You know how every now and then something almost perfect comes along for your kids and you? That thing that makes you and you all smile wide and belly laugh because it finds the balance between a four year olds sense of humor and your own? Well that my friends is Wallykazam! Brought to you from the fine folks at Nickjr, creator Adam Peltzer, and his writers have found something, in my experience, you rarely find in this kind of children’s programming. Wally, and the other characters are as earnest as they can be, sweet, good natured, and smart with just enough self-referential humor to make it fun for the grown-ups while the kids learn, and learn they do.
There is a basic story in each episode where Wally Trollman (He’s a troll) and his pet dragon Norville must complete a task or a quest, but Wally does so with a magic stick that creates letters. So in each episode they focus on one letter and making words that help them actively finish the story. One episode presents Wally having to take care of his friend Ogre Doug’s pet Borgelorp, a ridiculously cute creature, who is not supposed to eat purple flowers and needs to take a nap. In the process of trying to get him to sleep mischievous Bobgoblin feeds him the very thing he is not supposed to have and mayhem ensues. They need to use the letter S throughout the story so Wally uses his magic stick to create words for what they need to keep things moving.
I am here to tell you that it is a really effective way to keep kids involved. You see this type of thing a lot in preschool programming but I think the combination of that and the way the show presents itself makes it a big winner. My son had apparently seen this before, he likes to do that, but was still really trying to keep up every time a new word was introduced. Even though he had seen it before and he kind of new the answers, I call that a win. He walked away from the show with a dozen new words and some idea of how to spell them.
Again, I cannot stress how great the sense of humor on this show is. It is a lot like watching a Dreamworks or Pixar short that is focused on a very specific educational curriculum. The thing I love most about the show is its combination of innocence and irony. Those are not qualities you find together very often, much less for children. Wallykazam is a welcome addition to the programming in my house for a four year old or a forty year old.