"Fairly Oddparents Timmy's Top Wishes": I Wish for Jokes That Work
Like SpongeBob, Fairly Oddparents is a cartoon that appeals to kids with silly hijinks and cute visuals while maintaining an offbeat and often quite sophisticated sense of humor. Sort of a low-rent Aladdin, Oddparents is about young Timmy Turner and his two eccentric and the two gabby fairies, Cosmo and Wanda, who constantly get him into and out of trouble. Generally, Timmy’s wishes have unintended consequences at the humorous expense of those around him, especially his beleaguered parents. But his real nemesis is the teenage babysitter Vicki, who delights in tormenting Timmy when he’s placed in her “care.”
Timmy’s Top Wishes contains seven episodes of the TV show, but only two are solidly entertaining. The first is “Power Pals,” which has Timmy so alienating his friends with his selfishness that they form the Anti-Timmy Force; to replace them, the fairies conjure up the superpowered Power Pals. The episode has a lot of parodic fun at expense of the Superfriends, especially Aquaman: his Power Pal proxy, Wet Willie, exits headquarters by flushing himself down a toilet. Also quite entertaining, if not laugh out loud funny, is “Pipe Down!” Sick of being yelled at for his lousy charades skills, Timmy wishes for complete silence. Unfortunately, when a huge meteor approaches Earth he is forced to resort to charades to communicate a solution. And, in the tradition of Looney Tunes, all the now-muted sounds are amusingly interpreted via musical cues.
The rest of the set might fill time for the younger set, but they are relatively laugh free. “Knighty Knight” has Timmy traveling to the Middle Ages, where he accidentally thwarts the efforts of Merlin (sounding like Yogi Bear) to set a preschool Arthur on the throne. “Where’s Wanda” unfolds in the style of a film noir mystery, with Timmy playing a Sam Spade-like detective who has to track down the missing Wanda. In “Who’s Your Daddy?” Timmy tries to find a replacement for his father for the Squirrel Scout Father & Son Festival, realizing eventually that he has an ideal substitution very close to home, even if she doesn’t shave. (Well, some areas anyway. At least one assumes.) In “Boys in the Band” Timmy, resentful that everyone has forgotten his birthday due to popstar Chip Skylark’s concert, wishes Chip at the mercy of love struck stalker Vicki. Belatedly, he discovers that Chip is really a decent guy. Chip returns in “Chip Off the Old Chip,” when Timmy steals his voice so he can win the lead role in the school musical alongside the lovely Trixie. To his chagrin he finds himself being promoted as Chip’s replacement, while the voiceless Chip is reduced to delivering pizzas.
Oddparents boasts a relatively small cast, but they make up for their scarcity with deafening volume and extreme nuttiness. Timmy himself is a pretty typical kid. He’s a little headstrong and self-absorbed, but otherwise he is basically the straight man who is played off by the wackos. Cosmo, who always pipes up with zany non sequiturs, is the chief jokester, but Timmy’s dad, who graduated from the same school of yet wildly eccentric fathers as those on Jimmy Neutron and Malcolm in the Middle, isn’t far behind. Then there’s the borderline-psychotic Vicki, who must be the product of some traumatic experience the writers suffered as children, as there’s no explanation given for her sadistic tendencies, which are mostly played straight. Unfortunately, none of these characters can speak at a normal volume and Timmy, Vicki, Cosmo, and particularly Wanda usually express themselves via a high-pitched shriek. I’d swear Wanda could shatter glass if Cosmo didn’t keep interrupting her.
Oddparents features rather simple animation with a very 2D look, such that the characters have all their facial features on one side of their face. It’s cute but not very distinctive.
This disc is light on real laughs, but there are still some kneeslappers if you’re patient. There’s only one extra feature, “Butch’s Favorite Disguises,” on the disc, and it isn’t terribly special.
Fairly Oddparents does have some clever jokes, but like Jimmy Neutron it seems much to be focused too much on entertaining its younger patrons: the sometimes heavy-handed morals and grating voices are sure to be better appreciated by kids than adults. Casual viewers would be best-advised to skip this volume and check out the much funnier Channel Chasers disc. Big Oddparents fans may still want to pick up Timmy’s Top Wishes, if only for the wacky “Power Pals” episode, while they continue to wish for a season set.