a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Jan, 2008

Pugnacious ???

Posted by mark in: Misc. life

by Mark

Sitting at the dinner table last night and Sarah (age 6) says to her sister “Emma stop being so pugnacious!” With my forkful of food halfway on it’s way into my mouth, I withdraw said forkful and said “Pugnacious?… okay, what do think Pugnacious means Sarah” to which she replied “it means somebody who likes to fight”.

The fork was still suspended midway between my plate and mouth as I processed this sudden leap in my children’s vocabulary. “That’s correct…and where have you heard the word pugnacious before?”. The answer: “Word Girl!”. For those of you who might not be familiar, Word Girl is a fantastic kids show on PBS that features a superhero little girl who uses words and definitions to fight evil doers. It’s a very well done show and I have to confess a comedic attraction to Captain Huggy Face the monkey sidekick. The girls often pause the show and call me to come in and watch the Captain Huggy Face parts of the show.

Which brings me to the point of this post. At what point did Cartoons become educational AND well-produced. I make that distinction because when I was a kid most of the educational cartoons were crap and the regular cartoons really did not have much in the way of redeeming social value.

I can’t think of a single thing that I learned from the cartoons when I was kid…but wait maybe I’m wrong. I did learn the following:

-Anvils are extremely common items and they were used only for dropping on heads. I don’t think I had a clue what an anvil was even used for until I hit 30.

-Related to my last point. All problems were solved with violence. It was the de facto standard. Had a problem with someone. Frying pan to the face. Problem solved.

-Most homes in cartoons were enormous. When Fred Flintstone was running in his house, it had to be easily the length of 3 football fields. I mean really. Count the numbers of “table… chair… lamp… table… chair… lamp” he runs by !

-The laws of gravity NEVER applied. NEVER. I have a good friend who spent too much time reading comic books and decided that it must be possible to go down the stairs without both feet touching them (much like the drawings always showed with both feet in the air at the same time). I still laugh out loud when I picture his family sitting in the living room as he came tumbling down the stairs and landed in a heap at the bottom.

-Children of the 1960’s and 1970’s were not discriminating in their choice of programming. I mean really…Hercules, Rocket Robin Hood, Max the 2000 year old Mouse, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. I could go on. Watch them today, it’s beyond me how they ever made it to air.

To be fair, when I was kid I loved all these cartoons and continued to love them longer than any sane adult should. When I was a teenager and in my early 20’s most of these cartoons became cool simply BECAUSE they were bad. I still can’t help watching Hercules when it’s on. It’s so bad, it’s good ! …and Gumby and Pokey ! Of course, I’d never let the kids watch that garbage. What a big waste of their time !

So how about you. What awful kids shows did you watch as a child ? HR PufnStuf ? Land of the Lost ? The Banana Splits ?

16 Responses to "Pugnacious ???"

1 | porter

January 22nd, 2008 at 5:55 pm


Good post Mark, you are a natural at this blogging thing.
I didn’t watch alot of tv as a kid (even though it was always on because my older brother watched it constantly) so other than the occassional Flintstones or Jetsons I didn’t watch cartoons…I was more of a Sesame Street kind of girl.
Oh and TVO is what the kids watch in our household and I have to agree Word Girl is a decent show…I like that she’s a super hero girl AND she’s smart.

2 | Renee

January 22nd, 2008 at 8:33 pm


HR PufnStuf!!! Man that show used to scare the heck out of me!!

and yes Word Girl is quite popular with our 3.5 yr old and I love how they work in the learning. I’m quite glad we are over the Dora phrase!

3 | Lynn

January 23rd, 2008 at 9:34 am


My kids are a little younger, so we are in the Super Why phase — a great PBS show that teaches basic reading skills. Our 4-year-old son loves it and is learning plenty.

As a kid I only really remember watching a lot of Scooby-Doo. They definitely conform to the air-running theory — not only did Shaggy’s feet rarely touch the ground, he was able to churn his feet, suspended in air, for several seconds before gaining traction. Now there’s a real super power!

4 | Leah

January 23rd, 2008 at 11:05 am


Soooooo… about the kid who read too many comic books when he was young? Have fun playing Wii with him tonight and please remind him not to try any of the Wii moves in real life ;)

5 | Cath

January 23rd, 2008 at 12:01 pm


I grew up in rural PEI with little access to good TV … but I do remember one half-cartoon half-puppet show called Bixby and Me (I just remember that they used to say ‘Bixby says ‘REEEE-lax’ and everyone would stretch like the 1970s yoga hippies they undoubtedly were). I’ve never met anyone else who’s seen this show, though, so maybe it was a figment of my imagination …

6 | Mark

January 23rd, 2008 at 12:04 pm


Nope. Apparently NOT a figment of your imagination Cath.


7 | Caroline Ives

January 23rd, 2008 at 12:46 pm


Hercules, hero of song and story!
Hercules, winner of ancient glory!
Fighting for the right, fighting with his might;
With the strength of ten, ordinary men!
Hercules, people are safe when near him!
Hercules, only the evil fear him!
Softness in his eyes, iron in his thighs;
Virtue in his heart, fire in every part of
The Mighty Hercules!

8 | curlywurlygurly

January 23rd, 2008 at 2:15 pm


I was a fan of Tom & Jerry, Woody Woodpecker (the nice Woody–not the one where he was a wiseass with a super-long beak), Pigs in Space, The Electric Company, and one non-cartoon kid’s show that ran locally in the New York City metro area during the late 70s/early 80s called The Magic Garden. Oh how I loved that show. The premise was simple: Two hippies in a ‘garden’ with their guitars and their imaginations. Oh, an a squirrel puppet named Sherlock and a giggling patch of flowers aptly named The Chuckle Patch. You just can’t make this stuff up. It was the best! :)

9 | Wes

January 23rd, 2008 at 6:52 pm


When is this “Word Girl”show on..it sounds fun.

10 | juls

January 23rd, 2008 at 7:11 pm


Being French Canadian, I grew up on Barbapapa and Les Stroumpfs (or Smurfs for the anglos). On the English side, my favorite was Scooby-Doo. I think they jumped the shark thought when “guest stars” started to appear. As for non-cartoons, nothing beat the Muppets. I still love watching it!

11 | mel

January 24th, 2008 at 8:02 am


Awful kids show: Pee Wee’s Playouse

Awesome kids’ show: Reading Rainbow (ahhh, Levar!)

Best show I watched in grade one that wasn’t a kids’ show: that’s a tie between Knight Rider and McGyver

12 | Jen_nifer

January 24th, 2008 at 9:47 pm


The Hillarious House of Frightenstein. Live action, very cheesy, even then.

I watched Hercules, Rocket Robinhood, and Mighty Mouse too. Slim pickings back when we only had 13 channels.

13 | Miss Vicky

January 25th, 2008 at 9:33 am


Jen_nifer, you can get the complete Hilarious House of Frightenstein on DVD. I did :)

14 | Ern

January 29th, 2008 at 11:01 pm


Cath, Bixby and me definitely not a figment of yer imagination, I remember it as well yet not so well but I remember so it was real, I think it was on weekdays on cbc. Bixby sez reeelax!!

15 | Heather

April 10th, 2008 at 12:45 pm


This first comment is for Cath…I remember watching Bixby….I remember in grade 1 the teacher would make us watch it and I remembering thinking how awful it was. I also remember Shanty Town that came on Sats and other then the craft time with Kaity, it wasn’t too exciting either.
I must say though Seasme Street was very educational….when I first started school at the age of 5 my teacher asked me to count as high as I could for her I did it in French for her. My family was soo not French Seasme Street & CBC for me as a child introduced me a lot of Aboriginal / French culture which I have a great appreciation for today. For living on the other side of the tracks I was exposed to a whole world of culture.

16 | Michael

September 18th, 2008 at 3:58 pm


“Cath” who mentioned Bixby…. I watched it as a child. I remember the theme song tune in my head too. I am also from PEI (living in Quebec). I think it was a maritime thing?

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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