Start your engines! PBS brought Tom and Ray Magliozzi, of CAR TALK, to TV! This animated sitcom, based on the hit NPR radio show, follows the on- and off-air escapades of Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers, as they try to fix cars, fend off disgruntled customers and seek out increasingly creative ways to goof off!
When its good, which is often, Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns
represents some of the best that PBS has to offer in the way of childrens programming. Based on Car Talk
, the popular NPR call-in show, this series finds brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi supplying the voices for their animated alter-egos, Click and Clack Tappet, who offer callers sound, if somewhat wacky, advice on car repair (in addition to maybe-not-so-good advice on a variety of unrelated topics) while they and their cohorts operate a Boston-based garage. Offered on two discs (there are no bonus features), the ten episodes manage to both entertain and enlighten; unlike a lot of mass-produced animation, it doesnt talk down to its young audience but rather seeks to gently raise it to a higher level, and the educational content is surprisingly high-minded and not a bit perfunctory (a mechanic who reads Camus and spouts poetry? Hes right here, in the form of ex-Harvard professor Crusty). In "Campaign," a political satire, Click and Clack run for president (against major party candidates "Phil Lander" and "P. Varicator"), hoping to raise enough money to earn matching federal funds and thus save public broadcasting. In "Outsourcing," the guys, always looking for way to avoid work, decide to have their show produced in India, where theyre be replaced by spot-on impersonators (there are also amusing impersonations of Rush Limbaugh, Garrison Keillor, and Howard Stern). And in "Pasta Wars," we learn about alternative fuel sources (electricity, hydrogen, vegetable oil) as Click, Clack, and company invent a car thats both built from and fueled by pasta. Some episodes are simply silly ("Gotcha!" is nothing more than an escalating battle of puerile practical jokes), and the shows animation is very limited, with minimal character expression and largely static backgrounds. But any program that makes fun of its own network--at PBS, were told, "our Number One concern is keeping you from complaining to your senator about us," while references are made to "Antiques Roadkill," "This Old Hovel," and several other shows--definitely has its tongue in the right cheek. --Sam Graham