – and it repeats over and over and over again. This is probably the only show that doesn’t teach you a language other than English – so it kind of have a flow to it – despite the constant pauses to ask the audience for help. Honestly, I think this show the most boring out of all the children’s shows I have watched – yes, it has more characters – but they’re all so 2 dimensional – Donald just keeps being …him, Goofy is goofy, Pluto’s a loyal dog, Minnie and Daisy wears high heels and giggles. They just have no change to them. Mickey is always the leader and the one to solve the problem – everyone just follows along. I don’t know if it’s just that it has the longest history and running time of all the other shows I’ve listed here – but it is not memorable at all, seriously, but then again, I’m not 2-7 years old.

Handy Manny


Talking tools, a handyman who can fix anything wrapped together with some Spanish to learn – all together in a show is not bad. Each of the tools have distinct personality, along with the clumsy candy store owner next door, and the friendly hardware store owner/friend that has everything and charges you nothing. This show is also very routine-like, but sometimes it’s actually fun to see what they would fix every episode. Although the show is all fluff, happy, and something that is nothing but an illusion of that modern society is filled with only nice people. This show does kind of promote problem solving though.

Although we all look back at children’s shows and think they’re stupid – it is something wonderful for the young developing minds of the kids who watched them 😀 Plus, Dora the explorer, Handy Manny and Go Diego Go will probably help me with Spanish next year.

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About Starburst-chan

A blogger, otaku, nerd, loves sweets, often talk to herself
This entry was posted in Critique Madness, Entertainment on Trial and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to From Dora to Kai-Lan – what’s up with kids’ television?

  1. misterblah says:

    mmmmmmmmm well to be honest, dora doesn’t really teach little kids anything. for victims of bullying, just saying something in spanish will not make the bully back down. All the incidents she encounters could have cost her life. Plus she has almost no human friends and all she has is a mysterious backpack, a monkey, a loud map and some stars.
    Finally, where are her parents??? Who taught this child to risk her life just for some dumb quest?

    diego is similar to dora except he has a jaguar as his companion.

    in my opinion ni hao kai lan is a better than dora the explorer since it appeals to the chinese-english population of canada and the u.s. but like other shows, it doesn’t make sense (ladybugs and ants carrying huge objects. While this show shows that China is becoming a global superpower, people like me are worried. No one wants a country with a record of human right abuses controlling the world but seriously, China still has a long way to go before it’s like America.

    mickey mouse clunbhouse is aboslutely boring. it’s basically the same thing over and over and the characters rarely change.

    handy manny, out of all the shows you mentioned is the one that makes the most sense but like you said, always goes through the same routine.

    • Anonymous says:

      Way to be as negative as possible. They are shows for preschoolers. If you dislike it being so unrealistic, what is a 100% realistic show that you would suggest. Do you not watch any movies or tv shows at all? The point is tht its not completely realistic. I a two year old likes to watch a show that teaches her problem solving and adds to her vocabulary, why is there a need to try and dump all over it. The shows aren’t on to entertain the parents. And frankly I think letting my child watch an episode of dora or two while I cook or clean up is fine. I am perfectly comfortable with the way dora is made. The repitition helps my daughter remember the new words instead of hearing them once. She loves to give a speech when dora asks us a question. So what if its not realistic. Neither was harry potter, Inception, the avengers or the hangover. It doesn’t mean that its the freaking devil.

  2. Ah, I remember Dora.. I loved her map- he was my favourite! XD I want a talking map 😀
    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was (forgive me for this phrase, but it needs to be used) an EPIC fail. I don’t think it got many viewers, to be frank :/
    I’ve never heard of Handy Manny or the Chinese cartoon before…
    Anywho, those cartoons might help you with your Spanish exams, but I’ll have to satisfy my thirsts with good old Muzzy instead because I chose to learn German 😀

  3. Linda says:

    SOur stuck watching those like 3 times a day too? Lol. You should try watching Thomas the Tank Engine. And Mickey Mouse is an EPIC FAIL

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