Reviews: Fanboy And Chum Chum

What happens when you give the Annoying Sidekicks the spotlight.

There's a saying that goes: "First impressions are always the most lasting ones," and that is more than appropriate here.

I remember this as being the first thing that was on my hotel TV when I went on vacation and switched it on. I briefly remembered the hate that was heaped on this show, but hey, I'm a fair guy, let's give this a shot.

Holy SHIT, I was annoyed. Very, very annoyed. Fanboy and Chum Chum were two of the most grating characters I have ever seen in an animated program, and I felt like tossing the TV out of the window. There is nothing behind these two characters' personalities other than making NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!!! almost as if they're trying to ram it into your face that they're trying way too hard to be funny. They seem to learn nothing from their experiences other than to be hyper, and don't truly interact with the other characters in any meaningful way. They don't even do anything with that superhero motif they're running about in.

If there is one character that the show SHOULD have been about, it was Kyle. We find out that he was kicked out of a wizarding school and had to transfer to public education after turning his professor into a flan, and that he has powers and a talking Necronomicon. Why wasn't this show about him? I actually want to find out more about him, especially when his rival comes to show him up. Here's an idea: the show could have easily been retooled so that we follow him on his journey to be a great wizard, with occasional appearances by Fanboy and Chum Chum to serve as comedic foils. THAT would have been a better idea. Another good idea: Give Fanboy delusions of grandeur that he is a superhero, with Chum Chum being the sane one and putting up with him because he cares about his friend. See? I already made them a lot deeper than the show actually does with them, and gave a reason as to why they wear costumes 24/7.

The animation is okay, but it's not great. I felt that it was better off as a 2D cartoon, as the third dimension adds some unsettling details to the already grotesque artstyle (particularly the bulging eyes.) It does suit the nature of the show, though, so I will give it that much. There's a DVD release out now, but I am VERY hesitant to get this. It's unwatchable to me, and all because of the main characters.

I Don't Like This Show, But I Don't Hate It Either.

Well, here we are. Discussing one of the most hated shows on Nickelodeon in recent memory.

YMMV aside, critics have been accepting of this show and it has even won an Emmy. Older fans of Nickelodeon, however, have been less than pleased. I really don't like this show, but it has potential. The Shout Outs and Parental Bonuses are a nice touch. There's some childlike imagination in the show that seems fitting. But there are thing that need to be fixed.

1. Ditch the CGI. There are some 2D-animated segments on the show and on the title cards. They look just fine, and the show would do just as well that way. The animation team needs to work on their skills, as there is TONS of glare on eyes, backgrounds look bland and generic, and there are cartoony effects that just seem out of place computer-animated.

2. Find some writers with better comedic talent. It's basically a Gross Out Show with plenty of Toilet Humor, and it gets very tiring after a few episodes, and it's a dead giveaway that the only people they want to watch the show are kids, killing the chance of a Periphery Demographic.

3. Expand upon the characters. I know, this is a kid's comedy cartoon, not an RPG, but I feel a lot of things are vague. Are the main characters really called Fanboy and Chum Chum, or are those just nicknames they go by? Where are their parents? Did they abandon them? Are they dead? How are they supporting themselves on their own? Do they have to pay rent, keep themselves fed, or what? Can we see them out of costume? I mean, what the heck is going on?

Well, that's my stance on this controversial piece of animation. It is not a good cartoon by any means, but if it were done right, it could easily be palatable.

"Sigmund the Sorceror"—An Aesop Episode

Kyle's rival Sigmund, a much more successful and popular wizard, comes to Galaxy Hills. Kyle, against his wishes, finds himself expecting Sigmund over for dinner (with a much enthused Fanboy and Chum Chum), and he fears Sigmund will find out he hasn't made nearly as much achievement as a mage. But with the help of his friends, Kyle learns that success doesn't always lie in fame and fortune.

"Sigmund the Sorceror" is a delightful episode that delivers an Aesop in a fun, non-sappy way. Learning that Sigmund has in the past made Kyle feel lesser than him, Fanboy and Chum Chum pose as Kyle's "elf assistants" and put on a smoke-and-mirrors act to make his house appear enchanted. But when Sigmund forces Kyle to admit to the sham, Sigmund leaves feeling superior. But Kyle is soon brought to realize that although he doesn't have money, fans, or an enchanted house; he does have two good friends who would go to so much trouble to make him feel better about himself. The ending also refutes Kyle's earlier statement of "...he'll learn that I am nothing and I have nothing"; he now realizes he's a winner and he has friends.

A Diamond in the Rough

Sure, it's gross and idiotic, and has a rather annoying theme song, but "Fanboy and Chum Chum" has two things that sadly seem to have been abandoned in cartoons these days: a well-paced plotline, and heart. In the age when cartoon/TV series rely too much on "randomness" and memes to be humorous and entertaining, as well as making too many characters apathetic to each other (even the heroes of the story); this corny but adorable show reminds us of the good ol' days when the heroes of a kids' show could acknowlege the importance of friendship in an un-preachy way, and weren't unconcerned Karma Houdinis. And I gratefully welcome a cartoon where the events of an episode don't fly by in a frustrating blur and leave the viewer longing for the story to be smoother-paced.

What's more, the plot situation appeals to the child's fantasy world of unsupervised fun and adventure, without realistic limits and responsibilities. Adding to that, the show manages to work in nostalgic pop-culture references, from Harry Potter to The Terminator to Star Wars, and yet they don't seem out of place in this deceptively normal yet actually wacky 'verse. A good idea that may bring in an older Periphery Demographic.

Overall, "Fanboy and Chum Chum" captures the whimsical innocence of the carefree days of childhood, and then delightfully presents the world as the kid views it: First we see an average everyday reality; the titular duo just goofing off with their crazy fantasies of superheroes and enchanted adventures, but it is soon made clear that this seemingly normal world actually is every bit as magical as they believed it to be.