There's a TV show on PBS called Sid the Science Kid. It is, without a doubt, one of the most formulaic, inspid shows on the network. The fact that it whips a little science on the viewers is great, but the characters are flat, the plot is predictable and the voice acting is terrible.
Each episode begins with Sid, the computer animated muppet, waking up in his bedroom. He heads downstairs to the kitchen where his always perky family feeds him. By the time he's ready to go to school, he has identified a question that he wants answered (why does the banana get mushy? for example). After breakfast, he is driven to school by his mother, and they sing a song about how mom is cool. Sid then gets dropped off at school, and the song changes to one about finding his friends. Same songs, same animation, same three-minute-or-so sequence in each episode. After he finds his friends – the perky redhead, the wispy Asian stereotype and the dullard – Sid and the others are herded into the classroom by Teacher Susie singing yet another song.
Over the next few minutes, we come to realize a few things. This must be a magnet school in a very, very rich area because there are only four students in the class, and the school is decked out with whatever science equipment they need. Science is the only subject taught in school, and there is no lesson plan – whatever Sid thinks of in the morning is what Teacher Susie teaches the kids about. After Teacher Susie gives the lesson (the banana gets mushy because of decay), the kids go home. Sid always gets picked up by his Grandmother, who has the most annoying laugh in the history of kids' television. Once home, Sid tells the family what he learned, and the show wraps – sometimes with Sid going to bed, which is a little weird.
That's my view as a 34-year old adult.
You know what my 4-year old daughter gets out of it? “Daddy, do you know why the pumpkin near the front door looks all squishy like that? Because of decave.” Okay, she meant decay, but she's four, so we correct her and are impressed that a kid her age has an understanding of the concept of decay.
The moral of the story is this: don't over-analyze things – and not just when it comes to kids' television. Realize that your perspective is completely different than that of other people (especially kids). Sometimes, as Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar.
Except Barney the Dinosaur. That's just evil personified.