A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Casper & Friends is a collection of animated shorts packaged in sets of four for each 30-minute episode. Some of the stories center on the antics of the notoriously friendly ghost; others feature different characters with a range of story lines. This, combined with the cartoon's retro flair, makes the content hard to predict, and some stories may present stereotypes, violence, and other content that's not the norm in modern cartoons for kids. Watch out for fighting, gun use, and implied violent acts (in one episode, it's presumed that a man shoots himself after losing all his money gambling, for instance). For his part, though, Casper is a great model of helpfulness and kindness to everyone he meets.
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What's the story?
Everyone's favorite ghost takes center stage in CASPER & FRIENDS. Disowned by his fellow spirits for being too friendly, Casper heads out into the people world for new adventures, through which he makes friends and helps them solve problems. This anthological series from the early '90s also includes stories centering on a handful of other main characters and their antics.
Is it any good?
Casper the Ghost is no stranger to the TV or movie screen, having first appeared in a 1939 children's book and a TV series in 1945. This collection features restored versions of Harvey Comics' '50s-era Casper and others such as Baby Huey, Little Audrey, and Herman and Katnip. As such, the animation is markedly different from what kids today are used to, but the stories are still charming, and Casper's as friendly as ever.
That said, these are tales from a very different era, and they often reflect that in not-so-subtle ways. Characters smoke, guns are visible and used on people and other characters (although there are no visible injuries), and stereotypes may exist. This is likely to be confusing to youngsters, so proceed with some caution if you're adding this to your kids' visual library.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this series reflects its mid-century origins. What do the characters do or say that might not be acceptable today? What do these differences tell you about how society used to be?
In what ways is Casper a good friend? Why are some characters scared of him? Why is it important to see past people's appearances before passing judgment?
What accounts for the enduring quality of certain characters in TV and movies? Are there any that you have enjoyed in more than one series or film? Have new incarnations ever disappointed you?
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