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 Wacky Races is a reboot of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the late 1960s, notably unhampered by the gender and socioeconomic stereotypes of the original. The show boasts much physical humor, a lot of which lands the characters on the sidelines of their races because of injuries from explosions, collisions, and falls. The resident villain sometimes resorts to sabotage rather than relying on hard work and determination to win, but he rarely wins by cheating. These high-stakes races are lots of fun for kids and true enough to the original series that parents who watched them won't lament the renovation.
What's the story?
WACKY RACES is an animated series about racers who compete on racetracks and other courses throughout the world. Driving cars (and sleds and skates and anything else that moves) that match their eccentric personalities, Peter Perfect (voiced by Diedrich Bader), Tiny (Billy West) and Bella (Tom Kenny), I.Q. Ickly (Jill Talley), and Penelope Pitstop (Nicole Parker) attempt to outdo each other on the course, but they also have to watch out for their scheming competitor Dick Dastardly (Peter Woodward) and his sidekick, Muttley (West again), who plot their opponents' failures.
Is it any good?
This cartoon is a highly entertaining new take on a classic show, keeping the best qualities of the trademark Hanna-Barbera action but losing the gender and cultural stereotypes that stand out for negative reasons today. Like the oldie, the appeal is in the creative vehicle designs inspired by the kooky drivers' identities, and in the preposterous predicaments the races present. A welcome addition is the on-screen presence of the announcer, Brick Crashman (Christopher Judge), who commentates the highs and lows along the way from mobile announcer's desks.
Wacky Races isn't a show that will teach kids anything about, well, anything, but it's mostly harmless fun. You can draw some talking points from how it presents competition (Is it friendly? Are the races fair? How do racers handle loss?) and from what Dastardly's experiences suggest about the reliability of cheating your way to success.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what character qualities stand out most in Wacky Races. Is stereotyping always bad? Are there prominent stereotypes at play here, especially with regard to Penelope?
If you've seen the original series, compare how it presents its characters to how this one does. Was any of the original content offensive? Were the races any more or less imaginative? Overall, would you consider this a successful reboot?
Do you have a favorite racer in this show? What positive qualities does he/she have? How do the different car and vehicle styles give certain drivers a competitive edge in some circumstances? Does Dastardly ever win by his tactics of sabotage?
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