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Geeky Parent Guide: Summer Viewing Recommendations – Part 1

Summer is coming, and as a parent, it’s not always easy to know what fun activities are available for your kids, regardless of their age. Hopefully, I can help you along your path to finding ways that you and your kids can enjoy some fun in or out of the sun this summer.

Let’s take a look at several different ways to have fun during the days off from school, whether it be TV shows, movies, games, and some locations that would make for a great weekend away. In this first of a two-part series, let’s take a look at some programs that your children, and you, might find binge-worthy. And yes, binge-worthy does include movies, because when there are sequels or it’s just a movie your kids love, there’s a good chance they’ll want to watch it again and again. In addition to the following list, please note a description for TV or movie ratings below to help guide your decisions when choosing which programs are best for your kids. Although there has been a debate about ratings and their validity, it’s always a good idea to know what your kids are getting into before they start watching, even if you’re unable to watch every show before they do.

Here are three Amazon Original Series that are available for free with Prime Membership:

Gortimer Gibbons Life on Normal Street
Season 1, Episode 1 – “Gortimer vs. the Frog of Ultimate Doom”
Rating: TV-G, Runtime: 26 Minutes, Release Date: February 6, 2014

TV-G Rating, via TV Parental Guidelines: “General Audience – Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little to no violence, no strong language, and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.”

This episode of Gortimer Gibbons is lighthearted, fun, and structured around teens’ imaginations to believe in myths and magic, particularly when trying to solve a problem. This episode does not contain any vulgar language nor sexual situations or innuendo. As a father of two kids, ages four and two, I would be comfortable having this TV show on with them in the room, either watching actively or as background noise. They might not understand the dynamics of the show, such as one character creating a “Fork of Destiny” to thwart an evil mythical frog, but I believe this show doesn’t present any glaring problems regarding language or intense imagery.

This series has a listing of three seasons available to watch: 101, 201, and 202 listed as “Season 2 Part 2.” Each season has 13 episodes.

The Stinky & Dirty Show
Season 1, Episode 1 – “Jump at the Dump/Road Block”
Rating: TV-Y, Runtime: 22 Minutes, Release Date: September 1, 2016

TV-Y Rating, via TV Parental Guidelines: “All Children – This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2-6. This program is not expected to frighten young children.”

One is a garbage truck and the other is a backhoe loader – they are Stinky and Dirty. This show is absolutely appropriate for younger children. This show highlights two friends who try to solve problems when things go awry. This program seems perfectly suited for the younger age bracket, including toddlers. Like some cartoons, this show is broken up into two stories, which provides quick lessons to be learned in a shorter amount of time. For example, Stinky and Dirty need to construct a ramp, and they have to work together to find a solution.

This show currently has one season with ten episodes. The last episode aired on September 2, 2016, which means it still falls within the time gap of a potential second season, if the series continues.

Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure
Season 1, Episode 1
Rating: TV-Y7, Runtime: 1 Hour, 7 Minutes, Release Date: June 26, 2015

TV-Y7 Rating, via TV Parental Guidelines: “Directed to Older Children – This program is designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in the program may include mild fantasy violence or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children.”

Lost in Oz is an animated adventure that presents a great twist to a classic tale. This story revolves around the magical wars occurring in Oz after Dorothy accidentally transports herself to the Emerald City. This tale captures the imagination by instantly pulling you into this story with magical spells, colorful landscapes, and Dorothy’s ability to fend off magic with ingenuity and new friends she makes along the way. (A full season is expected to be released and ready for summertime viewing/”in early 2017.”)

The following will contain a little bit of “spoiler” information about the show to indicate an opinion on the listed rating, and those parents interested in learning what might be an issue with letting their children watch this episode.

For the purposes of whether or not this is appropriate for younger children, such as those under the age of 7 as suggested in the rating, this is too intense for children under the age of 7. This show comes with bright explosions, strange or larger-than-life characters, and watching characters transform to stone after a spell. I find this show to be entertaining and I look forward to more episodes, but I would follow the rating guide and prohibit those under the listed age from watching.

Now onto the big screen. Summertime is a great way to let the kiddos beat the heat by enjoying some air conditioning in a comfortable movie theater, while enjoying some of their favorite animated characters. Here are three movies that are sure to be entertaining based off of their prior successes or anticipated adaptations:

Despicable Me 3
Rating: Film Not Yet Rated, Runtime: Not Yet Released, Release Date: June 30, 2017

The following assumed rating is based off the same rating given to the first two movies, Despicable Me (Runtime: 1 hr, 35 min) and Despicable Me 2 (Runtime: 1 hr, 38 min):

PG Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children – Parents urged to give ‘parental guidance.’ May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.”

The Despicable Me franchise uses weapons like blasters, freeze rays, and missiles in their action sequences, so please know that’s likely to continue in the third installment. Please check out the trailer to get an idea of other humorous moments you can expect to find throughout the movie, such as Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) getting his clothes blasted off and then dangling in a gum-like outfit singing “Happy Birthday.”

Although this movie will probably have a PG rating, my own children love Minions and Despicable Me. There is a silliness that children will probably enjoy, and as long as they can understand that a freeze ray isn’t real, then the animated explosions and fight scenes should not seem too intense; however, I would recommend watching the movie beforehand to make your own determination.

Wonder Woman
Rating: PG-13, Runtime: Not Yet Released, Release Date: June 2, 2017

PG-13 Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13 – Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.”

The rating is highlighted with the violent action sequences seen in the official trailer. Other films closely associated within this particular genre can also help to show what to expect with this film: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel, and Suicide Squad.

Although this movie starts before the official start of summer on June 21, this long-awaited movie showcases the beloved Amazonian on the big screen. This film focuses on the time period of World War I, and Wonder Woman’s interactions with mankind as she describes, “It is our sacred duty to defend the world. And it’s what I’m going to do.” The sequences throughout the movie trailer highlight her ability to fight and willingness to do so alone. These characteristics help to define a hero we always want to root for, and one I would gladly take my teenagers (once they’re old enough) to see such a film.

As with many comic book movies, there is an elevated level of intense imagery that could be expected in this movie, with a lot of violent explosions, high-speed chases, and scary looking people, creatures, injuries, or death. I would recommend reviewing the trailers, and watching the film, if parents are interested in taking kids younger than their teens.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Rating: PG-13, Runtime: 2 hours, 9 minutes, Release Date: July 21, 2017

PG-13 Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13 – Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.”

Other movies with the same rating offering similar science fiction elements, with relatable action scenes and alien characters include The Fifth Element, Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie, and Avatar.

“It was a big influence for Star Wars” is how one of the actors describes this sci-fi adventure in the behind-the-scenes video. This movie has epic scenes of large cities with flying ships, strange creatures, and intense action moments that include fighting and dramatic falls from great distances, as seen in the original preview. There might be elements of this movie making it more intense for children, since there is a wide array of potentially scary looking creatures, so I would recommend sticking to the rating guide for this movie.

Also, this story has been referenced to Star Wars; however, the original film, A New Hope, has a PG rating, which hopefully helps to indicate the difference in intensity or level of violence compared between the two films.

Have you already seen some of these programs? What did you or your kids think of them? Please feel free to share any TV shows or movies you and your kids enjoy watching that aren’t listed above, and let us know their ages to help others identify what might be suitable for their own children. You can share your comments in the section below, and don’t forget to like and rate us, as well.

Next time, I will be discussing Free Comic Book Day. I will tell you some of the comic books being offered for free during this annual event, and I’ll break it down by age group. Along with some comic book recommendations, I’ll share information on activities and events taking place on this day at comic book stores throughout the country, which this year happens to land on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

To give you some further insight into our next programming piece, Free Comic Book Day lands on the first Saturday in May each year. Also, May 6 is very close to May 4th, the next release date for the GPG. As a geek parent, do you know what else May the 4th means?

Make sure to head over to our Facebook page to share your thoughts, or you can tweet (@GeekyParent) us with #GeekyParentGuide.

Until then, happy parenting and happy geeking.

S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor



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