Barney & Friends (Modern HiT era, Seasons 9-14)
Barney & Friends is an American children's television series aimed at children aged 2–7 years old, created by Sheryl Leach and produced by HIT Entertainment. It premiered on PBS on April 6, 1992 and ended on September 18, 2009. The series features the title character Barney, a purple anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, optimistic attitude. The last episode aired on November 2, 2010. Reruns aired on Sprout from 2005 until 2015, and now air from December 17, 2018 to present on Sprout's successor network, Universal Kids.
Seasons 1 and 2 (1992-1993) were well received and Seasons 3-8 (1995-2004) received a mixed to positive reception. This page will discuss primarily the remaining 6 seasons, which received mixed to negative reviews, though other seasons will be mentioned.
The show revolves around kids who hang out with their plush dinosaur Barney, which he later comes to life and later visited by his friends, Baby Bop, BJ, (season 2 onwards) and later Riff, (season 10 onwards) as they do activities while having fun.
Note: Some of the problems were carried over from the film adaptation.
- Much like Dora the Explorer from Seasons 5-8, these seasons heavily butcher what made the first two seasons, and to a lesser extent, Seasons 3-8 good. While the concept of continuing a show sounds good, only on paper, it doesn’t work out at all in real life.
- To be fair, stuff like this can actually work, but only if you put in as much effort as people wanted. the Andrew Brenner era (seasons 17-21) of Thomas & Friends, for example, have worked, because they not only stayed true to the classic era and the first HiT model era season (seasons 1-8), but also gave the show nice surprises like returning the characters to their original personalities, and interesting new characters like Millie and Conor. Even some shows that went downhill before, like Sesame Street and South Park, had learned from their mistakes and led them to rise again with better seasons (seasons 31-32 and 38-39 for Sesame Street, 21-present for South Park) that were charming and clever. However, when you turn a good pre-school show into nothing but sunshine and happiness, it insults the fanbase very hard.
- Awful voice acting, especially with Barney (who has been taken over by Dean Wendt as of Season 7), as he sounds older and more nasally.
- Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop have been flanderized:
- In the first eight seasons, Barney was caring, intelligent, and wanted to make the world a better place. He also helped his friends out with learning morals and using their imagination. By Season 9, however, he became an overly excited and kind friend to everyone. To be fair, he can get over-excited sometimes in Seasons 3-8, but this was cranked up to 11 in these seasons.
- Unlike the first eight seasons, BJ and Baby Bop would constantly need Barney's help with learning morals. To make matters worse, Baby Bop forgot how to count.
- Repetitive lines such as Barney's "Super-dee-duper!" and "Stupendous!". Again, while these lines were fine in the first eight seasons, it gets very annoying quickly once you listen to it enough.
- It adopted a new structured format in Season 9 and again in Season 10. While the latter format was adopted so the show could air in the UK, it removed elements and worsened the show's quality, as the running-time for each episode changed from 22 minutes to 11 minutes, resulting in numerous episodes of the show being rushed.
- Scooter McNutty and Miss Etta Kette were removed in Season 7 despite receiving a positive reception.
- Though this may have been done to give more screen time to the main characters.
- The CGI in these seasons are cheaply made and very low-budget.
- Season 14 was very pointless, as this is the only season to not have any new episodes being made, and with all the episodes coming from Seasons 10 and 11. The only noticeable difference in this season is a rainbow colored border on the screen. What sucks even more is that, after this season, the show was cancelled.
- Although likable, Riff is a completely pointless character who happens to be Baby Bop or BJ's cousin, but he barely appears in any of the home videos or gets any episodes of his own in the series.
- Hypocrisy: There is an entire song completely dedicated to healthy eating, yet half of the characters gorge on sweets and candy in episodes like "BJ's Snack Attack!" and "Here Kitty, Kitty!". Speaking of “BJ’s Snack Attack!”, the visuals in said episode’s dream sequence are trippy and distracting.
- Dozens of logic fails. For example, Barney is capable of leaping several meters into the air, yet gets exhausted after mild exercising.
- The show believes that everything can be solved by a simple thing. Barney commonly used magic to solve problems, which isn't really good because most things can't immediately be solved by simple things. This will likely make kids believe that things like magic (which is clearly fake) can solve every issue.
- These seasons are way too preachy and makes everything too lighthearted and innocent. Shows like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood manage to still be optimistic and upbeat, but still show that everything in life is not always fair. Seasons 3-8 were experiencing this problem, but these seasons at least have some optimistic and upbeat moments, unlike in these seasons.
- The costumes are lazy, crappy, and poorly-made. Most of the time the characters' mouths may not move when talking, the heads of the suits almost falling off, and more. In fact, Barney's costume's feet are literally shoes. So if you look closely, you can sometimes actually see a small amount of the actor's leg.
- Not just that, but a lot of the time the actors are clearly visible under the costumes.
- Most of the characters, especially Barney, look really creepy at some angles.
- Extremely slow pacing, with most episodes having boring talk scenes that sometimes last for several minutes of nothing happening.
- The side characters are banal and forgettable and serve no purpose other than for filler.
- The lessons are the same things over and over again, being about colors, counting, the alphabet, and sharing without any entertainment to actually keep the kids interested in learning them.
- It is notorious for sugarcoating things (which at the same time are missed opportunities for learning new, sometimes serious topics). There is a child with down syndrome on the show, and yet his disability is almost never spoken of. Even when it is, it’s sugarcoated like it isn’t serious.
- Although rare, there can be bits of violence at times.
- In "Lights Camera Action," BJ refuses to slow down on his scooter only for him to crash and get dizzy. While it's not that serious, some parents may find this concerning.
- In Season 14, the theme song was remixed as a rap version, clearly trying too hard to be hip and trendy.
- These seasons overall started the television career of Michaela Dietz on a sour note. Dietz thankfully moved on to work on better products, such as Steven Universe, voicing Amethyst, and 101 Dalmatian Street, voicing Dolly.
- It still has some good moral lessons.
- Some good episodes here and there.
- Seasons 12 and 13 are considered the least bad and improvements over Seasons 9-11 as they revert to the original format (albeit each season having a different theme) and become less repetitive, though it still has some flaws listed above.
- Barney's voice kind of gets a little better in Season 10.
- Some likeable characters such as Stella the Storyteller and Riff (despite being pointless), the latter of whom has a passion for music. BJ, Baby Bop and Barney, despite their flanderization, are still likeable as well.
- Good acting from the kids.
- The background sets for the show are very well made.
- Some of the songs are quite catchy, such as “The Dino Dance” and “Someone to Love You Forever”. The song “I Love You”, despite being kind of annoying, is heartwarming at the same time.
Several people have concluded that episodes contain a great deal of age-appropriate educational material, including Yale University researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer, who called the program a "model of what preschool television should be". Others have criticized the show for a lack of educational value, as well as being repetitive.
The show is often cited as a contributing factor to the perceived sense of entitlement seen in Millennials, who grew up watching the show. One specific criticism is that his show does not assist children in learning to deal with negative feelings and emotions. As one commentator puts it, the real danger from Barney is "denial: the refusal to recognize the existence of unpleasant realities. For along with his steady diet of giggles and unconditional love, Barney offers our children a one-dimensional world where everyone must be happy and everything must be resolved right away."
The creator and performer of the San Diego Chicken mascot, Ted Giannoulas, called Barney a "ubiquitous and insipid creature" in a 1999 court case.
Barney & Friends ranked #50 on TV Guide's 2002 list of the 50 worst TV shows of all time. The show has also been parodied in many forms; see Anti-Barney humor (and just so you know what we're dealing with here, the Wikipedia article for Anti-Barney humor is roughly as long as the page for the series itself).
In a 1993 newspaper article, Jerry Franklin, the head of Connecticut Public Television, which co-produced Barney at the time, was quoted thus:
When adults say they do not like Barney, Franklin says, 'in a way, we take that as a compliment. Barney is not designed for parents, whereas Sesame Street is designed for parents and children. We made a conscious decision to make Barney simple. It is not a program for parents. Barney relates to preschoolers. We think he speaks to them at their level, which is in simple terms and with music.
- Some episodes of the television series were encoded with signals that enabled the Actimates Barney doll to interact with the program.
- During this time period, some reruns of Season 1-3 episodes removed the Barney Says segment to fit the program into the shortened time slot.
- The show was put on a hiatus from 2010 until the revival of the show, which was originally set to air in 2017. However, as of 2022, no revival has surfaced.
- The Barney & Friends webpage was removed off of the main PBS Kids site around 2009, although the page is still up and running.
- According to Pia Hamilton, a typical 30-minute episode took four days to complete. Rehearsals were normally on Mondays, and filming took place Tuesdays-Thursdays.
- A live-action movie being produced by Daniel Kaluuya is coming out either this year or next year, and some rumors are stating that it may be a horror film similar to the Banana Splits Movie.
- Barney is an extremely popular target for urban legends/rumors.