TV Critics Reviews of “Higglytown Heroes”

TV Critics Reviews of “Higglytown Heroes”

As the aunt of a preschooler and an aspiring voice-over actress (I knew all those hours of watching Bugs Bunny would come in handy), I know every kid’s show as well as every kid’s DVD.

In my opinion, there is no better way for celebrities to recoup their outrageous salaries than to entertain and sometimes educate children. And They Might Be Giants get a “cooler than Elvis” vote for singing the theme song to one of Playhouse Disney’s latest hits, “Higglytown Heroes,” which is also on their children’s CD/DVD, Here Come the ABCs’.

For those of you unfamiliar with all things Higgley (an adjective used as much as “Smurfs” but not, thank you Higgles, as a verb), the series centers on a small town and four children named Yubi, Kip and the Wayne siblings and twinkle. Think South Park with better art and no dirty words. The strongest language is “Oh, pickles”, usually uttered by Twinkle (pinker than Trista Rehn Sutter!) after her fantastic ideas for solving the children’s dilemmas are slightly punctured by Fran, a friendly squirrel voiced by Edie McClurg.

In every two episodes of the half-hour show, the Higgly children experience common, innocent childhood events such as finding a caterpillar, throwing a TV party for the Happy Hairy Higgly Monster Primetime Special, losing a tooth, Kip’s grandfather being locked in the bathroom, or caring for an unhappy bird. The kids try to solve their problems, guided by Fran, who is the voice of reason, aided by their loving families and the ever-enthusiastic weirdos Bill and Ted Pizza Guy…plus someone special. Then comes the inevitable song…

“Someone special, who could it be?

This job is too big for you and me.

We need help!

But never fear

Looks like a job for a… character from Higleytown!

Hero of Higleytown!”

Some of the characters are natural choices, especially after 9/11: policewoman, fireman, etc. But how many of us think of janitors, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, postmen (voiced by Kathie Lee Gifford) and farmers as heroes? Or a telephone operator (voiced by Cyndi Lauper)? Although the characters have celebrity voices, Higgly Kids discover that the real stars around them are the people who solve problems every day.

Some of the dilemmas get a little funny from an adult’s perspective. For example, when Kip climbs a tree to save a beloved neighborhood cat and her kittens, his friends help him. Why, when he stalls, can’t they help him back up? Um…when was the last time you tripped and panicked? You need help in your own life every day without even thinking about it.

The beauty of Higglytown Heroes is that it celebrates working together, “having fun together,” and the Higgly kids and their families never take the Heroes in their lives for granted. The electrician (Lance Bass) is invited to the “Higgly Monsters” TV party after repairing the electrical circuit in Kip’s house. The fireman (Donald Faison) who gets Kip out of the tree attends the neighborhood cat’s birthday party. How many of us go out of our way to thank the people who make our lives easier? Sometimes we forget to see them as people with needs and feelings.

We even forget to look at our own families as heroes. Kip’s grandmother (voiced by “Golden Girl” Betty White, with a hair like Rose Nylund’s) knits the children’s sweaters. Kip’s real estate agent mother, Beatty, acts like the soul of the 1950s home, but is rewarded when Kip and his friends make her a get-well card. Wayne’s mother, Plunky, shows the children a caterpillar and drives them to the beach, while Wayne and Twinkle’s uncle, Lemmo, makes them breakfast in his diner and, in the Christmas special, takes Wayne and Twinkle for a ride on his sleigh.

Interestingly, Higley families are not always nuclear families, something Disney describes as normal without drawing attention to it. Kip’s family is the proverbial nuclear family with twin sisters, a little sister, mom and dad, Fripp (who runs a hot dog cart), and two grandparents who either live in Kip’s big house or visit him all the time. Twinkle and Wayne’s mother appears to be a single parent (even though they’re all African-American, no one has screamed racism yet), and Eubie is apparently raised by his Southern-accented Aunt Mellie and his Uncle Zooter, with visits from his southern accent Grandpa Crank (farmer).

In many ways, Higleytown is idealized. No one seems to worry about work, money or status. People go to the library, and the librarian is the hero of Higleytown! The kids “work really hard” and take responsibility (haha) by figuring out ways to help themselves and their families, and each episode has little morals and advice (take care of your pets, don’t use too much electricity, make someone to smile) to show kids how they can grow up to be…Higleytown heroes!

Cynics and naysayers will laugh at it like a kid. I call it a refreshing dose of reality and a tribute to the heroes all around us. Disney animators are the heroes of Higglytown for creating this show.

Author’s Note: After this review initially made the rounds, actor Rory Toast, who voices Kip, was kind enough to be a “Higleytown hero” and make my day by telling me how much he and the cast loved the review. For all those who think our kids are complete troublemakers, young master Rory Toast is thirteen:; His show business career is already longer than mine! More importantly, in a world where celebrity misconduct is sadly the norm, this young man remains polite, mature, well-educated and well-grounded.

Author’s Note II: This series just keeps getting better and better. Continuity is even on par with most primetime shows. Kip has adopted a dog named “Shadow”, who makes guest appearances; we meet Fran’s parents after seeing them in the Christmas special; Eubie’s grandfather becomes a Higglytown hero; Eubie’s bird Flappy appears from time to time. The fireman returns. The Electrician proposes to the Master, and Pizza Guy and Fran become Higglytown heroes!

Author’s Note III: Disney created Higglytown Heroes Toys. This series has, uh, legs!

#Critics #Reviews #Higglytown #Heroes

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