The Top 10 Best and Worst shows for kid viewers -- From ''My So-Called Life'' to ''Beavis and Butthead,'' what your kids should and shouldn't be watching

By Susan Stewart
Updated November 25, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

The Top 10 Best and Worst shows for kid viewers

To most kids, television is like candy: There are simply no bad choices. If it moves across the screen, they’ll watch it. Which is why parents have to oversee a child’s TV consumption in much the same way they need to monitor what a child eats. Of the two, the job of TV monitor is the one that’s becoming more and more difficult — after all, TV shows aren’t required to post their nutritional content. With that in mind, Kids Extra scrutinized the season’s new offerings as well as the old standbys — programming from the networks and cable channels, shows for preschoolers and young teens. We’ve separated the good programs from the bad, the broccoli from the Super Sugar Pellets.


1. My So-Called Life Best kids’ show? Best show, period. As Life‘s suburban family copes with the gritty issues of a 15-year-old daughter’s coming-of-age-negotiating mature topics such as drinking, sex, and sexual identity-young viewers will feel validated and parents heartened: If this family can survive, maybe we will too.

2. Barney & Friends Granted, the puerile purple host nauseates parents as well as children over 6. But Barney’s not trying to entertain us. Childhood is for children, and they deserve something that is completely their own, unsullied by coy adult asides. Barney is the purest kids’ show on TV.

3. Disney’s Aladdin Rich in detail and comedy, this animated spin-off has all the cleverness of the feature film and most of the same voices. Robin Williams is gone, but Dan Castellaneta (also the voice of Homer Simpson) makes a funny replacement Genie. The cartoon re-creates the magic of the movie — and that’s some trick.

4.Avonlea What does it say about contemporary culture that we get our best female role models from the 19th century? These warm and well-made tales of life in small-town Canada represent the highest achievement of the Little House on the Prairie genre.

5. The Magic School Bus On the wings of a yellow bus, grade-schoolers take fascinating trips through outer space, the ocean, and classmate Arnold’s digestive system. Lily Tomlin, in a vocal tour de force, gives teacher Ms. Frizzle cheery authority and a core of mystery. (How does she get that bus into orbit?) The animated Bus entertains so completely, its viewers won’t realize they’re also learning something.

6. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Hall monitors with abs of steel, the five young Rangers fight crime, prejudice, and pollution to make the world safe for nerds like themselves. Don’t knock this show just because it has been marketed to death — Rangers is that rare mix of high tech and heart.