Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturtainment: Fairly OddParents (1998)

Butch Hartman's Fairly OddParents debuted as a recurring feature on Nickelodeon's Oh Yeah! Cartoons!, which was the network's answer to Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon Show before being granted its own series in 2001.

The premise is rather simple. Timmy Turner is granted a pair of fairy godparents, Wanda and her dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers husband, Cosmo, to give him whatever he wishes for, which usually results in disaster, until Timmy learns a lesson and wishes for a reversal.

The problem I had with this show, and, mind you, I'm not the target demographic, is that it presents school-age children such as Timmy as ignorant of education and more interested in imaginary things. In truth, learning also is required to help your imagination. I always found Timmy to be slightly higher up the IQ ladder from Cosmo, which isn't saying much, but in the pre-series shorts, Cosmo was actually a little smarter. Why he was dumbed down when he was meant to be a father figure, I'll never understand.

Timmy had two basic enemies. One was his babysitter, Vicki, who bullied him when his parents weren't around, and Mr. Crocker, who was more concerned with revealing the existence of fairies, and thus used Timmy's lack of interest in learning against him. The series' popularity also attracted some celebrity guest stars, such as Adam West, Ben Stein, Gilbert Gottfried, and, perhaps most prominently, Jay Leno. The Tonight Show host was cast as the superhero, The Crimson Chin, to whom Timmy became a part-time sidekick.

Following is a 2005 episode that brings together the Crimson Chin and.....Catman (West):



That the series is back in production now is a testimony to the show's popularity, and especially that of its central characters, 14 years after their debut. Nickelodeon, of course, played the show into the ground in its peak years with relentless weekend marathons, but then, that has become standard practice with cablers these days.

Rating: B.

4 comments:

magicdog said...

Although I wasn't the target demo either, I enjoyed the early seasons of FOP.

Conveniently, my neice was a fan and we watched together and I appreciated the messages the show would ultimately lead to.

The problems began when Cosmo was dumbed down to the point of frustration, Wanda became a nag, and Timmy almost wholly unlikeable. They've since added "Baby Poof" to the mix and it's only gone further downhill IMO.

I miss the eps in which Cosmo was a bit of a man-child, but not the utter incompetent he's morphed into, and he and Wanda were such a great fairy team.

I also had a problem with Vicki. Although she was a great bully for poor Timmy, at least in earlier eps she was reined in by her parents to some degree (one ep had her scared her parents would find out something) and it made things a bit more fair. Later eps had her parents afraid of her as well!


I tend to pretend the show ended after "Abracatastrophe".


Butch and Co. really should have let the show go by now.

hobbyfan said...

Blame it on Nick and their accounting department. They still see money in the series, so it went back into production.

What I didn't mention is that Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) voiced Chester, one of Timmy's pals, in early episodes, then left, I believe, to do Malcolm.

Mario500 said...

I did not realize this program had a "target demographic", yet I still enjoyed the earlier episodes. I understand advertisers and Nickelodeon have target demographics, but "The Fairly OddParents" should appeal to folks of any age.

I believe the show has stayed in production too long. Some programs are better off with shorter production runs and they remain enjoyable during rebroadcasts and replays on home video. This applies to other programs and not just "The Fairly OddParents". When program producers feel there is nothing more to tell about the characters of the program, broadcasters should be more understanding and let the producers finish their series before moving forward with other projects.

hobbyfan said...

The "target demographic" would have to have been the elementary school kids who were tuning in to other Nicktoons of the period, like SpongeBob Squarepants.