The Wonder Pets visit our famous nursery rhymes
Let me just preface this review by saying I had never heard of Wonder Pets!. Well, thanks to Wikipedia, here is the info to get us started. Wonder Pets! is a children’s show featuring three elementary school classroom pets who rescue baby animals using TEAMWORK. The three animals are Linny the Guinea Pig, Turtle Tuck, and Ming-Ming Duckling. The animation style used to create Wonder Pets is called “photo-puppetry”, and was created for the series to allow animators to manipulate photographs of real animals. It also uses drawn objects (not characters). This style makes South Park look spectacular.
Also, the cartoon is almost entirely sing-song.
This DVD starts with the Wonder Pets! travelling to Mother Goose Land to help the cow learn how to jump over the moon. If they don’t help the cow jump over the moon, the cat with the fiddle and the dish and spoon will have no reason to stay. This show is geared for little kids – very little kids. However, I found myself nodding along with the songs, to my distraught shock. I guess it does have a beat that will keep kids occupied in front of the boob tube, and that’s what these DVDs are made for anyway.
There is a disgusting cuteness when you see clips of real kids singing songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider before an episode. It is almost vomit inducing. That leads me to the second episode in this set, where the Wonder Pets! have to help the Itsy Bitsy Spider climb up the water spout. As this continues, I realize this show follows a perfect formula for little kids. The stories all have the same setup and payoff. The songs all sound the same and are very, very catchy. Your child will be able to sing along to every song, even if it is the first time they hear it. You just change a few words here and there, but the songs are all basically the same. The repetition is perfect for little kids to feel comfortable regardless of the episode.
The next episode in the set leads the Wonder Pets! to Puppetland to save Little Red Riding Hood from The Big Bad Wolf. That seemed a strange road for the show to take, as they saved the little girl from an animal. I guess it works because most kids know the story, and even if they don’t, the Wonder Pets! act out the the story before setting off to save Red. Puppetland was an interesting invention, created in a fun style with clouds held up by strings and the grass and trees looking like crochet. There are even small hidden jokes, like a picture of The Tree Pigs in Grandma’s house.
There is also a unique episode where Linny and Ming-Ming have to race off to save Tuck. The set is rounded off with more familiar episodes as they save a griffin, rooster, panda and mouse.
All the episodes look like they take place in a storybook, so that explains the style of animation I complained about earlier. It is hard to complain about this style of filmmaking because I am not its target audience. If you have little kids, this might be the perfect DVD to keep them occupied. It delivers a positive message, teaching teamwork while using a familiar story device in the classic nursery rhymes. You could do worse.
Just be prepared to hate it within a week of giving it to your kid.
The first special feature is a sneak peek for Ni Hao, Kai-Ian. The characters actually talk to the screen and try to get the kids watching involved. In this sneak peek, they try to get kids to do the Dragon Dance with them. I can’t remember ever watching something this ridiculous. I know kids will love it, but I have to think the creators did some serious drugs.
Finally, Poor Baby Squirrel is a music video. It shows Ming-Ming trying to save a squirrel by herself, without using teamwork. For a show that tries to make teamwork mean something, this video fails, and is a horrible addition to the DVD. “Teamwork, Shmeemwork!” indeed.