My 2-year-old’s favorite “show” (we don’t have cable and don’t watch regular television) is Chuggington. He has a lot of the Disney Sing-Along videos and an American Railroads (documentary-type) dvd. He received a Chuggington book sometime around his second birthday, and has since received another. The books seemed to be pretty alright, and the faces on the trains weren’t quite so just-on-this-side-of-creepy like Thomas the Tank (he doesn’t watch that or own those trains), so we took a leap of faith and bought him a 2 dvd Chuggington movie for Christmas.
First of all, he loves the theme song – it’s catchy and works well for little kids (even not-yet-talking ones) who love trains and say “chugga-chugga choo-choo!” a lot. The episodes are only about 10ish minutes, and each have clear beginnings, but not traditional endings. They go through a situation, the moral of the story is pretty straight forward (usually spoken, and not just inferred), and then it ends either right there or soon after.
At first, as an adult who has seen quite a few movies, this was a little bit strange. The situation resolves, but I felt as though there was an ending scene missing. After the second episode, though, I got over it. I liked that they spelled out exactly why something that was done was wrong or exactly why something someone did was right or good. Unlike some Thomas (I’ve seen a few episodes here and there throughout the years), the trains are rarely flat-out rude to one another or speaking ill of each other. Every once in a while they think a little too highly of themselves, but it doesn’t result in putting someone else down.
Also, there are both American and British versions. My husband downloaded a British version on our laptop that our son can watch while we’re upstairs (our “entertainment area” is in the basement). Both are great, and though the personalities remain fairly similar, the accents and ages of some of the trains (voice-wise) are different and make each version more interesting in their own ways.
It’s a great little series, and my son loves it.
Do you let your kids watch either show? If so, which do you prefer, and why?