The way we watch TV has changed so much in just a short amount of time. Almost gone are the days of flipping channels to see what your local station or cable offerings are. These days a majority of folks are tuning in to their favorite viewings through app-based programming like Roku, Fire Stick or other such devices, like iPhones, Androids, tablets, or even the computer.
Some of those apps are paid, some are free. And as we head into the week of Halloween, I want to offer up some recommendations for the best Halloween offerings you can watch right now, absolutely free via the PBS Kids app.
Wild Kratts: Creepy Creatures – While the crew of the Tortuga get ready for Halloween, the villains band forces to turn Halloween into a scary time for both animal and human alike, kidnapping various creatures to create haunted havoc and a Halloween monster! There’s also some fun self-referential jokes like the characters dressing like their own villains.
Pinkalicious and Peteriffic: Pink or Treat – Halloween is Coming! But a storm through Pinkville has left the town without power and disarray. It’s Pinkagirl to the rescue to save Halloween. Based on the book of the same name from the Pinkalicious book series, this animated interpretation has a few slight changes but still delivers home a message of community and working together to find joy together in what seems like even the darkest of moments.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: The Neighborhood Fall Festival – Sure, there is a Halloween/Dress Up Day episode of Daniel Tiger I could have gone with, but I have to admit a soft spot for show’s and episodes that take the road less traveled and do a story more related to Autumn than Halloween itself. Here, a fall storm knocks over the autumn decorations outside Music Man Stan’s Music Store and it’s up to Daniel and his friends to put them back up. They may not be the way Music Man Stan had them, but it’s a great lesson for the kids that they don’t have to do things the way someone else does, or that it needs to be perfect. They just need to do the best that’s right for them.
Word Girl: Tobey’s Tricks & Treats – Poor robotics genius Tobey loses the costume contest at school. What’s a kid super-villain to do in response but set his giant robots (ahem, ro-buts) into town on Halloween night to steal all the candy. Word Girl is always a super-heroic great time, Patton Oswalt is a recurring delight as Tobey and this Halloween episode is no exception to the fun.
Curious George Boofest! – One of my all-time autumn favorites. A spooky scarecrow legend keeps the country town of the Man in the Yellow Hat on edge, and it’s none other than George and friends to get to the bottom of it. A fun romp through the country at Halloween time, with great songs and fun.
This list is in no way exhaustive, and there’s many great Halloween episodes to be found in a variety of other shows in the app as well – Arthur, Sid the Science Kid, Let’s Go Luna and more.
And for quick dives into Halloween goodies, you can forsake the full episodes (found in each show’s profile) and go straight to the Happy Halloween section for a slew of seasonal clips for shorter viewing.
Like many offerings that tie into the season at hand, these are only available for a limited time before disappearing again next year. But if you’re looking for some safe seasonal fun for any age, the PBS Kids app is the place to find it.
So today it was announced that the Children’s Television Workshop, which of course produces the legendary Sesame Street, has inked a deal with HBO to air the next five years worth of new episodes on the premium television channel.
Those new episodes, will then later be made available for airing on PBS Stations.
And I kind of feel like it’s serving a lot of kids and families the leftover scraps.
The program isn’t leaving PBS, its home for the past 45 years. But it is being cut down from an hour to a half-hour and will be reruns that have been re-edited.
Any new episodes of the show will air on HBO first, finding their way to PBS some nine months later. Will these new episodes be an hour on HBO and cut down to a half-hour on PBS as is being done with reruns? Or will they be a half hour on HBO and then presented as-is on PBS? I haven’t found that to be clear just yet.
However, the move to HBO will allow them to nearly double the number of episodes they produce each year, from 18 to 35.
So more episodes. Something that was getting harder to do financially for PBS. That’s good, right? But the only families and children who will get to watch them are those paying for HBO or HBO’s streaming service. Nine months later they’ll be able to catch them on television on PBS.
I can already see the critics of PBS using this in arguments against public funding, citing what seems to be the big thing lately, privatization, or that trendy new buzzword, ‘public-private partnerships’ in the fight against the use of funding for something they may not be a fan of.
Much of this deal is wrapped up in the concept of streaming, something I tend to, admittedly, forget about. HBO will get the exclusive digital/streaming rights to Sesame Street. Many news articles on this deal cite that two-thirds of children watch Sesame Street via a streaming device.
So, if that is the case, two-thirds of children watch Sesame Street via streaming. And that streaming option is now being removed from Netflix, Amazon, and most importantly, the free PBS Kids app. (Or at least, it’s implied it will disappear from the PBS Kids app. That doesn’t seem to be directly addressed in any article I’ve come across so far. I’ll gladly correct if I find one.)
This is nagging at me because I keep thinking about the purpose of Sesame Street being on public television to begin with – to have its educational lessons via entertainment accessible to all, regardless of the economic status of the household.
If you had a television set, whether it was antenna, premium cable, or just basic cable as we have (the cable company refers to it as ‘lifeline cable’ sometimes. It’s just channels 2-13), you could still learn along with Bert, Ernie, Big Bird and company.
I’ve gone back and forth but keep feeling like overall, there’s a loss here for anyone that’s not HBO or an HBO subscriber.
PBS keeps the reruns and down-the-line gets some new episodes and doesn’t have to pay for it. Great, but if all these articles are true, stating that two-thirds of children get Sesame Street via a streaming service or app, then that’s just been taken away from them if their families don’t subscribe to HBO.
If your childhood home gets saved from being torn down, but you don’t get to live in it anymore because it’s not in your financial reach, who is it a win for?