Case Number 10226: Small Claims Court


MTV // 2006 // 172 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 25th, 2006

The Charge

What are you dreaming about? Is it an American dream?
What are you dreaming about? Is it an American dream?
What are you dreaming about? Is it an American dream?
What are you dreaming about? Is it an American dream?
What are you dreaming about? Is it an American dream?

The Case

Originally Wonder Showzen was pitched to the USA network, and the creators simply called the pilot Kids Show. Legend has it that five minutes into the presentation, the originators John Lee and Vernon Chatman of PFFR were told by USA executives that it would "never air anywhere." (This may or may not be true, but one can only imagine -- lawyers scare me.) Well, somehow Viacom approved the show to air on MTV2 -- a cable channel in search of edgy programming to differentiate itself from the MTV marathons of Laguna Beach and Pimp My Ride. The series went to air as Wonder Showzen, but amazingly did not inspire a new theme song (it remained "Kid Show"). Season One felt like a breath of fresh air -- an evil, cynical kid's show that destroyed everyone's inner child. It inspired laughter and repeated showers because of the dirty feelings generated from actually liking this impish darkness. It was a hit to the funny bone and thorax all at once. So why is it I was disappointed when they did it again for an encore? Isn't repetition funny?

Wonder Showzen: Season Two finds the show taking satirical aim at body issues, middle America, and the politics of Bush. An entire episode and a half is devoted to Horse Apples, which is where the kids show spoof morphs in to a version of a hillbilly sketch show reminiscent of Hee Haw. There's also a program where Clarence (the blue puppet with the annoying voice) spends twenty-two minutes asking park people (often homeless) what is wrong with television. There's even a "pirate" version of the show featuring a low budget reworking of the show you are watching. Your favorite segments such as "Q&A," "Beat Kids," and "Mr. Body" show up again. The only change is that the budget seems bigger, and the idea seems to be going on a little long. But for what it's worth, here are the shows we get:

Body -- "P" goes liposuction crazy and finds happiness
* Time -- a time machine wreaks havoc on Chauncey's personality
* Knowledge -- "Middle America" debuts "Horse Apples"
* Justice -- Chauncey owns slaves in a sepia toned episode
* Science -- Chauncey and Him go on a fantastic voyage in to Wordsworth's brain
* Cooperation -- The gang takes on their pirated personalities
* Mathematics -- Full-length return of "Horse Apples"
* Television -- Clarence seeks the answer to what's wrong with television

The DVD presentation is twisted. It comes in an activity storybook which you can label as your own. I was mad that there were no pictures to color. Extras this time around include two commentaries by scientists on the topics of genocide and the physics of time travel. Outtakes pop up for the "Beat Kids" and "Clarence." There is a look at the people who were duped into being in a test audience for "Horse Apples." The rest of the extras are inspired goofiness which I have listed in full on the sidebar under the "Distinguishing Marks" section (go ahead and look now). The picture is full frame and clear. It looks good. The sound is digital stereo. It sounds good.

Now it is time for FUNNY! or NOT FUNNY:
* Hideous genetic mutations -- Funny!
* "Beat Kids" -- Funny!
* "Horse Apples" -- Not funny!
* A short "Clarence"bit -- Funny!
* A whole episode of "Clarence" -- Not funny!
* "Q&A" -- Funny!
* A screen split into four sections -- Not funny!
* Bashing "the Right" now and then -- Funny!
* Bashing "the Right" all the time -- Not funny!
* Hideous genetic mutations -- Funny!

Fans of season one will find the laws of diminishing returns with Wonder Showzen: Season Two, but it does pick up exactly where the last one stopped and soldier on. What was funny the first time remains so. What didn't work in this set was that meta-jokes can only go so far where the self-referential turns to a cannibalistic version of self-parody and begins to lose steam. In other words, Wonder Showzen's second season feels like failing and repeating first grade without minding. You get recess, make macaroni art, and have a good time, but you don't learn anything new except that sometimes being stuck feels frustrating. Repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating is not as funny as coming up with new jokes and a new take. Maybe it's time...

Review content copyright © 2006 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile
Studio: MTV
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 172 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* "Beat Kids" Outtakes
* "Clarence" Outtakes
* Commentaries from Scientists on "Genocide" and "Time Travel"
* Featurette Showing Test Audience for Horse Apples
* DVD Staring Contest
* Hillbilly Version of Jimmy Neutron
* Sickening Repeated Zoom Footage
* A Button that Takes You Back to the Start of the Disc
* A Random Duck Drawing
* Interactive Menus
* A Message From God
* Activities in the Booklet

* IMDb