PBS // 2007 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // March 10th, 2012
Fighting for truth, justice, and use of the right word.
Wordgirl is a hidden gem in the cluttered world of animated television shows. Sure, it "enriches vocabulary skills, fosters better reading comprehension, and instills a love of language in all children," but more importantly, it's a riot. Filled with snappy dialogue, funny ideas, and bad guys as weird and original as anything from The Tick (the Butcher, for instance, can shoot any variety of meat from his hands), Wordgirl is an oasis of fun in the drudge march that makes up the current PBS daily lineup.
Wordgirl is a super-powered alien from the planet Lexicon who came to earth in the guise of a little girl named Becky. She and her monkey sidekick Captain Huggy Face live with her adopted parents but zoom to the rescue whenever one of the town's inept criminals decide it's time for some crime. This short DVD contains the titular double-length episode plus two regular episodes.
In "The Rise of Miss Power," Wordgirl becomes frustrated with the constant need to stop whatever she's doing to fight bad guys. Enter Miss Power (voiced wonderfully by Glee's Jane Lynch), a super-powered woman who wants to teach Wordgirl some new tricks. Among them is adjusting Wordgirl's attitude; she's just too nice to the bad guys. "Do you think any of these criminals feel bad about constantly interrupting your life?" she asks. When Wordgirl points out that Miss Power is being a little harsh toward Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy, Miss Power responds, "Don't you think it was harsh of him to try to crush City Hall?" Both good points, and the only bad part about the episode is that it doesn't take a balanced view of the issue; Wordgirl becomes mean to everyone, including her parents and Captain Huggy Face. Still, no other "educational" cartoon would even bring the issue up.
The second episode is named "A World Without Wordgirl: Part 2." Before you ask, there is no Part 1. It carries a theme similar to the first episode's: mad when her birthday party gets interrupted by yet another crime spree, Becky impulsively wishes that the Worldgirl part of herself didn't exist. When the wish comes true, she finds herself powerless in a city that has been taken over by Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy.
The last episode shows that Wordgirl's writers aren't afraid to take the show in any direction whatsoever, since Wordgirl only gets a brief moment at the end. Instead, we get an episode of Becky's favorite show, "The Pretty Princess and Magic Pony Power Hour," wherein a Utopian kingdom in which everyone's happy is brought into chaos when the king's magical crown is stolen by the evil Count Cloudy.
The television aspect ratio has been stretched out for your widescreen viewing pleasure, and it looks just fine. As with most cartoons geared toward the younger crowd, colors are bright and stick mostly to the primaries, and the art is simple. The Dolby 2.0 sound is quite sufficient. The only extras are DVD-ROM Flash games and printable coloring pages.
My sons complained that they get enough education from school and didn't want to watch Wordgirl: The Rise of Miss Power because they didn't want to learn anything, but they still laughed along with the show, and so did I. That tells you what you need to know: it's written with both audiences in mind.
Review content copyright © 2012 Josh Rode; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* DVD-ROM Content
* Official Site