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 that Packages from Planet X is an animated show about a group of friends that includes some rude humor. The jokes are silly, fast-paced, and slightly coarse: One piece of technology the friends play with is a "chick magnet," another is a set of underpants that makes the user smarter. There are jokes about imminent death and bodily functions. Friends mock and insult each other, and there is cartoonish violence such as buildings being leveled where everyone walks out unharmed but black from smoke. The action moves very quickly; younger children may be intimidated or overstimulated by the fast pace, and parents won't appreciate all the sarcastic talk.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Dan Zembrosky (Vincent Tong) is an ordinary teen with an ordinary life. That is, until he begins receiving mysterious PACKAGES FROM PLANET X, which contain pieces of alien technology that changes his life somehow, such as a pair of underwear that makes him smart enough to compete in an academic competition with his best friends Amanda (Brittney Irvin) and Troll (Ty Olsson, Ord from Dragon Tales). However, with each small gain of abilities or coolness, there's generally a price to pay: The underwear overheats to the point where it detonates a school, and a cooking gizmo accidentally creates a meatball made of monsters. But Troll, Amanda, and Dan manage to muddle through somehow, and it's all smiles and one-liners at each episode's end.
Is it any good?
Loud, brash, and somewhat rude and crass, Packages from Planet X is the kind of show tweens love and parents wish they wouldn't. The sci-fi aspects of the show are fun, but the humor is awfully lowbrow, with jokes about underpants and burping and smoke emanating from one's underpants having to do with a spicy curry. The trio of friends at the center of the show are competitive and (jokingly) nasty, trying to one-up each other with sarcastic quips and pranks. And the action is so tediously sitcom-trope-ish. If there is a bicycle and a pier, that bike will soon be in the water. If there is a trashcan, someone's going into it, probably butt-first. Yawn.
Of course, young kids haven't seen the same sitcom jokes over and over, so they'll find Packages from Planet X fresher and more amusing than their parents, rather on the order of a junior Futurama. Parents will want to check out the show first, however, to make sure they're okay with the show's level of crude humor, its energy level, and the way its characters are depicted.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why so many TV shows and movies revolve around aliens and space travel. Why is this such a perennially fruitful concept? What does it say about us that we like to think about finding new words and forms of life?
Troll is given a body that is larger than those of Dan and Amanda. What do you think the animators' purpose was in drawing the character this way? Is it significant that he goes by an unflattering nickname? What about the fact that no one else depicted in the show has a larger body type?
How are viewers of Packages from Planet X supposed to feel about Dan, Amanda, and Troll? Are we supposed to like them? Envy them? Criticize them? What about the way these characters are presented brings you to this conclusion?