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 The New Woody Woodpecker Show, though produced from 1999-2002, is a throwback to older cartoons like Looney Toons, except not as clever. The classical music, adult references, and sophisticated artwork is gone, replaced by broad jokes and primary colors. But the cartoonish violence, in which Woody can be hurled across a room and slide flattened to the floor, remains. Woody's injuries are magically healed by the time we see him again, and there are no consequences for violence. Guns do sometimes appear on the show with "bad guys" like pirates brandishing them and shooting into the air. Female characters are often stereotypical: grumpy housewives or sexy young ladies. The male characters aren't much better, being mostly daffy goofballs like Woody or saps he tricks. The character of Buzz Buzzard is particularly troubling, painted as a thug with an Italian accent. Segments featuring penguin Chilly Willy are often less violent, but just as dependent on its characters trying to trick each other as a means to an end.
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What's the story?
Like similar cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck created in the 1940s, Woody Woodpecker has always been a classic "screwball." He's daffy, he's wacky, he doesn't care about reality or other characters as long as he gets what he wants (usually tasty food and a nice, long rest). But in THE NEW WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW, Woody (Billy West) is less all-out daffy than in the past, and more calculating. Most episodes revolve around a character trying to keep Woody from getting something: Buzz Buzzard (Mark Hamill) tries to keep Woody from enjoying a sandwich, say. Woody uses all manner of tricks to deceive Buzz, ultimately getting what he wants by the end of the segment. On some segments, Woody's friends, like Chilly Willy or girlfriend Winnie Woodpecker, take over and have their own outrageous adventures.
Is it any good?
The New Woody Woodpecker Show is a throwback, in the worst sense of the word. Just as violent as Looney Tunes (though not as violent as Tom and Jerry), The New Woody Woodpecker Show lacks the cleverness of classic cartoons, with its sophisticated references to (then-current) movies and stars, its beautiful classical music, its plots ripped from fairy tales and literature.
What you get instead are broad, dumb plots about Woody trying to trick a bunch of pirates into feeding him for free, or babysitting a group of unruly kids. Kids who haven't seen these same plots on equally dumb sitcoms may be diverted, but parents most definitely won't. And the violence, gender, and ethnic stereotyping are intrusive enough that parents won't want kids to watch either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the violence in cartoons like The New Woody Woodpecker Show are dangerous for kids to watch. Do violent cartoons desensitize kids to violence? Do they give kids the idea that violence is fun, funny, and not really that dangerous, since any injuries are healed within minutes?
How can you tell that Buzz Buzzard is a "bad" character? How is his appearance different than Woody's? What about his accent and the words he uses? Why are bad characters in cartoons so frequently black or dark?
Have you seen Woody Woodpecker cartoons from the '40s and '50s? How are these different? How are they the same? Is Woody as a character the same as he was in the earlier cartoons?
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