New programs starting on Monday use a different approach to lure young TV viewers.
Disney XD, the cable channel with an emphasis on young males, launches "Mighty Med," the tale of two teens who land jobs working in a superhero hospital. On PBS, the show "PEG + CAT" aims to teach youngsters lessons from counting to being friends through an energetic young girl and her feline pal.
Here's a closer look at each:
On "Mighty Med," best buddies Kaz (Bradley Steven Perry) and Oliver (Jake Short) are avid comic book fans. Their lives change when they stumble into a secret emergency room for comic book heroes, where they learn all of the stories they have read are about the real exploits of the caped crusaders. When their knowledge proves helpful in healing injured heroes, the pair land jobs.
Perry, 14, has never been a big comic book fan — possibly because he's been working most of his life — but has never missed a movie based on a comic book. He proudly boasts that he stood in line to see the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Now, he gets to see how all that on-screen super stuff is created.
"It's been really fun to watch all of the fight scenes. They look so real when you see them on the screen. Now it's great to be working with these great guys, who are hooked to wires, that do all of the fights. I've always wanted to do wire work, but I haven't been in one of the big fight scenes yet," Perry says.
Along with being part of a superhero world, Perry's made a great friend in Short. They met only briefly before the casting, but once they started working together their friendship grew to where Perry thinks of Short like a brother.
That bond helps when the pair are filming a scene that requires special effects. That often means stopping and starting a scene without losing the acting momentum built. Perry's patience for such work grew out of his years on "Good Luck Charlie," a show with an infant as one of the stars.
He's also had to be patient in waiting for responses to the new series. They've already filmed nine episodes, but because none have aired, the actors don't know if they will be heroes or zeroes. Perry's confident the show will take off once it gets on the air.
If it becomes a hit, there will be plenty of opportunities to show comic book heroes with a variety of powers. If Perry could pick a power, it would be telekinesis because he could use it to fly and do other things.
As for the real hero he would like to meet, that's an easy pick for the Southern California native.
"Tom Brady. I did a commercial for the Patriots when I was 5 or 6 and I have been a fan ever since," Perry says. "A wall in my dressing room is covered with Patriots posters and items."
'PEG & CAT'
Like so many people, Billy Aronson, one of the original creators of the Broadway musical "Rent," grew up admiring Fred Rogers. Now, Aronson's been given a chance to continue the family-friendly kind of programming Mr. Rogers created with his new series "PEG + CAT."
"I admired Fred Rogers. He didn't care what people said. He believed in kids," Aronson says.
That belief is the basis for the series from Aronson and Jennifer Oxley that features the spirited Peg (voiced by newcomer 9-year-old Hayley Faith Negrin) and her sidekick, Cat. They travel to farms, purple planets, Radio City Music Hall, even 16th-century Verona, to solve the challenge of the day and prove that math is everywhere.
Aronson's well known for his work on "Rent," but he's no stranger to children's programming. He's written for shows such as "Code Name: Kids Next Door" and "Courage the Cowardly Dog."
"I feel like this new show is an intersection of everything I've done," Aronson says. "I take on projects that intrigue me. I love asking questions about the world."
That same smart approach will be used in all of the music for the show. Aronson points out that some of the most beloved programming that children have embraced — such as the Looney Tunes cartoons — never hesitated to use complicated music.
"We will never say that we are making something just for kids," Aronson says. "We can't lower our standards."
"Mighty Med," 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, Disney XD
"PEG + CAT," 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7, KVPT (Channel 18.1)
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.