In Depth

Column: Rudolph Has a Sexy Mama

I didn’t know that Rudolph’s mom was a leggy, sexy doe. But she is, oh she sure is.
How do I know? I know because I checked her out on iTunes because I don’t have cable or satellite television programming any longer.

But you already know that because you read this column and you know that I am conducting an experiment on whether you can get your television shows online and not miss a beat.
And that means iTunes is an even bigger part of my life.

But here’s the big challenge I want to write about this week: What to do when you don’t have cable and you do have kids.

I’ll admit I don’t always wake up at dawn to make pancakes and paper dolls with the children. It used to be that sometimes I let Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network do the babysitting.

But without cable programming, I can’t do that anymore. So I posted a Twitter-Facebook request, looking for kid-friendly and free content on iTunes and YouTube, because I can access both of those services on my Apple TV.

I received loads of responses, including “They Might Be Giants,” “Vintage Cartoons” and “Dramatic Chipmunk.”

I started with Vintage Cartoons, figuring it would be a great place to introduce my children to some classics. The first video we found was a nine-minute old-style “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It was a very sweet video, and incidentally Rudolph’s mom was quite a hottie, so check it out.

But here’s the thing: The pickings are slim after Rudolph, if you don’t want to pay. As much as I love being a renegade and living the broadband-powered lifestyle, Apple TV is just not a replacement yet for real TV. Sure, I can watch “iCarly” for free on Nick.com or “Ben 10” for free on CartoonNetwork.com with the kids. But the point of my experiment is to save money and use Apple TV as much as possible, not to ring up dozens of $1.99 charges on iTunes.

So I’m hanging out in the weeds. Because after Rudolph, I had to venture far into the long tail. I tried “Early TV Matinee,” but the format wasn’t compatible with the Apple TV.

I found a podcast from Club Penguin, a popular social networking site for young kids. My kids were delighted because they love Club Penguin, but alas, the podcast was in Spanish and turned out to be a mashup of Club Penguin activities.

Look, I’m not asking for pity. I’m just telling you what it’s like to be a cord-cutter.

Now, I know I could have popped in a DVD of “Madagascar” or flipped on the computer. But I wanted to see if we could find enough good, free stuff on the Apple TV.

And it takes work.

Especially because the last thing you want to do is give your kids the clicker and let them search YouTube for “Pokemon” videos.

They might find some homemade Pokemon videos that are just a bit dirty.