My kids have occasionally watched the old Clifford the Big Red Dog series (which aired from 2000-2003) in the past and enjoyed it. My husband put it on for them once, and they liked it enough to request it again from time to time.
When I heard of this new reboot of the series (which launched this month on Amazon Prime and PBS Kids) I was a little leery because the main girl character Emily Elizabeth is described by Scholastic as, “a stronger and more independent female character to inspire today’s girls.”
There’s totally nothing wrong with this statement on surface value, but I’ve certainly seen buzzwords like these as code for “infused with liberal feminist agenda.” Combined with some descriptions of the show being timely for our current social and political climate, I thought it might be wise to pre-screen it before I let my kids watch.
Though you’d hope a preschool show could just be a preschool show, you never really know these days. But after I checked out the first episode myself, I was relieved to see that it looks like more innocent fun.
The new and improved Clifford the Big Red Dog
What’s different in this new series? Well for starters, Clifford and Emily Elizabeth now speak to each other, as opposed to how Clifford only barked at her and spoke to his dog friends in the old series.
There are also original songs in each episode that pertain to the activity the characters are doing. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that adults will find these songs entertaining or toe-tapping, the songs are at least not inordinately annoying (definitely a plus!).
Much like the old series, this reboot features episodes that are split into two shorter sections.
There’s no longer a Clifford’s Big Idea segment at the very end of the episode, or a Storytime with Speckles segment in between the two sections.
But now there are short, dialogue-less segments in between the two sections, featuring some animated animal doing something funny (i.e. a cat scaring itself with its own reflection in the mirror).
As for the main stories in each episode, they feature things like imaginative play and helping friends in need. Despite the Clifford’s Big Idea section no longer being here, there are still good lessons inside each storyline.
Clifford Is a Hit in My House
After I checked out the first episode and saw that, despite the somewhat trendy angle of the marketing for this show, there doesn’t seem to be any agenda here beyond your basic preschool-age-appropriate lessons, I let my kids watch it.
They loved it.
They were cracking up at the frequent kid-humor, and my 5-year-old nonchalantly began acting out the plots of the episodes as he ran laps through our apartment after. Which definitely made me glad that it only contained wholesome, innocent fun.
Don’t let the buzzwords scare you off. This reboot of Clifford the Big Red Dog feels like an updated version of the old show that stays true to the innocent goodness of the original.
Image: Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video/PBS Kids