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Home  USA  Series  B  Baby Blues

Baby Blues


Original Air Date:
Prod. Co.:
Varga Studios

Characters & Voices
Wanda MacPherson - Julia Sweeney
Darryl MacPherson - Mike O'Malley
Melinda Bitterman - Arabella Field
Rodney Bitterman - Kath Soucie
Carl Bitterman - Joel Murray
Kenny - Diedrich Bader
Bizzy - Nicole Sullivan
Baby Blues started life as a comic strip about a couple raising a baby, and that's pretty much it: Darryl and Wanda raising Zoe (and eventually a baby boy as the strip progressed; the show never got past Zoe's infancy) and... well, here's what the King Features, Inc. website has to say about Baby Blues

When longtime friends Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott first discussed doing a comic strip about parenthood, Rick, at least, knew what he was talking about. He and his wife had their first daughter in 1984, and in 1987 their second daughter was born. Jerry, who had no children, thought what Rick was going through as a parent was very funny. So he decided to write about what he saw at the Kirkmans' home: temper tantrums. Dirty diapers. Teething pains. When Rick added his superb artwork, Baby Blues was born.

The strip clearly grew in popularity enough to warrant adaptation in another medium, and television is ideally suited to serial storytelling. The show focuses mostly on the MacPhersons and their neighbors, the Bittermans, who are presented as a contrast to the MacPhersons. A typical episode tends to be about common aspects of parenting -- in one episode it's revealed that Wanda gave up a stellar career in a business firm of indeterminate industry while, at the same time, Darryl is overcome by the pointlessness of what he does for a living, so they switch places -- and middle age -- in another episode, Darryl sees that Zoe is charmed by the Bitterman's hellion of a child, Rodney, and laments the attraction women have to "bad" -- among other relevant issues.

Rounding out the cast are Bizzy, Zoe's regular teenage babysitter, and Kenny, Darryl's only co-worker of note, though it should be mentioned that the show is only an adaptation of the strip in a very loose sense; most of the characters outside the MacPherson family were never prominently featured in the strip, and most of the supporting cast from the strip didn't appear on the show in any significant capacity. The show premiered on the WB in 2000 and aired 11 episodes. It was picked up for rebroadcast by Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup in 2001.

Critical Analysis
As someone who grew up reading the funnies, I was familiar with the strip when I heard a TV series was in the works, and quite frankly, I wasn't all that impressed. The strip was much in the same vein as For Better or Worse early in its run, and though it had its moments that it shined like a Sally Forth or even a Rose is Rose, most of the time it was only palatable in comparison to The Family Circus, which has long cornered the market on saccharine. Then again, the strip had a readership of 62 million worldwide, so clearly there's still a void in the market of semi-sweet family humour, or at least there was before Baby Blues.

That said, it's unsurprising I decided to skip the Baby Blues premiere and continued making that decision until the network made the decision for me. It wasn't until years later, when I saw Baby Blues in the Adult Swim lineup on Cartoon Network that my interest was piqued; Adult Swim built its reputation on cartoons of a more adult nature; I hesitate to use the word, but edge tends to be the first industry buzz word to come to mind when describing such shows as Home Movies and Sealab 2021. I told my Tivo to grab an episode so I could check out this series that I'd initially pre-judged, and I was forced to eat crow; it was a good show. The characters were three-dimensional, the humour isn't stupid and for a show about the sacrifices and rewards of parenthood,there are thankfully few "aaw" moments, where we, the viewer, is expected to admire how cute something is.

I wouldn't call it edgy, but it's a show with a mature sense of humour and that's plenty. I found myself entertained enough to watch it if it was on, but not to take up space on my Tivo for it.

Mike Albright
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