Picks and Pans Review: The Best of the New Kids' Shows

updated 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

>• When dinner must be cooked, sibling wars must be stopped and parents must preserve their sanity, TV is here to help. These new programs are good enough to (almost) nix the mom guilt.

THE ELECTRIC COMPANY (PBS) Children of the '70s will enjoy hearing "Hey you guuuuuyyys!" while their kids, especially those who've graduated from Sesame Street, will dig the stealth literacy lessons of this revival.

THE SECRET SATURDAYS (CARTOON NETWORK) When older kids outgrow the educational stuff (deep sigh), this show—about a heroic clan—offers them action, monsters and family bonding.

MARTHA SPEAKS (PBS) The best of the new crop, starring a talking dog who sneakily teaches words like "pleasant" and "deceive." The rare show that charms preschoolers and young grade-schoolers alike.

OLIVIA (NICKELODEON) This gentle series, based on the popular books, captures the fun and frustration of being 6 3/4, the age of its plucky porcine heroine. Also worth checking out: Toot & Puddle, pig pals over on Noggin.

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