The Decline of Children’s TV
There is a trend in preschool animated series where all character must be smiling at ALL times. Even when the story and voice acting would suggest some sort of serious emotion producers/execs ask to have the character smile. It’s like they are scared to show anything remotely real to children and it creates a sinister and weird environment that seems to me MORE harmful to children than showing them genuine stories where the characters go through actual emotions that they can relate to.
In my mind some of the greatest british kids TV came out in the 60’s and 70’s from dudes working out of sheds in their gardens with little editorial control and absolute creative control.
Oliver Postgate describing the process:
We would go to the BBC once a year, show them the films we’d made, and they would say: “Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?” We would tell them, and they would say: “That sounds fine, we’ll mark it in for eighteen months from now”, and we would be given praise and encouragement and some money in advance, and we’d just go away and do it.
This is a far cry from the industry as it is today. I think the problem is how much money is at stake in these things. Most children’s shows cost millions to produce and consequently they have pressure to make money and they also have big companies funding them who are scared of offending/upsetting/off-putting anyone.
Image comics was founded because of this exact sort of thing. The founders were making the top selling comics at Marvel having complete creative control and doing really fun things with their stories – but as soon as the sales figures came in and the exec’s saw how popular they were, the next book in the series was carefully controlled and under scrutiny. Which completely ruined the creator’s ability to produce a good product.
Given the internet’s democratization of content creation – I think, like comics – kids TV could benefit from independent producers making animated content for very young audiences. It is not something I have seen as of yet but I am very interested in pursuing it myself. My Defunct children’s story is something I hope to bring to animation, I just need to find an audience that wants to see it happen. I will be releasing the eBook of Defunct later this week for free download.