Six weeks ago, I ordered the entire DVD collection of “The Monkees” TV show to cure my son of his Power Ranger addiction. I’ll explain.
First, a disclaimer: If you’re a parent who doesn’t allow TV, that’s terrific. But this isn’t the blog for you. Kindly go read something else.
We have Netflix, a lovely digital-distribution service that is a godsend for parents of small children. Netflix, in its brilliance, has amassed a huge collection of kids’ TV shows available for on-demand streaming. And around mid-July, I stopped caring how much TV my kid watched. Oh, give me a break. It was a long 12 weeks.
Anyway, Bini had watched this seemingly benign show called “Superhero Squad,” with odd miniature versions of Thor, Hulk and Wolverine. We encouraged superhero worship for a time, because Bini was having nightmares and we hoped that Iron Man and Silver Surfer might make him feel more empowered.
But as you might know, if you watch a show on Netflix streaming, Netflix will helpfully suggest other shows that you might like. And so Netflix suggested that our high-octane little guy might like “Power Rangers.”
I watched a little of one episode with him, and found it to be 1) extremely dorky and 2) really stupid. I couldn’t see how it could hurt, so I let him watch. It was fine for awhile, but then his nightmares came back. Worse yet: He would refuse to go back to sleep. We’d sit with him, read to him, rub his back, play music, all of it. We yelled. We let him come into bed with us, but he still, he’d refuse to go back to sleep. For some reason, we didn’t link the sleep issues with the TV shows.
One day, while I was in the shower, Bini’s “Superhero Squad” ended and Netflix recommended a show called “Ben 10.” He selected it (damn you, iPad fluency!) and watched it. That night, he woke up sweaty and crying about monsters on “Ben 10.” Oops.
I went on Netflix and, after an online chat with a very helpful Netflix employee, changed the settings so that Bini could only see shows for very young children. No longer would he be tempted by “Power Rangers,” “Superhero Squad” or “Ben 10.” These days, it’s all “Wonder Pets” and “Busytown Mysteries.” You can imagine the protests. But we stood firm.
We were driving in the car one afternoon when “Last Train To Clarksville” came on the 60s Siruis station I sometimes listen to. “Mommy, I like that song,” Bini said from the back seat. “Who are those boys singing?”
“Those are the Monkees,” I said. “They’re a band from a long time ago.”
“The Monkees?” Bini laughed. “That’s silly. Are they silly?”
Yes, in fact, they are. Or were. If you’re not familiar, The Monkees were a band formed for a TV show in the mid-1960s, inspired by The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.” I watched it a lot as a kid (it came on before “The Brady Bunch”) and remembered it as a show that was 1) extremely dorky and 2) really silly. But also, lovable and innocent. There were madcap adventures. The villains were usually bungling bank robbers or evil scientists. Davy Jones fell in love with a different girl each episode. And there was music. For Bini, that’s a big selling point.
I ordered the entire “Monkees” DVD collection from some dude in Vermont, and when they arrived, we watched a show together. Bini loved it. LOVED. IT. We’re 13 episodes in and he can (and often does) sing every word to the theme song. His favorite songs are “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “All The King’s Horses.” He’s not partial to Davy Jones songs, because they’re really sappy. His favorite Monkee is Peter, the lovable dunce.
Are The Monkees better than Power Rangers? Hell yes. The show is 47 years old and Bini is completely captivated by it. Do we think the children in 2040 are going to be watching “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?” That’s a future too terrifying to contemplate.
The other upside? Since Bini traded “Superhero Squad” and Power Rangers for “The Monkees” and “The Pink Panther” (oh yes, we’re going there too), he’s had no nightmares. Not a one. Correlation may not prove causation, but we ain’t up at 2 a.m. any more with a recalcitrant child. That’s good enough for me.