I wasn’t a big fan of having to transition to digital TV – specially as we had no plans of buying new, expensive, TVs – but the transition was all in all pretty painless (though we did have to spend some extra money on the conveters), and, as a bonus, I got two new TV stations I like.
Once is PBS World, which allows me to catch up on PBS and BBC news programs when it’s more convenient to me, and the other one is Qubo, a channel that shows children’s cartoons all day long. As we don’t have cable, and I do let my TV babysit my kids, that’s quite welcomed.
But what I like about Qubo is the type of programs it has. Many of the cartoons are based on books, such as Babar, Macy and Pippy Longstockings, and others are just very smart. Jane and the Dragon is about a little girl who refuses to be a maiden and tries hard to be a knight.
My favorite show, by far, is Adventures from the Book of Virtues – a show that teaches ethical/moral lessons from stories from around the world. Just a while ago, for example, they had the story of Damon and Pythias, two good friends from Syracuse. One of them stood up against the tyrant of the time, advocating democracy – he was arrested and sentenced to be killed (hey, doesn’t this sound like what’s going on in Iran as we speak?), and he asked as his last wish that he be allowed to say goodbye to his family. The other friend offered to stay on his place, to make sure his friend returned. I loved the story, not just because it teaches about the depth of loyalty and friendship, but because it reinforces the ideal I’m trying to teach my children, that you should stand up to tyranny even on the face of prison or death. I’m not sure that there are many shows around that are willing to tackle such complex ethical issues. And as if that was not enough, the show teaches my kids about important historical figures (like Plato).
The one big problem with Qubo is that all its commercials (between shows, rather than within them, which is a plus) are infomercials for stupid things. Some of them are for children, but many are for adults: furniture warehouses, adjustable beds, gold buyers, etc. They are also terribly long. But I guess that’s the price for fairly good children’s programming.