By KJ Dell Antonia,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Kids will like magical bear tribe's adventures.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There are no real pointed lessons here, but good always triumphs, and evil is occasionally chastened. The characters' costumes and customs have Native American connections -- which now suggest some dated stereotypes.
Violence & Scariness
These cuddly creatures are engaged in the eternal battle of good vs. evil -- or, in this case, nice vs. mean. They attack one another, but the methods are never deadly or even dangerous -- any injuries usually come from falling after a failed attempt at some kind of stunt. Grabbing, restraining, and abductions are common.
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Products & Purchases
Once, you could buy Paw Paws figurines at the toy store -- now they go for big bucks on eBay.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although the Paw Paws look like adorable Care Bears in Native American dress, there's some violence in this cartoon that, although mild, could be scary for very young viewers. Characters fall from great heights, are grabbed by gigantic creatures, and call to one another in fear, and it can be difficult to tell the "good" Paw Paws from the "bad" ones. The bears' Native American trappings may strike some viewers as being dated and/or stereotypical today.
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What's the Story?
The Paw Paws are magical little bears, a cross between the Care Bears, the Smurfs , and the Ewoks. They live in a forest village protected by Totem Bear, Totem Eagle, and Totem Tortoise, powerful creatures that are summoned by Princess Paw Paw's (voiced by Susan Blu) moonstone necklace. Most of the episodes center around the attempts of Dark Paw (Stanley Ralph Ross) and his evil Aunt Pruney (Ruth Buzzi) to steal the necklace and gain control of the totems.
Is It Any Good?
Young kids who are ready for some adventure in their viewing love the Paw Paws, who were originally on TV in the '80s. They work together, they ride flying horses, and, while they can defend themselves fairly well from Dark Paw and the "meanos," they always have their protective totems to fall back on. Few 4- and 5-year-olds would ask for more, and older kids without a lot of TV experience tend like it too, making it a good afternoon compromise for siblings. Some of the Native American imagery hasn't aged that well, but there's no cultural disrespect, either.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the show uses Native American/"tribal" costumes and images -- in this case, tomahawks and an all-important totem pole. Would a cartoon made today include these items? If it did, do you think they would be treated differently? Why? How do people's ideas of what stereotypes aren't OK change over time? What changes them?
- Premiere date: October 31, 1985
- Cast: Don Messick, Frank Welker, Susan Blu
- Network: Boomerang
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Wild Animals
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: August 30, 2022
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