Wonder Showzen: Season 1 (2005)
Genre: Comedy Animation Series (for Mature Audiences)
Starring: A score of children who probably aren't even allowed to watch this show that they make.
Created By: Vernon Chatman, John Lee
Overview: Geared to look like a late 70s children's show complete with puppets and cartoons, this cynical, racist, and scathing commentary on society and its ills is certainly NOT for kids.
Acting: One of the creators of this show was a writer from Conan O'Brien, Chris Rock, that sort of thing. The fact that these guys are new on the scene is really what I think makes this show so unique. No preconceived formulas, just a bunch of kids who make cracks at adults and their rotting world. Some of the child actors are perfect in their role, sometimes they're a little unrehearsed, but it always looks honest.
Cinematography: My favorite section is the child-narrated 'field-trip' videos. Remember that show, "Polka Dot Door"? Every episode they'd have a segment where we open the door and take a trip through a chocolate factory or a dairy farm? Well this does the same thing, keeping that same 70s low-budge kids show look, except this showcases tours through a hot dog slaughterhouse or a chicken TV dinner line factory, but with cynical commentary like "We're disproportionately disconnected to our dinner!" in the cutest little girl voice ever.
Script: "Question: What is Heaven?" Children answer "Somewhere I'll never go", "That's where my legs are. Keep kicking those angels up there!" "That's where whiskers went when he died, my brother whiskers." Right after that we get the 'Beat Kids' segment where a little girl asks men on Wall Street, "Who did you exploit today?" Images, puppets and flow are one thing, but without the level of ridiculous and daring writing, this would have just flopped right out. Go Showzen!
Plot: Open with puppets, then ask kids a staged question with funny answers. Enter the 'Beat Kids' reporter style segment, then Clarence, the most annoying puppet in the universe harassing people on the street, like asking joggers 'What are you running from?'. Like children, the point of this is short-attention-span snipets. What did you want, a drama series? Forget it. As children's shows go, this sticks pretty close to the formula, keeping away from drawn out stories, but there are characters you will grow to love, and I guess that's good continuity...
Mood: This is probably the strangest show I've ever seen in my life. There's moments of disgustingly hilarity, then all of a sudden there's a turkey getting his head chopped off, or a shot of a dead Iraqi soldier, or a drowned boy getting CPR. Every time you're getting into the humour of it, the program smacks you hard, showing you what the deep, dark point is. No way in Hell is this a show for everyone. In fact many will find it quite disturbing, because as they say in the disclaimer, it's too honest. That's why the rest of you will love it.
Overall Rating: 84% (The Mozten Showzen Ever!)
Aftertaste: I can't get this out of my head. This is honestly one of the best shows ever made for us 'Gen X/Y' crowd. We remember the old kids shows that taught us to prepare for the realities of society, and now that we're ready to really hear it, they tell it like it is, and without being purely disgusting and raunchy. This is genuinely funny and painfully poignant. No way could we cope with the message if this was serious. This is the feel they should have gone with when presenting that terrible downer, Darwin's Nightmare...