Synopsis by Hal Erickson
It was one of the darker, dingier alleys just off Sesame Street; it was The Great Space Coaster come crashing to Earth in a ball of flame; it was Schoolhouse Rock for the permanent-detention class. It was Wonder Showzen, a perverse, adult-oriented satire of old-fashioned children's educational series, produced for cable's MTV2. Using a combination of puppetry, cartoons, and grainy, yellowed classroom instructional films, the series belied its cheerful veneer and forced optimism to give the kiddies at home an unadorned look at what the real world was really like. Puppet "stars" Chauncey, Wordsworth, Sthugar, and Him were as likely to perform indecent acts upon one another as they were to chirrup songs about math and language. The news reports by simian anchor A.P. Gibraltar had a disturbing tendency to offer kids backstage glimpses at such unsavory locales as a genuine slaughterhouse. And the "Clarence's Puppet on the Street" segments gave youngsters an up-close-and-personal squint at life's losers and rejects. To make certain that the only people who watched the show were those mature enough to be in on the joke, each episode began with a disclaimer, warning that the series was "too controversial and too awesome for actual children" and that the "stark ugly profound truths" may be "soul crushing to the weak of spirit." Created by Vernon Chatman and John Lee, who also provided several puppet voices, Wonder Showzen debuted March 11, 2005.