thinglets: James Cameron's Avatar Rips Off Nick Jrs' Wonder Pets

Over the past week I've been subjected to a torrent of children's programming on television. We're not talking after school specials here. I'm talking good ol' repeat a word or phrase 8000 times until we've brainwashed the yard ape fare. And while I can't say the experience was thrilling, it did galvanize into one stirring nugget that I'd like to assert presently:

The Wonder Pets pre-school serial operetta is an obvious inspiration for James Cameron's final cut of Avatar. I'm not saying one has to love Wonder Pets to appreciate this conspiracy (although the premiere episode where they save a baby chimp in outer space is perhaps one of the most surreal television experiences I have ever had). 

And sure, there are always going to be subtle differences, but hear me out Cameronites.

  • Avatar has a core team of three scientists working as an offshoot group in a human military/industrial complex on the moon Pandora in order to study and save the Na'vi natives. Wonder Pets has three pets that live in a schoolhouse and, during off-hours, they assume alter-egos to save baby animals around the world and in outer space.
  • Avatar has the brainy leader (Sigourney Weaver), the bold over-confident warrior (Sam Worthington) who tries to save the Na'vi alone at first, and the caring, but overmatched (Joel Moore). Wonder Pets have the brainy guinea pig leader (Linny), the bold over-confident duckling (Ming Ming) who often tries to save the babies herself,  and the caring, observant turtle (Tuck).
  • The Avatar scientists have to adapt to harsh and unknown alien environments to help the Na'vi survive. Wonder Pets adapt to jungles, tundra, ice floes, oceans, and outer space to help the baby animals survive.
  • Avatar scientists sync into an Na'vi genetic "host" to get the job done; the name for these hosts are Avatars. The alter-ego inspires the title of the film. Wonder Pets transform from school animals to Wonder Pets by jumping into costumes which makes them Wonder Pets - inspiring the title of the show.
  • The Avatars fly around on dragon-like creatures. The Wonder Pets fly around on the Flyboat.
  • Avatar's animation was based on rendering of live actors combined with CG environments. Wonder Pets uses photo-puppetry, allowing animators to use photos of live animals combined with drawn objects.
  • Avatar used an orchestra for a complex musical score. Wonder Pets uses a 10 piece live orchestra for every episode.

Oh, I could go on, but I believe it's painfully obvious that Cameron reached into pre-school programming to construct the final cut of Avatar. Cameron was desperate after years of being unable to come up with a follow-up to Titanic. Sure, the PR spin says he's been working on it for ten years, but that's an obvious fallacy.

I know that many of you have become Avatar devotees of late, and I hate to burst your bubble, but the Wonder Pets achieve in 8 minute blocks, what it takes Cameron almost 3 hours to do in Avatar. If Cameron cannot find a way to tell the tale of the Na'vi in 8 minutes with musical numbers, how am I ever supposed to take him seriously (I mean "seewiusly") again? ...if you watch Wonder Pets, you'll get that joke.

And I know you'd think I was pulling your leg here: "It's that crazy lovehatethings guy on about his pop culture bullshit again!" And if you thought that, you'd be right. But who cares? Like 3 hours of Avatar or 8 minutes of Wonder Pets, sit back and enjoy the ride in 2010.

thinglets: 10 Reasons You Should Not Go To See Avatar

Really, go see it if you want. Just be appropriately disgusted as blue slinky creatures fill the screen in a world reminiscent of Endor.
  1. It cost $237 million US to make, which is bigger than the GDP of nine countries!
  2. The Na'vi killed and ate the Ewoks before taking over their planet.
  3. Sigourney Weaver doesn't answer to the name Ripley.
  4. James Cameron hasn't made a film since Titanic and may blow a gasket when posts a copy a day early.
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio ain't the king of this world.
  6. Big let down when you find the entire story is just John Connor playing a video game on Skynet.
  7. The film could never live up to Cameron's masterpiece Piranha Part Two: The Spawning.
  8. If there's not a place for Tom Arnold in a film, I just can't support it.
  9. Sam Worthington's in a remake of Clash of the Titans; don't encourage him, or next he may re-imagine Krull.
  10. Remember the budget for Waterworld? I'm just sayin'!