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I am the father of a preschooler, which means I can plead insanity when accused of various minor social transgressions. It also means that the television is tuned to PBS anytime from the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Your average Horrible Parent knows this, because “television” sometimes equals “survival” for anybody with a four-year-old. (No, the teevee is not on for three hours straight. Usually.) And, to be honest, the PBS morning lineup—as broadcast by WETA and MPT—is actually kinda harmless. I’ve made my peace with it.
But the theme songs to the shows? If they have something in common, it’s this: They are dastardly earworms disguised as Middle American ditties. I will achieve catharsis by dissecting them. Behold:
5. Arthur: The real Ziggy Marley sings fake reggae as if the ’90s never ended. Sometimes I find myself absent-mindedly analyzing the arrangement, trying to discern if any of the musicians actually spent any time in the same room. Then I eat toast.
4. Martha Speaks: As far as I can tell, Garrison Keillor had absolutely nothing to do with this song, but it is packed with quirky prairie bonhomie and jazzy flair. But if you clench your fists and concentrate really hard, you can imagine the Fat Albert theme song comin’ in on a giant warplane and droppin’ funkbombs on it. The End.
3. Curious George: A competent romp by Dr. John. It communicates the potential violence of a chimpanzee much better than the Jack Johnson stuff from the movie. HEY JACK JOHNSON, IF THEY MAKE A THREE-TOED SLOTH MOVIE, YOU SHOULD MAKE SONGS FOR IT.
2. Sid The Science Kid: Uncut cocaine is the only explanation for this:
1. Super Why: Do not dwell on its surface sheen of self-help-expo pizazz and uptempo righteousness. If you do, you eventually will encounter a chasm of emptiness inside of you. Instead, think of the song as a Chic jam that really lost its way. My hope is that someday a bright teen will post a “bass cover” of it on YouTube. Like, y’know, instead of covering Kansas or Mudvayne. Those are pretty funny, though.