By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
A wise sage—is there any other kind?—once said MTV2's Wonder Showzen "is like Sesame Street on acid." Or was it crack? Oxycontin? Where's Rush Limbaugh when you need him? But since I was holding, I decided to put this theory into practice: swallowing one tab of Purple Microdot and tuning in to the longest-running daytime program on PBS. Actually, it was only half a tab, and I spit it out as soon as I discovered my car keys had disappeared from my pockets, which turned out to be okay because I was naked in the shower at the time. But that's not the point; the point is that even while staring into the tube while tripping and dripping wet, the primary colors on the television screen during Sesame Street are the most magnificent vision you have ever seen—even more so if you turn the TV on.
But did Sesame Streeton acid = Wonder Showzen while sober? You decide.
After a disclaimer informing me that I was a bad parent or guardian if I allowed a kid to watch, the theme song kicked in over images of children seemingly in peril or—in the case of John-John, saluting at his daddy JFK's funeral—distress. The show was not brought to me by the letter L and the number 7, but by Toilet Rice, Baby's First Sensual Oil and the number 100,000. The fuzzy yellow host was no longer tall but short and stout, and the kids called him Chauncey, not Big Bird. He also did not have the look and sound of an innocent, but a street hustler.
Sesame Street always gave numbers and letters their own personalities, but here they had real-world problems, like No. 2 sinking into depression, drugs and a staged public suicide because she could never be No. 1. The usual celeb guests were upgraded: from Bill Cosby to Dick Gregory; from Ellen DeGeneres to Amy Sedaris; from Judy Collins to Flavor Flav. (That's an upgrade?)
But come on—like everything else in this fucked-priorities land, it's all about the children. My tweaker SS experience brought me kids as cute as bugs in a rug, asked simple questions like "Why is America No. 1?" (sample answers: "White wine, white women and hate crimes"; "Our pay-to-play legal system"); "When is it okay to lie?" ("Accepting Jesus," "To appease the masses"); and "Where do babies come from?" ("Lack of identity," "A desire for welfare").
The best were the precocious little kid street reporters in trench coats, who were introduced with punching sounds as the screen filled with two animated fists with "B-E-A-T K-I-D-S" spelled out below the knuckles. The most intrepid boy reporter was Trevor, who went into a deli to ask the owner, "Who's going to pay for all this steak—I mean spiritually?" He traded his trench coat for a uniformed Hitler getup (complete with mustache) as he approached adults in NYC's financial district. As one man scurried off, the boy yelled, "Yeah, run away, just like my daddy." A Jewish man asked Lil' Adolf if he remembered him from 1942-44. Squaring off into a boxing pose, the boy said, "Wanna rematch, buddy?"
Turns out I had not swallowed a tab of Purple Microdot but a pellet of hamster poo. So I wasn't watching Sesame Street on L but the Wonder Showzen first season DVD that came out Tuesday. I headed straight to the extras to find an interview with the freaks who created this shit—only to uncover more bizarro-ness, including a sneak peek at the Season 2 cartoon The Owesome Squad, about a crime-fighting team of Special Olympics types. Everything from the first season will apparently be abandoned for the follow-up, with the exception of the toon O.B.G.Y.N. D.O.G., about a canine who delivers babies with his teeth.
Hopefully the Wonder Boys are purposely letting us in on their weakest stuff so we can be surprised (and horrified) all over again about what's ahead. In the meantime, anyone got a cure for a hamster-poo hangover?
WONDER SHOWZEN SEASON 2 PREMIERES ON MTV2. FRI., 9:30 P.M.