The Top 10 Classic Children’s TV Shows of All Time

by Samantha on January 23, 2012

They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

If you’ve watched some of the children’s programming on the tube lately, you may agree that the shows leave a lot to be desired, and then some.
Sure, there are children’s shows that are entertaining, but I don’t think that I’m alone in stating that they don’t make them the way they used to. It was a different time and a different world for children. A certain innocence was common regardless of which shows were airing, likely due to the not-yet-available Internet and an intrepid tool called “Google.”
And while there are some good shows on now, they pale in comparison to some of these beauties. Thankfully, YouTube has brought them back for all of us to enjoy.
I recently did a post about the Top 10 Classic Children’s Movies of All Time where some of the oldies but goodies of film (in my opinion) were profiled.To date, that post has been one of my more popular ones, making me think more about the images and shows that our children are watching regularly. Remembering what I watched as a child made me a bit misty-eyed and reminiscent for a time where watching Saturday morning cartoons was a treat. This, mainly because there were no digital recording devices to capture the shows that we missed to watch later, as well as no 24-hour TV. But I digress.
Certain shows, such as the Warner Brother cartoons, including Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and Tweety Bird cannot be replicated. They’re just plain brilliant in their complexity and their entertainment value. Not to mention the fact that these classics from my youth largely formed my opinion on many things, including the ability to defy the laws of gravity by pausing for a few seconds mid-air after being pushed off a cliff.
We’ve come a long way in terms of what entertains our kids these days. Children are so much more sophisticated and accordingly, their expectations about what will amuse them follow suit. It’s too bad, really, because they’re missing out on some really, really good stuff. And because I’m always on a constant quest to expose some of these gems to kids today, this post came to be.
So without further ado, here are my picks:
1) The Flintstones
The Modern Stone-Age Family is what they were called and they really packed a punch when it came to entertaining. Set in prehistoric times with all of the amenities of modern life, the Flintstones not only entertained us with the ridiculous antics of Fred and Barney, but also made the adults think about their own marriages, relationships, money and whether or not it was worth it to join a membership-only club (think Water Buffaloes).
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2) Looney Tunes – Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and others taught us so many lessons, they’re too numerous to count. Some examples include: Gravity is not always in force; classical music often sounds better as a backdrop to cartoon characters’ ridiculous antics, and last but not least, the fact that some rabbits like to dress up in drag – and often.

 

Bugs Bunny: The Rabbit of Seville (1950)


3) The Brady Bunch - Sure, it was inane, ridiculous and completely implausible that a blended family could all get along so amazingly well most of the time. Not to mention the fact that the house was never a mess, there were no piles of laundry to be seen (there’s no way that Alice the housekeeper could have kept on top of it) and all of the children loved their respective step-parent with nary a tinge of resentment, jealousy or otherwise. But I digress. The show was brilliant in it’s ability to make all of us kids sit up and notice and hope against hope that we too could have a saccharinely-sweet existence just like the Brady kids. Oh, and perhaps some groovy bell-bottoms as well.
The Brady Bunch: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

4) The Wonderful World of Disney - From the opening credits where Tinkerbell touched her magic upon the Disney castle, to the iconic strains of “When You Wish Upon A Star,” most of us kids were hooked. Sunday evenings, just after dinner, was the time to crawl up onto the couch and tune in to the latest story from Walt Disney. The man was a genius and the stories were pure magic.
The 1970′s Opening Theme For The Wonderful World of Disney


5) Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom - The Sunday night time slot started with this gem, which ended just before The Wonderful World of Disney. Zoologist, Marlon Perkins served as narrator, while his sidekick, Jim (Fowler) did most of the “heavy lifting.” This was thrilling for a kid, as Jim got pretty close to some wild and seemingly deadly animals. Check it out:
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Clip


6) Classic Sesame Street - Anyone who’s ever seen the original from back in the day will attest to its brilliance. Not only did it engage the smallest children with the most hummable tunes around, but it did so in the most engaging way, with the coolest puppets (Muppets), a multicultural cast, and amazing guest stars that seemed to truly enjoy their gig on the show.
Classic Sesame Street Opening Theme


7) The Electric Company - This was a “hipper” version of Sesame Street, with Morgan Freeman as the “Easy Reader” well before he drove Miss Daisy anywhere. Rita Moreno and Bill Cosby rounded out the cast and they were, well, cooler than cool. This show made any kid who watched it want to learn how to read and write.
Classic Electric Company Opening Theme


8)Rocky and Bullwinkle - The zany antics of a moose and a squirrel (or was he a beaver? The jury is out) were often ridiculous, but always entertaining. Why and how a moose could become so intrepid, and engage a rodent like Rocky is beyond me but hey – it worked. Boris & Natasha, Peabody and Sherman just added to the flavor of this great cartoon. It still holds up today, in my opinion.

Rocky and Bullwinkle Opening Theme

9) Scooby Doo - “Scooby Scooby Doo – Where are You?” That was the mantra and theme song that began the grooviest show on the air in its time. Scooby, Shaggy and their motley group of friends may indeed have been a bit “mellow,” but they always seemed to figure things out.

 

Classic Scooby Doo Theme Song

10) Big Blue Marble - An incredibly simple idea that really worked. The show followed a “day in the life” of different children around the world. In showing our differences, the program managed to teach us that we really are more similar than we might have thought. Not to mention the fact that this show also had the most singable theme song.
Theme Song From Big Blue Marble
 


So there you have it – some TV shows that were worth their weight in entertainment value, and in some cases, learning as well. They sure don’t make them like this anymore.
What are some of your favorite TV programs from your childhood? What other shows should be added to this list, in your opinion? Please answer in the comments, below :)

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

LeFemmeMonkita January 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Love your list and I agree with everything on it! Thanks for the clips, too! My husband and I were born in the same year, so it's always fun to swap stories about our endless hours of TV viewing as kids. We occasionally sing the "Burger on a Bun" song when appropriate and I am a huge Bugs Bunny fan!

One more show I'd add: Zoom! (as in, "C'mon and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom-a-Zoom!")

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Samantha January 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Omigoodness, you caught me on the Zoom reference!! I was going to include it as it was one of my all-time faves as well, but had to pick from the list, so it wasn't included. I too loved that show as a child. I think that I might do a "part 2" to this list soon, so Zoom will definitely be on it! Thanks for commenting :)

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Jen May 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

No list would be complete for me without this uber childhood fave: Mr Dressup! Ernie Coombs was brilliant with his approach to imaginative play and crafts. Craft supplies used were what kids/parents really COULD have kicking around the house; projects weren’t complicated beyond kids’ ability level; Tickle Trunk costumes and skits were simple, amusing and doable by anyone. What youngster doesn’t love to dress up? I still think fondly of time spent enjoying the antics of Casey and Finnegan. Now my near 6 year old does too. Win:win.

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Samantha May 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm

You’re so right, Jen! I loved Mr. Dressup – there’s nothing like him and hasn’t been since he was on the air. The idea of making crafts out of everyday household items was one that so many parents appreciated. Along with the CBC lineup, let’s not forget The Friendly Giant as well – another classic. Hmmm…I may have to write another post about additional children’s classics. Thanks for the reminder!

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Patricia Nolan-Hall (@CaftanWoman) May 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Those are the classic shows families can bond over. Great post.

I’ve been enjoying this site very much and forward to you the 7X7 Link Award. Know it is sent sincerely and enjoy it at your leisure.

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Pamela August 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Watched all of these except for the Big Blue Marble. Great memories! Watched Captain Kangaroo & Mr. Rogers Neighborhood too.

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Samantha August 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Pamela – the Big Blue Marble was great! You can find episodes on YouTube. Definitely worth checking out :) Thanks for commenting.

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