The Perils of Penelope Pitstop

TV review by
Deirdre Sheppard, Common Sense Media
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop TV Poster Image
Retro cartoon offers fun and excitement.

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age 6+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Penelope is a strong female role model, especially for the late '60s (when the show originally aired).

Violence & Scariness

The Evil Claw constantly sets traps for Penelope, mostly of the ropes-and-explosives variety.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this retro animated classic features one of the sweetest heroines ever to hit the TV screen. That said, not-so-nice concepts -- greed, violence, revenge -- are brought to the forefront in every episode. If parents take the time to explain these concepts (which potentially could set a bad example), then the show can be taken as silly, fun, exciting entertainment.

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Kid, 10 years old June 3, 2009

What's the story?

THE PERILS OF PENELOPE PITSTOP follows the adventures of a young, wealthy race car driver who's always on the run, trying to save her fortune from the gluttonous Evil Claw. Unbeknownst to young heiress Penelope Pitstop (voiced by Janet Waldo), her troubles are caused by her guardian, Sylvester Sneeky (Paul Lynde), who is really the Evil Claw in disguise. Thanks to the Anthill Mob and their vehicle Chug-a-Boom (Paul Winchell, Don Messick, and Mel Blanc provide the voices for the antic-prone group), Penelope is always saved from fatal disaster just in the nick of time.

Is it any good?

Although The Perils of Penelope Pitstop is a classic for a reason, there are a few things to watch out for. For one thing, Penelope's rescuers are labeled as a "mob"; to most people, mobs are associated with crime, so it's possible that kids could be confused about how Penelope attained her riches. Also, the Evil Claw cheerfully plots violent demises for Penelope, such as trying to feed her to an alligator or tying her up in a sinking tank. But all in all, the show's violence and innuendos aren't any racier than in other series from this era.

Debuting in 1969 as a spin-off of Wacky Races (and inspired by the silent film The Perils of Pauline), Penelope Pitstop offers a positive female role model. Even though every episode starts with Penelope crying "help!," she thrived during a male-dominated era, maintaining the financial independence of a man while upholding the manners of a lady. Parents can use Penelope to show their kids that self sufficiency isn't limited to men or tomboys.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the power of money. Why is money important? Can you be happy without having a lot of money? What's the difference between wanting money and being greedy? Would you say the Evil Claw is greedy? How can Penelope better protect herself from the Evil Claw?

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