Designer Daddy’s Top 10 TV Shows of the Last 10 Years

March 8, 2020 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

The start of the new decade also marks a couple of personal milestones: becoming a father and the birth of this blog. To commemorate ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’m sharing a series of Top 10 lists throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.

Top 10 TV Shows of the last 10 years

Hey kids, it’s TV time!

As with movies, I knew TV was going to play a big part in the experiences I shared with my child. Regardless of where we’ve watched them – from the couch, on my phone, in the car — these shows have made the biggest impact and produced the fondest memories for this TV-junkie dad and his screengazing offspring.

Note: like my movie list, these aren’t necessarily the top 10 TV shows my son would come up with (he would denounce ever liking anything as baby-ish as Wonder Pets!) These 10 are the programs I regularly watched with my kid, represent benchmarks, or were just plain fun.

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CAILLOU (1997-2010)

Caillou — the kid parents love to hate. I understand the criticism, I do (see gif below). But when my son was very young, this bald little Canuck had a calming effect on my bald little boy. During the most sleep-deprived era of parenting — when all I wanted was some peace — Caillou and his simple storylines always did the trick.

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YO GABBA GABBA!
(2007-2019)

Yo Gabba Gabba! was the zany/cool alternative to the corniness of other live-action shows (I’m looking at you, Teletubbies, Barney and The Wiggles). Created by the lead singer of a superhero ska band (who appear later in this list), YGG combined quirky puppets, a goofy DJ, simple life lessons, celebrity cameos and amazing music. The show’s original songs are insanely catchy, utilizing elements of hip-hop and dance music. Each episode also features an artist performing a short, kid-friendly bop. Devo, The Roots, The Killers, MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Hot Hot Heat, of Montreal, Solange and The Shins are just some of the artists that have lent their hipster cred to the show… or was it the other way ’round?

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DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD (2012-present)

An animated spin-off of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger features the characters from The Land of Make Believe and their offspring. It’s a wonderful, colorful world of diversity and acceptance, all of which made it extra special in our house. So special, we even filmed a promo spot for PBS.

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Bonus: A gold star if you’ve seen us on TV! Leave a comment with what state you’ve seen the ad.

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WONDER PETS! (2005-present)

To this day, I’ll sometimes shout “What’s gonna’ work? TEAM-WORK!” to remind my son the importance of cooperation… or perhaps annoy him with the Wonder Pets! adorable, operatic theme song.

A 3-time Emmy winner, Wonder Pets! features a trio of classroom pets who don capes, build flying cars out of toy parts, and rescue baby animals, all while demonstrating the benefits of — you guessed it — teamwork. My favorite episode is “The Wonder Pets Save The Beetles,” wherein they retrieve a band of four young beetles trapped in a familiar “yellowish” submarine.

Wonder Pets - Top 10 TV Shows of the last 10 years

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BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (2008-2011)

Every generation of kids needs their own Batman. While my youngster enjoyed the campy antics of the 1960s series, Batman: The Brave and The Bold was much more his speed. Each episode featured The Dark Knight teaming up with a fellow hero for some lighthearted adventure. I loved it for introducing my son to a cavalcade of lesser-known comics characters. He loved it for the action and humor, and it’s almost-as-good-as-the-original theme song.

Wonder Pets - Top 10 TV Shows of the last 10 years

Bonus: B:TBATB features one of my favorite iterations of Aquaman — a boisterous, seafaring adventurer (and dad) whose catchphrase was a bellowing “OUTRAGEOUS!”

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THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW! (2012-2014)

The Aquabats started out as a novelty ska/punk/new wave band, masquerading as a team of superheroes. This ingenious silliness morphed into a kids’ show that was equal parts action movie, mosh pit and acid trip. The creators (who also spawned Yo Gabba Gabba!, see above) let their freak flag fly with a litany of monstrous foes, wacky faux commercials, and kick-ass tunes.

While the show may have gone off the (TV) air in 2014, you can still rock out to new episodes on YouTube.

Favorite monster: the Floating Eye of Death; Favorite commercial: Little Brother; Favorite song: “Shark Fighter,” (starts at 9:18), which features my close, personal friend Rhys Darby.

TEEN TITANS GO! (2013-present)

More than any other during the last decade, Teen Titans GO! has been the GO-to show for me and my sidekick to watch together. The combination of slapstick humor and superhero shenanigans are the perfect recipe for some nerdy, father-son TV bonding. We’ve been watching it so long that my 10-year-old recently made a comment about the “old school” episodes being better than the new ones. Between the catchy songs (“Waffles, Waffles, Waffles”), annoying catchphrases (BOOYAH!), and hilarious guest stars (Weird Al as Darkseid), the show keeps us GO-ing and GO-ing back for more.

Teen Titans GO!

Yeah, this is at the movie premiere — but it wouldn’t have happened without the show, so it counts.

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POWER RANGERS (1993-present)

There have been a bazillion iterations of Power Rangers (26 and counting). And thanks to cable and streaming services, my son has seen at least one episode of every season. Wild and ridiculous and campy and tacky — is it any wonder I came to love it? Though that also may be due to watching my kid mimic all the endlessly unnecessary and overly-dramatic fighting moves.

Power Rangers

My son and his best friend striking their best Power Rangers pose.

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THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL (2011-2019)

The Amazing World of Gumball took some time to grow on me. Yet the more I watched, the more I came to appreciate the show’s sly humor and snarky sweetness. Now it’s one I’m always happy to plunk down and watch with my son. While inspired by shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy, Gumball has a more childlike (and appropriate) sensibility and focus. The show’s creative genius is also on display with its mixture of various styles of animation and live-action, forming the most colorful — and yes, amazing — cast of characters.

 

STRANGER THINGS (2016-present)

Thanks to video games and YouTube, father/son TV viewing has dwindled over the last couple of years. I suppose that’s normal, but it does make me miss all the boob-tube time we used to share. Luckily we still have Stranger Things. This show ticks all our family’s pop culture boxes: fantasy, horror, nerdy kids with superpowers and copious amounts of 80s nostalgia. While we’ve tried to get Jon to watch other shows with us (Lost in Space, The Mandalorian), only Stranger Things seems to hold his attention… as well as a special place in all our upside-down hearts.

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Honorable mentions:

Super Hero Squad, LEGO Ninjago, Odd Squad, Transformers: Rescue Bots, Walk the Prank, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Phineas & Ferb, Loud House, Gravity Falls and SpongeBob SquarePants — These didn’t make the Top 10 TV Shows cut, either because their viewership was short-lived or because they drove me batshit crazy. Or thankfully in some cases, both.

What have been the favorite shows you’ve watched with your kids?

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