A wise sage once said that MTV2's "Wonder Showzen" "is like "Sesame Street' on acid."
When I sat down to watch the first-season DVD, I was greeted by a disclaimer informing me that I was a bad parent or guardian if I allowed a kid to watch. Then the theme song kicked in over images of children seemingly in peril or in the case of John-John, saluting at his daddy JFK's funeral distress.
The show was not brought to me by the letter L and the number 7, but by Toilet Rice, Baby's First Sensual Oil, and the number 100,000. The fuzzy yellow host was no longer tall but short and stout, and the kids called him Chauncey, not Big Bird. He also did not have the look and sound of an innocent, but, rather, a street hustler.
"Sesame Street" always gave numbers and letters their own personalities, but here they had real-world problems, like No. 2 sinking into depression, drugs and a staged public suicide because she could never be No. 1. The usual celeb guests were upgraded: from Bill Cosby to Dick Gregory; from Ellen DeGeneres to Amy Sedaris; from Judy Collins to Flava Flav. (That's an upgrade?)
But come on, it's all about the children. The DVD brought me kids as cute as bugs in a rug, asked simple questions like "Why is America No. 1?" (sample answers: "White wine, white women and hate crimes"; "Our pay-to-play legal system"); "When is it OK to lie?" ("Accepting Jesus," "To appease the masses"); and "Where do babies come from?" ("Lack of identity," "A desire for welfare").
The best were the precocious little-kid street reporters in trench coats, who were introduced with punching sounds as the screen filled with two animated fists with "B-E-A-T K-I-D-S" spelled out below the knuckles. The most intrepid boy reporter was Trevor, who went into a deli to ask the owner, "Who's going to pay for all this steak I mean, spiritually?"
He traded his trench coat for a uniformed Hitler getup (complete with mustache) as he approached adults in New York City's financial district. As one man scurried off, the boy yelled, "Yeah, run away, just like my daddy." A Jewish man asked Li'l Adolf if he remembered him from 1942-44. Squaring off into a boxing pose, the boy said, "Wanna rematch, buddy?"
I headed straight to the extras to find an interview with the freaks who created it only to uncover more bizarro-ness, including a sneak peek at the Season 2 cartoon "The Owesome Squad," about a crime-fighting team of Special Olympics types.
Everything from the first season will apparently be abandoned for the follow-up, with the exception of the toon "O.B.G.Y.N. D.O.G.," about a canine who delivers babies with his teeth.
Hopefully the Wonder Boys are purposely letting us in on their weakest stuff so we can be surprised (and horrified) all over again about what's ahead. In the meantime, anyone got a cure for an acid hangover?
"Wonder Showzen," Season 2