Voices: Keith Knight, Sonja Ball, Philip Williams, John Stocker, Peter Wildman, Don Dickinson, Paul Haddad, Len Carlson, Judy Marshak, Cathy Gallant, Tara Meyer, Jeremy Ratchford, Keith Hampshire.
Parents looking for innocent, happy, instructive entertainment for their youngest children will want to set their VCRs for this Showtime kids series, because pre-schoolers are likely to wear out a few cassettes of “The Busy World of Richard Scarry” before they move on to older fare.
For non-toddler audiences there’s little spectacular about these internationally co-produced cartoons, but their adaptations of popular Scarry storybooks combine enough fun stories, inventive slapstick and colorful animation to entertain that pre-school audience so underserved by broadcast television.
The show is set in the happy, accident-prone burg of “Busytown,” with such funny-animal characters as Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm and Grouchy Mr. Gronkle. Lowly Worm is the real star of the series, with his goofily deprecating name and natty ensemble that includes a bow tie and single sneaker.
The stories, voice acting and animation are fine for toddlers, and occasional flourishes may grab a few older viewers. Best example in the premiere is the middle adventure, “Patrick Pig Learns to Talk,” featuring off-the-wall Irish characters.
None of this is Disney quality, but international sales and video afterlife should be pretty solid. “The Busy World of Richard Scarry” delivers the kind of healthy, upbeat and amusing entertainment many parents want for their kids.