Creepy Children’s Programming Review: BUSYTOWN MYSTERIES

335px-Busytown_Mysteries_Complete_Series_(2009)_-_Home_video_trailer_for_this_animated_seriesHaven’t done one of these in a while.  After the last few days?  IT’S TIME.

So the new hotness for the last few days has been BUSYTOWN MYSTERIES, which is a show based on characters from Richard Scarry’s popular Busytown series of books.

Before we get into this, can we take a second and appreciate the name Richard Scarry?  Because it’s an awesome thing to be named.

Anyway.  BUSYTOWN MYSTERIES is all about the anthropomorphic animals, right?  There are no humans in this show; everyone is some sort of animal made human-like to varying degrees of weirdness and they run around and do stuff.  The main character is a cat named Huckle who inexplicably dresses like a Bavarian rentboy.  He hangs out with his sister, whose name is Sally, a worm named Lowly, and two pigs named Pig Will and Pig Won’t for some reason.  I don’t know who the hippo is in the picture.  She’s not around that often.

Anyway, they solve mysteries.  Unlike the contrived bullshit of Super Why, the mysteries they solve are generally at least in the neighborhood of actual mysteries, even if sometimes they’re kind of silly.  The show genuinely emphasizes critical thinking and reasoning skills even if no one but Huckle ever really displays any, and it’s kind of fun to watch the cat work through how the goldfish ended up in the middle of the street or whatever.  There are a couple of songs and a weird bug who always shows up at the beginning and the end of every episode to interview Huckle about his mystery.  I don’t know what this bug’s deal is and I feel like it’s entirely possible that he might be a creepy pedophile of some sort.

But that’s not what got me writing about the show.  Let’s talk about their cars.

Every character on the show drives a car at some point or another.  Huckle and Sally, weirdly, drive a real car and a scooter.  Huckle’s car has a picture of him on the hood.  They’re always careful to show people putting proper protective gear on when they start driving, too– Sally always wears her helmet and Huckle always belts himself in.  The weird thing?  Almost all of the rest of the characters drive cars that look like food they like to eat. The worm drives an apple car.  Somebody’s a pickle, or a doughnut, or an ear of corn, or something like that.

And then there’s Pig Will and Pig Won’t.

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That, folks, is a sausage, being driven by two pigs, and just in case it didn’t drive home the idea that the pigs eat sausage, they’re hauling a bunch of sausage with them too.  What is sausage made of?  Pig.  So we’ve got this whole weird Easter Eggy-style subplot where two of the main characters are cannibals.  Also, the alligator character we see every now and again?  Drives an alligator car.  

Also, there are anthropomorphized goat characters, but there are also real goats who are kept as livestock.  I don’t know what the deal is with that.

So: outwardly sweet and simple, but this show hides a creepy little bolus of insanity and horror in its midst.  So two thumbs up, obviously.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

4 thoughts on “Creepy Children’s Programming Review: BUSYTOWN MYSTERIES

  1. Most of the cars (made of meats and produce) are straight out of the Busytown books that Richard Scarry wrote and illustrated (possibly while high.) It’s certainly a quirky place to live – but I give the show creators props for sticking to the books. Most TV and movies don’t bother to try very hard anymore.
    BTW, if your little guy likes the show, the Busytown Airport board game will be a serious hit. My kids are gaga over it – though they play with the toy airplanes more than they actually follow the rules of the game.

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  2. I loved all the weird details of Richard Scarry’s work – I went back and looked at a book from my childhood and discovered that in a scene set in Paris, EVERY character (including tiny mice, driving tiny cars) has a baguette.

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