Yes, they had pre-school audiences in mind, but they knew getting an older audience would be an added bonus. My older sister constantly insulted me for liking them more than her favorite movies, but these have an appeal beyond nostalgia.
When watching one old episode of “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” I could not stop. The plots are not that good, but the characters could make almost anything work. They clash with each other so well. Ever time someone like Rabbit, Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, or Tigger talk there is entertainment. It is still consistently good for a short watch that fills the small time space perfectly.
This was a great idea in the opposite direction. In “Martha Speaks” the main value is from the plots. A talking dog (that humans can understand) is not original, but it has plots such as the local conmen trying to become rich off her, a fake alien pickle invasion, and catching jewel thieves. The characters were less memorable as the basic characteristics were common, but they were more stubborn than most characters with their ideals. They even made a parody about Green Eggs and Ham about avoiding peer pressure. Most shows show the person not doing the ordinary thing to be bad, but this showed them in the right.
And the greatest children’s show ever. This has a basic sitcom like structure, but its ability to do so much story without feeling rushed in only fifteen minutes sets it apart. Even in its dark ages of seasons 14-17 I never felt an episode was rushed. Without feeling forced there are able to show how a character feels and then make a plot out of it, and it almost always seems to take just the right amount of time. Since the basic pre has a low floor the plots are very important, which is what the dark age lacked. The other seasons ad even quite a few in the dark age have stories that stay just as good for around the first ten watches. I can watch many episodes and get the same pleasure as when I first turned the TV on to Arthur. This is one of the only shows I watch regularly when it comes on.