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My Nostalgia: The Adventures Of Pete & Pete
[Originally posted on http://obsessive-geek.blogspot.com/]
I once read a review comparing The Adventures Of Pete & Pete as the closest thing to independent film you could get for television. I can see how that comparison can be made. Of everything, I'd compare the series to a more fantastical version of Wes Anderson movies. Like those films, the series does seem to have a quirkyness all its own.
Looking back, I think children's entertainment was starting to get more experimental in the 1990's. Sure, there was franchising up the wazoo and you couldn't walk down a toy aisle without finding something that was advertised on TV. But the winds of change seemed to be blowing through. The Transformer franchise expanded with Beast Wars. Batman: The Animated Series became the quintessential Batman TV show. Spielberg's various offerings are still remembered fondly to this day. Even Might Morphin' Power Rangers, a poster child for 90's commercialism, was experimental in trying to get three different shows from another country into a single episodic TV series. And that's just the network television side.
On the cable side, channels like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon were building their entire reputations on more radical ideas kids TV. (Or at least, more story driven) Between them, we got the following:
- Dexter's Labratory
- Johnny Bravo
- Ren And Stimpy
- Courage The Cowardly Dog
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Rocko's Modern Life
- All That
- Hey Arnold!
- AAHH!!! Real Monsters
- Ed, Edd, n' Eddy
- Angry Beavers
- The Wild Thornberrys
- The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest
- Spongebob Squarepants (premiered in 1999, so it counts)
- Kenan and Kel
- Clarissa Explains It All
And that's not including all the anime Toonami introduced to young audiences.
Bottom line, a lot of interesting things were happening. The rampant commercialism of the 80's was giving way to something else, and The Adventures of Pete and Pete right in there with it all, making it's own mark on the world.
The series' perspective of two children living out their lives in a particularly peculiar suburb made for a very interesting world to visit each and every week. In that world, a man roamed the streets befriending children and protecting them from strange and gross bullies. Children fought for their rights against an international adult conspiracy to keep them down. Marching bands could be warped into the puppets of a band director and be saved by going into formation as two separate hydrogen atoms coming together into a helium isotope. It's a world of manic depressive bus drivers, stoic crossing guards and jack-o-lantern headed vandals. It's the world of Pete and Pete. And I love every inch of it.
Everyone in the town of Wellsville has their own flavor, personality and obsessions. The world is a better place with them. I'd suggest you take a trip down to Wellsville and fall in love with the world of Pete and Pete.
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