Fanboy and Chum Chum
The faith Nickelodeon executives have placed in their new show, Fanboy and Chum Chum, is fairly obvious considering that they debuted it commercial free following the new SpongeBob movie (Truth or Square). And why not? If SpongeBob can become a worldwide phenomenon then there is no obvious reason that it can't happen to these two new characters. They even have CGI on their side, something slumdog SpongeBob has had to live without.
Aimed squarely at the seven and under crowd this show follows the unfortunate social life of these two young boys (seven? eight? nine? somewhere in there) as they try to navigate the perilous waters of elementary school while balancing the act of being superheroes that have no actual powers. It is a premise that has serious potential, and with the combination of its spastic energy and mad, screaming color palate should have no problem being deemed a suitable distraction for the young `uns by multitasking parents.
The characters themselves are fairly obnoxious and act in a way that would see most kids put up for adoption. They have a boundless energy and are perpetually employing this hysterical laugh of theirs that will curl your hair. Through the first two episodes they have strained themselves to impress the new kid in school (an actual wizard, the single character on the show with real supernatural powers) and fallen head-over-heels in love with a new toy that looks suspiciously like Optimus Prime.
The inherent downside to writing a review for entertainment that is intended for young children is in knowing that your words are going to mean even less than they usually do. The children themselves aren't going to be reading so the best you can do is talk directly to the parents about whether this is something they'd want uploaded into their offsprings minds. Well, it certainly won't cause any lasting damage, for what that's worth. There is a healthy portion of potty humor so if Little Tommy isn't ready for that you may want to steer him away from these two super heroes.
In the first episode Fanboy and Chum Chum have their first contact with Kyle, the already mentioned gifted wizard, who it appears will serve as the shows main antagonist. Kyle dazzles them with his magic, but the boys, dim bulbs that they are, think he is faking it and refuse to accept his superiority. To retaliate they turn to the old "pull my finger" joke, only that quickly turns into a stomach-souring scene in which Kyle is literally doused with a thick, putrid, green gas. Oh, the hilarity. Let us pray that it doesn't lead to a rash of monkey-see-monkey-do copycat attacks on playgrounds across America.
The main problem, from my adult perspective, is that the only sense this show seems to make is anti-sense. Take, for instance, this little bit of brilliance: "He's the smell of ham right after you take it out of the drier." Come again? One might suppose that that line makes some kind of sense to a five-year-old, but the fear is that infantile grown ups will latch on this show in an attempt to watch something that requires no thought at all. That is the crowd, after all, that made Adult Swim a hit and the reality is that Fanboy and Chum Chum is no less sophisticated than Assy McGee or Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
To make matters even worse the episodes are chopped in half, so really your attention span only has to last 12 minutes for you to fully enjoy the stories being told. If perhaps you're a more discerning adult you could attempt to decode hidden meanings here but that is a nasty trap to fall in as there is nothing hiding behind this curtain. The look of the show is relentless – Super Mario Bros mixed with Japanese Anime with everything turned up to the nth degree – but it is also eye catching and inspired. The show is bright, bouncy and spazmatic. It's a sugar high converted to cartoon form, what five-year-old could possibly ask for anything more?