Imagine being dropped into a world where half the people have plastic faces. As if that wasn’t terrifying enough, imagine then discovering that normal food is banned, and that inhabitants of the town are forced to take up weird, Orwellian compulsive exercise programmes. This is the scene that faces our plucky hero, Robbie -
Lazy Town is an odd show for children, because an episode generally never has a happy ending. Instead of everything turning out ok in the end and all the characters giggling and waving at the camera, the viewer is normally plunged headfirst into a bleak, dystopian landscape where evil triumphs over good. While this might teach children some valuable life lessons, it does make for disturbing viewing.
In the episode I chose to watch, the story centres around the ruling Mafia style gang extending yet another arm into the control of public life – this time by taking over the entire TV network.
I'll pause to fill you in on the gang terrorizing the town -
Pixel - the brains and technical mastermind of the gang
Sportacus - poster boy for the gang; an attempt to promote a people-friendly image
Stephanie - similar to Sportacus; there to appeal to females as non threatening
Stingy and Ziggy - from what I can gather these are Pixel's henchmen, although Stingy's obvious wealth might be helping to finance the operation
Trixie - smarter than she looks. Frequently used for interrogation purposes
The “Mayor” and Bessie “Busybody” - parental figures of the gang. Serious infringements are brought before the “Mayor”, and he will determine a suitable punishment.
Robbie, our hero for the duration and all round quiet, understated good guy, settles down in front of his TV with a snack, only to find every single channel has been hijacked by the gang. Since the gang don’t appear to have a name, I’ll call them the PE Teachers.Every channel in Lazy Town is now taken over with weird propaganda and compulsory aerobics shows, thanks to a pirate antenna built by Pixel. All colour schemes are gaudy and bright in order to induce a mild hypnotic state in the viewers, and shows are peppered with various gang slogans and phrases such as “sports candy” (whatever the hell that is), “everybody move”, and “go go go!” All programmes are designed to either bamboozle or lull, consisting of the poster boy/girl dancing around and smiling, and news programmes where all the news is good and nothing ever goes wrong in the world -
Robbie knows he must act to stop this before the entire town is brainwashed, but realises he must go undercover. His plan is to bravely attempt to infiltrate the various programme sets, and sabotage the shows, thus breaking the hypnotic hold over the town. When Robbie reveals his plan, the viewers breathe a collective sigh of relief since he appears to be confident in his abilities, and not worried in the slightest.
Unfortunately, as an artistic necessity, the viewer is then subjected to a horrifying display of the PE Teachers’ programmes.
What the hell is sports candy? At the beginning I wondered if they meant fruit, but I’m starting to think it’s more sinister than that. If they are going out of their way to market it as ‘sports candy’, it’s not unreasonable to assume it’s laced with some kind of powerful narcotic, no doubt concocted by the ‘chefs’, Stingy and Ziggy.
Our hero has arrived in town, so we can breathe a bit easier for now. He soon gets wind of the ‘sports candy’ plan, and makes a brave attempt to dispose of the entire stash. He knows if he is caught he will have to pay a visit to Trixie, or worse, the ‘Mayor’, so stealth is essential -
The narcotic aspect of the ‘sports candy’ is all but confirmed when poster girl Stephanie sings about how it’s ‘fun to play with colours’.
Success! Robbie has managed to get rid of all the sports candy. Next is perhaps the most dangerous mission of them all – infiltrating the ‘happy news’ presided over by the ‘Mayor’ and ‘Busybody’. As a side note, we find out that the ‘Mayor’ is Stephanie’s uncle.
Our hero effortlessly thwarts the ‘Mayor’ and, with a terrified Busybody in the background, proceeds to give a direct warning to Pixel. Plus he reveals that ‘sports candy makes you sick’. Pixel is rattled, but he’s not through yet. As if to send a counter warning to Robbie, he switches to Trixie’s interrogation hour. Robbie knows he must steel himself and join Trixie if he is to triumph over the PE Teachers.
After being forced to humiliate himself by dancing for Trixie, Robbie escapes by the skin of his teeth, but still on track. Now he heads to the henchmen, Stingy and Ziggy, to take their programme out. As a last ditch attempt to keep his hold over the show's viewers, Pixel orders 'Busybody' to begin an impromptu puppet show -
This David Lynch-esque spectacle lasts until Robbie realises he must risk his life to bring down the PE Teachers once and for all. Donning a gorilla suit so as not to be recognised, and also to provide some protection from bullets, he climbs the TV mast, swaying precariously with no thought for his own safety.
Robbie’s plan begins to work, so the PE Teachers bring out the big guns. This is the final showdown, a fight to the death, a hundred feet above LazyTown -
Robbie is captured! He is taken to Pixel, who converses with the ‘mayor’ about how best to deal with him. Meanwhile, the rest of the PE Teachers continue to broadcast, with Robbie incarcerated and unable to stop them.
The gang place Robbie under house arrest, where he is forced to watch them make their return to the airwaves, bigger and bolder than ever. But our hero is bold enough to match them, and is soon planning his next move. He knows he can never give up his attempts to stop the PE Teachers once and for all. Will he succeed next time?
We leave Robbie on this cliffhanger. Knowing our hero, it won’t be long before he’s back to take up arms against the forces of evil once more. Until then, all we can do is hope.