Sunday, April 17, 2005

Family entertainment

So, through the miracle of the internets I've been watching the new Doctor Who. I was a geeky Who fan back in my teen years. I find the old series to be quite slow now, though maybe I just had all the episodes seared into my brain during my formative years.

But, the show is billed as "family entertainment," as was the old show. Family entertainment in the UK isn't a euphemism for "something the kids will like and adults will tolerate." It generally refers to a show that the whole family can sit around the telly and watch and that has some appeal for everyone, aside from the fact that it keeps the kids quiet for a bit.

Not being a parent I'm obviously not an expert on these things (meaning I could be wrong), but it strikes me that we have no actual "family entertainment." There are things which are more or less family friendly - that is, things parents can watch without worrying about the content if the kids are in the room, and obviously there are Disney-type fare which adults like - but almost nothing really made to appeal to entire families.

But, the UK version of "family friendly" is certainly at odds with what would be acceptable for us. Take the new Who, for instance. The 20ish companion lives with her mother in council flats (public housing), and there's no father to be found. Her mother is a somewhat buffoonish horny middle-aged woman. When an alien ship crash lands in the Thames, the thing to do is to gather the neighbors around the telly and drink a bunch of beer. In other words, parental authority is not exactly what we'd consider to be role model worthy (even though family itself is portrayed in a good light).

Similarly, British "panto," a theatrical Christmas tradition, combines humorous slapstick retelling of fairy tales with raunchy jokes and double-entendres which are supposed to go over the heads of the wee ones, but probably don't. In other words, something no good American parent would dare bring their child too for fear of having child protection services after them.

Anyway, just an observation... add, we do have more movies which fit the bill, though even there not so many.

...flipping on the TV just now I'm struck by the fact that "Malcolm in the Middle" might fit the bill. Is this something your 8 year old watches?