Commentary #44: My Life as a PBS Kid


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As a child, my parents didn’t pay for cable TV.

They still don’t have it.


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So, my main source of entertainment, in terms of television, was PBS.


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There are so many shows that came to mind when I was creating this post. I wanted to share a few of them with you, and how these shows have impacted my life.

Arthur (1996-present)


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I read the Arthur books in school and from the library. Reading Rainbow featured one of the books as well. When the show premiered in September 1996, I watched it every day, like clockwork. In the beginning, it was on after school, paired with Wishbone.

Many of these shows have found new life on YouTube and other streaming services (Netflix, etc.) It’s exciting to be able to watch them again.

It’s interesting to watch some of these shows as an adult. With Arthur, I learned about friendship, families, school, reading, and being a kid.

This is one of the few shows for kids that has explored tougher / more adult topics as well – Divorce, bullies, lying, cancer, and even a touch of religion since Francine’s family is Jewish.

Barney & Friends (1992-2009)


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I almost hate to admit it, but I loved the purple dinosaur and all his friends when I was little. There’s a picture of me on the porch of my parents’ house dressed as Barney for one Halloween – It must have been 1992 or 1993.

However, thinking back, the show taught me a lot of good things – Friendship, sharing, kindness, helping others, and so on.

Will you find me showing it to my kids? Not likely. It didn’t take long for the voices, and especially the songs, to get very annoying and corny!

Ghostwriter (1992-1995)


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When I was old enough to watch Ghostwriter, it was in its later seasons. However, I loved the show. It’s set in New York (Brooklyn, specifically), and I loved seeing the team work together to solve the mystery at hand. I remember finding an old composition notebook and creating my own “casebook” to follow along with the show.

This show made me want to put together my own group of friends to solve cases. It also teaches about reading, writing, friendship, family, struggles in middle school, and diversity. I loved that every member of the team was an individual, but they also worked as an awesome team.

The entire series is on YouTube, and I find myself re-watching it once or twice a year. I’ve also dreamed up a little bit of fan fiction from time to time.

Reading Rainbow (1983-2006)


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Reading Rainbow has always been one of my favorites. I’ve always loved LeVar Burton’s personality, and I figured out pretty quickly that he played Geordi on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I’ve always loved reading, and this show made want to read all of the books that were featured – The books that were the centerpieces of the show, and the books that the kids profiled at the end. I wanted to be one of those kids!

I still remember the Russell Memorial Library having special Reading Rainbow stickers on the book covers. The show was funny, entertaining, and showed how reading show literally show you the world.

I haven’t found many full episodes by way of YouTube, but Netflix has the first full season. I hope they’ll add more!

Sesame Street (1969-present, now partnered with HBO)


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Sesame Street has been my long-standing favorite show. Big Bird was my favorite when I was younger. I even had three stuffed versions of him – A small, a medium, and a large that talked with a pull string.

Seeing a mix of new and classic episodes, songs, and shorts on YouTube, it’s fascinating to see how this show has stood the test of time. There was a lot of flack last year when the partnership with HBO was announced. Initially, I didn’t agree with it. But, having researched it, I see why PBS did what they did. I’m still not 100 percent okay with it, but I see the strategy behind it.

This show has so many life lessons mixed in with shapes, colors, and counting. I learned about friendship, family, helping others, good manners, patience, problem solving, and more.

Though not a major character on Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog has been my new favorite Muppet for a while now. Big Bird is a very close second. Cookie Monster, Grover, and Telly round out my top five.

There’s even a fun spin-off series on YouTube called The Furchester Hotel that takes Elmo and Cookie Monster across the pond! It’s adorable and I think it’s great.

Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? (1996-1997)


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I had almost all of the computer games, and I remember eagerly watching the kids travel through time to catch Carmen. I found myself applying some of the history I learned from the show in middle school, high school, and even college!

In college, I was so excited to discover that most of the Time episodes, and almost all of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? episodes (1991-1995) are in full on YouTube.

It’s amazing how I subtly learned geography and history with these two shows. I remember watching more of Time than World, since World was ending around the same time as Ghostwriter. Like Arthur, Wishbone, and ZOOM, this one was a daily after-school show for me if I was able to. 

I dreamed of being a contestant, but I was too young to try out, and it ended before I turned 10. I loved the concept. Recently, I found myself dreaming up some fan fiction about both shows, so I may put those on paper here soon.

Re-watching a lot of the episodes as an adult, I’ve learned a few new things. It’s been awesome to keep learning after all these years. World just celebrated its 25th anniversary!

Plus, I’ve marveled at how crazy the 1990s were – That multi-media computer system!

Wishbone (1995-1998)


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This is another show that focused on reading, but it has an adorable Jack Russell terrier that dresses up as the characters and takes you through the book! Awesome!

I wanted to be Samantha, and have best friends like Joe and David. I even wrote an extensive fiction work for my first-ever creative writing class in college that was basically extended fan fiction of these characters, after the show ended and they started high school.

Like some of the other shows mentioned, the entire series is on YouTube, and I’ve loved re-watching them over the last few years.

ZOOM (1999-2005)


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This was such a cool show. I was a super-fan for the longest time. I even printed everyone’s photos from their website and made my own posters. Yeah, I was that kid.

I loved that it had real kids doing awesome things. I remember making a lot of the crafts, and some of the food. I didn’t have a big group of friends to play a lot of the games, but it was fun to think about.

Some of the seasons are on YouTube, but not all. I’ve found parts and pieces of the first three seasons, and I hope that all of them will eventually be posted. It’s been fun to travel down memory lane!

This was another show that I really wanted to audition for, but then my mom helped me realize that Boston was a long way away from Chesapeake. That was a big bummer!

Regardless, I loved this show. It ended when I was a junior in high school, but I still watched it religiously. I didn’t tell many of my friends, but I still thought it was cool.

That’s all I have! This was such a fun post.

Did you watch PBS?

Did you watch any of these shows?

Do you have any favorite memories of these shows?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

25 thoughts on “Commentary #44: My Life as a PBS Kid

  1. I loved all of these shows, except for Barney! Ha ha, he got on my nerves! Ghost Writer was so good, I would still watch it! I still do watch Sesame Street with my friends kids! 🙂

    • Exactly! Barney’s voice would get stuck in my head and not leave for days. Luckily, most of the kids I babysat didn’t watch it!

      Ghostwriter is possibly my all-time favorite. I’ve really enjoyed watching it on YouTube. The last season got a little weird, but overall, it was awesome. Totally ’90s!

  2. Ghostwriter, Zoom, Wishbone, and Arthur are definitely my favorites. Loved those shows!

  3. I was a PBS Kid myself #90sBabies. I loved Arthur, Reading Rainbow, Between the Lions, Zoom, Dragon Tales, and that show with the lemur, think it was called Zaboomafoo.

  4. Hey!! I haven’t seen a post from you in a while! I hope everything is great & you’ve been so busy with life you haven’t been able to blog, or you were working on this wonderful post.

    I haven’t watched PBS in years. I remember, vaguely, that I loved Sesame Street (what kid didn’t?). I didn’t hear why they moved from PBS to HBO – why was that?

    I’m planning on watching PBSthis Friday (well, I’m DVRing something on PBS this Friday that I’ll probably watch over the weekend), but it’s not a kid’s show. They’re showing a documentary of the musical Hamilton that I’m so freaking excited about!!!! 😀

    • It was a combination. We’ve been super busy recently – We were supposed to have company last weekend, and then that fell through last-minute. Plus, I took a lot of time creating this post!

      They have a partnership with HBO now. The show still airs on PBS, but the episodes were changed to 30 minutes apiece, and PBS won’t get the episodes until nine months after HBO airs them. Apparently, it was some sort of strategic move to bring Sesame Street to more people? That has me scratching my head, still.

      Awesome! I’ve heard so many good things about Hamilton. I like several of the adult shows – NOVA, Frontline, etc. Ken Burns has produced some amazing pieces as well. I hope you enjoy the show!

      • I’m glad that your absence was for good stuff & not bad. 🙂

        That… makes no sense to me. HBO is an add-on channel that costs a lot of $, where PBS is free. Maybe it was more because HBO has more $ to spend on production?

        At least Sesame Street is still on PBS. That’s what’s important, imo.

        Hamilton is freakin’ fantastic, & that’s based entirely on hearing the soundtrack. I’m really excited to see more about the writing & production. They said in some of the press releases that there might be some video of the play!!

        It’s probably the only way I’ll ever be able to afford to see even a scene from it. LOL

        I have Cosmos (the Carl Sagan version) on my Netflix DVD queue. Now I’m looking at the Nova episodes available. LOL

      • How exciting! You should totally write a fangirl blog post on the show!

        It’s painfully expensive! The scalpers are making ridiculous amounts of money!

        Ooooh, Cosmos is awesome!

      • I have so many blog posts ideas right now, it’s crazy. Especially when I take into account how very, very slowly I write lately. LOL

        Still, that’s not a bad idea. I’ll definitely think about it – thank you! 🙂

        I know!! I’ve heard (I’ll admit, I haven’t looked into pricing tickets because I don’t want to be tempted lol) that some tickets right now run around $700!!!

        I feel like we’ve had this conversation before… we’ve definitely talked about musical theater. LOL

        I’m really excited to watch it. Right now, it’s about a dozen slots down on my queue, right after True Blood. LOL

      • Awesome!!

      • Holy smoke stacks… I got curious & decided to look at ticket prices. Most of the tickets are only available through resale &, even though they’re verified sellers & not scalpers, they’re getting scalper prices!!

        Weds at 2pm, random date, the venue only has orchestra seats left & they’re asking for $998 per ticket. Someone reselling an orchestra ticket is $2,202!!!! So, someone sitting in the orchestra is sitting next to someone who spent $1204 less than they did! Then, people reselling tickets are asking $902 for the very last row in the upper mezzanine!!

        It looks like you’re right – people are buying up tickets & reselling them for ridiculous profit. Wowwww.

        I’m never gonna be able to see this play unless they make it into a movie. 😦

      • It’s so sad! People have been going nuts because Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving. So, the tickets with his final performances are immediately inflated because the “original cast” will be changed. It’s insanity.

      • It’s really insane though… 2 grand for a ticket?? & the venue/ticketmaster/whoever lets them scoop up blocks of seats to resell for insane mark-ups? WTH?!

        Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda is on the original soundtrack recording I have & he’s fantastic. Still, his understudy supposedly helped write the play & he performed for the Obama’s… I’m sure he’s fantastic too! (I heard he also survived cancer & living with HIV… what a tough cookie!)

      • Awesome!!

      • And you’re welcome!

  5. Omg. I loved PBS! We didn’t have cable either so channel 12 was my source of entertainment.

  6. I’ve seen all the shows except ghostwriter. I’ll have to check it out. I, however, watched most of these with Jason. I do have faint memories of wishbone, and since our Bailey looks him, I think I’ll revisit some episides. Two of my favorites are George Shrinks and Magic School Bus.

    • Let me know what you think of Ghostwriter. The first episode is called “A Ghost Story.”

      I vaguely remember George Shrinks. The Magic School Bus is one of those shows that will stand the test of time!

      • George Shrinks is the best. I recorded episodes on VHS tapes for Jason, and he recently put them on DVD. I still love watching the episodes (even w/o Jason). I’ll let you know about ghostwriter once I get around to it.

      • Awesome! I think I’ve seen a few episodes of George Shrinks on YouTube. Good times!

  7. Pingback: Tag #40: The Cheesy Goodness Tag – Hot Shot Headlines

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