I'm a teacher who specializes in literacy and I applaud the use of differentiation in teaching early reading skills that I find in "Super Why!"
-If you understand that my 16 month old daughter believes that the people are talking directly to you, you understand the slow, even tones of the characters (consider how you speak to a child when you want them to understand). When the characters talk to the camera (for lack of a better way of saying it) they provide enough wait time for a toddler. This may seem excruciating for an adult, but it isn't designed for an adult!
-The lessons are simple, easy, and revisited throughout. Again, it's not written for grown ups and I believe the plot line is secondary to the literacy skills.
-The episodes are somewhat repetitive, but remember that toddlers like patterns and regular procedure works as a framework for learning.
-The princess with her wand ("wands up!") engages the kinesthetic (those who need to do things with their hands in order to remember it) when she encourages them to spell out letters. This is one of the premises upon which Montessori education is built.
- They have many songs. Do I really need to explain how songs help kids learn?
- Interacting with a text as the characters do in each episode (using it to solve their own problems & literally climbing into the book) encourages higher order metacognitive strategies that mere phonics lessons will ignore.
-And yeah, she's a princess, but at least this princess isn't selling anything but a "can do" attitude. My little girl will be bombarded with "the princesses" soon enough so maybe I can give her a positive archetype with which to compare.
***Though we don't watch a lot of TV around my house, it's something I don't mind my 16 month old watching while I cook dinner, for example. And when she comes in singing "A,B,C,D,?,?,?" (everything past "D" sounds good, but unlike the correct letter) I don't second guess my decision.***