Pinter? Lightweight. Plath? Pah. To wallow in a truly bleak worldview, look no further than Horrid Henry. The titular character is a whinging sociopath who exists in a near-constant state of jealous rage, but he is by no means the show’s sole hateful character: his parents, teachers, relations – spineless, spiteful and wretched, all of them. There is no light, no hope in the Henryverse. Humanity has fallen. Nihilism rules. Pray for death. Pray through your tears.
Some kids’ shows crush your spirit by having their characters be noisily precocious; Canadian series Caillou however, opts to clamber aboard your tits by having its protagonist be the most pathetic, mewling, scaredy-cat four-year-old ever. Worse, his woefully patient parents indulge his every tantrum and weeping piss-fit, ensuring he’ll grow up to be – at best – a serial cat-killer who owns too may Eli Roth movies. Vile. Vile and grotesque.
Aside from its off-key blending of religion and anthropomorphisation (spin-off suggestion: Catholicat), Rastamouse is guilty of a desperate need to be the kind of “cult” kids’ show that first-year engineering students snicker over. Because when the mice obsess over “cheese”, y’see, they’re actually talking about weed! #LOLedgy. Such cynical pandering might be forgivable were the show itself not more dull than tax-law minutiae.
Inspired by dreary decades-old shows such as The Flumps and Ivor The Engine, Abney & Teal is a brown, brown exercise in frumpy melancholy and downbeat whimsy. Set in a run-down inner-city park (fun!), it sees our heroes embroiled in quarter-arsed storylines that play very fast-and-loose with the concept of “adventures”. These are the disjointed hallucinations of an elderly street-drinker, wheezing his sorrowful last on a bench near the swings.
Reviewed by young father Joe Madden
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