Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve thought about awful children’s television. But the other day someone mentioned this show that I had just gotten out of my brain, so I figured I would vomit it up so you could enjoy it as well. You’ve got to like my imagery, right? Anyway, today we are covering:
Oh, the wonder of Wonder Pets. The wonder I didn’t throw blunt objects at the T.V. screen. This was another of Noggin’s (later called Nick Jr. because their noggins didn’t make the connection to Nick, I guess?) creations, made to especially torture parents.
What was special about this show? Well first it used something called “photo-puppetry”, or taking pictures of real animals and animating them along with cartoony stuff. I learned the word “photo-puppetry” from Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge. Anyway, that wasn’t the worst part by far. They also had the bright idea of having these adorable little animals sing their lines at an impossibly high pitch through the entire show. An operetta, if you will, only with baby animals.
And it’s just as fabulous as you’re imagining, if by fabulous you mean “want to plug your ears up and scream”. There are three main characters. Linny is a guinea pig, Tuck is a turtle, and Ming-Ming is a duckling. Whenever I saw Ming-Ming I thought of that Chinese dish, Peking Duck. I bet she’d have been tasty in a nice orange sauce.
But I’m getting off topic. These three animals are classroom pets during the day, but when the kids go home, they bust out of the cages and go on rabies inspired homicidal rampages. Um, okay, that didn’t actually happen, but it would have been cool, right? I’d have totally watched that show. But no, the trio instead rescued baby animals. Every day they’d get a call on the pencil holder about some baby animal that needed rescuing. I’m not sure why these baby animals were getting in trouble so often. After a while, I started to suspect sabotage on the part of the Triumphant Trio. I mean, we’re talking job security here, right?
Anyhoo, the same thing happened every episode. They’d get the call, wake up, and stop pretending to be normal pets sitting around in their own poop and become super annoying pets that sing! The same song, every time. “We’re Wonder Pets and we’re on our way . . .” Scream, er, sing with me! They’d change into outfits in the scrap box, so they could, you know, blend in with the locals. Then they’d hop in the flyboat, composed of various objects from around the classroom, and take off to wherever the animal was in trouble.
They visited all sorts of exciting new places. One time they entered a Chinese painting and helped out a baby crane that was too dumb to get away from a volcano, I think. It was a moving experience. After the trio freed the baby, the parent would show up out of nowhere (about time) to thank them and the Wonder Pets would reward themselves with a thrilling snack of celery.
Most Annoying Character: That award would have to go to Ming-Ming, the Chinese duckling that speaks with a cute little lisp. I hate cute little lisps on cartoon characters. If it’s on your own child, it’s sweet, because hey you spent 9 months making the kid, so you’ve got something invested there. But on a cartoon character, it’s forced, fakey, and grates on your nerves. I often thought that if Ming-Ming said, “This is sewious” one more time, I was going to eat my Peking Duck right in front of her.
Speaking of investments, it is unbelievable how much time and effort is invested in each show. According to the Wikipedia entry prepared by people who know way too much about this show, a ten member live orchestra performed the music. Can you imagine spending your entire life learning an instrument, only to grow up and have to play for a children’s cartoon show? That would be a fun thing to put on your resume for the Phil Harmonic.
Also, each episode supposedly took 33 weeks from start to finish to complete. 33 weeks? We’re talking (hold on, math is hard) a little over eight months here. That’s almost enough time to gestate another kid. What could possibly have taken so long? The beginning and ending are almost totally the same every episode. Is it the annoying sing-song dialogue? The songs? The animation? Because I think they’re going to way too much work here, especially considering there have been other shows on the same station like Oobie, a show that consisted totally of people doing stupid things with their hands. I haven’t covered that one yet, have I? Oh, wow, are you in for a treat.
But back to Wonder Pets. Sure there were some redeeming factors. Kids got to learn about opera early, because it’s never too early to learn to hate opera. The art was at least bearable, unlike some of the freaked out creatures you’d see in other shows like the dolls with button eyes two different sizes. And kids got to learn that you no matter what country you’re in, you absolutely cannot trust parents to take care of their children. Great lessons.
This show is still on, folks, so you should be sure and watch. Just invest in some ear plugs while junior zones out. Trust me on this. You’ll thank me later.
Annoying lisping character: Yes
Operatic dialogue: Yes
Deadbeat animal parents: Yes
Best watched with ear plugs: Yes
The phone is ringing!
I have seen this. And it is exactly how you describe it.
Ack! The phone is ring-ing (with the last bit hitting that high pitch!) I bet the two year old loves it, though there’s not quite as much screeching as Dora. More opera though.
I have never seen this show. We don’t have cable. Shows like these are part of the reason why.
Oh, for the days when we could only afford PBS. My kids often watched this at their Grammy’s. I can still hear those chirpy voices in my head.