Perhaps nothing will ever replace the trippy-creepy “charms” of Teletubbies. But for my precious wasted-time, I prefer zoobing out to Linny, Ming-Ming and Tuck, the opera-singing troika of Wonder Pets! This, friends, is a thinking slacker’s kids show. Or, more to the point, it’s a show that’s less likely to turn your kids into future slackers.
Wonder Pets! was brought to my attention by a friend who loves opera and guinea pigs. Wonder Pets!, you see, has both. Yes, it’s opera. Well, operetta. For full-blown opera, you’d probably need larger animals. But they are wee wonders, these: There’s Linny, a guinea pig with leadership instincts; Ming-Ming, a duckling with good intentions; and Tuck, a steadfast turtle. They fly around the world in a Frisbee, saving animals in jeopardy; then they celebrate with song and celery. Actually, “song” doesn’t do the Wonder Pets justice: These cutout-animated fuzzies have friggin’ leitmotifs. The music supervisor is a Grammy-nominated producer (Jeffrey Lesser), and the composer, Larry Hochman, just won a Tony for orchestrating Spamalot. Guest composer orchestrators include young Turk music theater savants like Jason Robert Brown (Parade) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q). The results fall somewhere between elementary Mozart and elementary Gilbert and Sullivan. And the lyrics are really quite cunning — the meter’s actually rather complex, this being recitatif and all. And the trio’s globe-trotting, Thunderbird-ish adventures are quite compelling.
“Good day to you, Emu/We want to help this kangaroo!”
What can I say? It makes me unaccountably happy.