Tag Archives: TV

The In-Between

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Will is 8. Sam is 2. They don’t share very much in common and the things that do overlap seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate.

The 8-year-old is proving to be the toughest to gauge right now. I watch with a mixture of amusement, admiration, pity, and sadness as he fluctuates between little kid and young adult. He wants so badly to be grown up some days, but at the same time he’s only 8. He is in that No Man’s Land of wanting more responsibility, but immediately reverting back to being a little kid when it proves too much for him to handle. He rushes boldly out into the land of big kids, only to retreat to shelter of childhood when that older world leaves him longing for the innocence back where he came from.

All of that means it’s been an especially rough time trying to get Will to play nice with Sam.

Will is too cool to play with “babies” most days. He wants to ride his motor scooter, his bike, and practice his Taekwondo. When we ask him to play with his little brother we’re most often met with eye rolls I thought wouldn’t start until he was a tween, and sarcastic remarks that sound disturbingly familiar (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in that regard).

I know the age difference (5.5 years) is going to make that kind of thing inevitable, but I also want my kids to find more common ground. So how do we accomplish that?

By watching TV.

I know that’s not the new age, popular answer. I know I’m suppose to preach screen-free child-rearing and start opining on how technology and electronics are ruining our kids and blah blah blah. Well I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.

Our Netflix sessions routinely bridge the gap between Will and Sam right now. Obviously I can’t watch The Avengers with Sam like I can with Will, but thanks to the broad array of programming on Netflix I am able to find things we can all watch as a family.

If you have kids with a fairly big age gap, consider these titles to satisfy both of them.

oscaroasis

Will stumbled on this kooky cartoon a few years ago and he still loves it. Even better, he’s passed that love on to Sam, who also can’t get enough of Oscar, Harchi, Buck, and Popy. It’s a nonverbal cartoon and I can hear the hysterical laughter from upstairs as they happily watch it together.

wildkratts

All kids love animals no matter their age, and my kids are no exception. Martin and Chris Kratt, the two zoologists featured in this show, have taught my children an AMAZING amount about animals. We went to the zoo recently and I was reading from one of the signs near the exhibit, and Will said, “Dad, I know this already. It was on Wild Kratts.”

princessbride

Yeah yeah, I know. Some of you think the Princess Bride is too inappropriate for my 8-year-old, nevermind my 2-year-old. Well you know what? Pipe down and keep your judgment to yourself. This is one of my favorite movies and it is awesome for everyone. It’s fun, adventurous, filled with memorable lines, and hasn’t stopped being entertaining after all these years. It also keeps both of my boys entertained at the same time, even if we do have to skip by the ROUS (Rodent of Unusual Size). So yes, I will have fun storming the castle thankyouverymuch.

What movies/shows do you use to bridge the gap between your kids?

StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

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Netflix Has Helped Perfect the “Night In”

bundypants

A night in in my 20’s meant defeat. It meant I was either being lame, I was too broke to go out, or none of my friends were around to hang out with me. Now, a decade and three kids later, I hold my nights in sacred.

I’m going to be honest with you and I won’t sound like the world’s greatest dad in the process. You ready? My night in only begins when my kids are in bed. Why? Because I love watching TV — binge watching TV to be exact — and that’s impossible with kids around. So when my personal tornado of insane monkeys is finally asleep in their respective cages, only then does my night in begin.

And it is glorious. Like Al Bundy hand firmly in pants while sitting on the couch wonderful.

I love/hate Frank Underwood and simultaneously root for him and curse his name during House of Cards. I laugh uproariously with Kimmy Schmidt. I marvel (see what I did there??) at the superbly choreographed fight scenes in Daredevil, and I hurt with every ordeal that befalls Jessica Jones.

I love Orange is the New Black so much I’m starting to think prison might not be such a terrible place. The gorgeous scenery and ugly family secrets in Bloodline leave me slackjawed, although it does make me feel better about my own family. I laugh at and mock Aziz Ansari in Master of None for all of his Millennial tendencies, until I realize I’m more like him than I care to admit.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for the wonderful slow burn and steady hand of Longmire, while other times I want the instant hilarity and raucousness of Scrotal Recall. And I’m always up for a martini or two with Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men.

Although I certainly have a Fuller House than I used to, my TV time is even more sacred which is why my nights in are held in such high regard. I lay on the far side of my sectional couch — remote in one hand and a drink in the other — and I binge. The worries disappear and I’m lost in whichever world I choose for the night.

That my friends, is the real beauty of Netflix when you’re a parent.

StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

 

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My Family’s Netflix Adventures

Croods

A funny thing happened when my family and I were checking out Dawn of the Croods, a recently released Netflix Original.

As my whole family enjoyed a little bit of downtime in between Taekwondo, basketball, and swim lessons, we delighted in the adventures of our favorite prehistoric family (sorry Flintstones). Suddenly I had a thought, and said “Wouldn’t it be awesome to live back in this time and be a cave family?”

The rest of my family thought I was nuts, but I love an adventure. And as the Croods prove, back then just leaving the cave was the adventure of a lifetime. They couldn’t Google everything or use Wikipedia to get a plethora of information at the drop of a hat. They had to experience life and figure it out on their own. When you think about it, it’s the ultimate adventure every single day. A little dangerous? Sure. But that unpredictability just makes it all the more interesting.

Naturally, this started quite the debate as my family members then took turns describing which Netflix world they’d enter if they could have their own imaginative, TV-inspired adventure.

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My wife, MJ, was the first to chime in and she knew exactly where she’d be off to — Berk.

For the uninitiated, that’s the village in the Netflix Original How to Train Your Dragon, Dragons: Race to the Edge. My wife is slightly obsessed with all things HTTYD, and she would love to live in the age of vikings and — more importantly — dragons.

“Are you kidding me? Of course I’d live in Berk. I’d get to fly a dragon and have one as a pet. Who the heck would pass up a chance to fly and own a pet dragon??”

Titanic

My oldest son Will is a little more practical. Don’t get me wrong, he wouldn’t pass up the chance to ride a dragon. However, my analytical 7-year-old is obsessed with documentaries at the moment, and Titanic has his complete focus.

He wants to delve into the Titanic’s Final Mystery documentary and be able to go back in time to April 14, 1912 — the night history’s most infamous passenger ship struck an iceberg and began its slow, deadly descent into the depths of the ocean. Will said he wants to know how the ship hit the iceberg, why it didn’t see it, what the captain and crew were doing at the time, and is interested in the physics of how it actually sank. But he does have one caveat.

“I don’t want to have an adventure on the ship, I want to be on the iceberg. Because I don’t want to die in the cold water.”

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My 2-year-old, Sam, only had one word to describe his most sought after adventure: REVVIT!!

He loves Dinotrux. I mean, LOVES it! And his favorite character by far is Revvit, the tiny “reptool” who fixes the larger dinotrux and is everyone’s favorite little helper. It’s awesome watching Sam get lost in the ridiculously cool world Netflix and DreamWorks brought to life, with dinosaur-machine hybrids roaming the Earth and learning lessons of teamwork and friendship.

makingmurderer

I jokingly asked my 4-month-old Tommy where he’d like to go on his Netflix adventure, not expecting him to answer. But much to my amazement, he gave me one. He didn’t say it out loud or anything — the kid can’t talk, he’s only 4 months old. But I can take a hint.

He looked at me with glazed over eyes, grunted inaudibly, grabbed my car key out of his hand and threw it on the ground, and just then his older brothers farted loudly and blamed it on him. I knew without a doubt that was Tommy’s way of saying he wanted to travel to Manitowoc County in Wisconsin, home to the now infamous Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.

I won’t give you any spoilers or go into detail, except to say you HAVE to see this documentary. It’s insane, and it’ll leave you playing the “Is he guilty or innocent?” game along with the rest of the Internet.

So there you have it, our Netflix inspired adventures for 2016. Where would you and your family choose to go?

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StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an a smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

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The Real Reason The Walking Dead Scares Me

walkingdead

The Walking Dead terrifies me, but not for the reasons you’d think.

It’s Halloween and scary movies/TV shows are all anyone is watching.  AMC’s The Walking Dead (available on Netflix) tops that list for many because it is a thrilling epic involving hordes of flesh-eating zombies that are quickly taking over the world and snuffing out the last bits of humanity that remain. And to make matters worse, some of the people untainted by the mystery plague zombifying the world have turned into violent sociopaths hellbent on killing everyone they meet.

But while there have been countless gut-wrenching death scenes (too often involving our most beloved characters) featuring people being ripped apart by the undead, zombies and gore don’t scare me.

I’m most horrified by the idea of being a parent in a climate of hopelessness.

Rick Grimes leads a band of misfits through the ongoing apocalypse, but first and foremost he has to worry about his teenage son Carl and his toddler Judith. Being exposed to that unyielding and unsafe environment is bad enough, but having to worry about your kids in it? It’s the most terrifying thing I can think of.

Maybe it scares me more these days because sometimes it feels like we’re not so far removed from The Walking Dead.

If you’re a news junkie like I am, it’s difficult sometimes to read the headlines every day and not wonder if bringing three kids into this world is an act of cruelty. Kids are shot to death in schools and in accidents after getting a hold of loaded weapons on a damn near daily basis, yet no one in charge will even attempt to fix the problem. Too many families live in poverty and then have to deal with the added insult of being vilified for accepting handouts.

In the show, the longer Rick is exposed to this environment the more of his humanity erodes. The very meaning of decency changes in real time, and doing the right thing becomes an impossibility because the “right thing” loses all meaning. Rick, in an attempt to protect his family, has gotten dangerously close to turning into the very thing he guards against. After one hits a certain point, sometimes there’s no return.

As a frequent denizen of Internet comment sections, I have seen a lot of ugliness from a lot of people. There’s a certain segment of the population that is honestly looking forward to an end-of-days scenario like The Walking Dead. They secretly (and not-so-secretly) wish for armed revolution. For a chance to overthrow the government. For chaos and insurrection and every man for himself survival of the fittest. They pine for the day they can put their stockpile of weapons and their bunker to good use.

The storylines in The Walking Dead don’t scare me because they’re spooky fiction, but because of how quickly it could become reality. And I’m scared to death of raising kids in the thick of hopelessness and horror.

But hey, it’s just a TV show. Right?

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StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an iPad Mini. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

Check out more great titles on Netflix!

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Dinotrux Roars onto Netflix

As part of the Netflix StreamTeam, the company paid for my travel & hotel accommodations to visit DreamWorks Animation in June. But as always all opinions are my own.

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Have you ever seen certain people and judged them immediately without ever having so much as a conversation with them? Have you ever been completely wrong in your assumption?

Welcome to the premise of Dinotrux — a fantastic new show from DreamWorks airing on Netflix August 14. Two months ago I was lucky enough to fly out to DreamWorks in California, where I was able to get a behind the scenes peek at how Dinotrux was made, do an actual voiceover, meet some show executives, and take in the first two episodes.

And let me tell you, young kids (and their parents) will love it.

What Is Dinotrux About?

Do you have kids who like dinosaurs? How about construction vehicles? Well, welcome to a TV show that hits the kid sweet spot — dinosaurs combined with construction vehicles. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds and yes your kids will want one immediately.

Ty is a hybrid tyrannosaurus rex and megaton excavator, whose species is the biggest and baddest in the Mechazoic era. But when his village is destroyed and he is injured by a volcano, he wanders the prehistoric landscape to find a new home in a crater teeming with other creatures with plenty of Ty’s favorite food: ore.  But the problem is T-truxes are universally feared by other creatures, meaning no one will talk to Ty.

No one except Revvit.

Revvit is a Reptool (lizard + rotary drill) who goes against millions of years of prevailing wisdom to courageously talk to Ty. The entire village is amazed by the dinotrux-reptool partnership, and soon a few more eager recruits join the cause.

Skya is a sassy Craneosaur (brachiosaurus + construction crane); Ton-Ton is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants daredevil Ankylodump (ankylosaurus + dump truck); and Dozer is a curmudgeonly but kind Dozeratops (triceratops + bulldozer). They soon find themselves on a series of adventures against their nemesis, another T-trux name D-Structs, who hates to share and wants Ty out of the village.

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Why Your Kid Will Like Dinotrux

A good show hits on universal themes, and executive producers Ron Burch and David Kidd pull this off in masterful style with Dinotrux.

Each episode has an adventure and provides a lesson in friendship, teamwork, and problem-solving. When one of the gang gets stuck in a tar pit, it takes quick thinking and action from all the other friends to come to the rescue. And when Scraptors and Scraptadactyls — predators who will literally pick about dinotrux and reptools to feast on them — kidnap some Reptools and take them to a nest, the dinotrux team has to create a distraction and build a ladder to get them down safely.

After talking with Ron and David, I also liked how the writers and animators stuck to the laws of physics to create a more realistic prehistoric universe. That’s right. Even though the premise is clearly made up, they made sure all the creatures adhere to the laws of physics. So if a reptool has the body of a pipe wrench, it’s not going to bend or wrap around a tree. The show has a mechanical feel to it and the writers and producers didn’t want to detract from that.

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The Coolest Part of My Dinotrux Adventure

Have you ever loved a cartoon so much you wished you were a part of it? I absolutely have, and thanks to Netflix and DreamWorks I’ve also experienced being a part of it.

I was downright giddy when they told me we’d be headed into the recording studio to do some voice over work. And lest you think voice actors have it made and it’s all a piece of cake, allow me to disabuse you of that notion immediately. It’s pretty difficult to get the timing down and voice a character that is multifaceted with lots of emotional complexity. And yes, even fictional Reptools have layers. Also, the room full of bloggers will tell you it takes more than a few takes to get something even remotely usable. Here’s my attempt:

It took me almost 10 minutes to do this one line. Now imagine the editing and production that goes into producing the full 10-show season that’s about to drop on Netflix this Friday. And that’s in addition to creating the characters and imagining the unprecedented world in which these characters live.

I have a newfound appreciation for the work these guys do and the blood, sweat, and tears they pour into these shows. I can’t wait for Sam to take this in and even though Will is on the older end of the demographic spectrum, he’ll probably like it too.

Give Dinotrux a shot on Aug. 14 and let me know how you like it.

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