Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: Adventures in Nowhere Land

Tracy McLoone

Maggie is more intent on teaching life lessons than providing visual candy or sheer entertainment; this is granola, not Lucky Charms.

Maggie and the Ferocious Beast

Cast: (voices of) Kristen Bone, Stephen Ouimette, Michael Caruana
Subtitle: Adventures in Nowhere Land (dvd)
Network: Sony Pictures
First date: 2002
US Release Date: 2002-08-06

Maggie and the Ferocious Beast is an innocuously happy cartoon with little to make it stand out, either good or bad. The only aspect of continual interesting is the bizarre and trippy sensibility of Maggie. Nowhere Land, where the stories take place, is meant to represent Maggie's imagination. Frighteningly, it resembles the land of those freaky little Teletubbies. It is a sparsely populated area with rolling green hills and an occasional tree, where, apparently, anything can happen.

At one point, several jellybeans with arms, legs, and faces ride a giant duck across a river; this is not the main point of the episode, it's just kind of there. And that goes more generally for the series. Quietly and calmly teaching some useful lessons, it lacks the energy of some other kids' series. But then, this series is more intent on teaching life lessons than providing visual candy or sheer entertainment; this is granola, not Lucky Charms.

The press literature says the program, which is based on a children's book, "encourages young viewers to engage in pretend play." A young girl named Maggie (voice of Kristen Bone) imagines having adventures with her two favorite toys: Hamilton (voice of Michael Caruana), a fussy pig who wears a letter sweater, and the Ferocious Beast (voice of Stephen Ouimette), who is anything but ferocious. Maggie herself is fearless, the leader of her small pack of three. The six episodes included on Columbia's recently released DVD, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: Adventures in Nowhere Land, are highly formulaic, with very little that is surprising, including the outcome. Maggie and her two friends encounter trouble, and she deals with it using good, old-fashioned common sense.

At its base, this series demonstrates that different personalities approach problems, and how some people are just better problem-solvers than others. For example, Hamilton is very attached to the endless supply of props he keeps in a cardboard box; he always thinks that material objects enable solutions to problems. The Beast is another personality altogether, quite tentative and afraid of trying new things; he often thinks the best way to deal with a predicament is to avoid it altogether. Maggie, however, always knows the right thing to do -- and there always is a "right" thing to do, and she always talks it over with her friends first. It's refreshing to see kid-oriented cartoon characters not zapping or exploding their tribulations away, but it doesn't make for very exciting television.

The first episode on the DVD is by far the best, and carries the most interesting "message." The Ferocious Beast is frustrated, believing he's as good an artist as his friend Maggie; he has no fingers, you see, and it's really hard for him to handle a paintbrush. It is reminiscent of the frustration young children display when trying to do things older kids do, and not being able to master what seem like simple tasks. The following episodes, however, are more cloyingly moralistic. For example, Hamilton pretends to be king, and learns that bossing people around is alienating. Or, in another episode, the Beast learns to accept something new, of which he is initially afraid, in the form of a giant duck with a loud quack.

The show is clearly intended for the 6-and-under set, yet, the press literature also says that "older children enjoy" the tales of Maggie. I really don't see how, unless it's because it occupies their younger brothers and sisters in front of the TV and keeps the little ones out of the older kids' stuff. Adults may go so far as wanting to pull their hair out in boredom after two or three of the 8-minute segments that comprise the stories. But taken one at a time, episodes of Maggie show kids and adults valuable problem-solving skills presented gently and without fanfare. Once you accept that in Maggie there are no bells and whistles, no loud noises or stimulating chase scenes, it may start to grow on you.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.