What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is another Scooby-Doo-style '70s Hanna-Barbera romp. It's dated, but kids will still get a kick out of the familiar characters and stories. There's some mild cartoon violence (no real injuries or blood), and one of the main characters is a ghost, but he's not scary. The token girl, April -- who at first seems like the worst possible giggly blonde stereotype -- is nearly always the one to solve the mystery.
What's the story?
FUNKY PHANTOM is another of Hanna-Barbera's 1970s knock-offs of their own hit, Scooby-Doo. This time, the requisite band of kids travels around solving mysteries accompanied by … a ghost! The kids -- Fred-like boy Skip (The Monkees' Micky Dolenz), Shaggy-like boy Augie (Tommy Cook), and April (Kristina Holland), who's pretty like Daphne but smart like Velma (a nice combination created by the need not to overwhelm the audience with too many characters) -- travel in a Speed-Buggy-style car that doesn't talk, accompanied by ghost Mudsy (Daws Butler). Mudsy is a Revolutionary War type who's more coward than hero (he's forever saying that when Paul Revere rode in, he ran the other way).
Is it any good?
Kids who like Scooby will like this show, too. They'll actually appreciate the familiarity of the characters and the plots, which have just a slight twist. Here, the ghost angle yields its own little formula: At the end of every episode, the helpless heir/scientist/traveling carnival owner gets to say something along the lines of "We've solved every part of the mystery but one -- if I didn't know better, I'd swear there was a ghost here!" and we can all have a knowing laugh. Young kids not yet versed in the ways of cartoons enjoy this.
Making a bunch of cookie-cutter shows may have been a bit lacking as a strategy for an entire cartoon studio, but it certainly works for 5- and 6-year-olds. The violence is as minimal as you'd think, mostly consisting of knocking people over and scooping them up into contrived net traps. The "monsters" and other otherworldly types might be frightening to younger children -- though if they do watch, they'll quickly understand that these creatures are never real. Funky Phantom airs on Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel, which means there are no ads except for other Cartoon Network programming.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how this show's characters compare with the ones on Scooby-Doo and other similar cartoons. Why is there always a girl, a Shaggy-type guy, and a non-Shaggy guy? What are the designated differences between the two guys? Do people really fit these molds, or do they sometimes like to fit themselves into them? How can you tell that this show was originally made a long time ago? How would it be different today?