Top 10 Childhood Shows That Feel Like a Fever Dream
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Top 10 Childhood Shows That Feel Like a Fever Dream

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Catherine Neal
Looking back, these childhood shows feel like fever dreams. For this list, we'll be looking at some of the trippiest kids TV shows that had us hypnotized back in the day. Our countdown includes "Bear in the Big Blue House," "Pingu," "Dinosaurs," and more!

Top 10 Childhood Shows That Feel Like a Fever Dream

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Childhood Shows That Feel Like a Fever Dream.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the trippiest kids TV shows that had us hypnotized back in the day.

What weird TV series did you love as a kid? Tell us in the comments!

#10: “Bear in the Big Blue House” (1997-2006)

A talking bear? A big blue house? Already the title and theme tune are serving us all the fever dream ingredients we need. At the beginning of each episode, Bear breaks the fourth wall, asking the viewer direct questions that have us wondering, ‘what did I get up to this morning?’As a further assault on the senses, we’re introduced to incidental characters like the moon and a shadow. Not just any old shadow, a shadow that doesn’t seem to have a person attached, but simply appears sporadically for a chat and then fades away again. By the time Bear strikes up the goodbye song, you’ve already given yourself over to the madness.

#9: “Cow and Chicken” (1997-99)

The nineties was a surreal time for kids TV, and Cartoon Network gave us its fair share of weirdness. The channel was non-stop color and craziness, with plenty of slapstick and a dash of innuendo. One of the strangest concepts came from “Cow and Chicken.” It focused on a brother and sister who just happened to be farmyard animals. The details of their unusual birth are glossed over in the theme song. If you can get your head around that much, you also have to contend with the show’s antagonist, the devilish Red Guy. Actor Charlie Adler voiced all three central characters and he really earned his money. There were also some random celebrity cameos, from the likes of Mark Hamill and Will Ferrell.

#8: “Boohbah” (2003-06)

This color explosion of a pre-school series was another brainchild of “Teletubbies” creator, Anne Wood. “Boohbah” is aimed at slightly older children, but it’s a psychedelic experience for viewers of any age. The main characters are the Boohbahs - sparkly atoms of energy played by dancing adults in fluffy costumes. Humbah, Zumbah, Zing Zing Zingbah, Jumbah and Jingbah have light-up eyebrows and expressions of wide-eyed wonder. They sleep in spinning pods and are awoken by the disembodied voice of children calling from the ether. The show was partly designed to get children exercising and combat the obesity epidemic. But it took an unusual approach.

#7: “Bananas in Pyjamas” (1992-2001)

It’s not until you stop and think about the lyrics to popular nursery rhymes that you realize how strange they really are. Why and how are bananas in pajamas chasing teddy bears on Tuesdays? That’s what this Australian children’s show attempts to find out. Or at least, it takes the main players in the 1967 nonsense song and turns them into characters in a surrealist sitcom. The anthropomorphic bananas live on a cul-de-sac along with the teddies and a rat in a hat who works at the community store. It all seemed to make sense when you were a child, but maybe you were just under the influence of that hypnotic theme tune.

#6: “Pingu” (1990-2006)

“Pingu” was originally created as a Swiss TV series and voiced by an Italian voice actor. But it needs no translation as the characters all speak “Penguinese.” The weirdest part is that it doesn’t matter. The little stop-motion characters express themselves so strongly that you always know exactly what they’re thinking. Pingu himself is funny and endearing, but prone to throwing tantrums. It feels perfectly natural to watch the family’s dinner table arguments and Pingu’s adventures at school. And then you realize that you’ve just invested half an hour in penguins made of plasticine ‘noot nooting’ at each other.

#5: “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” (1986-90)

Spawned from the success of the Tim Burton comedy “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”, itself based on a live stage show, “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” ran on Saturday mornings throughout the late eighties. Pee-Wee is a child-like character who lives in a colorful house full of magical talking appliances and furniture. If that wasn’t strange enough, the theme song is performed by Cyndi Lauper, doing an imitation of Betty Boop. It starts off slow, as if attempting to lull the audience into a dreamlike state. But then we’re through the playhouse doors and things become a bit more manic. A mix of live action and clay-mation sequences, the show enthralled and confused viewers and remains a bit of a cult favorite.

#4: “CatDog” (1998-2005)

Cartoon Network loved a good fever-dream cartoon back in the day, but Nickelodeon took things to another level. From “The Ren & Stimpy Show” to “The Angry Beavers”, 90s kids consumed a lot of strange content during their formative years. But the most bizarre was “CatDog.” The feline-canine hybrid had two heads, no tails and two sentient personalities. They were brothers, best friends and complete opposites. Cat was the cultured, intelligent one. Dog was dopey and loved to be active. Each episode became a comic odd-couple caper that went to some very weird places. Awesome theme tune though.

#3: “Dinosaurs” (1991-94)

Jim Henson of “The Muppets” fame conceived the idea for this family sitcom before he passed away. Back then, people thought it was “a crazy idea.” And they weren’t wrong. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad one. The show follows a family of anthropomorphic dinosaurs, who walk upright, live in houses and wear clothes. If you just caught a glimpse of it while channel hopping, it wouldn’t be unnatural to question your own sanity. But yes, it is a real TV show. And yes, the series did end with a blunt message about climate change and protecting the environment, that assumes the main characters are all about to die in the Ice Age.

#2: “Angela Anaconda” (1999-2001)

Kids TV shows come in a range of styles, from claymation to live-action, to animatronics. “Angela Anaconda” just did its own thing. The series, first shown on Fox Family, generated the world of the elementary school playground out of collage. To create the characters, black and white photographs of faces were superimposed onto computer generated bodies. The cutout style of animation creates a surreal effect, especially alongside the distinctive voices of Angela and her friends and enemies. It may take the viewer a while to adjust, but once you’re in, it’s hard to look away.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Raven” (2002-10)
Kids Compete in Challenges Set by a Shape-shifting Scottish Warlord

“Nanalan’” (1999-2004)
A Puppet Girl Has Adventures at Her Nana’s

“Biker Mice From Mars” (1993-96)
Cartoon Alien Mice Ride Motorbikes & Defend the Earth

“Yvon of the Yukon” (1999-2003)
He Was Frozen For Hundreds of Years & Defrosted by a Dog

“Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends” (2004-8)
An Anthropomorphic Spider Teaches Life Lessons

#1: “Teletubbies” (1997-2018)

This British export took the world by storm back in 1997 and paved the way for an array of similar shows aimed at preschoolers. Set in the magical Teletubby land, it follows four colorful creatures who live in harmony under a sun with the face of a human baby. They eat pink custard and smiley-face toast. They also have TVs in their stomachs that play educational content. And their names are Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po. As well as capturing the hearts of children everywhere, the show bagged a number one hit single and gained a cult following with older viewers, who appreciated the psychedelic vibe. It was all a bit weird, wasn’t it?