Wonder Showzen: Season One

The Wonder Showzen phenomenon hasn’t caught on north of the 49th, in part because we only just got MTV, the former music channel that airs it. It’s a twisted, "not for kids” parody that steals from Sesame Street, The Electric Company, The Muppets and other children’s programming to create a disturbing and surprisingly smart show. Broken into "theme” episodes — birth, nature, history — it looks like acid flashback television but beneath its surface actually contains some clever play on the nature of entertainment. Season one’s finale, on patience, plays out incredibly slowly for its first 12 minutes, then runs that half in reverse in its entirety, including some backwards-spoken lines that only patience will reward (appropriately enough). The most shocking segments come from "Beat Kids,” (a youngster street interview segment whose theme song includes two punch noises to accompany "beat kids!”), where adults are cornered by mic-wielding youngsters asking inappropriate questions, like combing Wall Street asking "who did you exploit today?” The ultimate "beat kids” segment includes a small child dressed as Adolf Hitler asking people, "what’s wrong with kids today?” If that strikes you as subversively funny, Wonder Showzen just might be your new favourite show. Plus: commentaries, outtakes, story time with Flava Flav and more. (MTV/Paramount)