A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series centers on mischief-making and playing practical jokes on people. Some of it is a bit mean-spirited (even though the object of the prank may well deserve it), while some is just good-natured fun. The main characters are always out to put snooty classmates and townspeople in their place by embarrassing or frightening them, but their dastardly plans often backfire, so there are consequences for their ill intentions. They also have positive qualities: They look out for each other; they're remarkably clever, creative, and resourceful; and they even help their community occasionally instead of just spreading chaos. The show has an interactive component run through its Web site.
What's the story?
Based on a book series by Charles Ogden, lively animated series EDGAR & ELLEN revolves around the titular 12-year-old twins, whose primary mission in life is playing mischievous practical jokes (on each other as well as classmates and teachers) and putting the snooty residents of Nod's Limbs in their place. (Edgar and Ellen's adventures air as both an episodic cartoon series and longer specials.) Edgar and Ellen are voiced by Kathleen Barr and Jillian Michaels, respectively.
Is it any good?
Edgar and Ellen are incorrigible pranksters. What they have going for them is that they're actually quite bright -- their science teacher is known to praise them for their knowledge of topics such as carnivorous plants and complex chemical compounds (which kind of makes you wonder how they acquired that knowledge ... and how they plan to use it!). Whether they're planting something vile in a schoolmate's locker or planning the ultimate spooky Halloween party at their house, you have to admire the twins' creativity and the clever gadgets they craft to carry out their mischief. That said, Edgar and Ellen's constant pranks can get a bit tiresome, and their missions are usually self-centered (although they do watch out for each other). However, there's occasionally a noble intention underlying their antics, such as saving the town from a hypnotist who has most of the residents under a spell, or joining forces with the snobby school princess, Stephanie (Ashleigh Ball), to help win Nod's O-Limb-pics Winter Games.
The series is fairly entertaining and will probably appeal to kids who enjoy Addams Family-style humor. Although the series may appear to condone playing pranks in school and picking on those who are different from you, there are usually consequences for these actions, and much of the show's humor is mined from Edgar and Ellen's devious plans backfiring on them -- which almost always happens. The show offers an interactive component: Fans can log on to the Edgar & Ellen Web site and suggest a theme or storyline for a two-minute segment that's presented at the end of each episode. As the segment airs, the name and age of the viewer who suggested the plotline are displayed, and the twins address that viewer directly after they carry out the proposed prank.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about playing pranks and how to treat people who are different from you. What jokes did Edgar and Ellen plan? Why did they decide to pull these pranks? Was it to help someone, or was it for their own gain? Were they successful? Do you agree with their approach to handling conflict with people who aren't like them? What do you think of playing practical jokes on people? Would you do that to someone? How would you feel if someone pulled a prank on you? If you don't get along with someone because they think or act differently than you, is it right to embarrass or scare them?
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