You can tell it’s the summer holidays, because all the subscription streaming services are bringing out their new kids’ TV series. Hot on the heels of Netflix’s Dinotrux comes Amazon Studios’ Wishenpoof!, which was commissioned following a successful pilot.
From the first time we see Bianca (Addison Holley), it seems clear that the show is aimed at a very different audience: one features dinosaurs crossed with construction vehicles; the other, a girl in a tutu with magical powers (and awesome purple shoes). But Wishenpoof! is far from just for girls: while Dinotrux features one female in its ensemble, here, our lead heroine is joined by all kinds of supporting characters, with the first episode revolving around her helping a boy at school in a talent contest.
Bianca, we soon discover, has inherited her mum’s power for Wish Magic, something that allows her to make anything she wants come true (in a wish and, yes, a poof). Naturally, she relies upon it for every problem she comes across, be it getting a new rock star outfit or helping a friend balance a unicorn on top of their head. It’s not long before her mother steps in to explain that magic can’t solve everything.
If that sounds like an obvious lesson, don’t wave away this series with your remote control just yet: over the opening episodes, Wishenpoof! proves itself full of useful messages, from having confidence in your own abilities (a staple of kids’ TV morals) to such notions as listening to others.
For all that complexity floating around in Wish World, the animation is decidedly less intricate, with the show’s 3D-style character designs leading to unfortunately bland faces – and a similarly simple backdrop. The introduction of a magical teddy bear, Bob (try not to think of Seth MacFarlane), meanwhile, offers little more than token one-liners that feel crowbarred in. (He also leads a range of songs, one of which appears in every episode.)
But creator Angela C. Santomero (also behind the wonderful Blue’s Clues and the less wonderful Creative Galaxy) doesn’t talk down to her preschool audience: the screen may zoom in when Bianca is about to share her secret magic, but questions prompting a response from viewers are impressively underplayed, which should save parents a headache while engaging littl’uns on a more natural level.
Several episodes into the 13-part run and the versatility of scenarios is also promising: one entertaining sequence sees Bianca dressed up as a monkey in a magical jungle, only for her brother, Sam, to waddle on as a pretend duck. As the power of imaginations clash, Bianca not only has to believe in herself, but also has to believe in the importance of those around her. That’s something everyone could do with remembering, regardless of gender.
All episodes of Wishenpoof! Season 1 are now available to watch online on Amazon Prime Instant Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.