In case you think Bob The Builder is just TOO nice!
Don't get me wrong: I'm a Bob fan. But as far as British stop-motion cartoons go, I have to name Little Robots as one of my big favourites too. I'm not specialist in foreign cultures, but this show seems very British to me. I could give it dozens of descriptions to justify that, but I can sum up like this: it's quirky to the extreme! The main set-up for the show is, apparently, not innovative at all. Tiny was abandoned on a junkyard, and one day he "wakes up", fixes his broken arm, and helps to fix his other robot friends who were nearby. Together, they proceed to build an entirely new world inside the junkyard, using their creativity and imagination. Each robot has his own house (mainly built with objects like a bucket, a drum, a radiator, or sometimes neatly built with spare parts), and Tiny lives on the ambitious, intricate Nut And Bolt Tree. He also controls the Day/Night Lever, which makes the entire sky rotate, change from Night to Day and vice versa when activated. In their world, all sorts are made out of junk: flowers, devices, tools, buildings and whatever kind of gadget you can imagine. That alone is a nice, easy-going lesson in recycling, but there's much more to it than that.
That biggest differential that this show possesses is on the characters. In a way, it reminds me of the classic Mexican comedy show from the 70's, "El Chavo Del Ocho". In that show, Chespirito and his actors created the characters around their *flaws*, and by amplifying their negative aspects beyond reason, managed to create unforgettable and lovable characters that a whole generation is extremely fond of. Litte Robots is very similar. Each robot has a distinct quality and a certain "role" in the world. For example, Stretchy is a legitimate workaholic, and lives his days sorting out junk that comes into their world through the chute; Sporty is obsessed with running, playing, exercising and getting hurt; Spotty is frighteningly bossy and egocentric, many times; Noisy's name is self-explanatory, but only a little bit. It goes on and on. There are eleven robots on the show - two of them are the Sparky twins, who are very much alike.
Some stories focus around mild conflicts between the characters, other about individual problems they have to solve. But there's always some sort of character interaction going on, and that's where the show shines the most. It also helps that the stories are very good (Jimmy Hibbert works here, after all), but just watching the dialogues is a thrill and a half. It's so good that the sometimes lacklustre animation doesn't harm the experience at all.
The style of humour is also quite different from most children's shows. Maybe it's common in Britain, but most of the time, the show isn't at all "friendly" and "nice". It's never mean-spirited, though. The humour is witty and quirky mostly because the characters are purposefully designed that way, and the problems are created and solved due to them being authentic. In the end, their differences interfere in their living as a community, but *that* is precisely what makes it work. Without Noisy's inconvenience, or Spotty's ego, or Scary's low self-esteem, their lives probably wouldn't be worth living. Another remarkable thing is how the show is able, sometimes, to make fun of itself. One of my favourite moments is when the Sparky twins make fun of Tiny, who's almost always the central character, because "he loves being in the spotlight". Funny 'cause it's true! There isn't a character I dislike. I do have a very special fondness for Rusty, though; she's a relatively old-model robot who overheats when under pressure (read: most of the time), and the way she's clumsy, unsure of herself, modest and sweet is painfully charming and adorable. She's possibly one of my favourite cartoon characters ever, up there with Austin from "The Backyardigans" and Fernando from "Jakers!". As for the show itself, it gets a thumb-and-a-half up from me. I figure this isn't one of Britain's most popular shows, or anything. This means I can start a cult following, or what?
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