I am so happy that DadRage is back! His review of Doc McStuffins was spot on, in my opinion. Today he is taking on another favorite. This is a show that he and I actually saw for the first time when our oldest niece was just a toddler. We got a kick out of it then. Fast forward to having our own kids and watching it a bit too many times, and, well, you can imagine some opinions and theories were tossed around. If you are unfamiliar with these kids shows, DadRage has ever so helpfully reviewed them for you. And if you are familiar with them, well, you’ll understand where he is coming from.
As always, this is meant in humor. We are not judging the kids that watch these shows, or the watching of tv in general. The reason he can write these reviews is we watch them too.
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DadRage – A Review of Children’s Programming
REVIEW 2: The Wonder Pets
A guinea pig, duckling, and turtle spend all day hanging out in small cages, then break free to rescue other trapped animals after the schoolhouse in which they’re kept closes for the evening. Despite being able to leave at any time, the animals choose to stay in their cages all day and return after their rescue operations are over, probably suffering from Stockholm syndrome.
Each adventure starts with the disembodied voices of their captors taunting the animals by telling them that they’re leaving (“Bye, Tuck! Have a good night, Ming Ming” etc). Then the camera pans around the room to reveal the room decorated in a “theme” which always coincides with the adventure the Wonderpets go on. This could point to the captors (or “children” as they’re portrayed) having some sort of nascent ability to predict the future, or perhaps that the Wonderpets are put into a hyper-realistic virtual reality every night in which they think they’re saving other animals but really are being experimented on by a psychotic rogue animal control officer. Who’s to say?
Anywho…this is the point in which the phone starts ringing. Despite the fact that the phone rings at the same time every evening, the Pets are never ready for it, mostly because they have to have enough time to sing a song on the way to the phone. “The phone…the phone is ringing! The phone…we’ll be right there!” goes the song, as they slowly make their way to a tin-can that somehow has been connected to the local communications grid. They then answer the phone while another animal on the other side of the line explains how they’ve become trapped in song form. This is, apparently, a requirement that the Wonderpets have. In order to acquire their services, you must request the rescue in the form of a song. Oh, and the tin can also has some sort of Facetime or Skype hookup because when they look inside the can, they can see what’s going on somehow.
So off they go. They assemble their “Flyboat” which is…a boat…that flies. Yup. And it’s made out of crap that has been left lying around the classroom, like tinker toys and extra skateboard wheels. Usually, the way in which they assemble the flyboat gives a clue about the “lesson” that they’ll have to use later. If one of the Pets can’t carry something and has to ask for help, you can bet later in the episode someone’s gonna over pack and have to ask for help moving something. That actually happened in an episode once…the one about the Pony in the desert carrying the mail. Pony Express…get it? No? Go read a book about westward expansion in the late 1800s then, you troglodyte.
So the Pets use their theme and their lesson and they go rescue whatever animal is stuck in whatever predicament. Then they eat some celery. Group laugh. Back to the schoolhouse. Every episode.
LINNY- Linny is a Guinea Pig and the de facto leader of the Wonderpets. She wears a ball cap. She seems to be smarter than the other two. She is often the “voice of reason” of the group and moderates disagreements. Overall, she’s a fairly vanilla character, but you can tell she’s the leader because she’s the one who answers the phone, distributes the celery, and tells the others (especially Ming Ming) if they’re about to do something stupid.
Also, I found out literally AS I’M WRITING THIS that the Guinea Pig’s name is “Linny” and not “Lenny” because WHAT THE HECK KIND OF NAME IS LINNY? Also, I learned just now that Linny is a female. Between my own kids and my nieces and nephew who introduced me to this show, I have been watching it a MINIMUM of 5 years. I thought the Guinea Pig was a boy until 3 seconds ago.
Do you know how many “she’s” are in the first paragraph? I do. Because I had to go through and change every one of them from “he” to “she” because WTF Lenny is a girl and not even named Lenny?!?
TUCK- Tuck is a turtle who I’m at least 51% sure is a boy. I was 99% sure before the whole “Linny” fiasco. Anyway, Tuck is Mr. Sensitive. He’s the heart of the group. He wears swim shoes and a weird little sailor’s hat. He might also have a mild form of OCD, as he tends to stress out when things change too much or aren’t right at his comfort level. On the surface, he is too nice, but I think underneath he has a seething hatred for Ming Ming. In at least one episode, he even suggests to Linny that things would be better if it was “just the two of them.” Of course, now that I realize Linny is female, maybe that was just Tuck trying to make a move on her. Even though interspecies canoodling is often frowned upon, the Pets seem to have a very limited social circle, so I can’t really blame Tuck for taking the opportunity, ya know?
MING MING- Ming Ming is a duckling with an adorable speech impediment that the show uses for comedic effect. Now we won’t mention that the name Ming Ming has an Asian flavor to it, and we definitely won’t make the connection that her speech impediment, in which she replaces the hard /r/ sound with a /w/ sound, is a common Asian stereotype. Nope, not mentioning it. Moving right past it.
So, Ming Ming is sassy, sarcastic, and way overconfident of her abilities. There’s a whole episode where she tries to do a rescue by herself (because she’s arrogant) and ends up being the one that needs rescuing. She smack-talks Tuck about once an episode. Remember when I said I think Tuck has some anger toward Ming Ming? Ming Ming straight-up wants Tuck out of the picture. She’s also mentioned (at least twice) that things would be better if it were just Linny and Ming Ming, no Tuck. She then qualifies with “just kidding” because…we all know that jerk who says something offensive that they totally mean but when it doesn’t land like they expect, they bail out with “just kidding!” That’s freakin’ Ming Ming.
So, she’s really the reason to watch the show. She’s like the Real Housewife of the WonderPets. If there’s a toddler version of “Oh no she didn’t!” then that’s what your 4-year old will be saying.
Teamwork. Oh man, do they emphasize teamwork. It’s like the whole point of the show. “What’s gonna work? TEAMWORK!” goes a song they sing EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. Also, they have a lot of funny references for the adults. My favorite is when they save a pack of rats who sing, dress, and talk like 1960’s era Las Vegas crooners. I’ll give you a second.
The Rat Pack. Get it? Get it?
Ming Ming can get on your nerves after a while. She is Kardashian-level arrogant. That can rub people the wrong way. Also, Tuck is kind of wishy-washy. Hearing the teamwork song for the 100th time may have you considering checking yourself into a local psychiatric facility for a voluntary 72-hour hold.
Ming Ming states that she is from Kalamazoo. In Illinois. Now, this makes no sense you may say…Kalamazoo is in Michigan. Or you may not be saying that because the American education system does not stress geography even a little bit. Anyway, it turns out she is actually from a ZOO called KalamaZOO, in Illinois. Wait, what?
Also, there’s an episode where they all quit being the WonderPets and go join the circus for the summer. If that isn’t weird enough, they all come up with different acts and basically stop hanging out altogether. Is their friendship that proximity-based that as soon they get the slightest amount of time away from each other they drift apart? I mean, they don’t move to different states, they’re still part of the same circus all summer long, like 2 tents away from each other. And who in the schoolhouse is supposed to be taking care of the pets over the summertime? Did nobody plan for the 2 ½ months school was out? Shouldn’t the teacher have brought them home, or given them away or something? Good luck explaining the three pet corpses to your preschool class on the first day of school, you monster.
When Ming Ming says “This is sewious.” Always funny. Also, the age range this is for usually struggles to work together, so the overall “teamwork” that the show stresses is a good lesson for the wee tikes.
It’s so saccharin-sickly-sweet cute sometimes that if you’re not in the mood for it, you’re gonna end up wanting to punch a tiny animal in the face. I have screamed “Ming Ming you are the WORST!” at the television screen no less than 3 times in my life. Also, tin can technology has not advanced to the point depicted in the show. Lies and deception.
IS IT EDUCATIONAL?:
Minimally. They stress the “teamwork” aspect, which makes sense since it’s technically aimed at the preschool kiddos who are more interested in building social skills than they are about actual letter and number sense. Linny will generally throw out a fun fact about an animal or environment that they’re interacting with.
They have some catchy tunes. If you’ve seen more than 2 episodes, you’ll be humming “What’s gonna work?…TEAMWORK!” under your breath more frequently than is normal for an adult. The “WonderPets are on our way,” and the aforementioned “Phone is ringing” song are included in every episode and are very likely to sear themselves into your brain upon multiple viewings.
ANNOYING SCALE (1 meaning “Kind of Awesome” and 5 meaning “YOU WILL WISH FOR DEATH”):
Two stepped-on Legos. It’s a solid 2 for the first 100 times you watch it and goes hard-5 afterward. It’s super cute for young kids, there are some fun things for the adults, and you will genuinely like watching it with your little one. After 100+ views and hearing the same songs over and over, however, you may find yourself wishing that these animals stayed in whatever pet shop they came from.
I for one enjoy this show. But I think it might not stick around in the rotation once Ali and Sammy get bigger. The last thing those two need is to learn how to use teamwork to get into even more shenanigans. I’ve gotten a couple of requests for reviews you want to see. DadRage is hard at work on the next one. (He keeps insisting his day job comes first. Really? 😉 ) What show do you want to be reviewed? And what are your thoughts on The Wonder Pets?
Check out DadRage’s other reviews!
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