Fall TV preview: Kid-oriented shows
Just because kids like foods that are gross to grownups (I’m looking at you, bubblegum ice cream) doesn’t mean they have no taste at all. Kids can be surprisingly discerning viewers when it comes to TV. This fall’s impressive slate of new kid-oriented shows has a lot to please children as well as their parents — from an adorable claymation sheep to a hyperactive animated antihero battling a villain named Dorkus to a trio of intergalactic escapees bonding together “sym-bionically” to save the Earth. Here are a few shows to watch for:
“Timmy Time” (Disney). The stop-motion animation studio behind the beloved “Wallace and Gromit” shorts has created a spinoff from its “Shaun the Sheep” series especially for the preschool set. “Timmy Time” finds an adorable, misadventure-prone sheep named Timmy toddling off to preschool, where he learns valuable lessons about playing nicely with others, waiting his turn, and sharing. Now airing, check local listings.
“Noodle and Doodle” ( PBS Sprout). What’s not to like about a cooking show that features arts-and-crafts projects, a cute puppet (that’d be Noodle; Doodle’s an electronic drawing pad), and a tricked-out double-decker bus? Add in an Earth-friendly recycling message and a pinch of equal-opportunity parenting (it’s the father toting the kids around on the first episode), and you have a winning recipe for pleasing preschoolers that’s not half-baked — or half-bad. Premieres Sept. 25.
“The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” (PBS Kids). Everyone’s favorite stripey-chapeau-sporting feline, voiced by the inimitable Martin Short, takes his pals Sally and Nick — along with fluffy-haired Things 1 and 2 and that poor, long-suffering fish — on various nature-minded adventures in this educational animated show filled with whimsical Seuss-inspired fun and worthy science lessons. Now airing, check local listings.
“Fish Hooks” (Disney). It’s a classic high school comedy — with nerds and party guys and pretty, insecure girls — except that the high school is underwater and the archetypes are all animated fish and other sea creatures. Cute concept —depicting life inside a pet-shop aquarium — with the side benefit of imparting valuable lessons about friendship and self-confidence. Premieres Sept. 24.
“Pair of Kings” (Disney XD). A pair of fraternal twins discover that they’re the rightful heirs to the throne on the tropical island of Kinkow. Somewhere within these two feckless teens — played by Disney Channel veterans Mitchel Musso and Doc Shaw, who make the most of their very funny dialogue — lurks greatness. A coming-of-age comedy that is delightfully shticky and entertaining. Premieres Sept. 22.
“T.U.F.F. Puppy” ( Nickelodeon). Dudley Puppy may not be the brightest animated crime-fighting canine around, but somehow, much to the bafflement of his perpetually perturbed feline partner on the super-secret T.U.F.F. (Turbo Undercover Fighting Force), Kitty Katswell, he bumblingly manages to protect the town of Petropolis from D.O.O.M. (Diabolical Order of Mayhem). If your kids think butt jokes are the height of humor, this is the show for them. Premieres Oct. 2.
“Planet Sheen” (Nickelodeon). A “Jimmy Neutron” spinoff featuring hyperactive antihero Sheen Estevez? It’s better than it sounds. After Sheen finds his way to the planet Zeenu, he encounters a benevolent ruler with a two-faced (literally) daughter, a villain named Dorkus (a moniker that never fails to make Sheen laugh) and an intelligent talking chimp who might be able to help Sheen find his way back home. Premieres Oct. 2.
“Shake It Up!” (Disney). It’s a live-action buddy sitcom for kids — with dancing! — from Clive Thompson, who counts “Laverne and Shirley” and “Bosom Buddies” among his credits. Somewhat standard laugh-track fare, but since characters are key when it comes to buddy shows, it may grow on us as we get to know the two central BFFs, CeCe ( Bella Thorne) and Rocky (Zendaya Coleman). Premieres fall 2010.
" NFL Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core” (Nicktoons): These short, action-packed cartoons about a 10-year-old boy named Ish (loves football, always picked last for the team) may well score a touchdown with sports-minded kids. Ish has been chosen to protect humanity from an evil villain known as Sudden Death, and has been given the physical power of an NFL football player in order to do battle. (He also uses his noggin — clogging up the works of an electronic enemy with some of those foam No. 1 fingers.) The voices of various NFL stars past and present — Sean Payton, Eli Manning and many more — are featured. Now airing, Mondays at 8 p.m.
“Sym-Bionic Titan” (Cartoon Network). This animated sci-fi adventure series from the creator of “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” “Samurai Jack” and “Dexter’s Laboratory” focuses on three escapees from the planet Galaluna — a princess, a soldier and a robot — who land on Earth and go undercover as high school students in Sherman, Ill. They must balance homework and lunchroom politics with the need to fend off intergalactic attacks. To do so, they merge together to form the cyber-giant Sym-Bionic Titan, which capitalizes on each of their individual strengths to become an unbeatable force of good. (TV-PG) Premieres Sept. 17.
“Regular Show” (Cartoon Network): There’s something strangely seductive about this silly slacker comedy featuring a blue jay named Mordecai and a raccoon named Rigby, who “work” as groundskeepers at a park. Part of the charm may be the oddball secondary characters — a lollipop-headed oldster named Pops, an officious gumball machine named Benson and Skips, the Yeti. But most of its appeal lies in the Mordecai and Rigby’s wildly goofy, highly irregular antics.(TV-PG) Now airing; check local listings.
“Gigantic” (Teen Nick). This somewhat soapy teen coming-of-age dramedy stars Grace Gummer ( Meryl Streep’s daughter) as the daughter of two A-list actors making her way, along with her younger brother, through Hollywood’s “It” circles while trying to stay grounded. The show touches on issues like teen sex, teen pregnancy and the soul-eating world of celebrity, and has the good sense to feature a teen character who refuses to conform to Hollywood’s super-skinny standards. (May not be suitable for younger viewers.) Premieres Oct. 10.
“Tower Prep” (Cartoon Network). Creepy, yet compelling, this live-action scripted series follows Ian (Drew Van Acker), a suburban teen who’s been getting into trouble and suddenly, and inexplicably, finds himself in a mysterious prep school he can’t escape. What is Tower Prep? Why is Ian here? And why can’t he escape? Ian soon finds a group of friends, each of whom, like Ian, has a secret special power. Together they try to figure out what, exactly, is going on and how they can break free. Premieres Oct 19.