Perhaps you saw the report last week that said watching "SpongeBob SquarePants" leads to learning difficulties in some 4-year-olds.
Dang. And I thought it led to the Ivy League.
How times have changed. We baby boomers grew up on high-quality educational programming like "Sesame Street," "Masterpiece Theatre," "GE College Bowl" and Gumby and Pokey.
Thankfully, we're not much of a cartoon-watching family. Aside from an occasional peek at "Caillou" on PBS, my 4-year-old son is ambivalent about cartoons. He and his 9-year-old brother are, however, addicted to cable-TV shows about people with odd jobs.
If this sounds like a narrow genre to you, then you haven't been paying attention. Please consider this column your complementary program guide to nonfiction television.
At the Kennedy house, we watch shows about Cajuns capturing alligators, pawn-shop operators serving as loan officers of last resort, exterminators chasing squirrels, and people catching freshwater fish with their hands.
For the most part, these shows -- and others like them -- offer mindless entertainment; but they also spark important family-room discussions about timely topics such as whether a large-mouth bass can actually swallow your fist.
So fire up your DVR, and let's see what's on TV.
Together, the guides and customers wade neck-deep into rivers and ponds and blindly stick their feet and hands into mud holes. Then they try to grab a fish by the mouth. The fun is watching the city folks panic when the fish chomp down. (What do they expect? If you're a fish, this is a home invasion.)
Part of my personal amusement about "Hillbilly Handfishin' '' is the fact that neither of my sons has any idea what a hillbilly is. My older son calls the show "Hilly Billy Handfishin','' convinced it's about some dude named Billy, and my younger son calls it "Itty Bitty Handfishin'."
I asked my older son, a big fan of the show, how much the hunters earn for each alligator carcass.
"About $170 for an average one, unless it has a leg gnawed off or something," he reported.
At least he's paying attention.
My question is what the heck is this guy doing on A&E? I thought A&E was home to biographies and documentaries. This is what "Dog the Bounty Hunter" has wrought.
The show follows three generations of pawn professionals at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop near Las Vegas. The result is a sort of lowbrow version of "Antiques Roadshow."
My older son's favorite episode involves a dimwitted clerk named Chumlee who was admonished to track down Bob Dylan -- who is playing at nearby Caesars Palace -- to get his autograph on an album to raise its value for the shop.
"He found Bob Dylan and told him to sign it," my son explained. "But he told him to sign it, 'To Chumlee, Bob Dylan.' Who would want to buy an album signed to Chumlee?"
Who would want to watch any of these odd-job shows? But yet we do. From Gumby to Chumlee, television always knows how to reach right into our homes and grab us.