Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rating the Kids shows part IV- Chowder

I haven't reviewed the kids' shows as often as I originally said I would back in December, so my apologies. Let's see if we can get back on track with the surprisingly delightful show, Chowder.

Chowder is probably the first children's oriented show to feature trippy drug-inspired landscapes and surreal characters and plot since Sid and Marty Krofft did their shows like H.R. Puffnstuff & The Bugaloos back in the late 60's and early 70's. The show focuses on the self-titled character, Chowder, and his apprenticeship at a bakery/catering place located in the exotic town of Marzipan. That's about the most straightforward part of the show.

Chowder himself seems to be an amalgam of different animals. He has an insatiable appetite, likes to scream alot and seems to suffer from ADDHD. He basically reminds me of my two sons. I suppose Chowder is the symbol for the all-American kid. He works for the doddering master chef Mung Daal. Mung's creations in the kitchen would give Willy Wonka a run for his money but instead of delighting children's sweet teeth they would perhaps chomp the children back. Mung's wife, Truffles is the boss (as are all wives if you think about it) and seems to be an evil fairy with the voice of Carol Kane. (I was actually surprised to learn it wasn't her in the credits at IMDB.com) They also have a souschef that goes by the name of Schnitzel. Schnitzel is a tall imposing creature that only can seem to say, "radda radda radda radda" in different emotive syntax. There are also some side characters that fill out the Marzipan community, my favorite being the Devil-like bunny, Paninni, who claims to be Chowder's girlfriend despite his protests.

Aside from the occasional gross joke, Chowder is a funny, clever and wild show. It just debuted last spring but I have to rank it right up there with SpongeBob Squarepants in fun to watch kids' shows. Aside from the fun brightly colored animation, the show mixes in some puppetry just as SpongeBob throws in the ocassional live action shot. There is some dissociative cognosence whenever there is a clothing pattern like a plaid on a character's clothing or skin as the pattern seems to move in the same way that the lips do on Clutch Cargo.

Minor complaints aside, I find myself chuckling to outright laughing at times to this show. If I was still into the bong, I'd pack myself a big old bowl the next time they run a marathon on Cartoon Network. There is definitely some heady and creative stuff for the kids to watch. I'll cite the episode where they had two 15 minute segments of the same action but viewed from 2 different characters' point of view as a perfect example of this. They also break up the cliches of standard storytelling and common mythos with some unexpected twists along the way. How my soon to be 10 year old follows along is anyone's guess. I bet when he gets older he'll appreciate the show for different reasons than he does now, much like how I look back at shows like The Muppets.

Wow, I just compared this show to a Jim Henson attached project- high praise indeed. I give Chowder a 8.768914 out of 10.

1 comment:

JeffC said...

Radda radda, radda radda radda...oops, sorry about that. Let me start over.

I agree with the blogger on this one. At first it seems just like another silly kid show, but it really is pretty good. And it's a show that I don't mind them watching.

I haven't seen very many episodes, but now I have to see the one with the alternate view segments. Thanks for the tip,

Jeff