Friday, July 28 marked the Warner Brothers television cartoon
debut of the award-winning syndicated comic strip Baby
Blues by Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman. For the last
several years, this has been one of the few comic strips I would
even bother to read in Sunday's paper. Now, it's joining a long
line of prime-time cartoons. The 30-minute show will run back
to back for a full hour on Friday nights from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m.
on The WB for the rest of summer. If it is successful, as it
should be, it will be brought back in the middle of fall season.
For those of you unfamiliar with Baby Blues,
let me give you a brief synopsis. The plot revolves around a
young suburban married couple, Darryl and Wanda McPherson, and
their baby girl, Zoe. The comic strip is chock full of witticisms
about first-time parenting and marriage. It's good clean family
fun, hence the 8 o'clock viewing hour. Unlike many of the prime-time
cartoons, this is one the kids can actually watch. It's no South
Unfortunately, it's no Simpsons, either. While
the show isn't half bad, it isn't anything to write home about
either. The premier episode was about a typical quandary most
new parents face: who will take care of our child if something
happens to us? Of course, Darryl and Wanda are wise enough to
know better than leave Zoe in their parents' care. Thus begins
the hunt for godparents. Enter the next-door neighbors. Carl
and Melinda have three kids of their own: Rodney, Megan, and
Shelby. Carl is a man's man equipped with beer and peeking butt-crack,
running around threatening to kill Rodney (who really deserves
it). Melinda is the laid-back sort with a cigarette in one hand
and a drink in the other. The best role models they're not.
Still, Wanda realizes that despite their dysfunction, the neighbors
have what she would ideally want for Zoe — love. After all,
Carl loves Rodney "one notch more" than he wants to kill him.
So, Wanda and Melinda plot to leave their children to each other
and the two families go on a camping trip together to get to
know each other better (so Darryl and Carl can hopefully grow
to like the idea). The episode is slow and predictable, but
it does have its moments. My favorite is when Carl catalogues
Hemingway's rights of manhood — have a son, run with the bulls,
plant a tree — and Darryl interjects, "Get drunk and blow your
head off?" Nothing like a good literary joke to keep things
rolling. Unfortunately, other than that and a few Saturday
Night Live innuendos (the voice of Wanda is provided
by Julia Sweeny, a.k.a. Pat), the first episode fell flat. It's
a good thing the second episode followed right behind or I may
never have looked back.
The next episode picked up the pace and really spoke to me,
the unwilling yuppie in the 'burbs. Having just turned 30, I
could completely relate to Wanda's look of horror and flood
of tears when Darryl bought her a beige minivan for her birthday.
Suddenly, Darryl is the bad guy who doesn't understand her,
which makes it easy for her to relate when the babysitter, Bizzy,
comes crying that her mean ol' stepfather is a big jerk. Wanda
takes Bizzy in and starts hanging out with her friends, much
to the dismay of Darryl. This rang very true for me, too. Just
before this episode aired, the house across the street from
us rented to a houseful of punk-inspired post- adolescents.
Now, a primer-colored van with a skull and crossbones painted
on the side is parked directly across from our dream home. I
have to keep reminding my husband, "We were like that when we
were young. Remember?" It hasn't been that long!!! But I digress...
Bizzy's friends are skeptical about the old lady joining the
gang until Wanda helps them gain access to Waterpalooza after
operating hours by scaling the dolphin tanks using her breast
pumps like suction sups. Ha! "Everyone likes you since you helped
us break and enter," says Bizzy. This misadventure leads up
to a Scooby Doo-inspired chase scene (minivans
come in handy!), a guest appearance by Drew Carey as Bizzy's
stepfather, and a valuable moral. My favorite line of the episode
is when one of the teens says emphatically, "Everything's subjective.
Who are you to dictate moral absolutes?" Ah, the innocence of
While Baby Blues is no Simpsons,
it's no Big Brother, either. While the rest of
America is tuning in to Survivor or The
Making of the Band looking for that reality rush, I'll
be tuning in to cartoons made for adults like me who aren't
kids anymore but aren't having to watch The Real World
to feel a part of the REAL world. Baby Blues is
just the thing for a Friday night when you don't have any other
plans. I'm definitely going to give it another chance.