Once again, animation does what live-action TV can’t — mount a show with multicultural characters, throwing in a wheelchair-bound lead, and, like the “Simpsons,” and avoid pulling any heartstrings or delivering cloying life lessons. That said, there are other reasons to like Nickelodeon’s “Pelswick”: the terrific animation and character design, the funny gags and the frequently witty scripts.
Created by cartoonist and author John Callahan, who is paralyzed from his shoulders down, Pelswick Eggert began life as a comic strip, syndicated in some 75 publications. The Nick show follows the 13-year-old, who is also paralyzed from the shoulders down, and his friends Ace and Goon. First episode has Pelswick forced to campaign for class president against the girl of his dreams. Script makes some sly points about elections, and subsequent segs tackle other young adolescent obsessions: Pokemon-like trading cards (not too subtly called Brain Suckers), popularity in school and boy band N’Talented.
Pelswick, who lives in San Francisco, has a guardian angel named Mr. Jimmy, who looks like Jerry Garcia. (It seems animators have a thing for portraying heavenly bodies as Garcia (the image of God in the short-lived “God, the Devil and Bob”). And the show is set in San Francisco, and Mr. Jimmy is a reference to the Rolling Stones song lyric … and, oh, you get it.
This is a funny show that kids and their parents can enjoy together. Parents will get the offbeat, slightly black humor (the show is about a handicapped kid set in America’s hilliest city, and Pelswick tweaks politically correct language by referring to himself as “permanently seated”) and small fries will dig Pelswick and his friends.
Visually arresting, show looks like “Rugrats” filtered through “Yellow Submarine,” underscoring a package that works on every level.